The Book Cover
A buyer picks up a book with a snappy, good looking, brightly colored cover with an easily read title and intriguing picture suggesting the story line. An appealing cover convinces the potential buyer to check the back for the book summary which should convince him to purchase.
How we present ourselves to the world when we go out in public, our clothing, our hair style, and our countenance is like a book cover. People have an impression of us based on appearance. It may not be fair, but it’s true. They instantly decide if they want to know us better or not. If, on first meeting, we are carelessly dressed, with poorly styled hair, and messy clothes, we create a poor impression. We may be the most likable person in the world, but if our appearance gives the wrong impression, who wants to take the time to find out? A nicely dressed, clean appearance and pleasant demeanor provides a good first impression, just like a well-designed book cover.
The Right Editor
To be successful, an editor goes through a manuscript looking for spelling errors, poor punctuation, poorly written sentences or scenes that don’t make sense. She inspires the author to dig deeper, to help the reader experience the story better, suggesting corrections in a gentle but constructive manner. She suggests changes that move a story to a journey, where the reader becomes one with the protagonist.
We all need an ‘editor,’ a ‘best friend’ brave enough to point out our faults, to tell us when we need to change our deodorant or pick the spinach from our teeth. She may point out the need to lose weight, stop drinking, or apologize when we’ve crossed the line. These are hard to hear but if we listen to our ‘editor,’ we can become better friends, parents, siblings.
Besides the main characters, a good story has interesting supporting characters. They are the friends, relatives, or even the pets of the protagonist. They provide the main character someone to interact with. Often they lead to the conflict that drives the story or help bring about the solution.
The supporting characters in our lives are much the same. They are our friends, neighbors, sisters, or the person that gets under your skin. They perform a role in our lives, not as close as our ‘editor,’ but close enough to add companionship or drama to our life. They keep life interesting. Without them we’d be like the guy on the island, talking to his beach ball.
Reviewing the Plot
The plot is the action in the story. It is about a hard-boiled detective, bringing the killer to justice, or the romance with the boy next door. A good plot sucks you in and takes you willingly along an adventure with a particular protagonist. During the journey you experience the adventure, both good and bad as if you were the character. You laugh or cry, are scared or surprised, just like the hero. At the end, you wish the story wouldn’t end and you look for the sequel so you can spend more time with these characters that have become friends.
Our lives are each a plot that varies from our neighbor. Our individual experiences could fill a library. We’ve raised children, had long and varying careers, raised families, overcome illness or grown up in rural America, maybe without electricity or running water. The list goes on and on.
A good story must have conflict or it isn’t a story. The girl next story must have a rival for her boyfriend. The CIA agent must have a villain to pursue. The puppy can’t find his way home. All these examples create conflict; something that prevents the main character from easily fulfilling the goal of the story line. If the CIA agent catches the villain on page one, where is the adventure? If the girl’s boyfriend doesn’t flirt with her best friend and break up with her, where is the romance? If the puppy isn’t lost, he’s just a puppy.
In our lives, things come along to give us grief. None of us has lived without conflict, whether it is in the form of lost loved ones, business reverses, children that disappoint, a sick pet, or a missed opportunity.
Without conflict we would not experience joy. If everything went totally right every day, we’d cease to appreciate anything. We have to experience pain to know joy, conflict to know triumph, and overcome problems to appreciate success, just as a book must have conflict so the hero can prevail.
A good book has a beginning, a middle that holds your attention, and an end. An author writes his story with these things in mind. The beginning jumps out with an event that convinces the reader to travel this journey with the main character. A mystery must be revealed within the first few pages to keep the reader’s interest. A romantic situation must present itself quickly to draw the reader in. This brings us to the middle.
The middle is the crux of the story, where the character struggles to overcome the obstacles, but events go from bad to worse, and when all seems lost, we come to the end. The reader leaves the dishes in the sink to see what happens next.
The ending must tie up all the loose strings, solve all the puzzles and reach a conclusion that is acceptable to the reader. Did you ever read a 300 page novel and the main character dies on the last page. You want to heave the book against the wall!
As children, walked, then learned to run, got educated and grew up, leading us to the middle.
During our middle years, we usually married, raised children, and worked. Some of us divorced, overcame tragedies, lost loved ones and reacted to these events in ways that were affected by left-over impressions from our childhood.
