Five Stars for A Hostage To Heritage

7-20 Adair coverI can’t believe I haven’t already pro­filed this book on my Mon­day book blog. It’s one of my very favorites—not only mys­tery, but his­to­ry as well! My com­ments from Ama­zon and Goodreads fol­low.

Suzanne Adair has pre­sent­ed the read­ing pub­lic with anoth­er excel­lent his­toric mys­tery adven­ture. This book is Michael Stoddard’s sto­ry. He’s a British offi­cer in Amer­i­ca at the time of our Rev­o­lu­tion. The ear­li­er books in this series tell the sto­ries of Amer­i­cans dur­ing that time, and a few of the char­ac­ters appear in all of the books. They, and this one as well, show the con­flict­ing loy­al­ties of peo­ple in our past, includ­ing the Eng­lish Michael. Besides that, there’s the main sto­ry of a miss­ing young boy and how Michael and his sec­ond in com­mand worked toward find­ing the boy while also fol­low­ing their com­mand­ing officer’s orders. I won’t say more, don’t want to ruin the sto­ry for any­one.

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed to lovers of his­to­ry, and mys­tery. This book sat­is­fies on every lev­el! It’s a mys­tery with great char­ac­ters, sol­id his­to­ry, sus­pense, and emo­tion. It’s his­tor­i­cal fic­tion with reveal­ing atti­tudes and war-time dan­ger. It’s a char­ac­ter study with “real” fic­tion­al peo­ple who had a past and will have a future. It’s roman­tic sus­pense with antic­i­pa­tion. And final­ly, it’s emo­tion trans­ferred from words on paper (or, in my case, on Kin­dle) to the read­er.

I’ll send you to Suzanne’s Ama­zon page where all her books are list­ed (mys­ter­ies of our Rev­o­lu­tion in the South­ern states) and Suzanne’s web­site and blog. Her blog hosts guest authors with a wide vari­ety of books, often includ­ing give­aways. (Always inter­est­ing.) 

That Final Edit

Every day when I sit at my com­put­er, I see a clip­ping I cut out years ago. It’s a pic­ture of a dog and a cat. In these days of viral videos show­ing ani­mals of all kinds play­ing with each oth­er, this one typ­i­fies the usu­al belief of dogs and cats as wary ene­mies. The dog’s head seen from the rear tips ever so slight­ly toward the cat. The cat gin­ger­ly pass­es the dog while watch­ing for any way­ward move­ments. It’s an illus­tra­tion from a book for writ­ers, The Pock­et Muse. It illus­trates the sen­tence, “Most good sto­ries are about trou­ble,” and includes a list of trou­bles.

When I look at that page, even more than trou­ble, I think, sus­pense, sus­pi­cion, what if…

Today I’m pay­ing spe­cial atten­tion to that illus­tra­tion, since I’m deep into a final edit of a mys­tery, I know my read­er must have that same sense—that some­thing will sure­ly hap­pen, but not in a good way. Will the read­er be slight­ly dis­ori­ent­ed, pos­si­bly leery of ques­tion­able actions, even fear­ful of what might hap­pen to a char­ac­ter on the next page? Will the read­er turn the next page?

Ah, that is the eter­nal ques­tion.

So, even after my man­u­script has under­gone peer review with a cri­tique group, a full pro­fes­sion­al edit, and a perusal by a beta read­er, I’m going over it again. I’ve not­ed arti­cles in the recent Writ­ers’ Digest issue on revi­sion, I’m check­ing my pages for vio­la­tions of the 24 prob­lems explained in Chris Roerden’s Don’t Mur­der Your Mys­tery. (Okay, that one is my Bible.) And, espe­cial­ly, I want to make sure each chap­ter, each scene, each page entices the read­er to eager­ly turn the page.

And, if I’m suc­cess­ful, my read­er will have a mys­tery that pro­vides exact­ly what the read­er wants—a good book—a sto­ry that sat­is­fies and pos­si­bly edu­cates in some small way.

