Thursday, July 26, 2012

Interview with Lauren Carr, Suspense/Mystery Author

 Today I welcome a fellow suspense and mystery author Lauren Carr to chat. Shades of Murder is her latest release. Enjoy the excerpt below and Lauren is featuring a giveaway; read on to find out what two lucky commenters will receive.

Louise: Lauren, welcome to my blog! I’m so excited you could join me for a chat. When did you first decide to submit your work to be published? Tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.

Lauren: I would have to say my family was the first to encourage me: first, my mother who is always amazed by my imagination; and then my husband who always encouraged me to keep on writing.

But then, there was always an inkling in the back of my mind that my family had to love what I wrote. I overcame that doubt when I was in college and a professor encouraged me to expand on short stories and seek publication. She had me read one of my short stories in class, a mystery, and the other students loved it. Writers hold onto moments like that when they get hit by doubt.

Louise: Please tell us a little about your new release Shades of Murder.

Lauren: In Shades of Murder, Mac Faraday is once again the heir to an unbelievable fortune. This time the benefactor is a stolen art collector. But this isn’t just any stolen work-of-art—it’s a masterpiece with a murder attached to it.
Ilysa Ramsay was in the midst of taking the art world by storm. Hours after unveiling her latest masterpiece—she is found dead in her Deep Creek Lake studio—and her painting is nowhere to be found. Almost a decade later, the long lost Ilysa Ramsay masterpiece has found its way into Mac Faraday’s hands and he can’t resist the urge to delve into the case.
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, former JAG lawyer Joshua Thornton agrees to do a favor for the last person he would ever expect to do a favor—a convicted serial killer. The Favor: Solve the one murder wrongly attributed to him.
In Shades of Murder, I tackle the task of penning two mysteries with two detectives in two different settings and bringing them together to find one killer. What can I say? I love mysteries and mystery writing. Two cases are twice the fun.
In my fifth mystery, I bring back my first literary detective while introducing a new one. Joshua Thornton teams up with Cameron Gates, a spunky detective who has reason to believe the young woman listed as the victim of a serial killer was murdered by a copycat. Together, Joshua and Cameron set out to light a flame under the cold case only to find that someone behind the scenes wants the case to remain cold, and is willing to kill to keep it that way.
I took this project on because readers of my first series kept asking when I would bring back Joshua Thornton. However, they are going to find that single father Joshua Thornton is not in the same place since we left him in A Reunion to Die For. His children are grown. He’s more independent, and he’s ready for some romance and adventure. That’s where Cameron Gates comes in.
With that, Joshua Thornton, Cameron Gates, and Mac Faraday all land together in Deep Creek Lake. Little do these detectives know that the paths of their respective cases are on a collision course as they follow the clues to bring them together in a showdown with killer who’s got a talent for murder!

Louise: I love your cover! Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

Lauren: Both. I will think on a character for a long time before sitting down to write out a profile. This will include their background, personality, looks, agendas, everything. But they also have to fit with the plotline as well. So when I start writing the book, it is not unusual for the character profile that I had written to go out the window and the character to change.

In Shades of Murder, there was one character that I had completely developed before I began writing the book. Three-fourths of the way through, her character did not fit into the plotline and mystery. I could not make her do what I wanted to happen. Sure, I could have written the words, but the reader would have said, “Huh? I don’t think so.” So I had to replace her character. I guess you could say I fired that character and replaced her with one that did what I wanted her to do.

Louise: How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits to share?

Lauren: Since I write murder mysteries, I’m always cruising for information about interesting murder cases, or new forensics information. Even if a tidbit does not go with a current project I’m working on, it might be good for a book later on or inspire me for a future book. Plus, I have some favorite mystery shows that I watch.

Last fall, I went to the Writers’ Police Academy and had a fabulous time. I highly recommend it for any writer of mysteries. The instructors are real professionals working in the field of law enforcement. I even got to do high speed chases and fire a gun in the simulator. I learned so much and made some great friends.

Louise: What is your writing process? Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants (Pantser) or a combination of both?

