A cozy mystery, with dogs, set in the state where I went to college? How could I resist? Since there was no room in my review schedule, I asked for a guest post. I hope you'll enjoy and if you read the book, let me know what you thought.
Jacqueline Corcoran and Lane Stone have teamed up to write about some of their favorite topics – dogs, mysteries, and Middleburg, Virginia, which is known as the nation’s horse and hunt capital. MALTIPOOS ARE MURDER is the first in their doggie day spa romantic suspense series.
Jacqueline Corcoran lives in Arlington, Virginia with her rescue animals, husband, and two children. She holds a Ph.D. in social work and is on faculty at the Virginia Commonwealth University. She has published numerous professional academic articles and fourteen books in her field. Her mysteries include Maiming of the Shrew (Cozy Cat Press), A Month of Sundays (Whimsical Publications), Backlit (Etopia Press), and Memoir of Death (Etopia Press). See her website at http://www.jacquelinecorcoran.com/
Lane Stone and her husband, Larry Korb, divide their time between Sugar Hill, Georgia and Alexandria, Virginia. She’s the author of the Tiara Investigations Mystery series. When not writing, she’s usually playing golf. Her volunteer work includes raising money for women political candidates and conducting home visits for A Forever Home, a dog foster organization. She is on the Political Science Advisory Board for Georgia State University, and she serves on Sugar Hill’s 75th Anniversary Planning Committee. www.LaneStoneBooks.com
My co-author Lane Stone and I both came from a mystery background as readers and as authors, so romance was new for us. This is what we learned from working with our editor and writing and editing numerous drafts of Maltipoos are Murder:
1. Make the heroine young. Originally, we had our heroine Cara Rogers at age 31 but found out that she was too old for romance, according to our editor. Twenties was more desirable, so she became 27.
2. Don’t have too many men cluttering up the landscape. Originally, Cara’s ex-boyfriend was not an ex at the start of the book, and we had described her increasing dissatisfaction with this relationship and then how she ended it. I have always been fascinated by the complexities of break-ups, but this had no place in the romance. Our editor suggested that readers might be turned off by Cara being embroiled with someone else initially and that she needed to be free to be attracted to a new person. In the revised version, the relationship was already over.
3. How to balance romance and mystery. Lane and I, coming from our mystery background, had the mystery front and center but our editor was always romance foremost. She was desperate to have Cara and Cole go to dinner dates quite early on, but we kept saying, “She’s a witness, possibly even a suspect. They can’t be dating yet.” That leads to our next lesson . . .
4. The couple in every scene. Somehow, we had to try to put both people in the couple on stage together for a significant amount of time and preferably every scene. We did this through accidental run-ins, or Cara or Cole fabricating reasons to see the other person. If they absolutely had to be apart, we would have each character thinking about/longing for the other one in internal monologue.
5. Sparks, sparks, sparks. The main characters had to constantly be having physical reactions to each other. One thing that became a little tricky for us was that at the beginning of the book, the main character discovers her relative’s body. It seemed a little inappropriate, if not downright tacky, that she would be having a physical attraction to Cole at that point. However, a romance requires the early attraction between the two people. How we handled this was to have her question her reactions in internal monologue as in, “Why was she feeling this now? It must have been all that had happened this morning.”
6. The characters have to be likeable. This is true for all writing but is especially important for romance to have likeable characters. We had a couple of instances in the beginning pages where our main character was a little snippy. Come on, she was a well-respected veterinarian finding herself managing a doggie day spa where every room has a cutesy name, and “pet parents” leave spending money for their little darlings. That simply had to go though because our editor questioned Cara’s likeability at this point.
A big thing also is that the reader has to admire the male lead because in a way she has to fall in love with him, too. We have a smart female protagonist in Cara so at times in her “investigation,” she would be ahead of the detective, but we had to make sure that he didn’t come off as “dumb.” He had to find out things she didn’t or couldn’t because of her lack of law enforcement background, and in the end, of course, he puts the mystery together. J
7. Romance tropes. There are certain longstanding conventions in romance that readers expect (http://www.romysommer.com/2012/10/tropes-in-romance.html). Ideally, there should be more than one trope operating, although we only used one: “opposites attract.” Cara is the big city professional woman, and Cole is “small town law enforcement.” Opposites attract is a common trope because the characters believe at the outset that they can’t be together because they are too different, creating conflict that lasts throughout the whole book until the Happily Ever After.
I’m sure we’ll be learning more in books two, three, and four about romances, but this is our first-book list. If you write romances, what else would you add to this list? If you read romances, what do you like to see?
Can a murder investigation keep these opposites from attracting?
Cara Rogers wants a fresh start after a slew of bad luck in Washington DC. Moving to Virginia to help her aunt run La Maison de Chien, a doggie spa, is just the peace of mind she needs. No stress. Just her aunt, the dogs, and wide-open country. But when she finds Aunt Marian floating in the doggie swimming pool, the rest she so desperately needs flies out the window. The only witness to the death is Rex, an apricot maltipoo, and while he may not be able to talk, he’s communicating the only way he knows how—one paw at a time. And Rex’s clues lead to murder.Can Cara keep the doggie spa afloat, convince Middleburg homicide detective Cole Sampson that Aunt Marian’s death was no accident, and keep Rex from the killer’s clutches before they all end up as dead as dogs?
Publisher: Entangled Ignite
Release Date: March 27, 2014
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