A Second Shot At A Second Book

This week I received the edit of the second Robyn Cavanagh book, The Golden Hour Murder. TouchPoint Press editor Liam Lassiter gave the manuscript a thorough inspection and offered me several tips for strengthening the story. I’m going through the 280 pages and putting my final touch before the book is sent on for formatting and publication.

The Golden Hour Murder is the second book of my second mystery series. Back in 2015 I went through the edit of the sophomore Veronica Walsh Mystery, Murder, by George. It was a difficult edit, but I learned valuable lessons from the effort. I’d overwritten the book with a pointless subplot and stuffed it with characters I’d introduced in the series’ debut (All Things Murder). I cut thousands of words from the manuscript and re-wrote sections to bring the book up to the 65,000 word minimum requirement for publication. It was a stressful two weeks!

I often thought of my experience with the Murder, by George edit while writing The Golden Hour Murder. I kept the plot tight and resisted the urge to include characters from The Double Exposure Murder. The result: I don’t have to rewrite large parts of the story and cut paragraphs and pages. The majority of Liam’s suggestions relate to action and dialog tags and minor changes to better convey tone and Robyn’s interior thoughts.

I look forward to sharing The Golden Hour Murder with readers. The release date isn’t set; I’ll keep you updated on the book’s progress and share its cover when it is available.

I’ll finish with a reminder that tomorrow evening I’m meeting with the Investigating Mysteries group at the New City (New York) Library at seven. You’re invited to attend the Zoom gathering and can register at this link. I hope you join us for a talk on the Veronica Walsh and Robyn Cavanagh series and the world of cozy mysteries!

Have a terrific week!

Posted in Edits, Murder By George, New City Free Library, Robyn Cavanagh Mysteries, The Double Exposure Murder, The Golden Hour Murder, Veronica Walsh Mysteries | Leave a comment

Zooming Into The New Year

I’m starting 2023 on the right page with a January 23 visit-via Zoom-with the Investigating Mysteries group at my local library, the New City Library. We’ll be talking about The Double Exposure Murder and all things cozy mysteries. You don’t need to be a member of the group; all are welcome to attend! Follow this link to register for the event, which begins at 7 pm. I look forward to this gathering of mystery readers and hope to see you there!

Posted in Appearances | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Merry Christmas!

Graphic courtesy of Cocopariesenne/Pixabay

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Series Bible

It’s imperative that a writer of a series—no matter the genre—keeps track of the characters, settings, and plots that fill the pages of their multi-book stories. This collection of information, gathered in a notebook, binder, or on a flash drive, is called a series bible. I have a series bible for both the Veronica Walsh Mysteries and my new Robyn Cavanagh Mysteries. The materials, which I create as I write each book, include character lists, synopses, maps, and a book of names.

My character lists detail every character in the book, from Veronica Walsh or Robyn Cavanagh down to unnamed characters and deceased characters who are only mentioned in the story (If you’ve read the debut Robyn Cavanagh mystery, The Double Exposure Murder, you’ll know that the passing (months before the story begins) of the murder victim’s great-aunt Olive plays an important role in the plot). My character lists are in table form, with columns for the character’s name, age, physical description, occupation, relationship to Veronica, Robyn, or the murder victim, the character’s role in the story, and other notable traits.

A synopsis is a standard element of manuscript submissions, whether an author is querying a literary agent or an agent is pitching the book to a publisher. A synopsis, which can be one single-spaced page or several double-spaced pages, relates the entire plot of the book. Synopses that are shorter in length will include only the major points of the story while a longer synopsis will cover subplots in fuller detail. When I’m working on a project and need a reminder of what happened in an earlier book in the series, it’s much easier to re-read the synopsis than thumb through more than two hundred pages of the book in search of the detail I want to confirm. I also read the pertinent synopsis (or synopses) to refresh my memory before I meet with a group of readers.