As we age, our lives are now the result of experiences that affected us in the middle years. We may have retired, became widows or widowers, live alone or with children or pets. Thoughts of mending personal fences, writing wills, visiting that long-lost friend begins to occupy our minds. Whether we think of it consciously or not, we’re creating a satisfying end to our life story.
And the Satisfying Conclusion
In a satisfying end to a novel, the hero gets the girl, the killer is revealed, the interplanetary mission is successful, the puppy finds a new home. A satisfying ending leaves the reader wanting to spend more time with the characters. The challenge for the writer is to keep creating stories that satisfy the reader and keep him wanting to buy the sequel.
In an attempt to create a satisfying end, we question. Are there still things we want to do, places we want to go, folks we want to see? Have we accomplished all we hoped for or are there still unfulfilled dreams that might still come true?
Why not follow your dream? What better time than now? What are you waiting for? It’s never too late to start.
They were feral cats, living next to my work site at Kaiser. My daughter and I fed the mama cat every several days as her tummy swelled. As the weeks passed, she came to our call, knowing she would be rewarded with food. Finally, she was skinny and we knew the kittens were born. Several weeks passed. Each day we thought, “Today we will see the kittens,” but days followed days and we gave up and thought the kittens must have died.
One day, we saw the three skinny little waifs. The rose colored kitten and the black kitten both had sticky eyes. One of the black kitten’s eyes was completely shut. The third kitten, a tortoiseshell, looked like her mother. All had multiple toes on each foot. We fetched a cardboard box and filled it with towels. I crawled under the bushes, trying to catch them.
“Here kitten, kitten,” The rose-colored kitten came to me. I placed her in the box and went back for the other two. “Here, kitten, kitten.”
How could they know how their lives would be changed if they let me catch them? Toys, good food, immunizations, no sticky eyes, no fleas, and a warm bed to sleep in.
“Here, kitten, kitten,” and I had the tortoiseshell sister by the scruff of her neck. The box trembled with their mewing and insistent scratching. Their cries inspired me to go back for the black baby. I crawled further into the bushes, closer this time to the little black cat. The tips of my fingers brushed his soft fur and he scampered away. My lunch hour was nearly over and I had to leave him behind. I couldn’t help thinking how his decision to run could change his life forever.
Several months passed and the rose-colored kitten and her tortoiseshell sister became comfortable in my house. They frolicked up and down the cat pole, sprawled napping across my lap, kicked and fought mock battles, and attacked catnip mice. At night, with full tummies, they curled together on a soft bed.
“Here kitten, kitten.” The sisters hear my call and run to me, no matter where they might be. They reach up my leg, purring and rubbing their little heads into my hands begging to be picked up. They don’t remember the day I left their brother behind. But, I do and it hurts me to think of him, living in the bushes, perhaps hungry, perhaps sick, never knowing the joy of a human touch.
He’s still there, they tell me, those who catch a glimpse of him from time to time. He’s a feral cat now, one of the untouchables that scoot into the bushes at the sound of a human voice, frightened and hungry.
There is so much suffering in the world. I think of all the sick bodies I cannot heal, the hungry mouths I cannot feed, the people living in oppression I cannot free. I have no power to change these things. But, I have the power to heal this little cat’s body, a mouth I could feed, a life I can change. Because I cannot do even this simple thing, I feel a sense of personal failure.
And so from time to time, I return to those bushes, and with a prayer, I crawl beneath the stickers on hands and knees. Lord, this time, let me catch this little kitten. Let me change just one small injustice in this world.
“Here, kitten, kitten. Please come to me.”
I love my cat, Truffie. She’s part of the joy in my life. Every day, she brings a smile to my face and makes me laugh. She loves me unconditionally, even when I’m not wearing lipstick or my hair is a mess. She loves me when I’m grumpy or had a bad day. She even loves me when I accidentally step on her tail.
This spring, Truffie stopped eating. She lost weight. She’d been to the vet twice. My credit card vet charges were up to $600. The vet scratched his head. “All the lab tests and x-rays are normal. I don’t know what’s wrong with her. Maybe we could−”
“No,” I said. “I can’t spend any more money. Not if we don’t even know what’s wrong or how to fix it.”
She had already been sick for five days. If something didn’t change soon, Truffie would die. I took her home. She still wouldn’t eat. She had a fever. None of her medications had helped so far.
