Mystery Lovers Unite!

Sisters in Crime

It’s always fun to watch the reaction when I tell folks I’m a member of Sisters in Crime. Some chuckle, some look confused, and a few seem downright nervous until I explain the organization celebrates the mystery genre and supports women (men, too!) who write mystery, suspense, and thriller fiction.

I’ve been very fortunate to have the support and encouragement of so many in this group this past year as I launched my third book and debut novel, Deadly TiesThat support continues as I celebrate the release of the audio edition of the book, and I’m truly grateful.  Today, I want to turn the spotlight on three “Sisters” and fellow authors who write compelling mystery fiction: Cathy Perkins, Mark Troy, and Marilyn Larew. Read on for details and links!

Cathy-Perkins-author-photoCathy Perkins is an award-winning author who works in the financial industry where she’s observed  the hide-in-plain-sight skills her villains put into practice. Whether writing darker fiction or lighter works, she delivers stories with strong characters who must overcome serious obstacles in pursuit of justice. If you like psychological thrillers or edgy mysteries with a romantic twist, give this author a try!

Here’s a glimpse of her latest novel, CYPHER, as described on her website:

When a hit-man kills the wrong person, a Greenville, SC detective confronts hidden agendas and conflicting motives in a powerful local family, while trying to control his attraction to the intended victim—a woman who should be dead, but instead is hell-bent on saving the remnants of her family.

Unwilling to stand by while her family and world are destroyed, she rips apart the secrets surrounding Cypher, the company her father built—and will take any measures to defend.

Cypher-Cover-Woman-Final1-72dpi

Cathy’s books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. You can keep up with Cathy and all her news via her blog. (That’s where I discovered that Cathy, when asked what kind of animal she’d like to be, answered that she’d love to be a dog. I knew then she should be included here.)

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When you hear the name Sisters in Crime, you might think it’s all about women. Not true, as Mark Troy can tell you. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Mark has traveled quite a bit, to include Thailand, Hawaii, and most recently Texas.

Mark Troy authorMark Troy is the author of Pilikia Is My Business, a private eye novel published in 2001 and republished in 2010. Pilikia was nominated for a Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America for Best 1st P.I. Novel. Game Face, a collection of short stories featuring P.I. Val Lyon, was published in 2011. The Rules, the first story in the Ava Rome series, was published as an ebook and audiobook in 2013. Mark’s latest release, The Splintered Paddle, is a dark thriller featuring a private investigator. Here’s a snippet from his website:

Private eye Ava Rome’s calling is to protect the defenseless. She takes on the cases of Jenny Mordan, a working girl who is being harassed by a police detective, and Cassie Sands, a teenager who is mixed up with a marijuana grower.
Norman Traxler did ten years in San Quentin nurturing his hatred of Ava Rome, the young MP who took him down for assaulting a prostitute.
When Traxler, the detective and the grower join forces against her, Ava’s calling — protecting the defenseless — becomes a fight for her life.
This dark thriller takes you on a tour of paradise tourists never see.
Waikiki, Hawaii. Dark clouds of revenge. Twisted motives. A bloody finale.

the splintered paddle cover mark troy

You can read an excerpt of The Splintered Paddle on Mark’s website, and find his books for sale on Amazon. If you’re a fan of intense, dark thrillers, this author might be just right for you!

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The third author in the spotlight today is another world traveler.  Ask Marilynn Larew about her work and she’ll tell you “I write thrillers right out of today’s news.” With a Ph.D. in History, this college professor turned novelist has a strong background in teaching and writing. Here’s Marilynn, in her own words:

Marilyn_Larew

Although I live just over the Mason-Dixon Line in southern Pennsylvania, I love to travel – Hanoi, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Cairo, and, of course, Paris and London. On a bad day, I’ll even go to Philadelphia.