Lauren: Combo. I will think on a plotline for weeks or even months. Then, when I think I have it sorted out, I will write a very loose outline. Mostly, it is to get it sorted out in my own mind. Then, I will sit down to start writing it. Interestingly, I will write the book without referring to any of my notes.

As I write, I will concentrate on getting it out—getting it done. The great thing about work processing and MS Word is the comments section. If I come to a portion that I don’t have the words for, I will write a comment in the margin: Insert love scene here, and then go on to the gun fight directly after that.

It will take about three or four drafts to get the book done. When I feel it is ready to be published, I will send it onto my Perfect Reader. Feel is the operative word here.

My mother is my Perfect Reader. She is a mystery expert. She has read almost every mystery that comes out and, most importantly, is not afraid to hurt my feelings. One-hundred percent of the time, I have to do a rewrite based on her input and the book is always a better book because of her.

Louise: Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer or still do?

Lauren: I used to write full time. But then, I started reaching out to other writers to offer the support that I wished I had in the beginning. As a result, I have grown to become a manager and publisher and spend my day helping other authors through my publishing company Acorn Book Services. I do consulting, editing, layout designer, e-book formatting, and marketing agent for independent authors during the day and work on my books in the evening.

The path to being a full-time writer was gradual. I started out as an editor and layout designer for the federal government. Desktop publishing was in its infancy when I learned it. Am I really that old? From there, I started writing freelance, and gradually worked up to writing and publishing books for myself and other authors.

Louise: Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place.

Lauren: Coffee. I’m the first one up in the morning and start with coffee. My husband had built a writers studio for me on the upper floor of our home, but I start out the day in the corner of our bed room. Next thing I know, the day is half over and I’m in the zone and still in my bathrobe with a cold cup of coffee at my elbow.

Louise: Describe a typical writing day for you.

Lauren: My day will start out about seven o’clock with answering e-mails and social media. After a couple of hours and two pots of coffee, I have to turn off the e-mail, which is very distracting, and work on my clients’ books. This can be anything from editing to layout design to proofing. Some days it is marketing with writing press releases or sending out queries to reviewers. At about four o’clock, it is time to get dinner started for my family. By eight o’clock, it is time to start working on my books. I will write until about eleven o’clock or, if I’m on a roll, until I am ready to stop.

Between all of that, we squeeze in taking dogs out, bringing them in, doing laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, taking out the garbage, and nagging my son to do his chores.

Louise: Please give us a sneak peek at your future books. What’s on the horizon?

Lauren: A new series! No, I’m not leaving Mac, but this is another series for readers to fall in love with.

Dead on Ice will be the first installment of my new series (Lovers in Crime) featuring Joshua Thornton and Cameron Gates, who were introduced in Shades of Murder. In Dead on Ice, Cameron investigates the murder of a porn star, whose mummified body turns up in an abandoned freezer found in Joshua's cousin's basement. It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué Hollywood legend’s roots were buried in their small rural town, something that she had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept it off her road map, too. Because when this starlet came running home from the mob in 1985, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.

And now your readers can enter the contest:

Your job, should you chose to accept it is to find both a stage name (naughty is okay, but it must be clean) and real name. The female character comes from the Hookstown, Pennsylvania area outside Pittsburgh.

E-mail your suggestions to Lauren Carr ( the Porn Star). Put Name the Porn Star in the subject line. Please include contact information, including mailing address and phone number.

Louise: What is your favorite genre to read and who is your favorite author?

Lauren: Mysteries. Right now my favorite author is Tess Gerritsen.

Louise: Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers we have not touched on?

Lauren: All of my books are available in both e-book and print. They are all available on amazon. Also, I have many personal appearances coming up, with plenty of chances for readers to me. In September, I will be at the Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop in Pennsylvania for their Murder As You Like It conference on September 22.

Louise: Where can the readers learn more about you and find your books on the web?

Lauren: Here is my email and my site links.
                Mystery Lady

Twitter: @TheMysteryLadie

I'll giveaway one print copy (US only) and eBook of Shades of Murder to two lucky commenters! Please leave your email address so we can easily contact the winners. Thanks!

