Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Sweepstakes: Why I love them! by Jenn McKinlay

 Jenn McKinlay: My publisher is BIG on doing sweepstakes. They put together a smattering of authors they are about to unleash upon the world and offer up a collection of their titles for a prize. My books have been included with everyone from Charlaine Harris to Kristan Higgins. Pretty great, right?

But what I love most about it is that in this new world order, where there are no conferences, it's one of my few opportunities to meet other authors as we join forces to promote our work through the sweepstakes. And this Detective Starter Pack crew is exceptional so now I get to share them with you!


Detective Starter Pack sweepstakes! The sweepstakes is running September 15—September 25 and one entrant will be selected to win the featured books, as well as a murder mystery game! 

Enter here: https://bit.ly/3yxG247

Today just happens to kick off this sweepstakes, so I thought I'd introduce my fellow sweepstakes authors by asking them to tell us what they find most difficult about writing mysteries, so here they are to tell you.

 
What's the hardest part when writing a mystery?

Jennifer HawkinsFor me, it’s making sure the motivations on the part of the murderer are believably intense, and also something the reader can, maybe not sympathize with, but will have some emotional resonance with.

Olivia BlackeWriting a mystery is like trying to solve a crossword puzzle without any prompts. Once you’re able to fill in all the blanks, you have to make sure that the puzzle you’ve created is challenging enough that people who can solve it feel like they’ve had to work for it, but with enough clues that it’s fair. My goal is that at least some people think they know whodunit early in the book, then make them keep second-guessing themselves until the big reveal, but I want the majority of readers to get to the end and realize that the answer was obvious all along, but they missed it.

Jennifer J. ChowI think it's finding the balance between giving too much info while also making the mystery puzzling for the reader.

Jenn McKinlay: The middle, always the middle, no matter the genre. I hate middles. But, also, with mysteries, I struggle with trotting enough suspects across the page. I have discovered for a mystery, it really is a case of the more the merrier.

So, how about it Reds and Readers, what do you think the hardest part of writing a mystery is?


ORDER NOW
 One of BookRiot's Best Upcoming Cozy Mysteries for the Second Half  of 2021!
When murder follows Mimi Lee to her romantic island getaway, she     puts on her best sleuthing hat with her sassy cat in tow in this  adventurous cozy mystery by Jennifer J. Chow.

 Mimi Lee just found an extra perk to being a pet groomer at Hollywoof  (other than cuddling animals all day long, that is). Pixie St. James, one of Mimi’s clients and the investor behind Hollywoof, has offered her and her boyfriend, Josh, a getaway at her vacation home, nestled on beautiful Catalina Island. With the island just outside of Los Angeles but still far enough from the hustle and bustle, Mimi, Josh, and their cat Marshmallow (who, of course, wouldn’t be caught dead in a dingy pet hotel) are excited for their relaxing stay.
 
That is, until Pixie’s last renter, Davis D. Argo, turns up dead. Mimi and Josh’s romantic getaway immediately turns into an enormous buzzkill, especially when Pixie asks Mimi for help. The police suspect Pixie, and Mimi knows a thing or two about wrongful allegations. Mimi figures it couldn’t hurt to snoop a little since she’s already there, and soon discovers that a valuable item is missing. Except Pixie isn’t the only one in the neighborhood who has been robbed. There is something strange happening on the island, and Mimi won’t stop until she finds out what it is.


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A charming tea room owner and her excitable talking corgi will need to work together to bring a killer to heel in this delightful cozy mystery. 

For ex-accountant Emma Reed and her beloved corgi, Oliver, opening Reed’s Classic Tea & Cakes in the idyllic village of Trevena in Cornwall has been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.  Her cakes are popular, she has a host of wonderful new friends, and even a potential new romance.  There’s even time left over for plenty of long country walks with Oliver, who is not only the cutest corgi on record (at least to Emma), he happens to talk (at least to Emma).  What could be better?   

How about being asked to help cater the local Daphne DuMaurier literary festival?   

But when the festival organizer is found dead and foul play is suspected, Emma, Oliver and their friends are plunged deep into a poisonous mix of village jealousy, family tension, money troubles, and secret love affairs.  Emma quickly realizes it’s up to her and her intrepid corgi to discover a canny killer whose bite is worse than their bark.

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Amateur sleuth Odessa Dean is about to discover the only thing harder than finding her way out of an escape room is finding an affordable apartment in Brooklyn in this sequel to Killer Content.

