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Posts Tagged ‘Mystery novel’

jayne barnard ice falls Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, J.E. (Jayne) Barnard. J.E. (Jayne) Barnard is a Calgary-based crime writer with 25 years of award-winning short fiction and children’s literature behind her. Author of the popular Maddie Hatter Adventures (Tyche Books), and now The Falls Mysteries (Dundurn Press), she’s won the Dundurn Unhanged Arthur, the Bony Pete, and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Award. Her works were shortlisted for the Prix Aurora (twice), the UK Debut Dagger, the Book Publishing in Alberta Award (twice), and three Great Canadian Story prizes. Jayne is a past VP of Crime Writers of Canada, a founder of Calgary Crime Writers, and a member of Sisters In Crime. Her most recent book is When the Flood Falls, a small-town psychological thriller set in the Alberta foothills west of Calgary.

whenthefloodfallsnew compressed 1 J.E. Barnard’s latest book, When the Flood Falls, is a novel mystery/thriller fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—Her career in tatters and her marriage receding in the rear-view mirror, ex-RCMP corporal Lacey McCrae trades her uniform for a tool belt and the Lower Mainland for the foothills west of Calgary. Amid the oil barons, hockey stars, and other high rollers who inhabit the wilderness playground is her old university roommate, Dee Phillips. Dee’s glossy life was shattered by a reckless driver; now she’s haunted by a nighttime prowler only she can hear. As snowmelt swells the icy river, crashing whole trees against the only bridge back to civilization, Lacey must make the call: assume Dee’s in danger and get her out of there, or decide the prowler is imaginary and stay, cut off from help if the bridge goes under. Can she find one true clue either way before Mother Nature make the decision for her? Can they both survive until the floodwaters fall?

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, When the Flood Falls?

It started long ago and oh, so far away, when my oldest high school friend left the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and her husband for no reasons that she could articulate. Even years later she had no words for how she was feeling at that time, except to say, “I woke up one day and I couldn’t do it any more. Any of it.” Because I believe that most of what people do has some reasoning behind it, even if they’re not consciously aware, the character of Lacey began as an exploration of possible motivations for my friend to leave her job, then her spouse, then her province, and set off alone across the country with just her vehicle, precious little in savings, and no job prospects waiting. From that point forward, my story is all fiction, so instead of what actually happened—moving her to one of Canada’s biggest cities and giving her a relatively stable life there—I put her in a beautiful, quite wild and natural setting (Bragg Creek, in the Alberta foothills) and added an impending flood to echo the chaotic currents in her heart and mind.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

My favorite character in the book is often assumed to be Jan, the neighbor, because she has the same chronic illness as I do (ME/CFS) and her constrained life is basically my life except in a much cooler house, cantilevered over the beautiful Elbow Valley with a view for 200 miles to the snow-capped peaks of Waterton Lakes National Park, which abuts Glacier National Park at the US border. But really, I like Rob the most; he’s the manager/curator of a brand-new Arts Center and museum, which is kind of my dream job. Although often in over his head, and worried about being outed as gay to the potentially violent ranching types who frequent the local bars, he’s so enthusiastic about his job, his friends, his surroundings. I really like people—fictional or otherwise—who have a zest for life and aren’t afraid to show it.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

deadly diamond jayne bk When the Flood Falls is traditionally published, by Dundurn Press of Toronto. My other series, The Maddie Hatter Adventures, are from an indie press—Tyche Books. The advantage of the first, Dundurn Press, is their distribution and their promotion budget. My books were available across Canada the same day they came out, and showing up on library shelves within a couple of weeks too. Dundurn staff monitor social media and amplify all my initiatives, find me interview opportunities beyond my personal sphere, and make sure there’s stock showing up in advance of any bookstore events. I’m also part of a huge stable of mutually supportive authors writing across many different genres.

Tyche Books, the woman-centric Calgary indie, doesn’t have the distribution or the marketing, so most of my sales with them are e-book and I do most of my marketing myself. Another difference is economies of scale the indies can’t access. Not many people realize the production cost differential between a big house’s print runs of 500 or 1000 books, and small/indie orders of 50 or 100. When shipping must be factored in it’s quite possible to lose money on every Maddie book (indie publisher) sold at the same bookstore event where every Falls Mystery (traditional publisher) makes us all money. That’s really a pity, because Tyche Books found a fabulous cover artist for my 3 books with them, and the utterly charming Robin Robinson covers really deserve to be seen by a wider audience. Indie presses live a precarious existence and many deserving publishers—and authors, and books—fall by the wayside due to simple economics.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I started off devoted to architecture, but it’s not a coincidence that my wind-down Netflixxing is often some travel series titled, for example, Great Gardens of Georgian England (if that series truly existed I’d own it!). I still like to have the underpinnings firmly in place, but my stories need those riots of unpredictable blooms, shaded walkways, and patches of overlooked thistles just waiting to snare the unwary reader. Like all the great gardens of Europe, my stories should end with that moment when the gardens open up to a vast landscape in which all things are at once possible and impossibly remote.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Little Women. Jo the teen scribbling in her garret was my role model from early on. I played Jo at our fifth grade Christmas assembly. At the next assembly I was one of Macbeth’s witches, which may have been the early seed of my love of play-readings and my later detour from psychology into theater school.

