#Christmas Whodunit Party – Part 1 #Mondayblogs

In the name of seasonal fun I’m writing a Christmas Whodunit Party plan on my blog. Hopefully you, my readers, will help me, or kill me in the process.

Part 1 – Creating the Setting and Victim

Setting

Christmas 2017, small seaside town in the Pacific Northwest

The party is for The Murder Book Club and is being held in the home of one of the members. Authors who have visited the group as well as the group members are present.

Victim

Internationally acclaimed, mystery author Damian Black , a middle-aged, trust-baby, boomer with an insatiable appetite for fine wine, expensive toys and loose women is found dead in the attic with a pate knife in his chest. His book, The Secrets of Deadman’s Island, was September’s choice for The Murder Book Club.


I can’t go further in his description or fill in his “2 clues and a lie card” until I’ve shaded in more characters. That being said, I could add some details. Interested in helping?


Questions:

  1. What should he wear?
  2. Should he have a limp, lisp, or other physical characteristic?
  3. Does he have a favorite saying?
  4. Who does he look and dress like? George Clooney, Jason Momoa, Johnny Depp, Matt Damon, Chris Hemsworth, Alexander Skarsgard, Will Smith, Chris Pine …

Comment below (please).

My #Giveaway is Almost Over

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/88a5a5c04/?

A Top Amazon Reviewer!!! Reviews Midnight Magic

Midnight Magic got the most amazing five star review. I may not breathe for a week:

Dripping with atmosphere and personality

VINE VOICEon November 13, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I’ve been involved in the Amazon Top Reviewer community for years, and in the course of that I’ve been exposed to dozens and dozens of self-published books by hopeful nascent authors. Sadly, most of those efforts are poorly written messes full of bad writing — comprising every sort of mistake you can imagine.

A few are jewels in the rough, where I enjoy the book, and when possible and I think the author would like the feedback, I note a few things that might help improve their writing.

Exactly four times in eight years of exploring self-published authors, I’ve come across work that the NY houses should have found and latched on to.

Jo-Ann Carson is my fourth discovery for that list.

Midnight Magic is exquisitely executed prose. I’ve done a lot of writing, and some people tell me that I’m a pretty good writer. But I would shrink with trepidation from the prospect of writing a scene that simultaneously gives a reader shivering goosebumps and makes them chuckle. That’s talent.

Now, along with that talent for scene crafting comes a ripping good story, with imaginative characters and settings which breathe life fully into the author’s make-believe world(s). I’d be tempted to enumerate some of the interesting and amusing touches in the book, but it would be a disservice. I know from my own experience that you’ll much more enjoy coming across those interesting surprises on your own.

We have in Midnight Magic an appealing heroine, metaphysical friends and encounters, nasty creatures, and humorous relationships that I won’t detail per my preceding paragraph. LOL The story immediately grabbed me, and it didn’t let up. Haunted houses have received countless treatments, and you’ll quickly encounter one here that won’t remind you that you’ve read about them before.

I found everything here to be fresh and inventive, and I’m most certainly looking forward to more about these characters and from this author.

Well done, and certainly recommended.


Writers dream of finding readers who appreciate their work. To find one that is also a selected Amazon reviewer (i.e., a Vine Voice) is a dream come through. I am so grateful.

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Midnight Magic Launches Today #Mondayblogs

My latest book Midnight Magic launches today. It’s my best book yet and I can’t wait to hear how people like it. Check out my newsletter for more information (including a giveaway and a contest):

Newsletter Link:

https://gem.godaddy.com/s/9be91b

A Live Buffy-Vampire Headlines at Victoria’s #CapCityComic Con

Yup, it’s official, Victoria will be hosting one of the world’s favorite vampires. Victoria may never be the same:)

p.s. If you go to see the vampire, check out my booth.

Who is James Marsters?

“James Wesley Marsters (born August 20, 1962) is an American actor and musician. Marsters first came to the attention of the general public playing the popular character Spike, a platinum-blond English vampire in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off series, Angel, from 1997 to 2004. Since then, he has gone on to play other science fiction roles, such as the alien supervillain Brainiac on the Superman-inspired series Smallville, the omnisexual time traveller Captain John Hart in British science-fiction show Torchwood, and terrorist Barnabas Greeley in Syfy‘s Caprica. Marsters appeared in a supporting role in the 2007 movie P.S. I Love You. He appeared as a recurring character in the first season of the revival of Hawaii Five-0.” (Wikipedia)

Do your remember Spike in Buffy?