I wondered. Does God care if Truffie is sick? Sure, we know He cares about our health and our finances and foreign affairs and the troops fighting in far-away places. But does God really care if my cat is sick? Will He have time to hear my prayers, considering His busy schedule of healing folks and finding work for the unemployed, and protecting our loved ones and trying to make our politicians get along? You see, I’ve prayed about all those things for a while now, but Truffie’s fever? Does He really care? Do I dare pray and expect God to heal her?
I asked my pastor, “Do you think God answers prayer when our animals are sick? Would it help of I prayed for Truffie?” He said that on a certain day, people bring their animals to the Catholic church to be blessed, but he couldn’t think of a verse that specifically says God heals cats.
I tried to find a verse in the Bible that would suggest that God cared about the animals and would answer our prayers when they’re sick. Matthew reminds us… 'Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?… Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. (Matthew 10:20 NIV)' Sparrows. Cats. Not quite the same, but if He loves birds, maybe He loves cats, too.
We’re all familiar with God’s blessings and promises. We know God gives us everything we need. Our home. Our loved ones. A job...–well, most of us have a job, or we had one, before they downsized the company and now some of us have unemployment. But, not many of us are going hungry or sleeping in the streets, so even in our adversity, God supplies our needs. But, that didn’t answer my question. Could I really ask Him to heal my cat?
I moved on, reading more about prayer and faith. 'Ask and it will be given to you. (Matthew 7:7 NIV)'.
Really? Was that the key? And faith the size of the mustard seed could even move mountains? 'For truly I say to you. If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move and nothing will be impossible. (Matthew 17:20 NIV)' That sounded promising.
And lastly… 'How much more will the Father in Heaven give good gifts to those (his children) who ask Him. (Matthew 7:11 NIV)' Now, we were getting somewhere. It was a matter of prayer with faith, not the specifics of what we pray for.
What did I have to lose? So I prayed for Truffie. “Lord, you know how much I love her. You know how much joy she brings me and you know how it would grieve me to lose her. I’m calling on Your promise, 'Ask and it will be given…'. I place this little cat in Your loving hands, Lord, and ask You to heal her and raise her up again. I’m asking because You’ve promised if I have faith…”
Now, I’m not going to tell you that a bright light surrounded the house or that Heaven opened and God’s voice rang out, “Truffie. Rise up and walk,” but the next day, Truffie started to eat. Her mood brightened. She purred. She was on her way. She would recover!
I know that God cares for our cats and dogs and rabbits and horses and all our pets. Not because there’s a verse in the Bible that specifically says so, but because we love them and He loves us enough to want our joy to be complete. He promises that if we ask and have faith, we can move mulberry trees into the sea, or move mountains from here to there, or maybe it’s all about teaching us to take all our cares to the Lord, no matter how big or small.
Truffie is living proof. God gave me the victory. God answered my prayer, and yes, I’m convinced.
God loves cats.
Here is a scene from Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer.The family is at Grandmother'sTexas horse ranch. She is teaching Kimberlee and Dorian how to make Apricot Jam when the trouble starts. .
“What should I do while Dorian picks the apricots?” Kimberlee looked around the large kitchen, ready to assist in the jam making process.
“Get a big kettle from under the counter and several large mixing bowls. The sugar and Sure-Jell is in the cupboard over the oven. The jars are already washed and stacked on the counter. We’ll have apricot jam before you know it.”
Kimberlee banged around the kitchen, following orders.
“Fix up a large kettle with cold water and ice. After the apricots sit in the boiling water for a few minutes, we’ll drop them into ice water. That loosens the skins so they slip right off. Once the pits are cut out, we’ll be ready to start the jam.”
The kitchen door squeaked open and Amanda came in, clutching the black and white cat to her chest. His long black hair covered his body. His legs with snowy white feet, dangled almost to her knees.
“Fumper says he’s hungry, Mama.” She staggered across the room, her arms wrapped beneath the compliant cat’s black legs.
Kimberlee shook her head. “I don’t think so, sweetheart. Daddy Brett gave him breakfast early this morning.”
“Uh-huh. He’s hungry. He tode’ me so. He wants some bacon.” Amanda squinched up her mouth and glared at her mother.
“Amanda. Don’t make naughty faces at Mama. Now, you run on and take Thumper outside to play. There’s a good girl.” Kimberlee gave her head a pat, and a little push toward the back door. Confrontation with a five year old in front of Grandmother wouldn’t impress anyone.
