Monday, November 25, 2013

Behind the Walls Hits the Streets

Books have their own pace for reading and writing. I envisioned the sixth book in the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series, Behind the Walls, appearing earlier in the fall. However, I like the book a lot better for the extra six weeks it took to write, so all's well that ends well.

Behind the Walls is one of two books that acknowledges the force that was Hurricane Sandy. As a storm that changed the face of the Jersey shore in many ways, I thought the series should deal with some of its aftermath. In Behind the Walls, Jolie and Scoobie are working on a storm-damaged bungalow she bought when they find something that has likely been hidden for decades.  And someone else wants it, and they're willing to kill to get it.

Even though Jolie and friends are tracking a killer, there is the trademark humor and a rowdy fundraiser for the food pantry Jolie chairs. As if trying to ferret out a murderer isn't enough, Jolie can't seem to get her cat Jazz to be happy without Aunt Madge's dogs. There may be room for another, albeit strange, kind of pet in Jolie's new house.

Behind the Walls is available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook, and will soon be available for itunes users.
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Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Craft of False Clues

It's relatively easy for me to think of who the bad guy will be in a new book. Also doable are knowing how they commit the crime and how they hide their involvement. The big challenge for me is planting false clues so the reader cannot figure out the evil-doer until they are unmasked.

When Trouble on the Doorstep was released in March a number of readers commented that they hadn't spotted the antagonist until the very end.  I had to chuckle, because while there were a couple of 'bad guys' in the book, I switched some things after I finished the first draft. In other words, I didn't know myself which one was going to be the preeminent evil-doer.

That might be a method to use, but it wouldn't be one to recommend. It does make a book more interesting to write.

As I've been writing Behind the Walls (sixth in the Jolie Gentil series) I've done more reading than I usually do when writing. Reading is the best way for me to learn. After dabbling with several authors I had not read, I found that M.C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth series was a great example of a detective who makes a number of wrong suppositions as he solves a crime. In other words, there are some good false clues and the Scottish detective follows them.  The books are also a great example of weaving the setting into the plots.

Since my sleuth is not a professional, her methods have to be different. She has no right to poke into a crime and has very limited access to what the police uncover. That's not to say she doesn't stick her nose where it doesn't belong. It's her specialty. However, the crime has to touch her in some way or it's not realistic for her to try to solve it.

So now that I've finished the first draft of Behind the Walls I'm inserting more false leads in various places. It's a little like a multiple choice test, with more options for the answers. In a few weeks I'll know if readers are as surprised at the ending for this book as they were for the last one.  My fingers are crossed.
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If you'd like to see how Behind the Walls turned out, click here.
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 Check out Elaine's web page or sign up for her newsletter