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Guest Post by Lauren Carr, author of A Fine Year for Murder (with giveaway)

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Guest Post by Lauren Carr, author of A Fine Year for Murder (with giveaway) A Fine Year for Murder by Lauren Carr
Series: Thorny Rose Mysteries #2
Published by the author on January 30, 2017
Genres: Mystery
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

After months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.

When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family living near a winery owned by distant relatives she was visiting and suppressed the memory.

Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?

An Author By Any Other Name ….
By Lauren Carr (aka Jack’s wife, Tristan’s Mom, Marilyn Mayhem, and Beast Master)

Occasionally, I receive an email from an author terrified of using Facebook, the Internet, or any social media for fear of friends and relatives identifying them. Once, I received an email from an author afraid to promote his upcoming book. “I have relatives out there who I don’t want to find me,” he said.

I’m certain there’s a great story behind this, but he refused to tell me.

I was surprised when I first started conducting workshops in using social media to discover that many writers are terrified of promoting their books online for fear of their friends and family finding out that they’re published authors. So, I offer this solution: Use a Pen Name!

Read on to learn about my not-so-secret identity.

My husband has been the financial director at our church for over twenty years. Yep, this mystery writer, who spends her days researching how to kill people is a middle-aged church lady. Since I am somewhat a local celebrity, our church’s gift shop carries my books. While we don’t endorse murder, my mysteries are clean of profanity, graphic violence, and explicit sex. Therefore, our senior pastor (a fan) allows my titles to be sold in our bookstore.

One afternoon, I was coming down the hall outside my husband’s office when I heard our office manager telling a woman, “You really should ask Lauren Carr about that. She might be able to help you.”

“Lauren Carr?” the woman replied. “Do you have her number?”

“Of course,” Jill answered. “She’s Jack’s wife.”

Hearing my name, I stepped into the office and a woman, a church member who I had known for years, turned around. When she saw me she said, “That’s not Lauren. That’s Marilyn.”

Laughing, Jill explained, “She’s all three of them. Lauren Carr is her pen name. She’s also Jack’s wife. He calls her Marilyn Mayhem. But her real name is Terri.”

The woman’s eyes got wide. “Jack is married to Lauren Carr!” Judging by her expression, you would have thought I was Nora Roberts (another author that uses a pen name) living undercover as a middle aged church lady called Marilyn by her close friends.

My true identity is not exactly a state secret. Yep, Lauren Carr, Jack’s wife Marilyn (which is another story), Tristan’s Mom, Beast Master to three dogs—they would all be me.

Pen names are nothing new. Authors have been using them for centuries. Some names are famous: Mark Twain was really Samuel Clemens and Dr. Seuss was Theodor Geisel. Ann Landers was Esther Pauline Friedman. O. Henry was William Sydney Porter.

Why would an author change his or her name to hide his or her identity from the real world rather than step forth and take all the glory they deserve for having completed the daunting task of writing a book?

There could be any number of reasons:

In Mary Ann Evans’ case, she was writing at a time when books written by men were more successful than those written by female authors. So Evans assumed a man’s name (George Eliot) to relate better with her readers.

Likewise, award winning mystery author L.C. Hayden, says that when she first started writing by her real name of Elsie Hayden, she received rejection after rejection until she changed her name to L.C. to give publishers and readers the impression that she was a male writer.

Another author I had worked with used a pen name because his first book, fiction-based-on-fact, said some not so nice things about some real people and he wanted to hide his identity. During my career, I have met more than one writer considering the use of pen names for just this reason.

In the case of Stephen King (Yes, even Stephen King used a pen name!) he didn’t want to risk saturating the market with Stephen King books. At the beginning of Stephen King’s career, publishers limited authors to one book a year. In order to increase his publishing, he convinced his publisher, to print a series of novels under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman.

My reason for using the pen name of Lauren Carr is not quite so grand, or even interesting. Frankly, I don’t like the name Terri. I never did. That’s why my husband calls me Marilyn. (No, that is not my middle name. … It’s a long story.) When I was growing up, I realized that since I wrote fiction, which is not real, then I was free to take on a not-real name and I could be any one I wanted.

What a kick!

I thought long and hard about my name. I gave as much thought to it as an expectant mother, because that was who I was going to be, even if only on the cover of a book. I chose Lauren because my sister’s name is Karen. I was convinced that if my mother was thinking straight, that Lauren, not Terri, would have naturally followed Karen. Don’t ask me why or how I came to this conclusion, I just did. Carr was my late stepfather’s last name.

So, I became Lauren Carr, a pen name that I have had longer than my real name. I was Lauren Carr before I married my husband and took on his name. Little did I realize that as my career has grown, that Lauren Carr would become a whole other identity, which is also a kick.