In my books I want to take you to places like that and show you international crime and terrorism. My books deal with drug runners selling dreams and death, merchants of death selling weapons to all comers, and human traffickers selling women and children into modern day slavery. These businesses produce mountains of money that has to be washed so the profits can be used. Some of this money goes to terrorist groups determined to destroy us.

Lee Carruthers, black money specialist for the CIA, follows the path of this illegal money to put these people out of business.

A review posted by Chanticleer Book Reviews called The Spider Catchers “a white-knuckled spy thriller about human trafficking and dirty money funding terrorism.”  CIA analyst Lee Carruthers is ordered to Fez, Morocco, to find a missing colleague and winds up in a terrorist camp in the Algerian desert.

Spider_200

You can read an excerpt from the first in the Lee Carruthers series on Marilynn’s website, and keep up with all her news on her blog. Her work is currently available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon. You can order a signed copy direct from the author; visit her website for details.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this sampler of thrillers!

Readers, Listeners, & Book Lovers!

books with headphones
In early August, I shared the exciting news that I’d signed a contract for an audio edition of my book. (Missed that post? Find it here.) Today, I’m thrilled to announce the audio edition of Deadly Ties is now available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. Listen to the sample here: http://tinyurl.com/oaxdanq.

Robin Rowan photoThe narrator is the wonderfully talented Robin Rowan. She’s a top producer and one of the very best in the business. Robin graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where she majored in oral interpretation of literature. (And how perfect is that for a voiceover artist?) She’s credentialed as a top Audible producer and is  a member of the Audio Publishers Association, the World Voices Organization, and the National Forensics League.

I count myself fortunate indeed to have Robin with me on this creative journey. She’s matched the voices I hear as I’m writing this series, and it’s been a joyful experience listening to her. I wanted all of you to have a chance to learn a bit more about the work that Robin does, and how she came to work on this project. Questions and comments most welcome; Robin and I will both do our best to answer any questions you might have.

Why did you audition for this book? What attracted you to Deadly Ties?

I chose Deadly Ties for an audition on ACX because a) it was a mystery/thriller (my favorite!), b) I really liked the audition script and wanted to read more, and c) it centered around dogs. I’m not sure someone who didn’t love dogs could do justice to the script, right? So I put myself out there and hoped that Susan could “hear” that I was the right fit for her book. Thankfully, it all worked out!

Do you have a special studio where you work?

As the narrator, I have to become immersed in the story and live it 24/7 while I’m in the recording process.  When I’m recording a book, I can’t wait to get into the studio. My studio is a converted walk-in closet about 8’ x 6’ right off of my bedroom. But you don’t need much room at all, and as long as the space is fairly well soundproofed, it doesn’t matter where you put it. I actually left one wall of hanging clothes on the street side of the studio because clothes serve as an excellent sound-deadener. I also utilize giant 4’ x 2’ acoustic panels on the other walls and ceiling to deaden the sound as much as possible.

How do you develop a “voice” for each of the characters?

I was lucky that Susan provided me with a list of characters and their descriptions—a bonus for the narrator (publishers and authors, are you listening?). Otherwise, narrators need to pick up clues about each character from the context, which can be tricky. I spend a good deal of time “learning” personalities—the laid-back, kindly sheriff Lucas Johnson, the feisty but genuine Sylvia Bridger, the elderly and gossipy Abigail Simmons. Once I have an idea of how to portray my characters, I’m ready to start.

As I record a character, I take a snippet of their lines and save them as separate files (e.g., “Maggie”). So if a character appears on page 27 and not again until page 53, I can call up the character’s file and listen to how he or she was portrayed.

Could you walk us through your recording process, and how long it takes per book?

I get a huge glass of Milo’s sweet tea (it uses corn syrup) to keep my whistle wet and cut down on mouth noises, and put on a little “Kiss My Face” lip gloss for the same reason. That might sound funny, but narrators do whatever we can to keep lubed up when we’re reading for hours on end! Slices of green apple also come in handy.

