Guest: Marian Stanley

Edith here, freshly back from Malice! I’m delighted to interview Marian Stanley on the Immaculate. meblog today. She’s a fellow New Englander and her brand-new debut mystery is out from Barking Rain Press. The Immaculate is a mystery about the murder of Sister Mary Aurelius, an elderly Boston nun so tough that she was secretly nicknamed Spike by her students, and the determined search for answers by a former student whom the nun had mentored throughout her life.

I read the book and happily endorsed it: “You’ll be a faithful fan of Stanley’s work when you finish this tale of ambitions and betrayals, powerful figures with something to hide, and enduring childhood friendships – a story which grows more compelling page by page.” Marian is giving away a copy of the book to one commenter here today!

Immaculate bookmarksE: Marian, The Immaculate is your first mystery to be published and it’s a stunner. Do you have a number of books in the drawer or is this really your first book?

M: Very kind of you, Edith. No books in the drawer, though plenty of early drafts of The Immaculate all over the place!

E: When did you know you wanted to write crime fiction, and how did you get to today – release day?

M: When I was a kid, one of the things I did was to keep my father supplied with mysteries from the Winchester, Massachusetts Public Library. He’d sit in his recliner after work and go through those books like potato chips, so I would sweep seven or eight at a time off the library shelves and bring them home in bags. His tastes ran to hard-boiled mysteries – private eyes, smoking guns, luscious babes and broads, racetracks and fast cars. Not my thing, but the mystery and crime fiction part stuck.

I enjoyed two long careers, one in corporate and one at a university. When I was semi-retired from Northeastern University, I threw myself into various writing classes and workshops for two or three years. Every exercise that I submitted for class critique was related in some way to what would become The Immaculate. I’m getting on in years, and I figured that if I was going to get this thing done, I had better focus pretty tightly!

When I felt The Immaculate was ready and I looking for a good home for the story, I sent the manuscript to Barking Rain Press during its open submission period. Happily, publisher Sheri Gormley was enthusiastic, assigned me a fabulous editor in Melissa Eskue Ousley and we were off to the races!

I have to say that along the way the support and camaraderie of the New England Sisters in Crime organization and the Guppies group was immensely valuable, especially since I was pretty sure I had no idea what I was doing. Of course, some of the best things in my life happen when I’m pretty sure I have no idea what I’m doing.

E: You seem to know the dark side of the culture of nuns and the Catholic Church quite immaculate pix.3well. Is this your church, or the result of research, or both?

M: While I think there is a dark side to every hierarchy and organization – indeed to all of us, some situations are darker and deeper than others. Yes, I was raised as a Catholic and had a largely Catholic education. For my first two years at the small Catholic college I attended in upstate New York, I lived in Saint Elizabeth’s convent where, for their sins, a group of long-suffering Franciscan nuns had responsibility for fifty lively young women. In graduate school at Boston College, I worked in the office of the Dean of Graduate Arts and Sciences, who had just returned from leading the Jesuit university in Baghdad, and I was grad assistant to a Jesuit English prof and civil rights activist, a veteran of the Selma march. For a brief time later, I was the only lay teacher among a staff of teaching nuns at a Catholic school in Cambridge. So, yes, I feel comfortable talking about that world and I remember that time with great fondness.

Now that I’m a Unitarian – though I guess I’ll always be a Boston Irish Catholic at heart – someone asked me when I was going to start writing about the dark side of First Parish in my little town. I told him that I’m not sure that I have enough to work with – yet.

E: Your protagonist, Rosaria O’Reilly – love the name, by the way – is a single woman with some kind of high-power job. Tell us a bit more about her, and if there’s anything in your background that resembles her.

M: Oh, Rosaria is gutsier and smarter than I will ever be – and she probably has better hair. Her name – glad you like it – is similar to that of an old friend from Boston College I lost touch with over the years. Perhaps that other Rosie will read the book some day and be startled to find her name on the lead character in a mystery novel.

Like Rosaria, I worked internationally for a large company – in her case, high-end athletic shoes (see thread to Converse Rubber company below). In my case it was cameras and Polaroid. My territory for a long time was what was then called Emerging Markets – China, Vietnam, India, South Africa, Turkey and what we termed the “Stans” – the former Soviet republics like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. So, what we see of Rosaria’s life in that respect is my own. As the story rolls out, we see Rosaria growing increasingly restless with her corporate life and feeling the pull of the old town she desperately longed to escape as a young woman.