Is it fun? Sure is.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a mystery dinner theater in the small town where we have lived for close to a quarter of a century. I hosted the event. During the performances, I would be introduced as Lauren Carr to the audience. Jaws did drop. Many people in the audience had read Lauren Carr books, written by the local author, but they didn’t know Tristan’s mom and Jack’s wife wrote those murder mysteries. “She seems so normal!”

Other questions that writers considering using pen names ask me:

What about when customers write checks? Do you have to make them sign them under your real name? Check with your bank. When I first started making public appearances, I contacted my bank and explained the situation, which they thought was cool. This bank said they would accept checks made out to my pen name as long as I deposited the whole amount into my account, which is under my real name.

Yet, when we opened an account at a different bank, this one stated that they would not take a check made out to Lauren Carr because Lauren Carr is not a real person.

Post Office: Let the post office and your mail carrier know that mail addressed to your pen name is for you. Otherwise, it might be returned as wrong address.

Email Address: Very simple. Many people who don’t have multiple identities have more than one email address. I have one email that I use for my personal accounts, one for Lauren Carr for my writing business, and yet another for my social media accounts (which I rarely check). I get more emails to Lauren Carr than I do for my real identity.

I also have different signature lines set up in Outlook. If it has to do with writing, the signature line is from Lauren Carr, author. If it is a grocery list to my husband, it is Marilyn. Terri doesn’t have a signature line.

Social Media: For book promotion, I have a Lauren Carr account and a separate personal account for my personal life. Not too long ago, a friend said that she had to friend Lauren Carr because I never used my personal account.

However, I don’t put truly personal information out there on the social media. The foremost reason I use it for promotion. Therefore, never—I repeat—never put anything personal out there on the Internet that will reflect poorly on your public image. Example: You have a fight with your husband—don’t go onto Facebook to announce that you married a doofus and then provide a blow-by-blow account of your side of the fight. That’s not going to sell books and will alienate some of your readers. Constantly think about your public image and how you want to present yourself. Don’t upload that video of you wearing the beer hat and dancing naked on the kitchen table while singing “I’m a Little Tea Cup.”

Security is a big thing that most authors are concerned about in using social media. We have all heard stories about maniacs hunting down people who they have been following on the Internet. A few years ago, I received a phone call at home from someone who had found my mailing address on the internet. He knew he lived in the same town where I lived and GoogleMapped it. He claimed he lived only a few streets from me. After a few long emails from him and phone conversations, I went on the Internet and removed my address from everywhere I could find it.

Make an effort to not give away too much about your personal life even if you use a pen name to hide from long lost relatives. I don’t post pictures of my house. I refrain from posting pictures of my son and my husband. Not too long ago a reader who realized she lived in the same town I did posted questions on my timeline on Facebook trying to find out where I lived and if we knew the same people. At one point, when she had put it together, instead of sending me a message off-line, she posted on Facebook “Are you …” I refused to say yeah or nay. If she had sent a message off-line instead of my timeline where everyone could read it, I would have answered her.

What’s the point, or the fun, of having a pen name if you don’t get to live behind a veil of mystery? As an author, with a pen name, you can be whoever you want to be.

Are you a middle-aged church lady on the outside with a young adult cozy writer buried deep inside you? Or maybe you’re a shy kindergarten teacher harboring a thrilling romantic suspense author behind those reading glasses.

Then maybe you might want to unleash your alter-ego and give her a name.

It’ll be fun!

Enter the Giveaway!!

Ends April 22

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Book Blitz: The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr

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Book Blitz: The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr

Book Blitz: The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr
Series: Mac Faraday Mystery #5
Published by Acorn Book Services on July 19, 2013
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 286
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

Mac Faraday Meets the Wolf Man!

Never tell Mac Faraday not to do something.

In The Murders at Astaire Castle, Spencer’s police chief, David O’Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer’s mountaintop—even though he owns the property. It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out!

Topping the list of the ten most haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago—and Mac Faraday owns it!

In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.

“Halloween has always been a fun time,” best-selling author Lauren Carr explains in a note at the beginning of her fifth Mac Faraday mystery. “It’s the time to break out and be someone else. As a child, I would pretend to be one of the Bobbsey Twins searching for clues to lead me to a secret treasure. If I was lucky, it was made up of chocolate. As a teenager, I was Nancy Drew. Always, when October rolled around, I craved mysteries with something extra added—something beyond the normal—something supernatural. As an author, I couldn’t resist taking this one Mac Faraday Mystery on a scary Halloween adventure.”