Do your remember Spike in Angel?

How to Write a Form Rejection Letter or Not

Being a writer I have ample experience in receiving the dreaded “form rejection.” They used to come in letters, but now they come in emails.

Typically they don’t refer to me by name, or my manuscript by title, or maybe they do, but only because they’ve inserted it.

The body of the missile is a locked and loaded rejection that shows no indication that the person signing the letter has read my story or knows that I have a name.
Perhaps they are sent by algorithms.
Thank you …blah-blah blah-blah, but no thank you blah-blah blah-blah.

https://giphy.com/embed/xT1XGvrYkkto45jS5W

I don’t want to sound like a sour orangutan looking for a banana, but I think they (i.e., The Royal They) could do better. After all, rejection is not a new thing.

https://giphy.com/embed/Cnd2PddhqYBcA

“It’s not you. It’s me,” would even sound better.

Why has someone not created better letters?

https://giphy.com/embed/UZvzszZSBdT0Y

via GIPHY

I’m thinking I should offer myself as a rejection writing consultant. I would call my business: Fuck Off, Get Lost, Slam the Door, Yeah-No, Not Now, Not Ever.  

Hmm. I need to work on the name.

But I have the main idea. I will create three form emails to increase the likelihood that something said in the letter actually makes sense to the reader, connects to them in some way and perhaps even– and here’s a new idea–helps them. I will revolutionize rejection communication.

Email one star (for the really poorly written stories)

Dear (insert real name) have you considered taking a job with the telephone company?(supply a website url)  I wish you a happy and healthy future. Sincerely Evil Editor

Email two stars (for the okay story that’s so okay you snore)

Dear (insert real name) have you drank enough caffeine today? I recommend you down a bit more, say a swimming pool full of it, before your resubmit. Happy drinking. Sincerely, your mentor Evil Editor

Email three stars (for the good story that you’ve been told not to accept)

Dear (insert real name) take two pain killers and a glass of wine and resubmit elsewhere. We have enough (sexy vampires, bdmsers with an inferiority complex, billionairs with a weakness for chubby women,  mobsters from the underworld, aliens with two dicks – fill in the blank) this year and cannot accept your manuscript. Your secret fan, Evil Editor.

Along with the email attach a dancing monkey gif. Everyone likes a dancing monkey. Remember to dd a footnote that the monkey has not been mistreated in any way.


My apologies if I’ve offended anyone, human or alien. I needed to rant:)

 

Midnight Magic Chapter One and First Review

Midnight Magic’s first review is up on Facebook:

“Unputdownable, because it was so good! 5 stars
Once in a while, I pick up a book that’s so much fun to read and that I just can’t put it down until I reach the last chapter that ends on a surprised ending. Midnight Magic, by Jo-Ann Carson is one of those stories that once it gets going it does not let you go. I really enjoyed Abby’s first adventure in this new series ‘A Ghost & Abby Mystery’. This is truly a fast-paced and fun read filled with magic, secrets and romance. A thrill ride from beginning to end! …”

by Nicole Laverdure.


Here’s a tease for you. Chapter one of Midnight Magic:


1: I’ll Always Remember my First

 

I’m the night janitor in a haunted teahouse, in the small, Pacific Northwest town of Sunset Cove, where things happen no one talks about. Ever. You’d think that would be enough weirdness for one person in a lifetime, but not for me. I’ve started a business on the side, to sort and sanitize supernatural drama. That is to say, I am the community’s first private detective. My name is Abby Jenkins.

I’ve studied sleuthing for years, reading every Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie and Charlaine Harris book in the public library. I rock at jigsaw puzzles. I’m naturally nosy. And my whopper-credential is that I know all the usual suspects in town, both of the human and supernatural kind. Of course we get visitors, but that’s beside the point. I figure I can solve a local whodunit with the best of them, especially if there’s a butler involved. What could possibly go wrong?

Although my jobs may sound unusual, I’m not a freak. I look like a regular thirty-two-year-old mom, the kind you see at the grocery store herding her three young children through the shopping aisles. My blond hair lives in a creative ponytail and my thrift-store clothes are stained with life. I can’t remember the last time I put on makeup. I avoid mirrors, not because I’m a vampire, but because they make me cranky. You could easily pass me by, and profile me as a normal, single-mom-next-door—a minion in the landscape of America. But I’m not. Unusual things happen to me.