“Amanda, you come on back here.” Grandmother spread her arms wide. “Come and give Grandma some sugar.” She turned to Kimberlee. “If Amanda wants to feed da kitty bacon, that’s dust’ what her can do, ’cause Grandma says so.”
Amanda stood by the door, the cat clutched against her chest. Her gazed moved from her mother to Grandmother.
Kimberlee stepped between her and Amanda. “Please don’t contradict me when I discipline her, Grandmother. It just confuses her and makes it harder for me.” She knelt beside Amanda. “Now run along, Amanda. Go find Nanny.” She gestured toward the yard.
The muscles tightened in Grandmother’s face tightened. How dare she chastise me in front of the child, right in my own kitchen?
Amanda sidled across the room and put her hand on the refrigerator handle. She paused, waiting for the winner of the tug-a-war to make the final decision.
Grandmother couldn’t hide her smile. See how well her plans to take Amanda from Kimberlee were already working? Amanda was already accepting her authority and turning against her mother.
Kimberlee gave Amanda’s shoulder a shove toward the door. “I said, take Thumper outside!”
The warmth crept up Grandmother’s cheeks. She made a half-hearted effort to control her voice, without much success. “Kimberlee, where are your manners? You’re still a guest in my house. I said the child may do as she pleases. If Amanda wants to feed the cat caviar, she can feed the cat. I won’t hear another word on the matter.”
Kimberlee’s cheeks flamed. The kettle slipped from her fingers and clattered to the floor as Dorian stepped through the door with a pan full of apricots.
“What’s the matter? What’s wrong?” Dorian set the apricots on the table, picked up the kettle and placed it on the counter.
"Amanda and I are having a difference of opinion as to whether Thumper needs bacon. Grandmother feels that since it’s her kitchen, she should make the final decision, and I feel that Amanda and Thumper should get outside before one of them gets spanked. Now, if you’ll excuse me…” She rushed through the swinging door. Her feet pounded up the stairs. A bedroom door slammed.
Grandmother turned toward Dorian, the faint smile of success on her lips. “Just a little disagreement. Nothing to worry about. Now, if you’ll wash those apricots and put them on to boil for a few minutes, I’ll show you how to get the skins off in a jiffy.”
Dorian glanced between Grandmother and the door Kimberlee had disappeared through. “Perhaps we can get back to this later. I think I’ll go see if she’s okay.”
“She’s just having a snit…” The swinging door between the kitchen and the hallway sprang back and forth as Dorian hurried from the kitchen. “I swear, I don’t know what she’s so upset about. What difference does it make if the child feeds the cat or not?”
“Grandma?” Amanda dropped Thumper, her hand still on the refrigerator door. Her eyes were wide.
Margaret turned. “Amanda?” The inside of her head felt like a bottle rocket on the fourth of July. She lifted her foot off the pillow, stood and shuffled across the kitchen. She yanked open the refrigerator and grabbed the bacon. “Here! Feed the damn cat.” The plate of bacon clattered onto the counter.
Amanda set the plate of bacon on the floor in front of Thumper. “Here, Thumper. Eat you bacon.”
Grandmother limped out of the kitchen into the library. The fax machine on the desk hummed, and then began to spit out a printed report. Her heart thumped. Was it the information from the detective agency? Information that would prove Kimberlee an unfit mother and lay the groundwork to get custody of darling Amanda? She ripped the paper from the fax machine as the library door squeaked open.
“Grandma?” Amanda stood in the doorway, holding Thumper upside down in both arms.
Grandmother whipped her head around, shoving the paper behind her back. “What is it, now? Can’t you see I’m busy?” She felt her cheeks warm. How silly to feel guilty. The child couldn’t know what I’m looking at.
Amanda shifted the cat to her shoulder like a baby and patted his back. “Fumper’s not hungry. He doesn’t want any bacon.”
Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer is available at Amazon in print or e-book... even free under the Kindle Unlimited program.
Thoughts in Progress Mystery Blog 11-28-14
Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer
Cat lovers know how intelligent felines are so it’s no wonder Thumper, the black cat with superior intellect, steals the limelight in author Elaine Faber’s latest release, BLACK CAT AND THE LETHAL LAWYER: A Tale of Betrayal and Greed with a Splash of Fantasy.
