IMG_6963
Isabel Long Mystery Series

Writing a Mystery Series

Writing a series means that I can hold onto the characters I love but let them do something else. Certainly, that’s the case for Isabel Long, the protagonist, and for many others in my mystery series.

So far, the Isabel Long Mystery Series has three books: Chasing the Case, Redneck’s Revenge, and Checking the Traps, all published by Crooked Cat Books. I am making my way through the fourth, called Killing the Story.

For those just tuning in, Isabel was a longtime journalist who uses her transferable skills in her new life as a private investigator in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. Each book features a cold case she decides to solve. So far, a family member has approached Isabel to find out what happened to a loved one.

I carry some of the characters from one book to the other. In the second book, two bad boy drug-dealing brothers, Gary and Larry Beaumont, terrorized Isabel although they did eventually make amends. Certainly, all is forgiven in Checking the Traps because Gary hires Isabel to find out how his half-brother — a poetry-writing guy on a local highway crew — died. Was it a suicide, as the cops say, or murder?

Now, that that case is over, the Beaumont brothers are not key characters but their path — the brothers are joined at the hip —  do cross with Isabel’s, and they will have a key role because of a favor that was promised. Hey, I’m not telling.

Among the other characters I kept are: Jack, the owner of the Rooster Bar and Isabel’s love interest; her 93-year-old mother, Maria, who’s her Watson; the Old Farts, a group of gossipy men stationed in the general store’s backroom; and Annette and Marsha, two cousins who I will say are country tough. Then, there’s Jack’s nuisance ex-wife — they were married for a minute. I also expect a brief meetup with the Big Shot Poet and Cherie, the victim’s widow from the third book.

But Killing the Story has a new people including Emerson Crane, the owner of a tiny weekly newspaper who hires Isabel to investigate his mother’s death years back. At the time, everybody, including Emerson, thought she slipped on ice and died when she hit her head. But then while cleaning the newsroom, he discovers a suitcase filled with papers that indicates his mother was working on something big. Maybe it wasn’t an accident after all.

This case takes Isabel to a new town, Dillard, and a new set of suspects and sources. Yeah, I’m having a lot of fun.

BOOKS: Interested in reading the series and my other books? I thank you in advance. Here’s the link on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Joan-Livingston/e/B01E1HKIDG

 

Standard
IMG_6880
Isabel Long Mystery Series

Back At It

After a three-month break, I have returned to writing my next novel. It’s the fourth in my Isabel Long Mystery Series, and I was a hundred pages into it when I was hired to run the editorial department of a daily newspaper. (More on that another time.) I gave myself permission to put the book down while, first, I learned the new position and then in reality, worked two jobs while I tried to hire a news editor. There were long, long days working in the newsroom and at home, plus weekends. I had a paper to get out, and frankly, there was nobody available to do what I was doing.

But mercifully, I knew it would go on for only a limited amount of time.

And guess what? As of Monday, time’s up. I hired a news editor, and thankfully, my workload has decreased significantly. I am back writing fiction.

To get restarted, I printed the hundred pages and am going through them, marking word changes here and there. I make notations where a paragraph might need expanding or where a piece of information needs to be resurrected later in the book. Nothing major. Frankly, I like what I wrote months ago very much.

Marking up the pages also helps me get back into the book’s flow.

After I have incorporated the edits into the manuscript, I will be ready to take off. In my mind, I am already a few chapters ahead of where I left off. Ideas come to me doing household chores or yardwork, in the shower, or just before I fall asleep.

My tendency is to get up early, say 5-5:30 a.m., fix myself coffee and toast, and get at it. I aim for 500 words. A thousand words is golden. The pages add up pretty fast.

So, what is the new book about? Isabel is onto her fourth case. So is her sidekick, Maria, her 93-year-old mother.

They find their new case while attending the open house for the Pit Stop, a gas station and convenience store now owned by cousins Marsha and Annette. The owner of a small weekly newspaper, who is covering the event, asks Isabel to look into the death of his mother years ago. At the time, everyone including the son thought Estelle Crane died when she slipped on ice while walking home from the newsroom and banged her head on something hard and sharp. But then Emerson Crane found the contents of a briefcase that indicate his mother, who was the paper’s editor, had been working on something big about the small town of Dillard. It might even involve dirty cops.