It’s as if I have a sticker on my forehead, reading: “Send me your ghosts, poltergeists and living dead, and see what happens.” Some people call me, “that widow,” others, “the janitor in that place,” and now some call me, “the private dick without a dick,” but I refuse to be defined. I am simply Abby.

Let me tell you about my first case. Trust me, I’ll always remember my first.

***

At 2 p.m. on a stormy day suitable for ducks, I sat at my desk across from my first client in the attic of the Sunset Cove Teahouse, a Victorian gingerbread home with a wicked reputation for things that go bump in the night. The palms of my hands itched. I had never expected to live out my dream of being a detective, and I wasn’t sure I could pull it off.

I pushed a box of tissues across the desk towards the woman, hoping to stop her tears. She had cried since she entered my office, four minutes ago. I didn’t know her name or why she arrived at my doorstep. She walked in and sat down. Her fancy scent made my nose twitch.

I drummed the old, oak desk with my fingers and watched the seconds tick by slowly on the antique clock hanging askew on the opposite wall. My stomach twisted. This was not what I expected for my first day. I figured I would be looking for lost cats, wandering spouses or, at worst, lost souls. I had not anticipated tears.

My visitor was a noisy, theatrical crier, all sniffles and broken sighs. Her face flushed crimson and perspiration beaded her forehead, all signs she was definitely a live human. I checked the clock. Six minutes had passed.

I didn’t recognize her, so she had to be new to town. Fine lines radiated from her eyes. I pegged her to be a well-preserved forty-five. Her trembling right hand, holding a tissue to her nose, had a salon manicure. An expensive charm bracelet dangled on her wrist. Her left hand, resting on her lap, had a ring with enough diamonds to sink a casket. My fine sleuthing abilities surmised she could afford me.

“It’s haunted,” she blurted out. She blew her nose loudly and commenced crying again.

“I know,” I said. Of course I knew. Everyone knew. The Sunset Cove Teahouse was haunted and a—shall we say “interesting”—gang of ghosts called it home. It was only quiet at that moment because they played elsewhere during the day. All I could hear in the house was the sound of people—of the breathing variety—coming and going from Azalea’s teahouse on the main floor, looking to find good fortune in their tea leaves. Azalea, the owner of the house was, among other things, a talented tea-leaf reader. The house belonged in a catalogue for the Best Haunted Businesses.

Trying to retain my cool PI persona I looked out my window. I could see most of Sunset Cove, a small inlet with a few boats, and a sleepy town nestled in a cozy semicircle around it. My window box overflowed with purple petunias, yellow pansies and midnight-blue lobelia. The sweet scent of the flowers almost masked the smell of the supernatural. I breathed in my Norman Rockwell moment, determined to wait out the woman’s tears.

They continued.

I squirmed in my seat, and I was not a squirmer by nature. Her problem had to be big, but that didn’t cut it with me. Label me a thrift-store snob if you like, but she looked way too comfortable to have any real issues, like starvation or marginalization. Or how about cultural genocide? Maybe her poodle got a bad haircut.

Most people dress casually in our sea-side town of five thousand people. For women, yoga pants or leggings with cool footwear covers you anywhere at any time, but she wore a pair of navy-blue dress pants, a white silk blouse and a well-cut blazer; an impressive power outfit, designed to take control of any situation. Her straight, platinum-blond, shoulder-length hair had enough highlights for a fashion cover. She wore black-leather stilettos with red soles that would cost more than six months of my part-time janitor’s salary. What could this woman possibly know about trouble?

She sniffed loudly.

“Would you like a cup of coffee?” I said.

She shook her head. “I need help.” She broke into another elongated sob.

The ticking of the clock echoed in the room. What did one do with a whimpering woman? I took a deep breath and decided to wait out her emotional episode. After all, doesn’t everyone need a good cry every now and then?

I am an expert on the power of crying. Two and a half years ago my husband died of cancer, leaving me with three children to raise, all under the age of six. Losing my high-school sweetheart broke my heart. Having to raise our kids on my own almost broke my backbone. I cried a lot as I pulled my life together, but I did it. I built a new life for myself.

The icing on this new life was to be this supernatural-PI gig, but it wasn’t looking too sweet at this moment. Why had I ever thought taking on other people’s problems would be fun? In one word—Eric. That’s why. My boyfriend Eric talked me into the mystery business. “Become a detective,” he said. “You love to solve mysteries,” he said. “You’re a natural,” he said. “And I’ll help,” he said.