A Scottish Connection

US Womens Golf Leaders

US Wom­ens Golf Lead­ers

Our local news is all about the US Women’s Open golf tour­na­ment at the Lan­cast­er Coun­try Club—just a hop, skip, and jump away from my home. I real­ly should hon­or that by pro­fil­ing a golf­ing mys­tery that I’ve read. Except—I haven’t read any golf­ing mys­ter­ies. So, what’s my next best idea? Hmmm.

Golf, an ancient game, orig­i­nat­ed in Scot­land, right? And—I do have a book in my favorites file called, ta, da…What Hap­pens In Scot­land. No golf any­where. Not even a mys­tery. An his­toric romance, almost a bodice rip­per. So not what I usu­al­ly like. But, I read this book with great plea­sure.

7-13 What Happens coverHere is my five star review of What Hap­pens In Scot­land: “I absolute­ly had to get this book after I read a page or two. What’s not to pull a read­er in? Lady Geor­gette find­ing her­self, a respectable young wid­ow, in bed with a stranger. Although this is his­toric romance, there is def­i­nite­ly an air of mys­tery. Who is the bound­er? How did the lady find her­self in the sit­u­a­tion, where were her clothes, and why was there bro­ken glass all over the floor?

You’ve got to admit, with a begin­ning like that, where can the sto­ry go? I tell you, it improves! Not only is the action rol­lick­ing and filled with per­il, the unex­pect­ed twists and turns keeps a read­er up until the wee hours. I fin­ished this in record time, and wished it had been longer.

Okay, my review doesn’t tell you much. I’ll include the offi­cial blurb.

Jen­nifer McQuiston’s debut his­tor­i­cal romance, What Hap­pens in Scot­land, is a live­ly, roman­tic adven­ture about a wed­ding that nei­ther the bride or the groom remem­bers.

Lady Geor­gette Thorold has always been wary of mar­riage, so when she wakes up next to an attrac­tive Scots­man with a wed­ding ring on her fin­ger, it’s easy to under­stand why she pan­ics and flees. Con­vinced that Geor­gette is a thief, her maybe hus­band, James McKen­zie, search­es for her. As both try to recall what hap­pened that fate­ful night, they begin to real­ize that their attrac­tion and desire for each oth­er is unde­ni­able. But is it enough?
There are hid­den caves and mid­night horse rides, if I remem­ber cor­rect­ly, but nary a golf club in sight.

Terror on the Chesapeake-1813

Rear Admiral Cockburn

Rear Admi­ral Cock­burn

The War of 1812 did not start in earnest for those on Chesa­peake Bay until 1813. Rear Admi­ral Sir George Cock­burn was giv­en the task: ruin coastal trade, destroy sup­plies of grain and live­stock, and ter­ror­ize the pop­u­la­tion in gen­er­al. In late April he reached Kent Coun­ty, Mary­land. His force con­sist­ed of one 74 (a gun ship), three frigates, two brigs, two schooners, and a num­ber of ten­ders and barges. The British raid­ed How­ell Point and bom­bard­ed the land throw­ing shot as far as a mile from shore. At one farm they robbed a smoke­house, hen­house and sheep pen, and killed cat­tle. The mili­tia arrived in time to pre­vent the ene­my from car­ry­ing off the cat­tle and to fire at the retreat­ing boats.

The British con­tin­ued up the bay, lsy­ing waste by plun­der­ing French­town, and raid­ing and burn­ing Havre de Grace.

Cock­burn next turned to George­town, but he was frus­trat­ed by the intri­ca­cy of the Sas­safrass Riv­er. He kid­napped a local res­i­dent to act as his pilot and sent word that if the res­i­dents didn’t resist, George­town would be spared and pro­vi­sions they took paid for. How­ev­er the mili­tia, 400 strong, opened fire. When the British advanced, the mili­tia aban­doned the fight and melt­ed away. The British torched thir­teen dwellings and out­build­ings, cobbler’s shop, tav­ern, a gra­nary and store­house. How­ev­er, some homes were saved. (Local leg­end has it that the British spared sev­er­al homes due to the actions of  Miss Kit­ty Knight, a local lady of esteem, who stood up to the British when they were about to burn the home of one of her elder­ly neigh­bors. The Kit­ty Knight house still stands.)