Immaculate 2Rosaria married a man of some repute, though her mentor Sister Aurelius didn’t think much of him. Rosaria’s husband was content with this bright spunky girl from a factory town until she started to show some independence and have some achievements of her own which might even eclipse his – then perhaps not so much. So, they ended up parting.  A common story – though happily not mine. In The Immaculate Rosaria finds an unlikely, but better fit for herself.

Converse Rubber factory on the malden River

Converse Rubber factory on the Malden River

Rosaria grew up in a factory town, and I did too to some extent. Every summer, like Rosaria, I worked on the floor of the Converse Rubber sneaker factory on the Malden River, packing Chuck Taylors and enormous All Star basketball shoes. I did not have a lifelong mentor like the indomitable Sister Mary Aurelius, but she is an amalgam of various well-loved nuns, teachers, and priests in my life – including one called Spike.

Rosaria and I both enjoy the company and affections of a small West Highland White Immaculate.ArchieTerrier named Archie, who appears in The Immaculate. Finally, Rosaria’s close friend and fellow sleuth Nuncie, who is dying of cancer in the book, is modeled after my own friend Anna who didn’t make it either.

E: I felt like Malford was really Malden, Massachusetts – or maybe Medford. Is it a fictionalized version of one of those (full disclosure: I used to live in Medford and my older son was born in Malden), and if so, why did you disguise the town?

M: How nice that you are so familiar with the area, Edith. Yes, Malford is much like Malden with some of neighboring Medford thrown in there. To be honest, I gave the town a thinly disguised name so that I could take liberties with the description of its character, the street names, landmarks and geography. In that sense, Malford is indeed a fiction. Also, in the back of my mind, maybe Malford could be translated into “bad or dangerous crossing” – giving a little more meaning and weight to the name. I was born in Malden Hospital and spent my early childhood in Medford.

E: Tell us something surprising about yourself nobody would have heard.

M: Goodness, I’m an open book. Let’s see. Between Polaroid and Northeastern University, as I was nearing sixty, I did the AIDS bike ride from Boston to New York City. I’m not sure that I was the last rider to pull in over the finish line, but I could have been.  I do remember enthusiastic New York City police officers and shoppers on the sidewalk cheering me on at the end – “Come on, lady. You can do it!”  Afterwards, I went to the apartment of an old friend (from Saint Elizabeth’s) in SoHo and collapsed in a heap. Who knew there were that many #%$&*! hills in Connecticut? Oops – sorry, forgot this was a cozy blog and we don’t use those words!

E: What’s next in your writing life? Will we see more of Rosaria, or is The Immaculate a standalone?

Buried Troubles is my current WIP, set in Boston and Ireland. Rosaria is once again the protagonist. This time, she is caught up in the legacy of old grievances and secrets in Ireland that cross the Atlantic with its immigrants – leading to the murder of a young Irish student in Boston. Some of the characters in The Immaculate make an appearance in the new story, and I think there will be at least one more Rosaria mystery after Buried, perhaps more. Rosaria has a flair for adventure– I’m just along for the ride!

E: Oh, goodie! I’m so glad Rosaria will be back.

M: Now, my turn to pose a couple of questions to dear readers. A free copy of The Immaculate goes to one randomly selected commentator! (E: So make sure we know how to reach you.)

The Immaculate went through some heavy-duty and beneficial critiquing in all those writing classes, workshops and manuscript critiques that I took while the book was being formed. I appreciated and used much of the advice I received. Some advice, for better or worse, I didn’t heed. I’d appreciate your thoughts on two of those points that I considered and left behind.

  • I deliberately kept Rosaria’s age ambiguous, though she is clearly older. I got advice several times that the female protagonist in a mystery generally should be no older than her early forties. What are your thoughts on that advice?
  • Similarly, Rosaria does have a high-powered job, as Edith points out – though that changes in the course of the story. I was advised that this career or job was not a good fit for a female protagonist in this genre. Do you have an opinion on that, and would the suitability of the career – like age – be different if the protagonist were male?

Many thanks for your thoughts and to Edith for the opportunity to guest blog. It was fun!