So I fire up the computer, open the recording software, and find the page or chapter where I left off in the manuscript. I always read off of the computer screen—first, because there’s no paper noise of turning pages and I can highlight areas for special emphasis or perhaps if I have a question for the author or publisher. I can also spell out unfamiliar words phonetically next to the word in the text itself.

I record one chapter at a time, and when I make a mistake, I snap my fingers to mark the spot (which you can see easily when you go back to edit), then re-record the line I flubbed and keep going. I save my work and go on the next chapter. I can spend 4 hours at a time recording and you know when to stop when you hear your own voice start getting a little ragged. I go back and edit out mistakes, some breaths, and any extraneous noises, and then listen again to the entire chapter to proof it with the manuscript. Each finished hour takes between four and five hours in the studio.

As a dog lover yourself, do you have a favorite canine character?

Although Sam is a fine dog and very talented, my favorite canine character has to be Mr. B. He experienced some PTSD and was fairly uninvolved in his surroundings for most of the book. Once he met Zak, though, he started to come out of his shell and he and Zak had some kind of bond that no one else had. You get the sense that he would continue to improve under Zak’s watchful eye and tender care.

Anything else?

I’ve recorded more than 30 books, and Deadly Ties is my favorite book to date.  I love this career, and services like ACX that make collaborations like this possible. The ACX web site has been a boon to people like me, and to people like Susan, since it exists simply to bring book narrators and authors/publishers together. I look forward to continue recording for many years to come!

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And there you have it, folks! I’m new to the world of audio books and grateful to have an experienced professional join me on this adventure. She posted chapter segments to the production page, which gave me a chance to listen to each chapter and provide explicit feedback. (Some narrators don’t do this, so writers contemplating a project like this should discuss this with their narrators before they start.) Because Amazon uses “Whispersync for Voice” so you can switch between listening and reading, it was essential we got everything exactly right. Robin’s work was phenomenal, and I’m very proud of our finished product.

Make a difference, one dog at a time

Here’s a happy update on a story I first shared back in June about Hiker, the dog found on the Ozarks Highlands Trail. Although little more than skin and bones when her path first crossed with Jim Warnock, she had an amazing heart and followed Jim and his hiking partner for 40 miles through some seriously rugged terrain. The photo below was taken in January, 2104:

Hiker January 20th 2014

By March, she was putting on weight and ready to hit the trail again. Here she is in the woods just a few months after she and Jim met on the trail:

Hiker in snowy March 2014

And here’s Hiker now. At her latest vist to the vet, she weighed in at a healthy 66 lbs!

Hiker on trail August 2014

Hiker August 2014

Jim says she’s enjoying her new life. Together they hike the Lake Alma Trail six days a week, and as we can see from the photo above, she loves playtime. She even likes to visit the vet clinic!

To keep up with the adventures of Hiker and her trail partner Jim, be sure to visit Jim’s blog at http://ozarkmountainhiker.com/.  Here’s hoping our paths cross soon on the Ozarks trails!

Thank you!

What a grand way to celebrate National Dog Day! As of this morning, Deadly Ties is #3 in three different categories of Best Sellers on Amazon!

On behalf of all the dogs in Deadly Ties–including the champion Labrador Retriever Sam, Sweet Pea the elderly Cocker Spaniel, and the Beagle Mr. B, retired from federal service and adjusting to life in the Ozarks–thank you to all the wonderful readers who made this happen!

Best Sellers!

Sizzling Hot Reads!

We’re celebrating the dog days of summer by offering the Kindle edition of Deadly Ties at a special sale price of just $2.99 for a limited time. This is the first in the Waterside Kennels series; if you want to see how the story began, here’s your chance!Lab Silhouette

Book #2 in the series is due for release this fall, with book #3 on track for publication next year. While you’re waiting, here’s more dog-related mystery fiction to enjoy. Read on for a sample of some of my favorite authors who have been so generous to writers and readers alike. We all share the common bond of dogs in our books, but you’ll find considerable diversity in the way we write our traditional mysteries. I hope you enjoy browsing this list. Perhaps you’ll discover a “new to you” series!