In this latest installment of Carr’s hit series, what starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet—including a wolf man. No, we’re not talking about Gnarly.

Book Excerpt:

Prologue

November 2002 – Astaire Castle, top of Spencer Mountain, Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

Shivering, Rafaela turned up the fan for the heater in her old Plymouth. The weather channel was calling for snow. With an eye on the storm clouds heading straight for Spencer Mountain, she picked up the speed a notch. Her car bumped along the worn road cut through the trees and rock to take her to Astaire Castle.

The notion of being trapped at the castle by a winter storm made her curse the day she had accepted the job as housekeeper at the Astaire estate. The young illegal immigrant thought her prayers had been answered by landing the job at the luxurious estate. Not only was it prestigious to work in a castle, but lucrative since Damian Wagner was paying almost twice her normal hourly wage.

What a gem to put on my housekeeping resume! To be hire by only one of the world’s most famous authors of horror books—even more famous than Robin Spencer—to clean an honest-to-goodness castle. So what if the Astaire Castle has a reputation of being haunted? I’ll be making a bundle for cleaning five days a week in the daylight. Besides, I don’t believe in no ghosts.

Rafaela regretted her decision the first time she walked into Astaire Castle.

At first, she dismissed her cleaning supplies moving from where she had left them as forgetfulness. Then there was the time she kept hearing someone whispering her name. She had looked around, but never saw anyone. Same with doors closing or opening or footsteps coming up behind her, and the old-time music and party noises in empty rooms when no one was there—she tried to tell herself that it was all her imagination.

None of that was anything compared to the Wolf Man who she had seen in the dining room mirror while she was cleaning it.

She had heard all about the Wolf Man who lived in the woods surrounding Astaire Castle. The woman with two teenagers who lived in the apartment next to hers was quick to tell her about him. Rafaela had dismissed it all as ghost stories made up by her neighbor’s kids to scare her—until she had seen him with her own two eyes.

That day she ran out of the castle. She returned only after Genevieve, Damian Wagner’s daughter, had promised that her father finish his book and be moving out of the castle by the end of the year—at which time he would pay her a handsome bonus that would give her enough money to visit her family in Brazil for Christmas.

Rafaela caught her breath when her Plymouth entered through the gate at the end of the road to pull into the front courtyard and fountain.

The fountain was off. Damian Wagner had never bothered to turn it on. He wouldn’t notice if it was. He spent his time banging away on his computer in the study on the top floor. He wouldn’t eat if it weren’t for his daughter bringing food to him.

Then there was the editor—Mr. Jansen.

He reminded Rafaela of a bird with his bony frame, high cheekbones over a pointy chin, and thick eyeglasses with his blinking eyes magnified behind them. He sounded like a squawking bird with his high-pitched voice no matter what his mood or what he was saying. Ready to pounce in anticipation of any need from Damian Wagner, he was always lurking nearby.

Damian’s daughter, Genevieve, was as charming as beautiful. She often asked Rafaela about her family in Brazil and about her life in Deep Creek Lake. For the new immigrant to America, Rafaela felt as if she was making a friend who would give her good references for more housekeeping jobs in the resort town of Spencer—more millionaire estates to clean—estates that weren’t haunted.

Rafaela pulled her car around the circular drive and parked at the bottom of the steep steps that led to the front door. When she got out of her car, the wind howled and whipped her long dark hair around her head. The wind actually seemed to want to rip her thin coat off her body. Grabbing her box of cleaning supplies, she squared her shoulders, and sucked up her nerve to go inside.

Need to make this quick. They don’t have enough money to make me stay here during that storm.

The wind yanked the heavy wooden door from her grasp to slam it against the side of the house.

“Stupid door!” Rafaela set the box inside the foyer and went outside to grab the door and pull it shut. “Mr. Wagner! Mr. Jansen! Genevieve! It’s me, Rafaela! Hope I’m not disturbing you.” She picked up the box and made her way through the foyer.

“Raf-aela …”

She stopped. With wide eyes, she peered up the staircase to the second floor balcony. “Is that you, Mr. Wagner?” She paused to listen. “Genevieve?”

“Get out. Now.”

Has to be my imagination. She reassured herself. “There’s no such thing as ghosts. There’s no such thing as ghosts,” she muttered over and over to herself while hurrying to the back of the castle.

“I don’t suppose you had any trick-or-treaters last night, did you?” she called out to ease her nerves with the sound of her own voice. “Not up here I suppose.”

She waited for an answer. She heard footsteps on the floor up above.

The smell of burnt meat came to her nose. It smelled like steak that had been left on the grill for too long.

They must have grilled steaks last night.