Marian Stanley writes in a small town outside of Boston where she lives with her husband Bill and a Westie named Archie. She was fortunate in two long previous careers – the first in an international Fortune 500 company and, more recently, at a large, urban university. Marian attended Saint Bonaventure University, the University of Exeter UK, Boston College and the MIT Sloan School Executive programs. A dual citizen of the United States and Ireland, she is the proud mother of four adult children and a small pack of adorable grandchildren.

 

When Words Come Alive

by Sheila Connolly

I complained last month about having no time to read, but lately I’ve realized that somehow I read a heck of a lot in my early years, and much of it really stayed with me. I find myself quoting unexpected odd bits from nineteenth century literature (it’s no wonder that people look at me strangely).

Sometimes there is no apparent logic to what got lodged in my memory. For example, the lines, “In a tearing hurry,/Yours ever, Laurie” have been rattling around my head for years. (In case you didn’t memorize the book, it’s from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, when Laurie, the rich boy in the neighborhood, writes Jo (the tomboy who was of course my idol) a quick note of invitation, and signs it thus. I remember reading the book when I was in fourth grade, recovering from the measles. Yes, of course I still have that copy.)

Little Women

I could cite plenty of similar instances, but this quirk of memory really hit home to me when I visited our town’s newly acquired 18th-century house, home to a wealthy mill-owner’s family. Ben Franklin is said to have slept there. This was the house’s public debut, and at their first open house there were curious local citizens and costumed reenactors milling around the first-floor rooms. And I came face to face with Ichabod Crane.

No, not the delightful Englishman from the television series, who bears absolutely no resemblance to Washington Irving’s description in his story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (published in 1819). This gentleman was at least six inches taller than I was (and I’m close to six feet in shoes) and dressed in colonial garb, and Irving’s description sprang to my mind immediately.

I can’t remember when I read the story, but it was a very long time ago. And please let us gloss over the Disney cartoon version (made in 1949, before I was born). But my memory of the language Irving used was so strong that I felt compelled to look up his original description, and here it is:

[Crane] was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weathercock perched upon his spindle neck, to tell which way the wind blew.

That was the man who stood before me, in the flesh (well, to be fair, his eyes weren’t particularly glassy, but the rest worked), and the description came back to me all at once. He was even awkward and gregarious at the same time, in ways that I think Irving would recognize. He’d been living in the old house for years, as a sort of caretaker, and I think it had seeped into his bones. He even showed us a secret chamber hidden between the chimneys.

We as writers know that words matter. The thing is, we don’t always know which ones. Do you as readers skip over paragraphs of description or explanation? Which bits do you find boring? Or which ones grab you and drag you into the story, give you a snapshot view of a character that strikes a chord?

And which words from books have you cherished for years, words that live on in your memory?
[A totally irrelevant aside: Washington Irving lived in a delightful mansion (befitting his status as a famous writer!) in Tarrytown, New York. As it happens, two of my Irish great-aunts are buried in Tarrytown—it is rumored but not confirmed that one of them worked for the Rockefellers, who had a country home there. Ivisited once, but neglected to see the Irving house, which looks to be well worth the trip.]
Forgive me if I don’t answer your comments promptly. On Monday I will be returning from Malice Domestic, where I will be frolicking with other of the Wicked Cozies. Pictures to follow!

 

 

Where Are the Wickeds- Malice Domestic Edition

Jessie: In Bethesda, enjoying the company of good friends and enthusiastic readers!

Malice 2014 picAll of the Wickeds, with the exception of Jane who will attend on a stick, will be at Malice Domestic this weekend. Here is a schedule of our panels and signings should you be planning on  being there too. We really hope to see some of our readers there!

Barb: Panels:Friday 10:00–Malice Go Round: It’s Like Speed Dating, WIth Authors Saturday 2:00–Murder in New England, Signing-Saturday 5:00

Edith: Panel: Friday 1:00-1:50 Make it Snappy: Agatha Best Short Story Nominees; Opening Ceremonies, Friday 5-5:30. Signing-Saturday 11:00

Jessie: Panel-Saturday 2:00-2:50 Death for Dessert: Sweet Murder, Signing- Saturday 5:00

Julie:Opening Ceremonies- Friday 5-5:30. Panel- Saturday 10:00– New Kids on the Block, Signing Saturday 11:00. New Authors Breakfast-Sunday 7:30

Kim: Panel: Sunday 11:45–Murder in Wartime: WWII

Liz: Panel-Sunday 10:00– Small Town Murder, Signing Sunday 11:00

Sheila:  Panel Sunday 10:00 –A Study of Murder: University, Museum, Library. Signing- Sunday 11:00

Sherry: Saturday 2:00-2:50–Murder in New England, Signing Saturday 5:00

 

Welcome Author Amy M. Reade

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, writing to you today from the world championships of the FIRST Robotics Program (go Buzz, Team #175!) in the shadow of the Gateway Arch in beautiful St. Louis, Missouri.  