Odessa Dean has made a home of Brooklyn. She has a fun job waiting tables at Untapped Books & Café and a new friend, Izzy, to explore the city with. When she's invited on a girls' day out escape room adventure, she jumps at the chance. It's all fun and games until the lights come on and they discover one of the girls bludgeoned to death...

The only possible suspects are Odessa and the four other players that were locked in the escape room with the victim. She refuses to believe that one of them is responsible for the murder, despite what the clues indicate. In between shifts at the café, Odessa splits her time interviewing the murder suspects, updating the bookstore's social media accounts, and searching for the impossible--an affordable apartment in Brooklyn.

But crime--and criminally high rent--waits for no woman. Can Odessa clear her and Izzy’s names before the police decide they're guilty?

ORDER NOW
Spring has sprung in Briar Creek, but it is not all sunshine and roses, in the newest Library Lover's Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of One for the Books.

Spring is livening up Briar Creek after a long, cold winter, and newlyweds Lindsey and Sully could not be happier. Even though the upcoming mayoral election is getting heated, everything else in town is coming up daffodils...until a body is found.

Ms. Cole, a librarian and current candidate for town mayor, is shocked when she opens her trunk to discover a murder victim who just so happens to be a guy she dated forty years ago and the founder of the baking empire Nana's Cookies. As the town gossip mill turns, a batch of rumors begins to circulate about Ms. Cole's rebellious youth, which--along with being a murder suspect--threatens to ruin her life and her budding political career. But Ms. Cole is one tough cookie who will not go down without a fight.

Has the campaign for mayor turned deadly? It is up to Lindsey, Sully, and the rest of the crafternoon pals to see how the cookie crumbles and figure out who is trying to frame Ms. Cole for murder and why.


Now go enter the sweepstakes! GOOD LUCK!!!





55 comments:

  1. Wow, what fun . . . and the books all sound so intriguing; thank you, ladies.
    My poor to-be-read pile is going to implode one of these days, but, until then, I’ll just keep adding more books . . . .

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    1. Joan, you remind me of something I once read that said “Collecting books and reading books are two different hobbies.” LOL.

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    2. Unfortunately, books get added a bit faster than they get read, but I'm working on it!

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  2. I've read several of the books and they were all enjoyable. The hardest part, I guess is all three, the beginning, the middle and the end. The end especially as you have to make it so the reader is satisfy yet making it all believeable.

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    1. Yes! Tying up all those loose threads properly is so hard!

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    2. So kind of you to say about our books. Thanks, Dru!

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  3. What a great group to promote with! I also love that kind of group sweepstakes.

    I'm with Jenn on the middle being the difficult part of writing the mystery. Somehow I've gotten through it 30 times, so I guess I can keep going!

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    1. By now we know we can do it, but somehow I lose my way every time…and I’m a plotter!

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  4. Welcome to JRW ladies! I enjoyed reading about your challenges, all so true! I remember my editor telling me I'd done a great job with one of my early advice column books. She never guessed the murderer, except, she said, that might have been because he was hardly on the page! I suppose that speaks both to Jennifer's point about motivation and playing fair with the reader.

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    1. The more books I write the more suspects I like to have and action. A good/ridiculous chase scene always livens things up.

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  5. Jenn, thank you for introducing us to your new author pals. What fun! These books all sound terrific! I will certainly enter the sweepstakes.

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  6. I'm with Jenn and Edith - the middle. How to keep the momentum, get those suspects out there, get the red herrings and clues, but not bog down and not give anything away!

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    1. Yes, yes, yes. And naturally, the second act is always the longest, because of course it is.

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  7. I was reading a new-to-me author the other night and was nearing the end. I cast my mind back over the characters introduced along the way. There were so few characters that the process of elimination very quickly narrowed the choice of murderer to one person. Except the murderer turned out to be a character who was barely on the page until the denouement. In that particular case, I think the middle definitely needed some work!

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    1. I always feel like that’s cheating. I’ve probably done it in the course of 40+ mysteries but I do try to make it an Ah-ha moment every book.

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    2. Nah, not you, Jenn! My favs are your library mysteries and I've never been disappointed!

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  8. What a fantastic treat this morning! So happy to meet all of you! And thankful for the great stories you tell.

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    1. Judi, you won Alyssa Maxwell's book but maybe you didn't see the notice. Please write to her at alyssamaxwellauthor@gmail.com!

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    2. Thank you, Edith. I did see the notice and I did send her an email the same day. I've been wondering why I haven't heard but I hate to bug people. Guess I'll try again.