Kitty Knight House today

Kit­ty Knight House today

As Cock­burn and his forces returned to the Chesa­peake the news of burn­ing and loot­ing had its effects. Resis­tance had died. The Brits paid for sup­plies and returned the pilot to his home. How­ev­er, they came back in August with a dif­fer­ent intent.

This is anoth­er blog of my “His­to­ry of The War of 1812 on Chesa­peake Bay” series. Since my next mys­tery will take place dur­ing a reen­act­ment of that war, I’ve dis­cov­ered many inter­est­ing facts I like to share, also, a few facts I thought I knew that weren’t exact­ly true.

 

 

The Monday Book Blog

Hidden Body 4I’m not here—I wrote this last week. (Hey, a gal has to take time off once in a while.) Actu­al­ly, oth­er than a few days over the 4th of July, oh, and fam­i­ly vis­it­ing the end of July, I’ll be at Camp NaNoW­riMo. (That’s a fic­tion­al camp, quite prop­er for one who writes fic­tion.) I hope to fin­ish writ­ing a short sto­ry (that may become a novel­la if I don’t watch out). I call it Hid­den Body, and my big plans are to include it in a book of short sto­ries called—ta da— Hid­den Body and Oth­er Short Sto­ries. I even made up a cov­er. This may not be the cov­er I even­tu­al­ly use. But, would you buy a book that looked like that? Let’s say, would you down­load a free book that looked like that? (I hope to make it free.)

My sec­ond project for the month is to com­plete edit­ing For­got­ten Body.

Camp NaNo

Camp-Participant-2015-Web-Banner big

I’m busy at Camp NaNo. Pic­ture me sit­ting around the camp­fire with my tent bud­dies, snarf­ing down S’Mores. Okay, not real­ly. That short sto­ry is wait­ing, as well as edit­ing the new mys­tery. I’ll let you know how I’m doing next week. (Just start­ed yes­ter­day.)

Camp-s-mores-2Those S’Mores are look­ing good! Maybe just one.

Yum.

Okay, maybe two.

Oh, heck. Can’t leave just one!

Five Stars For Mr. Monk

I loved the TV show—now long gone. It ran from 2002 through 2009. The books with orig­i­nal sto­ries by Lee Gold­berg kept on going after the Monk show ran its course. Then Lee Gold­berg stopped writ­ing them after quite a few, and Hy Con­rad took over. I may have just read the final book of the series, since Mr. Conrad’s fourth book, Mr. Monk and The New Lieu­tenant, is his last one. He hopes some­one else will con­tin­ue, but when that one was pub­lished this year (2015) no one had yet stepped up.

So, here are my reviews of two of my favorite books—Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out by Lee Gold­berg, and Mr. Monk and The New Lieu­tenant by Hy Con­rad.

6-29 Mr Monk 1

6-29 Mr Monk 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My five-star review of the first was short: “I was a big fan of the Monk TV series, and I’m a big fan of Lee Goldberg’s Monk mys­tery series. This book is a neat com­bi­na­tion of Monk, his pho­bias, and up-to-the-minute cur­rent events! And you can just guess Monk’s thoughts about that dog with those irreg­u­lar mark­ings.”

I’ve just fin­ished read­ing the sec­ond book, and it deserves five stars as well. “Mr. Monk does not like Cap­tain Stottlemeyer’s new lieu­tenant. He’s new, for one thing. (Of course, the feel­ing is mutu­al.) How­ev­er, he and Natal­ie try their best. They now have their own detec­tive agency with lit­tle busi­ness. Natal­ie takes on a divorce case (with­out Mr. Monk’s knowl­edge, and def­i­nite­ly against his approval). Then there’s the mur­der case that wasn’t—until Monk declared at a man’s funer­al that he had been mur­dered. Now they are try­ing to save the Cap­tain with the same symp­toms while track­ing down a miss­ing client. Monk con­vinces Randy Dish­er to return. With all this going on, it isn’t only Monk’s OCD that con­fus­es every­one. This time Stottlemeyer’s life depends on Monk’s suc­cess.”