I was super pleased when my friend, Amy M. Reade, agreed to guest blog for me today so I can enjoy the craziness that is FIRST (If you’re interested in seeing what goes on at a robotics competition, you can check it out here). So please give a Wicked Welcome to Amy M. Reade, author of the just-released gothic mystery HOUSE OF THE HANGING JADE.

House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA TodayTell us about HOUSE OF THE HANGING JADE.

HOUSE OF THE HANGING JADE is the story of Kailani Kanaka, a Hawaiian-born sous chef who, at the beginning of the story, lives in Washington, DC. She’s tired of the wintry weather on the East coast and decides to return home to the Island of Hawaii. She takes a job as a personal chef in a magnificent oceanfront home belonging to a family with secrets that threaten to tear them apart. Because she’s living in the home, she unwittingly becomes embroiled in those secrets, but the family drama isn’t her only problem. When someone from her past shows up and begins to stalk her, things take a dangerous turn and Kailani is left fighting for her life.

What actors would make the best main characters in your novel?

Kailani Kanaka: Tao Okamoto

Lars Jorgensen: Owen Wilson

Barbie Merriweather-Jorgensen: Gillian Anderson (I think)

Liko: Jason Momoa

Marcus: Asa Butterfield

Justine: Mackenzie Foy

Do you have any quirks? Tell us about them.

I don’t know if it’s a quirk so much as a bad habit, but I do crave chocolate every day. I’ve been trying to kick the habit for years now and it hasn’t worked. I should just embrace it. And I can’t touch wooden spoons- they gross me out. I guess you’d say that’s a quirk.

Amy ReadeWho’s your favorite writer of all time? 

That’s always the hardest question because there isn’t just one—it depends on my mood. But I have four who usually rotate into first place: Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Phyllis Whitney, and M. C. Beaton.

Favorite book of all time? 

Another hard one. I would have to say Pride and Prejudice.

Who is your most-loved book boyfriend?

*says without hesitation* Hamish Macbeth of the Hamish Macbeth series by M. C. Beaton. He’s a Scottish Highland police constable, tall, lanky, bright red hair, and he’s a sheep farmer on the side.

What is your writing process like? Early bird or night owl? Pantser or Plotter? Do you require special drinks or snacks?

I can really work at any time, as long as it’s not late at night. If I were an owl, I’d get kicked out of the group fast because I can’t stay awake with the other night birds.

As for being a plotter or pantser, I guess you’d call me a combination of the two. I have done both—I’ve plotted meticulously and I’ve done an entire book without any kind of an outline, and I’ve found that my happy medium is to write a brief (2-page) synopsis of the story as I see it in my head and then follow that while I write. It keeps me focused on moving the story forward to the end. I also research, plan characterization, and map out the chronology (all in long-hand!) before I actually sit down to write the story.

I require chocolate (even if it’s just chocolate milk) and caffeine (I prefer tea to coffee, and never soda). And there’s a lassi called “That Indian Drink” which I always have on hand if I’m hungry. I only like the Mango Rosewater flavor.

Best writing advice you ever heard or read?

Keep your butt in the chair.

OrlyDo you have any pets?

We have a dog- a Bouvier des Flandres. Her name is Orly and she is my all-the-time companion (and the best dog ever, if anyone’s wondering). We have two cats, named Athos and Porthos (a nod to my husband’s favorite author, Alexandre Dumas, and The Three Musketeers), and a fish named Poseidon.

What’s next for you?    

Right now I’m working on Book 1 of a three-book series set in the United Kingdom. The first book is set mostly in Edinburgh, Scotland. The series will be in the same genre as my other novels. Though I do have a working title for Book 1, nothing has been finalized and I’m still working with my editor on a title for the series.

Thanks so much for being here, Amy!

Thank you for inviting me to the Wickeds! I have enjoyed every minute of it!