“Lots of little children stopped by my apartment.” Feeling braver as she rattled on, Rafaela set the box of cleaning supplies on the kitchen table and gathered together her duster and furniture polish.

Best to start in the living room. The antiques, wood, and silver takes the longest.

Admiring the decades-old priceless china encased in the china closet, she went through the dining room. With her cleaning lady’s eye, she gauged what needed to be addressed on this visit that she may have missed before. She stopped when the blotch of red on the doorframe through the kitchen caught her eye.

What’s that? Catsup?

It wasn’t until she spotted a spot on the floor that she first considered that it wasn’t a condiment, but something much more sinister. She spotted another. Bigger this time … and another.

There was a red pool in front of the kitchen door that opened out onto the back patio and deck that projected out over the rocks to provide a massive view of the valley down below. All of the drops and splatters and pools led to the common source—the fire pit outside.

She saw the flames and smoke wafting in the wind whipping around her where she stood in the open doorway. She stared at the blackened objects in the pit. What at first appeared to be a burnt log projecting out of the flames took shape.

The hand and fingers reached out to her.

The index finger was pointing at her.

Through the rapid beating of her heart, Rafaela could hear the footsteps behind her coming closer.

“Get out!”

His image was reflected in the glass pane of the door. The wild hair. The crazed eyes.

It’s the Wolf Man!

Watch the Trailer!

Giveaway!

Lauren is giving away one paperback copy, two ebook copies and three audiobooks of THE MURDERS AT ASTAIRE CASTLE!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Six winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway begins October 6 and ends October 31.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, November 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

A Wedding and a Killing by Lauren Carr

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A Wedding and a Killing by Lauren Carr

A Wedding and a Killing by Lauren Carr A Wedding and a Killing by Lauren Carr
Series: Mac Faraday Mystery #8
Published by Acorn Book Services on Sept 13, 2014
Source: Pump Up Your Book!
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 326
Format: eARC
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

When Mac Faraday decides to do something, there’s no stopping him … even murder!

Not wanting to wait until their big day to start their life of wedded bliss, Mac Faraday and his lady love, Archie Monday, decide to elope to the little church where his ancestors had all married—along the tranquil shore of Deep Creek Lake. However, before they can say, “I do,” the sanctuary erupts into chaos when Gnarly finds a dead body in the church office.

As they dive into the investigation, Mac and his team discover more questions than answers. What kind of person walks into a church and shoots a man for no apparent reason? How do you solve the murder of a man who has no enemies in the world? Which of the seemingly kind-hearted church members is really a cold-blooded killer?

Then, there is the all-important question, how long do Mac Faraday and his lady love have to wait to get married?

Earlier today, you got to read a bit about Mac Faraday’s life from his point of view. My first meeting with him and Archie Monday, his girlfriend was in A Wedding and a Killing. At #8 in the series, it worked fine as a stand-alone for me, although I may have enjoyed it a little more had I known the characters longer. I find that with a lot of series books, they work on their own, but they work better as a whole. I have to admit that when I saw this was touring, I decided to read it because I enjoyed Lauren Carr’s  guest post in May, “My Mother Isn’t a Psychopath, She’s a Mystery Writer,” so much. It was funny and true and gave me high hopes for her stories.

A Wedding and a Killing was a quick read and I really like Mac. He’s a good guy, a little gruff around the edges, but a hear of gold, so to speak. He’s also rich, but it’s inherited, he didn’t grow up with money and doesn’t seem to have let it take over his life. He’s a private detective who apparently works on a contract basis with the police – helps that his friend/half-brother, David O’Callaghan, is the chief. David’s focused on his job and may have a bit of an issue with wanting to be better at solving crimes than Mac is.

The mystery is interesting. Who killed Eugene, the head of the trustees, a nice, competent, well-liked man? Of course, the suspects are all church members, several of whom have their own secrets and motives. There were several clues spread around, but the actual solving of the case had a few twists and turns. Solving the case(s) is definitely a team effort, each of the main characters contributes in some way, even the dogs.

I’m not sure if this is typical of Carr’s mysteries or came up this time around because of the church setting, but I’d say this is verging on a Christian mystery. Several characters are very faithful, others questioning. I felt it was handled honestly and appropriately and never turned preachy, but I know some mystery readers like to be warned ahead of time when the mystery takes an unexpected religious turn. I also thought there was a moral stance taken when it comes to homosexuality which bothered me – the only gay man is portrayed very badly, and found in a dead in a “den of degradation.”

I expected it to be funnier, actually. The one dog, Gnarly, is a hoot, dangerous but hilarious. Aside from that though, it’s a light mystery, but not amusing. I think I’d like to get to know Mac and his friends/family a bit better. I bet they grow on you.

About Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

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