This is a delightful story of intrigue with twists of suspense, family and murder. Added to the mix is humor and moments that will have you holding your breath.
Kimberlee and her husband, Brett, are settling into their new life together when an unexpected letter from Kimberlee’s grandmother arrives. It seems her grandmother wants to name a new beneficiary to her multi-million dollar horse ranch in Texas and ask Kimberlee and her family (complete with pets) to visit, along with cousins she didn’t know about.
Arriving at the ranch with daughter, Amanda, and their beloved cat, Thumper, Kimberlee and Brett soon make some startling discoveries involving the ranch and Kimberlee’s family. Meanwhile, Thumper encounters his soul-mate, Noe-Noe, and they overhear a murder plot.
BLACK CAT AND THE LETHAL LAWYER takes readers on a journey of greed, lies, murder, embezzlement and dark secrets. It’s up to Thumper and Noe-Noe to help Kimberlee get to the bottom of all the lies before another murder is committed.
The author has crafted likable characters that are well-developed and fun to like. The setting draws you in and holds your attention. The feline stars of the story are cuddly and lovable.
This is a charming story you won’t be able to put down until you know Thumper’s outcome. Non-cat lovers will also enjoy this fascinating story for its captivating mystery and suspense.
Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer: A Tale of Betrayal and Greed with a Splash of Fantasy by Elaine Faber, Black Cat Mysteries Book #2, Elk Grove Publications, @2014, ISBN: 978-1940781068, Paperback, 272 Pages
Posted by Mason Canyon (Thoughts in Progress Cozy Mystery Blog)
View Mason's blog at: http://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/2014/11/black-cat-and-lethal-lawyer.html
Thumper’s the name. We just got to Grandmother’s Texas horse ranch and I met this babe…a cream tabby vixen with eyes the color of mustard and stripes the color of marigolds. Yowza! It was love at first sight.
Noe-Noe and I were hanging together out by the river and overheard Grandmother’s lawyer and the stable master plotting murder. Seems the lawyer was upset that she plans to change her beneficiary from the Children’s program he sponsors to either my person, Kimberlee, or her cousin, Dorian. Worse yet, we heard him tell the stable master, he intends to frame one of them for the murder!
Well, let me tell you, it was enough to twitch the whiskers off a striped skunk! Noe-Noe and I vowed to keep the old gal safe, even though Grandmother’s reason for bringing the family to Texas isn’t the sweet family reunion she claimed it would be. She had her own ulterior motive and if her plot succeeds, Kimberlee will be devastated. Well, in spite of her wicked agenda, we’ll protect the old biddy from the lawyer. She is family after all, and isn’t it a cat’s duty to protect his family?
This vacation was supposed to be a fun family reunion, but it’s turned into a series of cat-astrophies that shouldn’t happen to a dog. Speaking of a dog, Dorian brought her dog to Texas too, and it’s a good thing she did. He was walking with Kimberlee out on the desert when she almost stepped on a rattlesnake. Yikes! Good thing I wasn’t with her. I’d rather face a killer any day of the week. A rattlesnake? ...not so much.
With the aid of my ancestor’s memories, I could clue you into some of the mysteries around here. If you read Black Cat’s Legacy, you already know that with my ancestors’ memories, I helped Kimberlee solve some of the Fern Lake mysteries. Same thing here in Texas. There’s the stable master, for instance. Kimberlee suspects he might have been involved with her father's murder. And what about Grandmother’s sinister plot regarding Kimberlee’s little girl? Things are going from bad to worse around here and there is only so much a cat can do to ‘fix things.’
can’t wait to go home to Fern Lake. Only thing, when we leave, I’ll have to say good-by to Noe-Noe. Sigh. Why do we lose the things we love and things we don’t love, hang around like warts on end of your tail? It is a mystery, isn’t it?
In this story, Thumper and his family visit Kimberlee’s grandmother’s Texas horse ranch. Grandmother has promised to choose a beneficiary to inherit her estate. But things aren’t always as they seem.
Grandmother’s attorney is embezzling Grandmother’s money through a false Children’s Society. Someone’s true identity is called into question and he may be involved with a cold case murder. Could things get any worse? Indeed they can. Thumper uncovers a murder plot and most face a killer to save Grandmother. She is family, after all, even though he knows the unscrupulous reason she brought the family to Texas…
The only good thing about wretched Texas vacation is meeting the love of his life, Noe-Noe. (Below is an edited passage from the day they met.)