What writing project are you currently working on?

The editing of the second in The Falls Mysteries (Dundurn, July 2019). In this one, Lacey’s traded her active policing role for the job of care-taking her injured friend. She’s been looking forward to a peaceful foothills Christmas, but between her friend’s terminally ill mother hijacking the holiday to discuss assisted dying, the hunt for a young intern gone missing in a blizzard, and her own flashbacks to last holiday season with her abusive ex, it’s not exactly a winter wonderland she’s walking in. I hope to be finished this book by New Years Eve, when the terrifying climax occurs, so I can send it off to the editor and then go celebrate the end of 2018.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Your process outside the writing has to support your writing process. You need a time, a place, a space—and these have to be mental at least as much as physical. If you’re stressed and/or obsessed with some online or real-life drama, your brain can’t do the deep dives that inform truly compelling fiction. When I’m immersed in the creation of the story’s world, everything I watch or read, every conversation I have, will either deepen my connection to the story or disrupt the themes that are weaving themselves together in my writing brain. It takes daily discipline to keep running your life around a low-gratification, low-pay task like producing a novel that won’t see the light of day for two years and even then might sink unremarked in the vast and ever-growing sea of published books. You must work to keep up the belief that this is all worth it, even if nobody else ever reads your beloved project but you.

Want to learn more about J.E. (Jayne) Barnard and When the Flood Falls? Check out her: Website, Falls Mystery Facebook page, Maddie Hatter Adventures Facebook page, Twitter1 and Twitter2, and Instagram.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of When the Flood Falls and/or purchase a copy of Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond.

Thanks to author Jayne Barnard for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Rebecca Gomez Farrell on January 29, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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Thanks to Jill Yesko, author of A Very Un-Kosher Mystery, for stopping by and sharing some background information about her new novel.

A Very Un-Kosher Mystery by Jill Yesko

Jill Yesko Headshot “Orthodox Jewish make up a large portion of Pikesville’s estimated 100,000 Jews. Pikesville is home to Seven Mile Market—the largest kosher supermarket in the U.S.

On Friday nights, the start of the Jewish Sabbath, the streets are filled with Orthodox men in black suits, many sporting Paul Bunyan beards and wide-brimmed fedoras. Some have payot—curly side burns that hang in front of their ears. Their modestly dressed spouses wear loose-fitting dresses that cover their necks and elbows and reach below their knees. Married women hide their hair under stylish wigs called sheitles.

But not everything is kosher in Pikesville.

Like all insular religious communities—Amish, fundamentalist Mormons, Hari Krishnas— Pikesville’s Orthodox have their secrets. Airing the community’s dirty laundry to outsiders is a sin. Which is why I chose ‘Westwood’ (the fictitious name I gave to Pikesville) as the setting for my second novel, Dog Spelled Backwards: An Unholy Mystery.

DogSpelledBackwards Dog was inspired by real-life events in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. In 2011, Levy Izhak Rosenbaum became the first person in the U.S. convicted of organ trafficking when he pleaded guilty to selling black market kidneys at a huge mark up. Rosenbaum claimed he was providing a public service, and that he was simply an altruistic matchmaker saving lives.

If black market kidneys were being brokered in Brooklyn, surely something similar must be occurring in Pikesville, I thought.

I wrote my anti-heroine Jane Ronson into the middle of a black market organ operation run by a Jewish doctor who may or may not be being blackmailed by a rabbi of dubious provenance.

As Jane is drawn deeper into the mystery (she must dress and act the part of a pious Jewish woman to infiltrate the Orthodox community), she tries to make sense of arcane rules and ways of the Orthodox.

I wanted Jane to initially see the Orthodox community through the eyes of an outsider, much like Harrison Ford’s character views the Amish in the movie Witness.

Shayna, the rabbi’s seemingly subservient wife, was created as a foil for Jane. At first Jane thinks Shayna is a pushover and mocks her for doing nothing in her life except having children and agreeing to her husband’s every whim. But once Jane and Shayna join forces—think Thelma and Louise—Jane sees a side of Shayna that scares the hell out of her.

‘A bubbled in my brain. Maybe it was the Percocet distorting my judgment, or maybe I’d finally figured out why Shayna got under my skin: Shayna was like me—she was a living, breathing version of my id.

Now I had to make sure my id didn’t plug me in the other shoulder.’

In the end, Jane comes away with begrudging respect for the Orthodox, though not before nearly getting killed by the Russian mob.

I hope you enjoy Dog Spelled Backwards and its prequel Murder in the Dog Park.”

Want to learn more about Jill and her books?
Visit her at www.murderinthedogpark.com , follow her on Twitter @jillyesko, join her Murder in the Dog Park Facebook page, and look for her books on Amazon and elsewhere.