Here’s where you can connect with Amy:

Web: www.amymreade.com

Blog: www.amreade.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/readeandwrite

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/8189243.Amy_M_Reade

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/amreade

Wicked Wednesday-Stopping by the Wayside

ALL MURDERS FINAL mech.inddWe are celebrating the release of Sherry’s book All Murders Final! Yesterday Sherry wrote about one of her favorite historical sites in Massachusetts, Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Sarah Winston goes there in All Murders Final, and I wondered, dear Wickeds, if you have ever been. If not, do you have another favorite inn or haunted place?

Edith: Congratulations, Sherry! So happy for you. I’ve never been to the Wayside but have always wanted to go. My imagination tends to run away with me, so I know if I thought about a place being haunted, I’m sure spirits would manifest and I’m not that comfortable with the idea. We went to the historic Exeter Inn this winter, which has lovely interiors. And several restaurants in Amesbury are in historic mill buildings, with much of the inside intact.

Liz: Yay Sherry!! Can’t wait to read this installment. I’ve never been to the Wayside either, but there’s an awesome restaurant here in Mystic that’s haunted, the Captain Daniel Packer Inne. It’s alleged to be haunted by Captain Daniel Packer’s niece, who died at age seven. She plays in the stairwell and befriends children who come to eat. I’ve never met her, but always hoped to!

Jessie: Congratulations, Sherry! It never gets old, does it? I have never been to the Wayside Inn but am eager to travel there through the pages of All Murders Final! I love the idea of haunted places but have yet to encounter one.

Barb: Congratulations, Sherry! I can’t wait to read All Murders Final. I’ve been to the Wayside Inn too many times to count. It’s one of my mother-in-law’s favorite restaurants, so we’ve taken private rooms for many graduation, milestone birthday, and other family parties. For several years we had a “grown-ups” only Christmas season dinner there when the place was all decorated. Our house in Boothbay Harbor is supposedly haunted. I’ve never seen the ghost, though our dog was convincing in his belief one night when we had to sleep in the haunted bedroom.

Julie: Add my voice to the chorus! Can’t wait to have you sign a copy of ALL MURDERS FINAL at Malice. When I was growing up, we spent April vacation with my grandparents. During those wonderful years, trips to the Wayside Inn were common. It is really wonderful. (I’m adding it to a day trip later this spring.) RE haunted houses–I lived in an apartment with a poltergeist. Random things would fly across the room. Jewelry would disappear, and then show up in the center of a table one day. Lights would flash in mirrors, but you could never find the source of the flash. Good times…

How about you, dear readers? Have you ever been to the Wayside Inn? Any haunted dwellings in your past?

A Little History With My Mystery

By Sherry, who is astonished my third book is out!

I love using a bit of local history in each of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery books. In All Murders Final! Sarah goes to lunch at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn In Sudbury, Massachusetts. It is one of my favorite places. Thanks to Innkeeper Steve Pickard for permission to use the pictures of the Wayside Inn. Here is what the website says about the Inn:

Longfellow’s Wayside Inn—a nationally significant Massachusetts Historic Landmark—is the oldest Inn still operating in the United States and has been serving travelers along the old Boston Post Road for almost 300 years. What began as a two-room home in 1707, the Howe family ran a successful tavern and innkeeping business on this site from 1716 to 1861. To read more visit their website: http://www.wayside.org/about and don’t miss their Fun Facts page.

wayside2One of the things that fascinated me was the story of Jerusha Howe who lived at the inn from 1797 to her death in 1842. Jerusha fell in love with an Englishman who stayed there, and they became engaged. He left to go home to England to make arrangements for the wedding and was never heard from again. Jerusha never married and supposedly watch out her window for his return.

It’s said that guests staying in her rooms hear piano music, smell perfume, and men actually feel someone cuddle up to them. The story tugged at my imagination from the first time I heard it. I could picture Jerusha sitting in her room that looks towards the road waiting, waiting, waiting for her love to return. Did he die? Was he a fraud? It’s a mystery! Yankee Magazine had an interesting article about Jerusha that you can read here.

wayside3Sarah Winston has had her share of problems with men. In fact she’s sworn off them until the murder of Ellington’s beloved matriarch, Margaret More. It throws her right back into the middle of the push-pull of her complicated relationship with her ex-husband CJ, who is the Ellington chief of police, and with district attorney Seth Anderson. When Sarah visits the Wayside Inn she runs into Jerusha and feels like Jerusha is trying to tell her something but what? Can Sarah solve the murder and her love life? You will have to read All Murders Final! to find out.