Laurien Berenson

Gone with the Woof Laurien BerensonPoodle lovers, rejoice! Laurien Berenson‘s Melanie Travis mystery series continues, and it just keeps getting better. I’ve been a fan for years, and have been delighted to see new additions to this long-running series. (Want to read from the beginning? Start with A Pedigree to Die For.) Here’s the description for Gone with the Woof, #16 in the series:

Despite a toddler and a house full of Standard Poodles, Melanie Travis can’t pass up an opportunity to help legendary dog breeder Edward March pen his life story. But her enthusiasm flags when the breeder’s angry son Andrew demands she stop working on the book. Why becomes imperative once Andrew is killed by a seemingly intentional hit-and-run and Melanie becomes Suspect #1. To get herself out of the dog house, Melanie sniffs out every possible clue, only to run into dead ends as fast as she’s running out of time. And the longer the killer stays unleashed, the sooner she may end up in the dog house for good.

Susan Conant

Brute Strength Susan Conant

Brute Strength continues Susan Conant’s wonderful Dog Lover’s Mystery Series. (You can see the entire list of titles here, as well as other books written by this very talented author.)  Publishers Weekly said that “…series fans should enjoy spending time with familiar characters, the warm humor, and the dog lore.” Here’s the description from the Amazon book page:

When Dog’s Life columnist Holly Winter rejects applicants who want to adopt homeless dogs, she makes a lot of enemies. In dogs Holly trusts, and the dogs she trusts most are her beloved malamutes, Rowdy, Kimi and Sammy. But right now she could use a human friend. Lately, it seems wherever she turns, things go wrong: an anonymous call turns vicious, her husband is keeping secrets, and acquaintances die under mysterious circumstances. Then Holly’s own life is threatened. Can the brute strength of Rowdy, Kimi, and Sammy protect her?

Susan J. Kroupa

Dog-Nabbed cover

Dog-nabbed is the third book in the Doodlebug Mystery Series. This author is one of my favorites!  Susan J. Kroupa writes a terrific, laugh-out-loud series featuring a dog as narrator. You can read them in any order, too. Here’s the description from the Amazon sales page:

What’s not to love about a trip the Blue Ridge Mountains? Doodle has a blast—biggest yard ever, plus wild turkeys to chase–while Molly visits her grandparents. But then Molly’s good friend, Lizzie, begs for help. Lizzie’s father, under the influence of a self-proclaimed prophet named Zeke, forbids Lizzie to see anyone not approved by Zeke–not even Lizzie’s desperately ill grandmother. Defying Zeke, Molly and Lizzie meet secretly in the woods where a discovery makes Molly think Zeke’s hiding something. But how can she prove it?

As for Doodle, he loves all these hikes through the woods. Until he and Molly, hot on Zeke’s trail, end up lost—seriously, not his fault—and Doodle discovers that while it’s no fun being lost, it can be even worse to be found—by the wrong person.

Marja McGraw

Final Awkward Moments

If you’ve visited my site before, you’ll know I’m a big fan of cozy mysteries that aren’t your typical “formula” novel. I enjoy light humor, minimal violence, and an intriguing story line. You get all three in the Bogey Man Mystery Series authored by Marja McGraw. Here’s the description of Awkward Moments, Book #4 in the series:

What might happen if you tried to bury the body of a small bird, only to find a body already buried in the hole you’ve dug. And what might happen if another body ended up in the same hole?

Join Chris, Pamela and Mikey Cross while they try to figure out why someone would be murdered during their vacation, on private property, during the middle of the night. Watch for Chris’s cranky brother to show up unexpectedly, searching for lost gold and running people off of his property.

The Cross family is at it again, just like the amateur sleuths they swear they never meant to be.