Much of the action in both the Veronica Walsh and Robyn Cavanagh series takes place on the main street of their respective towns. Orchard Street, where Veronica’s All Things boutique is located, is the picturesque center of business in Barton, NY. Robyn visits her accounting clients and shops on Hudson Road in her upstate New York home of Garland. I’ve lined both Orchard Street and Hudson Road with restaurants, bakeries, antique shops, bookstores, art galleries, and florists, along with the typical stores found on any town’s main street.

I have drawn a map of each main street to keep track of where I’ve placed these shops. Veronica needs no directions to visit her best friend’s shop for a session of floral therapy, but I can never remember if Emerson Florist is one or two blocks up from Veronica’s boutique. I also scribbled floor plans of some of my characters’ homes and, for the second book in the Robyn Cavanagh series, drew a layout of Linden Acres, the farm that is the major setting of the book. Orchards. Pumpkin fields. A barn! I had a blast depicting my fictional farm in full color.

I also have a “bible” of names. A few years ago, I went through a book of baby names and filled fifteen pages in a Mead Composition notebook with potential names for characters. Whenever I struggle to name a character, I go through the pages and wonder, “Is this character an Audrey or an Ida?” or “How about Dwight or Kirk?” When I’ve made a final decision, which I often don’t do until I finish the first draft and realize Abby should be Kerry or Kyle is more of a Frank, I add the book’s initials, character’s last name, and a short description of the character in the notebook so I don’t use the name again in the same series. If a character appears in more than one book of a series, I write the series initials—VW for Veronica and RC for Robyn.

There’s a recent addition to my Veronica Walsh and Robyn Cavanagh bibles: A list of names for common elements in both series, such as bakeries, churches, schools, street names, and more. Veronica often visits Rizzuto’s bakery on Orchard Street while Robyn enjoys frequent trips to the Belle Patti-sserie. Both Veronica and Robyn are Catholic; Veronica attends Mass at Saint Augustine and Robyn is a lifelong parishioner at Saint Joseph’s.

I had a reason for creating this particular document for my series bible: Veronica and Robyn both attended high schools named Sacred Heart. Not the same fictional high school, mind you. I didn’t intend for my pair of sleuths to have this link, but I don’t consider it a goof. I like to think of it as divine inspiration!

I hope you’re all beating the August heat. Here’s a tip: pour yourself a tall glass of lemonade, find a place in the shade, and read a great book!

Notebook graphic courtesy of Clker-Free-Vector-Images/Pixabay

Posted in Series Bible | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Final Tour Post

Congratulations to Carol Sue, the winner of the digital copy of The Double Exposure Murder. Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. A friendly reminder that the book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, and other online retailers. I hope the book is also in your local library’s catalog. If not, I’d appreciate it if you asked your librarian to order the book.

I have an extra guest post that wasn’t featured in the blog tour. It was “written” by Robyn Cavanagh, the star amateur sleuth of The Double Exposure Murder. Enjoy it and have a wonderful week!

Hello! I’m Robyn Cavanagh and I’m pleased to welcome you to my hometown of Garland. I’ve lived in this semi-rural community my whole life and have watched it grow from a quiet suburb on the Hudson River to a destination town for visitors from Manhattan and its boroughs thanks to the revitalized stores and restaurants along our main street, Hudson Road, and the numerous natural attractions Garland offers.

I’ve benefited from the Garland renaissance. After commuting to a job in Manhattan for twenty years, I now run two businesses from my home at 9 Lyons Lane. I complete many residents’ tax returns and manage the books for several of those Hudson Road shops. I’m also a part-time portrait photographer, a hobby I’ve turned into a second source of income. My dream is to reverse the cash flow and earn my bread-and-butter money taking photographs while keeping a hand in accounting.

A few of my clients are from downstate cities. They’ve either purchased weekend homes in Garland or moved here permanently. Despite the rise in our population, the town has remained a safe place to live. It was quite a shock, then, when bride-to-be Brooke Gibson was murdered on an early-summer Saturday morning. Many residents knew Brooke; she was a math teacher at Garland High School and worked summers as a server at the popular Town Tavern restaurant. My sister Meredith worked with her at Garland High and it was on Meredith’s recommendation that Brooke hired me to do her tax return and, when she got engaged to fellow teacher Frank Hunter, she asked me to take their official engagement portrait.