Isabel takes the case because as a former longtime journalist she still has an affinity for newspapers. Plus she feels a kinship with Estelle, who shared the same high journalist ethics and the fearless pursuit of them.

Yes, Isabel is still working at the Rooster, and so far, she and Jack, its owner, are having a great time together. But I promise to get Isabel into hot water again while she works on this case.

By the way, the title for this book is Killing the Story — a term when a news story is yanked before it goes to print, oh, for a variety of reasons. Maybe that’s what happened to Estelle Crane. I will be sure to let you know when I find out.

ISABEL LONG MYSTERY SERIES: While I am writing, you could be reading the series’ first three books, published by Crooked Cat Books. This will be the last one for the publisher as it is winding down. I will be looking for a new publisher. If you know of one, please contact me via the comments section.

If you have read my series, thank you for your support. For those who haven’t, here’s the link on Amazon: Joan Livingston books

 

 

 

Standard
facebook2 copy
Checking the Traps, Isabel Long Mystery Series

When You Gotta Write Poetry

For the next few weeks, I will be running posts that appeared in blogs by my fellow authors and others. Here is one about writing poems for my latest mystery, Checking the Traps. Not my typical form of expression, but my victim and a suspect write poetry. So, I had to. This post appeared in author Angela Wren’s blog: http://www.angelawren.co.uk/

Like what you read? Here’s how to buy the book on Amazon: https://mybook.to/checkingthetraps

I wrote poetry before I could write prose. I began in college, where I fancied myself a poet, and a few years afterward until real life, including having six kids and a 25-year writer’s block, took over. When I did resume writing, I turned to prose, that is, novels and short stories. I no longer wrote poetry. Ah, but that changed when I wrote the third book in my Isabel Long Mystery Series.

In Checking the Traps, Isabel is hired by a local bad boy drug dealer, Gary Beaumont, to find out how his half-brother died. Did Cary Moore jump from a bridge known for suicides or was he pushed? But what fires up Isabel’s interest in this case is that Cary drove heavy equipment by day and wrote poetry at night.

Gary lends Isabel the notebooks in which his half-brother transcribed all of his poems. As Isabel discovers, Cary’s poetry in the early books are really juvenile. But he gets better, well, enough that a famous poet uses the poems for his own in what turns out to be an award-winning book. (Yes, the poet is a suspect in the man’s death.)

Isabel also finds poetry that Cary wrote as gifts for other people.

So, that meant I had to write poetry, too, for this book.

Actually I found writing poetry wasn’t hard at all. I was able to channel that inner poet to come up with several complete poems plus lines from others. I tried to imagine what a man who had never gone farther than 100 miles from his country home would write about and how he would write it. I figured on a plain but sturdy style of writing. There would have lots of imagery from nature. The poems would not be long.

Poetry, including a reading where Isabel corners the famous poet, figures big in this book.

Did the experience inspire me to write more poetry? I will be honest and say no. But I enjoyed letting one of my characters do it instead.

Here’s an excerpt from Checking the Traps. Jack is the owner of the Rooster Bar, where Isabel works part-time. He’s also her love interest in this series.

Jack motions me to come behind the counter.

“I’ve got somethin’ to show you,” he says. “I forgot all about it. Here you go.”

Jack hands me a paper. I immediately recognize Cary Moore’s handwriting. It’s a poem he called “The Barman.” It’s a lot more sophisticated than his second book of poetry, aptly named Book Deuce, which I read this afternoon after Ma and I returned from our field trip and before I got myself ready for work. Cary got heavy into rhyming with Book Deuce. Sometimes it works, a lot of the time it doesn’t. They remind me of the poems I read when I was a kid in elementary school. It appears Cary read them, too.

But here’s “The Barman.”

What’ll it be tonight, boys?

The barman asks each one.

Give me some hope in a bottle.

Give me courage.

Give me love.

The barman laughs.

Sorry, boys, it’s only beer.

He even signed the bottom.

“I like it a lot,” I tell Jack. “You should frame it and hang it behind the bar. Want me to do that for you?”

Jack’s face squeezes into an amused squint.

“Really, Isabel?”

“Yeah, really, Jack. Let me put it in my bag.”