C.A. Newsome

A shot in the BarkIf you’re a fan of rescue dogs and enjoy mysteries that have a bit more suspense and a little more romance than your typical cozy, then you definitely want to check out the Lia Anderson Mystery Series. Author C. A. Newsome has rescue dogs of her own, and brings that experience to the table when writing the series. The first in the series is A Shot in the Bark and a great addition to the world of dog-related fiction. Here’s the description you’ll find on her website:

Would you recognize a serial killer if you met one? Talked to one every day?

Artist Lia Anderson doesn’t, and neither does anyone else who frequents the Mount Airy Dog Park. But a violent death brings Detective Peter Dourson into the close-knit group, and he is convinced someone is not who they seem. As the investigation uncovers secrets, Lia struggles to cope with warring emotions and a killer watches.

Sue Owens Wright

Braced for Murder

“Welcome to the Bark Side of Mystery!” That’s the greeting you’ll find on the website of Sue Owen Wright, a gifted author who’s earned the prestigious Maxwell Medallion by the Dog Writers Association of America. I absolutely love this series. (After all, who couldn’t love a Basset Hound?)

Here’s the description of Braced for Murder, courtesy of Sue’s website:

When Beanie volunteers to foster a homeless basset hound from Lakeside Animal Shelter, she’s headed for calamity one way or another. Beanie and Cruiser are on the crime trail once again after a reviled shelter manager is discovered euthanized. Tahoe Animal Impoundment Liberation Society (TAILS), is a prime suspect in her murder, but there are plenty of other suspects among South Lake Tahoe’s irate dog lovers, including the grieving owner of Gilda, an ill-fated basset rumored to haunt the shelter.

If Beanie doesn’t have enough trouble unleashed on her with another murder to solve and daughter Nona’s health scare, foster dog Calamity is living up to her name, creating havoc at the MacBean house. With all her behavioral issues, this crazy hound could make a dog whisperer scream. Beanie is eager to find an adopter for Calamity at the upcoming Basset Waddle fundraiser for a new no-kill animal shelter, but Calamity has other ideas.

 

There are many more great writers out there, just waiting for you to discover them! You can find these authors and other great books at the touch of your keyboard. Find us on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. Try searching for “dog mysteries” at your favorite retailer. You can find us in digital and print editions online and in stores, to include independent bookstores (look for us on IndieBound as well as the major retailers). And more than one of us have audio editions of our books (or will have this fall), so be sure to browse Audible too. Now’s the perfect time to start your shopping list for upcoming holidays and special events–because books make the best gifts, of course!

Have another author and/or mystery series you’d like to suggest?

Leave a comment and recommend your own favorites! 

Available in Fall 2014 …

news flash

I’ve just signed the contract for an audio edition of my book, Deadly Ties! The narrator will be Robin Rowan, one of the best in the business. She’s narrated more than thirty novels, including the mystery fiction of bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell.  I’m thrilled to have Robin on this project!

Robin is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where she majored in oral interpretation of literature. She’s credentialed as a top Audible producer and is  a member of the Audio Publishers Association, the World Voices Organization, and the National Forensics League.  In an interview published last November on best-selling crime author Libby Fischer Hellman‘s website titled “A Narrator’s-Eye View of Audiobooks” Robin explains what she looks for in a book that she’s considering recording. Here’s what she had to say:

What I look for in a book is something meaty, something substantive that I can really get excited about. If you’re not excited about the book, you won’t do a good job. As a voice for commercials and also a former ad agency copywriter, I always followed the great ad man David Ogilvy’s advice: You have to believe that the product you’re selling (or the book you’re narrating) is the absolute greatest product (book) in the world. I think mystery/thrillers are my very favorite type of book, since that’s the type I would pick up and read myself.

The audio edition of Deadly Ties will be available this fall on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.  While you’re waiting, be sure to browse the wonderful selection and varied membership plans for each retailer. If you’re an AudibleListener™ member, for example, you can enjoy some great savings!