A delightful scent wafted across the room, teasing his nostrils and making the hair on the back of his neck stand erect. The scent tasted familiar and yet…evocative and foreign.
Oh, moment of discovery, sweet love’s fantasy revealed. He poked his head from beneath the sofa and lifted his nose, drew in the bouquet, rolled it around his tongue and teeth, seeking to identify the tantalizing bouquet. Aha. The flavor of a feminine flower, not a figment of his furtive fantasy.
She drew him as if by magic−teasing, taunting, beguiling, until his senses reeled. He followed the fragrance into the library, his gaze traveling up the bookcases. Their eyes met as the fascinating creature peered down from the top of the bookshelf, her front toes curled beneath her breast. The sun streaming through the window shimmered off her silken ears. Her fur, like rows of buttercups set in a field of marigolds, shot through a summer sunset. Her eyes, midnight slits peeking through golden moons. Her sensuous tail coiled around her nose, rising and falling in a hypnotizing rhythm, matched the thud of his heart.
Electricity crackled. She was not a gossamer dream, but a lissome feline goddess. She stared down from atop the shelf −a living, breathing, challenge to his masterful art of woomanship.
His interest in this golden-haired vixen was both perplexing and titillating.
He’d had his share of lady friends, though he was not obsessed with romance. He fancied himself a diplomatic lover, not given to one-night stands, but more discerning in his treatment of female companions. But, this enticing creature was something a cat could sink his teeth into. This lady begged a more committed long-term relationship.
Now, to put his best foot forward…but which foot? All four of his nimble black legs ended in elegant, snowy white feet with multiple toes. He stretched, raised his rear to display his muscular posterior and tight gluts. He then twisted into a three-point pretzel-like position and licked his inner thighs. These contortions were calculated to demonstrate his strongest attributes and yet reveal a willingness to concede control, a maneuver that had never failed to impress a lady cat yet.
“Howdy, stranger. New in town?” The sound of her voice, like the thrum of a hummingbird’s wings.
He stared into her enchanting face−the angle of her teasing whiskers−the slant of taunting ears−her tantalizing eyes, tinged ever so slightly with green, glittered in the sunlight. Her tiny pointed teeth−perfection.She twitched her tail.
Okay, you’re up, Thumper. Remember, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. “Thumper’s the name. Brought the family to visit the grandmother. Care to show me around?” He licked his bib and stared out the window. “Not that it matters one way or the other if you do or don’t, you understand. Just sayin.’” Please say yes, oh please, please, say yes…
“Thumper? What kind of name is that? Sounds like a rabbit.”
His heart crumpled. There it was again, that silly name. Thumper−like the bunny. How many times had he wished they had named him Butch or Cruncher. But no−he had to go through life as−Thumper. His dream of a romantic fling with this straw-colored vixen had as much chance as a balloon at a porcupine’s birthday party. He sighed.
Might as well leave before things get ugly. He turned and shuffled to the door.
He stopped. His ears perked, whiskers taunt, and glanced back. “Yes?”
She stood and rearranged her sumptuous body. No question. All her curves were in the right places. “Don’t go yet, Thumper. I like rabbits...”
Avid mystery readers, whatever version of mystery they prefer, whether Thriller or Cozy mysteries, read multiple books each year. They acquire their reading material through book sales, garage sales, the library, borrowed from a friend and sometimes, though rarely, actually purchased from the author. At least there is a demand, so there is a need for supply.
Let’s pretend for a minute, we’re an author desirous of launching a new mystery series.
After careful analysis of a number of mysteries, we see a tried and true template; apparently we must follow to guarantee success.
Our story needs a female sleuth, preferably blonde and beautiful. She has a German Shepard in order to capture the animal lovers out there. The dog doesn’t have to help solve the crime, but if he can, so much the better. Now she needs an unusual job or hobby so she can encounter the crime which the inept police force can’t solve. Don’t forget the sweetheart somehow connected to the police department, otherwise how could she access the official information generally withheld from the public?
Sadly, most of the best jobs or hobbies have been taken by other mystery series’. We already have book store owners, catering services, coffee houses, writers, and private detectives, to name just a few. We need a career that hasn’t been done to death, but one that will give our sleuth access to plenty of material. It is going to be a series, after all.