 

Standard
facebook1
Checking the Traps, Isabel Long Mystery Series

Spreading the Word

I’ve just completed a marathon session writing blog posts about Checking the Traps, the third book in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. The posts will appear on other people’s blogs — all part of a plan to spread the net wide for readers. In all I wrote 20 posts, each on a different topic. Yeah, that’s a lot.

The first batch was for a 10-day blog tour I’ve booked on Rachel’s Random Resources that begins March 22, the day Checking the Traps is officially released. Many of the blogs will have reviews. Others will feature excerpts, with an intro I wrote. The rest of the bloggers wanted original posts, including one Q&A.

The second batch I wrote for authors. Most are with my publisher, Crooked Cat Books. I have yet to meet any of them in person since the publishing house is an international one. But I am chuffed, as my UK friends say, at the support they’ve offered through social media and our occasional Skype meetups.

So, how did I come up with 20 topics? First, I made a list. Then I started writing. I aimed for 300-400 words with an excerpt from Checking the Traps to illustrate my point.

The topics range from “my next victim” to “when a bad boy becomes a good guy” to “what’s with the title Checking the Traps?” The victim in this book wrote poetry, so I had to write poetry. I tell readers about that. I write about the characters and their relationships. One blogger wanted something history-related, and amazingly, I was able to do that.

Admittedly, it was a bit tricky since Checking the Traps is book three in a series. I didn’t want to spoil anything plot-wise for those who haven’t caught up with the other two books. I also didn’t want to give away anything crucial about the current one. So, I had to be a bit coy about details. I chose excerpts toward the start of the book.

I got into a rhythm, and wrote two or three a day. It was actually fun, especially now that they are done.

The posts will begin in mid-March. When one appears on a blog, I will let you know. I will also post it on my website. Yes, its all about spreading the word.

ORDERING: Kindle fans can pre-order Checking the Traps on Amazon now for $2.99 and it will pop into your device on March 22. Paperback fans can get their copy now for $10.99. Here’s the link: mybook.to/checkingthetraps

Thank you for your support!

Standard
CTT Paperback cover
Checking the Traps, Isabel Long Mystery Series

Paperback fans: Checking the Traps Is Ready

Here is some exciting news for those who like to read books the old-fashioned way: the paperback version of Checking the Traps is now available. That’s also exciting news for me as this is the third book in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. I will cut to the chase. Price is $10.99/£6.99. Here is the link to buy it: mybook.to/checkingthetraps

Most of the sales for my publisher, Crooked Cat Books, comes from eBooks. Based in Europe, its authors and market are global. (By the way, Kindle fans can pre-order Checking the Traps using the same link above. The book will pop into your device on March 22.)

But I will be honest though. I prefer touching paper when I read a book. I spend so much time staring at a computer screen for my writing and editing work. My eyes enjoy the change. (I also enjoy collecting books in hard copy — first editions that I tend to find at bargain prices in the most unlikely places.)

Anyway, here’s a blurb about the Checking the Traps that appears on the back cover:

Isabel Long is a bit banged up from her last case with a broken collarbone and her arm in a sling. But that doesn’t stop her from pouring beer at the Rooster Bar or taking her third case with Gary Beaumont, a local drug dealer who once terrorized her. Gary is convinced his brother didn’t jump off a bridge known for suicides. Somebody pushed him.

Gary’s brother was a boozer who drove for a highway crew. But what interests Isabel and her ‘Watson’ — her 93-year-old mother who lives with her — is that the man wrote poetry.

The chief suspects are one of Gary’s business associates and a famous poet who plagiarized his brother’s poetry for an award-winning book. Yes, he was that good.

As a journalist, Isabel did regular meetups with her sources for stories. She called it checking the traps. She does the same as a private investigator, and this time, she’ll make sure she doesn’t get caught in one.

Those who have read the first two in this series will find many of my favorite characters return with this one, such the feral Beaumont brothers from the second book. Then, there’s Jack, Isabel’s love interest and the owner of the Rooster Bar, plus the Old Farts, those nosy old men in the general store’s backroom, and those rough-and-tumble cousins, Marsha and Annette.

But I’ve dreamed up several new characters for this one, including a character Isabel calls the Big Shot Poet. I even made him a suspect.

Interested? Then get thee to Amazon.

 

 

 

Standard