Readers: Have you ever encountered a ghost? Or do you have a favorite ghost in a book?

And if a book launch isn’t exciting enough we are thrilled to be featured in the Boston Globe today! Here’s the link: http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2016/04/24/murder-they-wrote/asE9zXGm30LUk6vqnalOuM/story.html?event=event25

Here’s another link with a little bit about each of us: https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2016/04/24/meet-wicked-cozy-authors/M1gnjBmiIvuWxXXyeka6rL/story.html

Working with reporter Kara Baskin and photographer Jonathan Wiggs was so much fun. Here are two behind the scenes shots of the photo shoot! We felt like rock stars! We were sorry Edith couldn’t join us, but she was on vacation eight hundred miles away.

IMG_8202IMG_8217

Different Voices

Edith here, enjoying spring, at last!FlippedAudioAmazon

The mailman brought the biggest surprise a couple of weeks ago. I knew Flipped for Murder was going to come out in audio this spring, but I didn’t realize it had already released until my Kensington editor sent me six copies of the CD set! And I’m going to give away one set to a lucky commenter today, so stick with me.

It’s my first book to go audio (in CD and on Audible), so I was, and am, really excited. I’ve had friends and fans ask me for years if my books were available for listening and I’ve always had to say, “Alas, no. But I hope they will be.” Some of these were blind friends, others people who love to listen to books in their cars or while they work around the house. Now I can grin and say, “Yes.”

I’ve never made a practice of listening to books on audio. When my sons were young and we drove to Quebec to visit my sister several times a year, we listened to EB White himself read Charlotte’s Web (on three audio cassettes), which was a real delight.(It’s now available on Audible. Got little kids or grandkids? Treat them!)

Then two years ago, when I made my solo road trip to Indiana to research the Country Story Mysteries, I borrowed Clara and Mr. Tiffiny from the library. The book, an intriguing novelization of Clara Driscoll and how she managed Louis Tiffany’s unmarried female glass artists at the turn of the last century, is by Susan Vreeland, and the audio book is narrated by Kimberly Farr. I was blown away by how Farr kept the voices of each character distinct. Those many CDs kept me alert and entertained for two days of driving.

LauralMerlingtonFlipped for Murder, produced by Tantor Audio, is narrated by Laural Merlington. After I started listening to the CDs in my car every time I went out, I hunted for Ms. Merlinton’s picture because I wanted to envision who was putting a voice to my words. And then I started laughing out loud as I heard her read the words I’d written. You can listen to a sample here.

She does a great job with the local dialect of Lieutenant Buck Bird, and with Robbie’s Aunt Adele. But the book is written in first person, and much of twenty-seven-year-old Robbie’s own narration comes out way, way more dramatic than the voice in my head when I wrote the words. There’s nothing wrong with it – it just isn’t how I’d imagined Robbie speaking.

For example, after Robbie has been thinking about ordering pre-chopped vegetables, she Sorghrumsays to herself, “Too bad one couldn’t also order up solutions to murder.” In my mind, she says that sentence with a pretty even intonation, with slight stress on ‘also’ and ‘murder.’ But the narrator says it completely differently, with a rising and falling tone on ‘bad’ and additional stress on ‘solutions’ and ‘murder’ trailing off into breathy voice. You get the picture. It made me smile – what a dramatic protagonist I’d written, without even knowing it! I found many instances of the same effect.

Now, maybe this is the same kind of deal as when you read a book, then you see the movie and say, “Whoa, that character doesn’t look like that!” Is it?

I finished listening to the last of the seven CDs last night, and found only two small errors of narration, which is pretty remarkable for eight hours and thirty-eight minutes (if you listen, it’s IU, not UI for Indiana University, and the alcohol is Sorg-RHUM, not sorghum, Grilled for Murderwhich is the grain).

I’m additionally delighted that the audio book for Grilled for Murder will be out on the same day as the paper and ebooks: May 31! (All formats now available for preorder – just saying…)

To celebrate this milestone in my authorial life, I’ll send one commenter today the seven-CD set of FLIPPED! So tell me, dear Readers, do you listen to audio books? If not, why not? If so, what’s your favorite, and why? Do you have a special narrator you follow, or is the content more important? And have you ever gotten a lemon of a reader?