How about a lady sewer technician who pumps out septic tanks? She’d be in plenty of back yards spotting nefarious going’s-on, or how about the Jehovah’s Witness that goes door to door handing out literature. Plenty of opportunities to look beyond the screen door and see someone bound and gagged…
Maybe not. Let’s stick with the 'sewer-pumper-outer'.
So let’s see…to follow the template formula. The plumber and her quirky sidekick (did I forget the quirky friend?) find a body in the pump house. Proceed to red herrings, a romantic interlude, unrequited love, and suspicious characters, all with alibis. Lots of flavor of plumbing tossed in, stopped up toilets, overflowing bathtubs, (a humorous scene or two), and move right on to the climax where our heroine goes alone to meet the villain in a warehouse, but doesn’t tell anyone where she’s going. She is captured, strung up by her thumbs to the rafters, death being imminent until her detective boyfriend and her dog burst down the door and save her life. The murderer is revealed, every toilet is unstopped, every drain unplugged and the heroine and detective ride off into the sunset in the sewer-truck. The end.
That’s the template. Lots of ways to change up the various topics; hobbies, quirky friend, red herrings, suspects, romantic interludes, murder, theft, kidnapping, contraband, illegal alien housekeeper, secret message or what-have-you that begins the mystery, identity of villain (always the most unexpected member of the cast) and final climax, etc. This is the formulaic template, with assorted variations, that most mysteries novels follow.
When will a brave author be willing to break the mold, or at least one who dares to write a mystery that doesn’t end with the heroine strung up in the barn (figuratively speaking)? Sadly, as long as the public is willing to buy these trite storylines, mystery books will continue to follow the same template.
What are your thoughts about books with similar storylines?
Today we have a guest post from a prolific romance and cozy mystery writer, Karen Rose Smith. Karen is also an animal lover.
Caprice De Luca, home-stager extraordinaire, loves her big Italian family--parents, two sisters, brother and Nana. She likes to cook, wears vintage fashion and is a retro music fan. But most of all, she is an animal lover.
There's a lot of me in Caprice. But never more so than when she's taking care of stray animals and finding them homes. Thirteen years ago, I brought home a very sick black kitten from a friend's family farm. Ebbie and I bonded those first nights when I stayed up with her, applying acupressure to her sinuses so she could breathe. She's been my constant companion ever since, more like a sister than a pet. When we brought her half-sister London home to live with us a few months later, my husband and I thought two cats were enough!
Then two summers ago, we found Zoie Joy in a bush in our backyard. The temperature was 100 degrees. She was dehydrated, starved and needed love and care. She weighed 1½ pounds. She's the baby of the house and lives up to her middle name every day. Because I worried about her mom in that big world without care, we> began leaving food in feral feeders. That brought a sweet yellow tabby to our door who needed love, care, and medical assistance. Lance was only with us a short while, but he wrapped himself around our hearts and gave us an appreciation for living each day to its fullest.
Animals are part of what I write because they're a huge part of my life. I care for them, but they care for me too. Their unconditional love and affection brightens my days and brings comfort when arthritis pain keeps me awake at night.
After writing romance for over twenty years, I'm enjoying branching out into mystery where I can delve into everyone's relationships as well as create an intriguing puzzle. Including my love of animals into my storylines invests my heart in an integral way that I believe brings a core honesty to my novels. In STAGED TO DEATH, the first Caprice De Luca mystery, you will meet her long haired calico cat Sophia and Dylan--a stray part Shiztu and part Pomeranian who is adopted by Caprice's best friend. Two yellow tabby kittens also make an appearance. In DEADLY DECOR—book 2, Caprice takes in a pregnant stray cocker spaniel. In book 3, GILT BY ASSOCIATION—February 2015—you'll meet Lady, a cocker who becomes Caprice's sidekick, as well as Valentine—a gray tabby kitten she finds on a cold winter night in her backyard.
I love to hear about animal rescue stories. You can share them with me anytime on my Facebook page KarenRoseSmithBooks, on Twitter @karenrosesmith or through email at my websites www.karenrosesmithmysteries.com and www.karenrosesmith.com.
STAGED TO DEATH is available on Amazon and on Barnes and Noble
DEADLY DECOR will be released on June 3. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon or on Barnes and Noble