An October Read

I want to welcome C.S. Boyack back to my blog. I love having him here. He’s a friend and fellow writer, and I’m a fan. This time, he’s promoting his latest book perfect for October reading, THE BALLAD OF MRS. MOLONY. This is the third book in his Lizzie and the Hat series, but it can easily stand on its own. I’ve downloaded it, and it’s next on my TBR list. I visit Craig’s blog many times, and he’s a contributor to Story Empire, offering valuable tips on all things writing. Please show him some love while he’s here. And with that, I’ll let Craig take it from here:

Thank you so much for having me over, Judi. We’ve all had a good time on this tour, and the Ballad of Mrs. Molony is still only 99¢ for a limited time. I’ll put it at its regular price sometime in early November. Don’t miss out on this fun bit of Halloween reading at the introductory price. I’ll let the blurb sell the story at the end.

I like to make all my tour posts unique, and our topic today is the evolution of the series. Specifically, recurring characters.

As the series extends, it occurred to me that Lizzie and the hat don’t operate in a vacuum. They are going to revisit some locations and come across some people more than others.

In the first story, The Hat, it was all about getting acquainted and forging the bond they have. I mentioned some people from Lizzie’s life, but we didn’t really get to meet them. There’s Mike with the landscaping company, along with Dave & Sandi. All of them own places Lizzie works for. It was functional, because of the focus of that specific story.

Viral Blues was the second story, and because these are supposed to be campy and silly, I wrote my version of a comic book team up adventure. The participants all appeared in my previous books. It took some doing, but you can read this one without having ever read any of the other stories.

Then came The Ballad of Mrs. Molony, the current story. It dawned on me that Lizzie is going to need some recurring characters to take this much further.

Our heroes have a small cover band, and I fleshed that out in Viral Blues. These characters give some of the continuity I’m looking for, but they have nothing to do with the paranormal world. They wouldn’t even understand it. That leaves me with Evelyn, the witch from The Hat.

I needed some recurring characters that fit into the paranormal side of these stories. Welcome Kevin Mugford. He’s a vampire, and has to be the crappiest vamp in history. He has gnarly teeth to the point of deformity, and a speech impediment to go along with it. In Mrs. Molony, he’s a frequent target of the hat’s barbs. He might even be more trouble than he’s worth.

I figured if The Rockford Files could have Angel Martin, maybe Lizzie and the hat could have their own street informant. I probably won’t drop him in every book, but he’s going to stick around.

Since I decided to pull characters from other books, I decided why stop now? Once upon a time, I wrote a book called Will O’ the Wisp. One of the supporting characters was Pete Rogers. Pete earned a short story in one of my collections called Night Bump Radio. I brought Pete into this series with his late night radio show. Callers dial in to tell Pete what goes bump in their night. Turns out it’s Lizzie and the hat, who they’ve given a terrible nickname. This helps me add a bit of tension and keeps them looking over their shoulders. I intend to make this a regular part of the series.

I have more recurring characters planned for future stories. The trick is to keep the focus on Lizzie and the hat. These won’t be regular characters, but recurring. Think Inspectors Lestrade and Gregson from the Sherlock Holmes stories.

The even bigger trick is to keep writing the books in such a way that people can read them out of order without feeling lost. I’m determined to do this. I don’t want someone to discover these stories years from now and feel like they can’t pick up any volume they’re interested in because it’s part of a series.

I can afford a tiny little intro for Kevin whenever he appears and not lose the long term readers. They might appreciate a reminder if it’s been a while.

One example happened in Viral Blues. Lisa Burton, the robot girl, helped Lizzie out with some suitable outfits for her nocturnal monster hunting activities. The fact that Lizzie is wearing some of these things in Mrs. Molony doesn’t leave new readers feeling lost.

I’ve rambled long enough, and I promised you a cover and blurb to get you excited about the new story. I’ll also throw out a purchase link and some links for the previous stories. Hope you’ll give The Hat Series a chance for your Halloween reading.

***

Blurb: Lizzie and the hat are back, and this time they’re chasing vampires across a subculture of America. A pair of rodeo cowboys are holding a woman captive to use like a milk cow since they joined the undead.

The person who put them onto the trail is also a vampire, but he has to be the worst vampire in history. Is he really that pitiful, or is he setting a trap for our heroes? Does the woman even exist? Can Lizzie and the hat find her before she also takes up blood sucking?

Follow Lizzie and the hat as they use their cover band to stalk vamps across the country music scene.

Purchase your copy here: The Ballad of Mrs. Molony

Other stories in the series are:

The Hat

Viral Blues

Image preview

You can contact Craig at the following locations:

BlogMy NovelsTwitterGoodreads | FacebookPinterestBookBub

Thanks so much for stopping by, Craig. I enjoy reading (and writing) series. When I like characters, it’s fun to see them in more stories. I’m excited about vampires and monster hunters for Halloween reading! Along with your ever present dose of humor. Have a great October!