Shades of Murder

Excerpt :

“What does the letter say?” Archie came back in from the kitchen. With the scissors, she broke through the plastic cord wrapped around the box.
Mac was still reading the first letter. “It’s a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo. This guy, Archibald Poole, died. He had left this to Robin Spencer. In the event of her death preceding his, it was to be passed on to her next of kin. Since that’s me, I get it.”
Archie stopped snipping. “Archibald Poole?”
Gnarly stopped sniffing.
“Did you know him?” He was breaking through the seal of the white envelope addressed to Robin.
“Creepy old man. One of those eccentric rich guys. He didn’t make it all on the up and up. I think Robin remained friends with him because he was good material for her books. He lived in a big mansion up on top of a mountain in southern West Virginia.”
Mac was only half paying attention. “He left Robin a painting.”
With one end unsealed, Archie peered inside the box to see that the contents were wrapped in brown paper and padding.
Sitting on the top step leading down into the dining room, Mac read the letter out loud:
Dearest Robin,
If you are reading this, then I’m dead and you are now observing my gift to you. So, what do you leave to the girl who has everything? When that girl is Robin Spencer, it’s a mystery.
You will find that I have left you an Ilysa Ramsay painting. That alone makes it worth a fortune. But, ah, my dear Robin, this is not just any Ilysa Ramsay painting. It is her lost painting.
You will recall that Ilysa Ramsay was brutally murdered on your own Deep Creek Lake in the early hours of Labor Day in 2004. At the same time, her last painting was stolen from her studio where her dead body was discovered. She had unveiled what she had declared to be her masterpiece to her family and friends the same evening that she was murdered.
Grasping the frame wrapped in packaging, Archie tugged at the painting to pull it out of the box while Mac continued reading:
Everyone in the art world has been searching for Ilysa Ramsay’s last work of art. With only a handful of people having seen it; and no photographs taken of it before its theft; its value is priceless.
As my good luck would have it, a month after her murder, my guy called me. He had been contacted by a fence representing someone claiming to have the painting and wanting to unload it. Being familiar with Ilysa Ramsay’s work, I was able to authenticate it. Also, I had seen reports from witnesses who had described it as a self-portrait of Ilysa.
As I write this letter, Ilysa’s murder has yet to be solved. Nor do I know who had stolen the painting. It was sold to me by a third party.
And so, my dear lovely Robin, I leave this task to you. Here is the painting that the art world has been searching for, for years, and a mystery of who stole it, along with who killed its lovely artist. Enjoy, as I know you will!
My Love, Archibald Poole
Her yellow suit droopy, Archie slapped her hat down on the dining room table, and ripped through the padding to reveal the painting of a red-haired woman lying across a lounge with a red and green clover pattern. She was dressed in an emerald gown with a ruby red choker stretched across her throat. Ruby red jewels spilled down her throat toward the bodice.
Gnarly sat on the floor at Mac’s feet to gaze at the painting.
They studied the image together.
“Just what I always wanted,” Mac said. “A stolen priceless painting with a dead body attached to it.”

Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award. A Reunion to Die For was released in hardback in June 2007. Both of these books are in re-release.

Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in her series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. The next book in this series, Shades of Murder, will be released May 2012. This will be Lauren’s fifth mystery.

Lauren’s sixth book, Dead on Ice, will be released in Fall 2012. Dead on Ice will introduce a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, in which Joshua Thornton will join forces with homicide detective Cameron Gates.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This spring, two books written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.


  1. Hello, Louise! Thank you so much for having me today I look forward to meeting your readers.


  2. Hi Lauren! Your book sounds awesome. I've added Shades of Murder on my TBR list. I see this is a series. What's the name of the series?

  3. Hi, Louise,

    It is the Mac Faraday Mysteries. The first is It's Murder, My Son. The second installment is Old Loves Die Hard.

    Look for my new series Lovers in Crime. Dead on Ice will be out this fall.

    Thank you so much for having me on your site. It's fun!