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    3. Do try. Her father was very ill and in fact passed away on the weekend, so she might have missed it. I'll tell her to go look.

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  9. My sleuth spends the murky middle doing too much "serial questioning." I need to amp up the tension in other ways.

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    1. “Serial questioning” LOL - I love it!

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    2. Thank you for putting a name to one of my biggest mid-book issues!

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  10. Thank you so much, Jenn, for featuring us on JRW today! Delighted to be in a sweepstakes together. Glad to e-meet everyone here, and best of luck to all!

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    1. It’s been fun getting to know you all! And autumn is such a great time to load up on a stack of mysteries, isn’t it?

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  11. I think it's hardest to make sure there's a balance- the mystery isn't so easy it's solvable on page 2, but not so hard or confusing that you get to the reveal and think "that doesn't make sense!" or "So-and-so should be the guilty party because..."

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    1. Yeah, you definitely don’t want your readers to argue with you. It’s such a balancing act!

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  12. “Serial questioning” - LOL. I love it!

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  13. So excited to be part of this a fabulous line up!

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    1. Me, too! I love these Sweepstakes - just wish we could enter!

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  14. Coming up with something puzzling enough to keep the reader going but that will make perfect sense in the end seems like the hardest part to me. I appreciate it when authors are able to pull that off.

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  15. Writing-wise, the end of the middle (end of Act 2, for many of us) is the hardest part. When it comes to cooking up the mystery, I always struggle with motivation. It seems like there are fewer and fewer reasons to kill someone (in a way that lends itself to mysterious complications) outside of money/soured love/hiding a nefarious secret. In Golden Age detective novels, people used to kill to preserve their reputations, but nowadays if anyone had a dreadful scandal they'd just go on TV and talk earnestly about it and then no one would care.

    Thinking about it, lots of the murders in my books are panicky blunders committed while covering up another crime.

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    1. Which makes perfect sense. One crime begets another.

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  16. This is such a fun idea, Jenn, and I love meeting your fellow "sweepers!"

    I think the hardest part of writing a mystery for me is having the detectives figure things out in a logical way. I usually know what happened and why it happened, but I have to lead them to it. It's truly terrifying, never being sure if I can pull that off.

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    1. Sweepers--now I have that "Chim Chim Cher-ee" song stuck in my head. :)

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  17. Thanks Jenn for introducing us to your fellow sweeps authors! I love the detective starter pack theme.

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  18. Not a writer here but I've read some books seem to drag in the middle. It's like trying to walk through loose mud that just keeps adding layers of slop, to your boots, with each step.

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    1. It feel that way when you're writing it, too! LOL.

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  19. I love the name of the sweepstakes, Detective Starter Kit. So clever. And, talk about clever, the titles of these books delight me so much. They are so witty, plus the stories are so appealing. There is just no end to the amazing books available to read.

    As a reader and reviewer, I think I've come across more beginnings that seem to drag than middles, or maybe that bothers me more. I don't want everything to happen in the beginning, of course, but I don't want just filler until something does happen. And, I must note that nothing is black and white about writing murder, as I have actually loved some books where the murder doesn't occur until well into the book. As with most creations, it all comes down to the deftness of the artist (author in this case) in making it all work.

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    1. Titles are so fun to come up with!

      I also sometimes enjoy books where there's a mystery that doesn't involve murder--as long as it's done well.

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    2. Kathy, I've seen "info dumps" happen in the beginning that read like running into a brick wall. TMI!

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  20. Jenn, thanks so much for posting this! I agree with you 100% - getting to know fellow authors and fellow readers is amazing and sweepstakes and blogs like this are a great way to get together. So happy that I can be an "honorary Jen" for this giveaway :)

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    1. ...don't know why this shows up as Unknown, since I'm logged in, but this is Olivia Blacke.

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    2. Ha, Olivia! You're entering comments as a ghost Jen now.

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    3. Blogger is so persnickety. Great to see/meet/sweep with you, Olivia!

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  21. Nice to meet the new-to-me authors! Just my 2 cents to add, but since I've been binge-watching so many mysteries on TV, it's not quite the same as reading the books, unless they are especially well-done. With the music, facial expressions and dialog it's often easier to guess who-dunnit! When I read a well-done book I tend to get involved with all the characters and scenery along with possible motives etc. with the story!

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    1. Very wise. I've just started watching Only Murders in the Building. Loving it so far!

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  22. As a writer, I would say the tightrope we walk is not over-plotting at the expense of character development and not getting so wrapped up in the characters that the reader loses the thread of the plot.

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