Some Writers Have a Little Bit Too Much Fun

I already told you about my good blog friend, C. S. Boyack’s new book, VIRAL BLUES.  But today, Craig has come to tell you about it himself, and I’m so glad to have him!  When Craig lets his imagination go, watch out, world!  Here’s Craig:

Hi, everyone. Craig here to talk about my latest book, Viral Blues. This one is just in time for your Halloween reading, but it isn’t horror. It’s more a light-hearted romp. (Some gore, so think of it like dark humor.)

I always intended this to be a sequel for The Hat, the book I pushed for last Halloween. This series is without an overarching plot, so you ought to be able to pick up any of them and fare just fine. No prerequisite books required.

Then I went a little bit crazy, but crazy is good sometimes. It dawned on me that many of my previous characters could dwell in the same world. Some of them were pretty popular, and readers requested sequels from them, too.

It’s with this thought that Viral Blues earned a storyboard. All the pieces were in place for a great team-up, which seems to be all the rage at the movies lately, too.

Dr. Gina Greybill, and her assistant, Mohan Gupta, used their Host Program to gather a special group of individuals to face a pestilence of massive proportions. You may remember them from The Playground.

They invited Lizzie and The Hat, Lisa Burton, Jason Fogg, and – by accident – Clovis from some of my previous books. Together they work to uncover whoever is tampering with the world’s vaccine supply.

This posed my first quandary, because I have a mix of science fiction, paranormal, and regular people here. Ultimately, it had to be a paranormal story, with Sci-fi sprinkles on top.

I also had to decide who to focus on for the story. Since this was always going to be the sequel for The Hat, Lizzie and The Hat walk us in, and close it out. That part was easy. It also built a much needed fence for me. I would follow the format of The Hat, and keep everything in third person. (The Jason Fogg stories were in first person, so I toyed with the idea of keeping his sections that way, but it didn’t work well.)

Character popularity established that Lisa Burton and Clovis would get about equal time with Lizzie and The Hat.

This isn’t to say that Gina, Gupta, and Jason didn’t have their fans, they did. Readers won’t be disappointed either, but these characters help bind the story together with their special skills. Even Marvel had to do some of this. Iron Man gets more time than, say, Hawkeye.

One benefit is that some of my characters are a little over the top. It might just be me, but I think they’re lovable in small doses. By spreading the spotlight around, readers get a nice mix of their personalities and skills, without it being too much.

Then I went a little more crazy, and included even more characters. Clovis got there, because Gina invited Justine, the voodoo practitioner who is his girlfriend. I have cameos from other stories, but they’re more like Easter Eggs than any main focus. There is no requirement to read these tales first, but if you have, you might recognize a bit here and there.

To keep the crazy train rolling, I even included a secret chapter. It’s after the back-of-book material in a nod to pop-culture and some of the superhero films.

I don’t mind telling you, this story was a challenge. It came out great, and in my opinion, people who try it are going to have a good time.

Mobsters, devils, zombies, the CDC, what’s not to love. Hopefully, your fans will check it out for their Halloween reading, and thanks for having me over.

 

***

 

Someone knows about the hat. The creature from another dimension that helps Lizzie fight against the creatures of darkness.

They are summoned to a cryptic meeting with a secret society, where they meet other people with enhanced skills. It turns out someone, or something, has been tampering with the world’s vaccine supply. The goal doesn’t appear to be political or financial, but biblical pestilence.

Can this group of loners come together in time to make a difference when even the proper authorities are obstacles?

Check out Viral Blues, for your dose of paranormal adventure, with a strong sample of dark humor. And in recent superhero style, don’t miss the secret last chapter after the back material.

THANKS SO MUCH TO CRAIG FOR VISITING MY PAGE TODAY!  I LOVE HIS WRITING.  HOPE YOU CHECK OUT HIS BOOK.

viral-blues by c.s. boyack cover

This is the purchase link: Viral Blues: http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B07XVTSYYV

You can find Craig on any of these sites:

Blog My Novels  Twitter Goodreads Facebook Pinterest BookBub

C S Boyack's bio box

 

What is a supernatural mystery anyway?

When I tell friends that I finished Muddy River Mystery One and put it on Amazon, they ask, “What is it?”

Well, a mystery.  That’s in the title.  Muddy River is the town on the Ohio River that the supernaturals settled.  They found a nice, hilly, secluded area in southwest Indiana, far from mortals, to call home.

“The supernatural?” they ask.

Yup, witches, vampires, shapeshifters, and demons, among others.  Most friends know that I used to write urban fantasy.  And now I’m writing mysteries.  So I decided to combine the two.  Sort of like the Babet and Prosper novellas that I used to write.    Prosper was a bearshifter and his partner on the force, Hatchet, was a Druid.

I like writing about Druids.  Of course, I jazz them up a bit.  My Druids can call on lightning to strike and their tattoos are alive and writhe when they’re angry.  It’s Prosper and Hatchet’s job to solve crimes committed by supernaturals who break the rules.