Brooke called me a few months later to take photos of 16 Clover Lane, the house she’d recently inherited from her great-aunt. Brooke planned to sell the home and wanted high-quality photos for the real estate listing. It was a different kind of photo session from the jobs I’ve done taking portraits of high school seniors, newborns, couples celebrating anniversaries, and families gathering for Christmas card photographs. I enjoyed photographing the cozy, daffodil-colored house and returned to Clover Lane a few days later to show Brooke the portfolio.

Brooke would never see the photographs of her inheritance. I found her dead in 16 Clover’s backyard shed, the shovel used to kill her lying beside her body.

Thank goodness the crime scene photographer took those pictures, but I couldn’t get the image of Brooke’s lifeless form out of my mind. Who would kill the confident, vivacious young woman? Meredith told me Brooke was loved by everyone in the Garland High family. Her fiancé, according to my sister, was devoted to Brooke.

A person isn’t accidentally battered with a shovel, so when Brooke’s mother asked me to help her collect the refunds from Brooke’s wedding vendors, I grabbed the opportunity to gather clues along with Brooke’s deposit money. Out of respect for her memory, I won’t share the not-so-nice details I learned about Brooke.

I was determined to help the police solve the murder case. I made many wrong assumptions, but with help from Meredith and my friend Will Vonderlin, and with a final sprint (literally), I caught the killer.

Posted in Robyn Cavanagh Mysteries, The Double Exposure Murder | Tagged | Leave a comment

Final Stops on the Blog Tour

The blog tour for The Double Exposure Murder ends today with two visits.

Please stop by Girl with Pen and read an excerpt from the book. Thank you, Victoria, for welcoming me to your blog!

Also visit I Read What You Write, where you can read my guest post Creating Cozy Elements. Shelle, thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself and the book to your readers!

The link to the contest to win a digital copy of the book is posted on both blogs. A few hours remain to enter.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour and have discovered many new cozy mysteries, in addition to The Double Exposure Murder, to add to your summer reading lists.

Thank you to Lori at Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book for arranging this blog tour. I appreciate your had work very much, Lori!

Posted in Blog Tour, The Double Exposure Murder | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

An Interview and Spotlight

Today’s blog tour features a spotlight at The Mystery Section and an interview at Mysteries with Character. Please take your time to visit the blogs to read an excerpt from The Double Exposure Murder and my interview. Thank you to the host of The Mystery Section and author Terry Ambrose at Mysteries with Character for the opportunity to introduce myself and the book to your readers!

Posted in Blog Tour, The Double Exposure Murder | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Monday Blog Stop

Today’s blog visit is to Sapphyria’s Book Reviews, where an excerpt from The Double Exposure Murder is posted. Thank you, Amber!

Also, three days remain to enter the contest to win a digital copy of the book.

Have a terrific Monday!

Posted in Blog Tour, The Double Exposure Murder | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Sunday Stop with Cozy Up With Kathy

A beautiful Sunday to you! Please take a moment today to stop by Cozy Up With Kathy and read Kathy’s review of The Double Exposure Murder. An excerpt and a link to the contest to win a digital copy of the book are also posted.

Kathy has been a supporter of my writing since the release of the first Veronica Walsh Mystery (All Things Murder). She has hosted me several times and I thank her for welcoming me today to introduce to her readers The Double Exposure Murder. Thank you, Kathy!

Posted in Blog Tour, The Double Exposure Murder | Tagged | Leave a comment

Spotlight on The Double Exposure Murder

Today two spotlights shine on The Double Exposure Murder. The book is featured at Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book and Ruff Drafts.

Thank you to Lori at Escape With Dollcas Into A Good Book for setting up this wonderful blog tour and for today’s post. I appreciate your hard work and support, Lori!

Thank you also to Debbie at Ruff Drafts for the warm welcome to your blog!

Posted in Blog Tour, The Double Exposure Murder | Tagged , | Leave a comment