Please extend your warmest welcome to Lauren Carr, Bestselling Mystery Author!
Let’s start things off with a special guest post from Lauren herself…
Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone:
Are You and (more importantly) Are Your Readers Ready?
By Lauren Carr
Every writer has different dreams of “making it.” Most of us determine that we have “made it” when we are able to write full-time. Some go even further. They want to write full-time and pay their bills with their earnings. About ninety-five percent of us never really make that point.
As years go by, our definition of being a successful author will recede until by the time we reach middle-age, it will be something more obtainable. That’s so we can dying feeling that we have succeeded in our life dream.
When I started writing over thirty years ago, I first defined my success as making a boatload of money. Nope, never even remotely happened.
Then, I would be happy to have Hollywood call. Now, that did happen. But then, I was rejected weeks later (after rewriting the screenplay) when the producer and star who wanted to do the project dumped me for a writer with a track record. At that time, mine was zero.
Okay, I would be happy to get a literary agent. Got that, but again it went nowhere.
So then, I would be happy to get picked up by a traditional publisher. That did happen, but when I saw how much they were getting from my book, and how little I was getting, I decided I could it all myself and keep my royalties. (But that’s another blog post.)
By then, my defining moment of success came when I would release a book and find that I had readers waiting to buy it. That has happened. It is very nice to release a book and have readers snapping it up, seeing its ranking crawling up on Amazon, and getting great feedback.
It’s almost enough to make a writer breathe a sigh of relief and get … comfortable.
Is it really possible for a writer to get comfortable?
I don’t think it’s part of our make-up. I have learned that authors are generally insecure anyway. Maybe it has something to do with all the rejection we get from literary agents, publishers, editors, and some nasty reviewers with deep seated issues that have nothing to do with our books. You have to have a skin made of iron to take some of the feedback from these groups.
It’s hard enough to make it. But I have found that once you “make it,” then the fear comes that you may “lose it.”
Now a writer may ask, “How can you lose it once you’ve made it? You now have readers. They are going to stay loyal to you forever, aren’t they? Every time you release a book, they are going to be buying them. Now you are set for life.”
My answer: No.
I can think of numerous examples of authors who had become great successes, only to lose their readers with their subsequent books:
→ Breaking Their Readers’ Trust
It is not uncommon for an author to strike it big with their first book–snagging the agent and the big book deal—or even a movie deal, only to flop with their second book. At a speaking engagement, one author I saw told how this happened to him. He wrote his first book with the goal of getting the agent and book deal. He wrote what the agents and publishers were looking for. This book became a New York Times best-seller. After achieving the success that every author dreams of, he wrote what he wanted to write, which was quite different from his first book. The audience that he had acquired with the first book was shocked and disappointed. So were the reviewers. Thus, he lost his audience.
One very successful author, who I won’t name because I have stopped following her, lost me and other readers I knew who followed her for years because she took a turn in her storyline that infuriated us. After years and dozens of successful books in her series, she killed off a main character whom we had grown to love. This author is still a success and her books are top sellers, but she did lose many readers, who posted reviews saying that they felt betrayed.
Why would an author kill off a major character after years of character development and dozens of books?
Well, as an author, I can see why. It is the next reason that authors lose readers.
→ Their Books Have Grown Stale
It can be very easy for an artist to become comfortable in their success. We see it in actors who always appear in the same type of movies playing the same type of characters, and singers singing the same song over and over again. They are saying to themselves, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Let’s not mess with a good thing.”
However, their audience can get sick of hearing, and reading the same thing over and over again. Just as an audience can get bored reading the same thing, imagine writing the same thing. It takes longer to write a book than it does to read it.
After writing so many books, especially some that are successful, an author can discover that they are writing from a formula. The basic plot is the same. The names have changed. Even the characters will have the same personalities.
It is possible for this to happen without the writer realizing it. When I had finished the rough draft for The Murders at Astaire Castle, I realized that the character of Chelsea Adams, a new love interest for David O’Callaghan, was very similar to Archie Monday, Mac Faraday’s fiancée. I had to go back to the drawing board to rethink this character to make her unique while bringing her to life as a fresh face in the series.