Prosper teams with Babet, a witch, to solve a murder.  In Muddy River, Raven Black–a fire demon–teams with Hester Wand– a witch–to solve the deaths of thirteen young witches who were just starting their own coven.  Of course–no suprise here–while they work together, they fall for each other.

“Oh, a paranormal romance!” someone says.

“No, wrong emphasis.  A paranormal romance has the romance as the story’s main focus.  Raven and Hester’s relationship is more of a subplot.  The mystery forms the main plotline in my story.”

“Why is it different than an urban fantasy?  You started with those.”

“Urban fantasies are about the bad guys, usually evil, bumping heads with the good guys–the protagonist and his friends.  The battles escalate until it’s life or death at the end of the book.  This book, even though it has a few battles, is about solving the mystery.”

This is when my friends usually scratch their heads.  But fellow writers–they’ll understand.  The main plot line is what distinguishes one kind of story from another.  And this story is …a mystery with a romance subplot in a world peopled by Fae, Druids, witches, vampires, shifters, and one banshee.  And it was really fun to write!  As fun as Babet and Prosper.

A close friend and fellow writer still looks at me, bewildered.  “But why?  Your cozy mysteries are doing so well.”

All writers know that it’s dangerous to switch genres.  People who read cozy mysteries might not want anything to do with a fire demon for an enforcer.

Well, I didn’t know how well The Body in the Attic would sell when I started my second series, did I?  It came as a wonderful, happy surprise.  But I’m not sure it would have made a lot of difference.  I tend to lose interest if I read one author, one genre, over and over again, back to back.  Sorry to say, but that holds true of my writing, too.  I really do love the cozy mysteries I write, but I need to change it up once in a while, or else my writing goes flat.

I have no idea if I can find success with Muddy River, but I’d written three cozies, and I needed a witch or two to break things up.  And it worked.  I’m ready to dig into serious rewrites for Jazzi and Ansel’s fourth book now.

Whatever you’re writing, whatever your writing habits, have a great week of it!

 

Writing: Things I Still Haven’t Gotten Around To

When I started writing the Babet/Prosper novellas, it was because my daughter, Holly, kept bugging me to write more mysteries. I didn’t want to write a novel, but I did get excited about writing short stories. I’ve sold mystery short stories, and I enjoy writing them. That’s how ONE LESS WARLOCK (free on Kindle, Nook, smashwords) came about. It was an experiment to see if I could combine paranormal and mystery elements into a locked room mystery–you know the type, where they find a body in a sealed room. So how did the killer enter or leave? With paranormal, I had more gimmicks to work with. Totally fun. ONE LESS WARLOCK is short, because I intended on making it a one-shot deal–my effort to write a locked-room that would rival Agatha Christie. (Like that’s possible). But then, I really enjoyed Babet and Prosper. I got hooked on River City, and I thought, Why not write other types of mysteries and see how they work with witches and shifters?

I listed some of the types of mysteries that I enjoy. Of course, “puzzles” were at the top of my list. (I am a huge Agatha Christie fan). Try as I might, though, I can never make mine as clever as hers. MAGRAT’S DAGGER started out as a puzzle mystery–with the carved box that the “bad” witch dug up from the witch’s grave and the mummified hand holding the dagger inside it–as a clue. I was happy with the mystery when I finished it, but I fell short of Agatha. So who knows? Someday, I might try a puzzle again. I was happier with my “face in a crowd” mystery–of a person who’s supposedly been dead for years–when I wrote A DIFFERENT UNDEAD. Again, when you can mix paranormal and necromancers in the mix, anything’s possible. BAD JUJU was my stab at a missing person mystery. Who took her? Why? But then the paranormal elements started swallowing the mystery elements, and my whole process got a little murky. Which means there are still lots of types of mysteries that call to me. CELT SECRETS was my stab at the villain who kidnaps the hero’s girlfriend to use as leverage. I liked that, but I still want to write a Ten Little Indians plot, (by Christie)–where people are stranded somewhere and one person dies at a time–like the game and movie CLUE. And there are still the switched identity gimmicks, a suspense/thriller type story with a ticking clock, and maybe even a spy/betrayal type.

I’ve tried to write a mystery that hinges on handwriting analysis, and the idea still fascinates me. The entire process intrigues me. Which way does your writing slant? What does that say about you? What are your loops like in your letters–open or closed? http://www.viewzone.com/handwriting.html My friend wrote a story that pivots on handwriting, and I’m jealous, but it’s still on my “to do” list.

I can add another. I want to write a story from the POV of an unreliable character–but those are tricky. I could go on and on, but I hope you have the same problem I do–more ideas for stories than time to write them. Still, it’s fun having a “list” of things to do. Life never gets boring. So I hope you’re brimming with ideas, too, and happy writing!

http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

BTW: Michael finished the cover for my 2nd Empty Altars book: Spinners of Misfortune. I love it! Hopefully, the book will be online soon. I think the cover hints at the Norse myths in the story line.
cover_42_thumb