Thanks again to Jill Yesko for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more Monday Guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and occassional weekend, Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a magical day – Vonnie

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Thanks to author Michele Lynn Seigfried for stopping by and sharing her tips on researching a mystery/crime novel. Enjoy!

Researching the Mystery-Crime Novel By Michele Lynn Seigfried

Author photo “Hello, and welcome to my guest post! I want to start by thanking Vonnie for hosting me today. Today’s topic is how to research a mystery-crime novel.

There are an absurd number of factors to consider when writing a mystery/crime novel, as many of you already know. Assuming your audience may include attorneys, court personnel and people in law enforcement; writers want their books to be as realistic as possible. After all, these people who read your books, write reviews. Good reviews help sell more copies. We definitely don’t like to hear that someone didn’t enjoy our work because it was unrealistic (especially if you are writing a true-crime novel)! That is where doing thorough research makes the difference in quality work.

Where do authors typically go to find their research? The internet? Can you believe everything you read on the internet? There are some websites that are more accurate than others. Among those that tend to be reliable resources are websites of government agencies. Most local governments compile their laws into a “code book,” which is posted on their websites. Inside a local code book, you can locate information about types of violations and penalties associated with a particular violation. Sometimes, the exact penalties are not set forth or there is a range of penalties listed, and it’s up to the judge to determine the exact penalty. Repeat offenders typically get increased fines, community service or jail time. Code books can vary greatly from town to town and state to state. It’s a good idea to find the correct information for your book’s location.

More severe criminal activity is not usually listed in a local code book. For these crimes, you may need to look to the legislature or the federal government websites. In my recent novel, Red Tape, I relied heavily on the New Jersey Legislature’s website, which contains all the statutes of the state. I learned that the crime I would have thought was embezzlement isn’t called embezzlement in New Jersey. I also discovered what the penalties were, whether or not there would be jail time, and that the court case would not involve a jury. I also found out that the crime Chelsey was charged with would be tried at a municipal court, and not in Federal nor County court.

Besides government agencies, websites for newspapers are particularly helpful. I have an internet subscription to the New York Times so that I can research their archives. I also subscribe to genealogybank.com which is extremely helpful in finding newspaper articles through a key-word search of their databases. Genealogybank.com has hundreds of newspapers from every state, which includes both recent articles and historical ones. While I haven’t written a historical crime novel yet, I have toyed with the idea after finding articles about my ancestors who were less-than-stellar citizens!

Not interested in doing internet research? There are other ways to track down the information you need to make your facts as real as possible. Consider a visit to the municipal or government buildings in the town where your mystery or crime is taking place. These buildings are open to the public during regular business hours. If you call ahead, you may be able to arrange for a tour with the possibility of seeing the inside of the jail. Take note of your surroundings and decide if any information is important to contain in your work. What do the uniforms of the officers look like? What color, make and model are the emergency vehicles? Do they have K-9 units, etc.?

Are you writing about a location that is too far to visit? Don’t be afraid to make phone calls. See if the police have a press person who is willing to assist you. Contact a local historical society for unique information about a particular location. Call your state division of archives and find out what records they maintain (extremely useful for a historical death certificates and finding causes of deaths). See if there is a state office of legislative services that can direct you to particular laws that are on the books.

Red Tape Try contacting the town/city clerk. They are a wealth of information. They are the keeper of the records, maintainer of historical town information, and if they don’t know something, they typically know where to send you. While there are exceptions to the rule, the majority of town clerks pride themselves on being helpful and will go out of their way to assist you with your research. They can direct you to where their code book can be found and can help you locate anything within the code books, such as penalties for violations. They can provide you with unique information about their town, which is helpful if you are writing about a town you are not from. If you are writing a historical crime novel, the clerk may be able to provide you with copies of old maps. You wouldn’t want to say a crime took place on a certain street, if the street did not exist back when it occurred. They can let you know about regulations for open public records and whether or not you (or the sleuth in your novel) would be privy to certain information about a crime.

Don’t rule out going to a library for assistance. Libraries contain criminal code books, law journals, historical newspapers and other valuable research tools. Librarians are a wealth of information and are generally very helpful.

Lastly, I would highly recommend using social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter to aid you in your research efforts. There are bound to be professionals such as lawyers and police officers who would be willing to give you tips and hints on these sites. You might be able to meet a resident from your novel’s locale who can provide insightful information about the world in which they live. Such unique information would make your book stand out, make the reader feel like they are there, and ultimately, make your book an enjoyable read.”

For more information about Michele Lynn Seigfriedvisit her at: http://michelelynnseigfried.wordpress.com ,

www.facebook.com/MicheleLynnSeigfried and www.goodreads.com/Micheleseig

and follow her on twitter @ Micheleseig

And to purchase Red Tape: Amazon (Kindle & Paperback): amzn.to/12LAJgY

Barnes & Noble (Nook & paperback): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/red-tape-michele-seigfried/1115098453?ean=9781482012880

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/305074

Plus, Red Tape is also available on iTunes.

Thanks again to Michele Lynn Seigfried for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a great day! – Vonnie

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