Fresh storylines keep an author’s creative juices flowing. It’s what keeps the writing fun.
So, once an author has “made it,” they find that they have to do a balancing act in order to keep their readers and continue to grow their audience. Not only do we have to stretch our creative muscles by coming up with fresh storylines and characters, but we have to do it without betraying our readers’ trust.
Readers have certain expectations from the author. It shouldn’t be any mystery to the author. They can find it expressed in the readers’ reviews. Mine have expressed their love of my complex mysteries that challenge them.
It was in a search for yet another challenge for my readers that I tackled a touch of the paranormal in my Halloween Mac Faraday Mystery, The Murders at Astaire Castle. I’m not a huge paranormal fan, but I admit that I get a chill out of reading a mystery that has a nice furry wolfman thrust into the murder mystery.
Yes, it was a step out of my comfort zone. But, like a runner tackling her first marathon and crossing the finish line, it was a lot of fun and I feel great for having done it.
Here’s hoping my readers enjoy this venture as much as I have.
PEOPLE ARE DYING TO BE FAMOUS
Fame comes at a price. Some pay with their privacy. Others pay with their pride. Khloe Everest paid with her life.
Determined to get her pretty face in front of the cameras, Khloe Everest fakes an abduction only to make a grand entrance in the midst of a press conference held by Spencer’s Police Chief David O’Callaghan.
Three years later, after failing to catapult her notoriety into a long-lasting celebrity, Khloe Everest returns to Spencer upon her mother’s sudden death and seemingly finds another weapon to propel her into the spotlight. Unfortunately, someone kills her before she can make this entrance.
Best-Selling mystery author Lauren Carr’s sixth installment in the Mac Faraday Mysteries, The Lady Who Cried Murder contains a unique dedication:
To the arrogant, envious, rude, self-centered, demented, and twisted souls amongst us. For without you, murder mystery writers would be without inspiration.
The Lady Who Cried Murder was inspired by a personal encounter with a neighborhood bully. “Believe it or not, childhood bullies do grow up,” Carr says. “Just like any bully, ours never attacks when my husband is around. He only makes his verbal assaults when I’m alone and for no reason.”
Like any good author, Lauren Carr was inspired by what some would consider to be a minor, yet annoying incident, to write a thrilling murder mystery. “Writers like to analyze people for character development,” Carr explained. “Not knowing anything about this man, including his name, I had to imagine virtually everything about him to come up with a motive for his arrogant behavior, especially toward me. Then, I came to realize that our society is overrun with bullies—not just those who stop their cars and scream at women who happen to be walking their dogs. I was surprised to realize that some areas of our society embrace arrogance. Also, some bullies, due to their power or social positions, are protected by those around them, which allows them to prey on the rest of us.”
In Lauren Carr’s sixth mystery, Mac Faraday and his friends come up against reality stars, politicians, has-beens, and wannabes. Mac also finds himself face-to-face with an old foe from his past who had managed to escape arrest during their last encounter. Now, Mac sees that his adversary has only become more powerful, and dangerous, with the passage of time.
Intent to not let this killer escape again, Mac and his friends need to put all of their talents together to put a stop to a cold blooded lady killer.
Get it on Amazon >> http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FKLKH70
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.
Get it on Amazon >> http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E1IVPB0
About the Author
Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award.
Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. It’s Murder, My Son, Old Loves Die Hard, and Shades of Murder, Blast from the Past, and The Murders at Astaire Castle have all been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. The Lady Who Cried Murder is the sixth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series.
Released September 2012, Dead on Ice introduced a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates. The second installment in the Lovers in Crime, Real Murder will be out in 2014.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Visit Lauren Online:
E-Mail – email@example.com
Websites – http://acornbookservices.com/ & http://mysterylady.net/
Blog: Literary Wealth – http://literarywealth.wordpress.com/
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/lauren.carr.984991
Gnarly’s Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/GnarlyofMacFaradayMysteries
Lovers in Crime Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/LoversInCrimeMysteries
Acorn Book Services Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/AcornBookServices
Twitter – @TheMysteryLadie
Thank you so much for stopping by today, Lauren! All our best to you and your books!