Yeah right. At this moment, as I faced the whimper-queen, I felt like a real natural: a natural idiot. And he wasn’t here.

I handed her another tissue. “My name is Abby and I want to help you.” This was the third time I had said that, but this time she stirred.

Sitting back in her chair she made eye contact. Behind the tears, the hardness of her baby-blues jolted me for a second. This was no ordinary wilting woman.

“Charisma Dubois,” she said with a slight French accent that purred.

I nodded.

“I have a problem I’m told only you can help me with.”

Me? Did she want advice on breast feeding? How about potty training? I did have some awesome coping tips for late-night diarrhea. Nope, I guessed none of the above by the look of her. “Go on,” I said.

“I have inherited a property.”

“That’s nice,” I said with trepidation, because something in her tone was off.

“Oh, I don’t care about the property. I will sell it after . . .”

“After?”

“After I find the treasure.”

Of course, there would be property and treasure. “Treasure?”

“My great-grandmother Louise Dubois was a bit odd.”

“I see,” I said, though I didn’t see at all.

“She didn’t believe in banks and kept all her assets in diamonds.”

“And the diamonds are in the house.”

“Yes. Maybe. I’m not sure. I’m not sure at all, actually.” She stopped to sob. “According to my uncle’s will,” she continued, “I have been left my great-grandmother’s manor. No one has ever found her diamond stash and I believe it’s there.”

“Did anyone else inherit?” I didn’t want to get in the middle of a family feud. I’d seen too many murder mysteries about them.

“No. I’m the only living relative, and my uncle bequeathed me the house and all its contents.”

“Okay. So you want me to clean it so you can find the stash?” It was a Lysol job after all. Right up my alley.

The woman’s eyes shot wide. “Heavens, no.”

“Then what do you want me to do?”

Her spine stiffened as she raised her pointed chin. “I want you to find my diamonds.”

“Why don’t you go into the house and look?”

“I tried that.” Staring at a spot above my head as if the answer were there, she wiped gently at her nose. “I was told you understand abnormal things, things beyond the normal, supernatural events and such.”

“Are you saying the house is haunted?”

“It would seem so. Yes.” The color in her red face drained to a sage-green hue. Now the hysterical crying made sense. Encounters with the dead unravel the best of us.

My squirmy butt froze. “Okay, let me get this straight. You want me to go with you to a haunted house and look for diamonds.”

“Yes,” she said with glee. “But not with me, Ms. Jenkins. No, no, I don’t want to go back there. I’m from Montreal. I’ll pay you to find the treasure for me. I’ll pay you well.”

“Uh-huh.” Clearly something in the house had scared the bejesus out of Ms. Dubois. If I was a sane person I would’ve turned her down right then and there, especially given my experience with a poltergeist, but the scent of mystery pulled on my natural and too abundant curiosity. Not to mention the thought of having extra money in my pocket. I rubbed my chin.

“I’ll pay you double your normal fee.”

I pushed a contract her way. “We’ll start with a two-hundred-dollar retaining fee, and I’ll charge you by the hour. If you write down the address I’ll get started tomorrow.” Surely Eric would turn up by then and we could go together during the day when most ghosts are busy in other dimensions. I gave her a professional smile and myself a mental thumbs-up.

“I want you to start today.”

I nodded. Of course, Ms. Power Suit would demand more than I was willing to give.

After she filled out the contract and handed me five-hundred dollars in cash, she wrote down the address, which I read out loud: “Graystone Manor, 333 Witch’s Peak Road.”

“It’s five miles north of town, up a windy road, but not hard to find,” she said. Her eyes narrowed to pinpricks. “I will pay you double your regular fee for every hour you look for the treasure and an extra finder’s fee when you retrieve the stash.” She hesitated a moment. “Say ten thousand dollars.”

Ten thousand? Oh my word! My heart raced. There were so many things I could do with that kind of money, starting with finding a place to live without a leaky roof.

I bit my lip. I needed to concentrate on things at hand. Witch’s Peak? I didn’t know there was such a road. For that matter, I didn’t know there was another haunted house in town. I had so much to learn.

“The sooner you start the better,” she said as she pulled a set of keys out of her purse and handed them to me.

I stood to shake her hand and wondered.

Better? Is that better for me? Better for her? Or better for the ghosts?

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