Both authors worked on the Monk TV show. Lee Gold­berg con­tributed to some shows and worked on dif­fer­ent series as well. Hy Con­rad was with the Monk show the whole time. Both authors give the read­er the authen­tic “Monk” voice. Gold­berg tends to give him more prob­lems with his mul­ti­ple pho­bias and per­son­al­i­ty dis­or­ders. Con­rad, writ­ing the sto­ries as Monk begins to improve (slight­ly) still shows them, but they are pos­si­bly a bit more mut­ed. (One reader’s opin­ion here.) Both authors present a humor­ous as well as nice­ly con­vo­lut­ed sus­pense­ful sto­ry.

I do hope this isn’t the last Monk sto­ry.

Dinner In White

Say you want to have a par­ty. Impromp­tu. Decide on a venue. Give it a name (Blanc Plate sounds nice.) Send out e-mails.

6-24 dinner in whiteBlanc Plate is tomor­row at the base­ball sta­di­um, folks. RSVP

Your invi­tees know what to expect. Bring your own meal. Wear white cloth­ing. After all, they may have been one of the 100 who joined the cel­e­bra­tion in 2012, or one of the increas­ing num­bers from 2013 & 2014.

This event actu­al­ly hap­pened a week or so ago in my home town. It’s based on a sim­i­lar, secre­tive ban­quet on the bridges of Paris called Din­er en Blanc. How­ev­er, invi­ta­tions to the local even are avail­able to any­one who asks. (Of course, you have to know whom to ask. I found out about it the next day from the news­pa­per.) When the 1,000 (free) tick­ets were snatched up, 200 more were added.

Yep, that’s right. Over a thou­sand peo­ple descend­ed on the base­ball field with exact­ly 29 hours of warn­ing. And—they all wore white. Two young women even donned white wigs. The news­pa­per has many more pho­tos on line. There’s also a one-minute video of the event.

Umm. Let’s see. Next year this time. Maybe a month before the end of June. Yes, they do have the name of the orga­niz­er in the paper. What do you think? Should I?

 

 

 

Five Stars For Scout And Ant Farm

Okay, that title is con­fus­ing, right? Total­ly does not make sense.

6-22 Ant Farm coverLet’s start over. My five-star book today is Ant Farm, a mys­tery that was, only this past week, pub­lished by the Kin­dle Scout pro­gram. The Scout pro­gram is rather new to Ama­zon. It’s a win-win for both writ­ers and read­ers. The writer who enters his or her book sub­mits a com­plete man­u­script and a cov­er design. The books accept­ed into the pro­gram are then pre­sent­ed to the voting/reading pub­lic with the cov­er illus­tra­tion and the nov­el begin­ning. Both Ama­zon and the author then await the vot­ing, or, as they call it, the nom­i­na­tions.

Vot­ing, you ask? What is this? Who votes? Or, nom­i­na­tions? How and why?

That’s where the read­er comes in. You read the offer­ings in a vari­ety of cat­e­gories. Let’s say that you find one begin­ning that makes you say to your­self, “Oh, I’d love to read that book!” Just click the link to nom­i­nate the book. (That’s the vot­ing.) Then sit back and wait for the best part—the e-mail from Ama­zon telling you if the book has been cho­sen for pub­li­ca­tion. If it has? You get an advance copy of the e-book, all for free. Of course, they hope you’ll review it.

The win for the author? Pub­li­ca­tion with an advance, a con­tract, and more author­i­ty than self-pub­li­ca­tion. For, after all, Ama­zon hopes to come out ahead as well.

I’ve nom­i­nat­ed four books so far. The first didn’t make it. The sec­ond was Ant Farm. I received my copy long enough before the offi­cial pub­li­ca­tion to allow me to read the book. Loved it. This is what I had to say about it:

This is a Kin­dle Scout book, and, as one who vot­ed for it, I got a free copy before pub­li­ca­tion. And, I’m sooo glad. This is a thriller, but, I’d say, also a more tra­di­tion­al mys­tery, as it is a puz­zle as well. The puz­zle part is the plot, as nuanced and devi­ous as any read­er could hope for. The thriller part is the impend­ing dan­ger involved for the hero, his son, and assort­ed oth­er char­ac­ters (not to men­tion the vic­tims). The char­ac­ters are a mix of lik­able and some you real­ly hope see their come­up­pance. Of course, first impres­sions can be deceiv­ing. Anoth­er thing—the sur­pris­es nev­er stop! (Be warned.)”

I’ve nom­i­nat­ed two oth­er books as well. The third was accept­ed, so I’m wait­ing for that free book. The fourth is still await­ing the end of the 30-day nom­i­nat­ing peri­od. (A read­er is allowed a total of three books at a time, so I can go back to look for two more.) This is the link to the Kin­dle Scout pro­gram for both read­ers and writ­ers. And, in case you want to read this five-star book, here’s the link for Ant Farm.

 

The Writing Road

I meant to write about the road not tak­en today, to fret about missed oppor­tu­ni­ties in the past. I won­dered, what would have hap­pened had I tak­en anoth­er road? Some years ago I went, with a group of women, to vis­it our state house. We were greet­ed by our new state rep­re­sen­ta­tive, a neigh­bor. When my friend informed him I’d just had a children’s sto­ry accept­ed by a major mag­a­zine, he asked me if I’d like to work for him, cor­re­spond­ing with vot­ers. Although I knew he’d hired anoth­er neigh­bor whose spe­cial­ty was design­ing love­ly bou­quets to help him with pub­lic rela­tions, I remind­ed him it was a children’s mag­a­zine, hard­ly fare for adults. Some years lat­er, after I start­ed writ­ing mys­ter­ies, I’d think, what if I had tak­en him up. Just think, I then could have writ­ten mys­ter­ies about the ins and outs of polit­i­cal life, and point to my expe­ri­ence. Per­haps that would have inter­est­ed agents and pub­lish­ers. And, I might have closed this post with advice for the young—jump at every oppor­tu­ni­ty.

But, I don’t want to talk about that today. Instead, I like the road I’ve actu­al­ly tak­en. Today I real­ized it was only six years ago when, after a few hun­dred agent rejec­tions, despite a few nib­bles along the way, after writ­ing and rewrit­ing sev­er­al books, I almost decid­ed to start a blog and give way my old­est, most rewrit­ten man­u­script chap­ter by chap­ter. But first, in June, 2009, I decid­ed to give small pub­lish­ers a try. Final­ly, I suc­ceed­ed with the third pub­lish­er I con­tact­ed. And they worked fast. By August they asked to buy it. By Octo­ber 1, it was edit­ed, copy-edit­ed, cov­er designed with my input, and pub­lished. A few days lat­er, I turned 80. But, with that accep­tance, I felt val­i­dat­ed.

The book was love­ly. My friends bought it and loved it. How­ev­er, it didn’t make much of a splash. I’m grate­ful to that small pub­lish­er for actu­al­ly giv­ing me the belief that my writ­ing was of val­ue. But when my two-year con­tract ran out, I didn’t renew it, but took back my rights. With the new ease of self-pub­lish­ing, I could do just as well on my own. I had anoth­er mys­tery ready to pub­lish. Since then I’ve also pub­lished a YA mys­tery and a non-fic­tion nar­ra­tive of my father’s adven­tures as a young man. I’ve had short mys­ter­ies pub­lished as well. And, I have a sequel of that first mys­tery just about ready to meet its pub­lic.

So, per­haps I missed an oppor­tu­ni­ty years ago. No mat­ter. I don’t live in the past. I can remem­ber the past, think fond­ly of what has tran­spired, see my chil­dren and their chil­dren suc­ceed, enjoy life with my hus­band. I also look for­ward to the future and what will tran­spire.

My path took me down anoth­er road. I like this road just fine. How about you and your writ­ing path? Are you hap­py with the road you’ve tak­en?