Manuscript for Murder – On Tour with Celebrate Lit

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Click here to pick up your copy.

About the Book

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Book title: Manuscript for Murder

Author: Chautona Havig

Release date: October 13, 2012

Genre: Mystery

Alexa Hartfield. Author, local celebrity, fashion connoisseur. She chose Fairbury for its close proximity to Rockland, its small town atmosphere, and its low crime rate.

Then someone made her life a literary cliché. A mysterious accident with a light bulb sparked an interesting idea for her latest novel—and for Fairbury’s new serial killer. The first replication infuriated her. The second left an even worse taste in her mouth. The third blasted more than her self-confidence, and the fourth beat her down so far she’s considering giving up writing completely.

Who is killing Fairbury’s citizens, and furthermore, why and how are they using her novels to do it?

My Thoughts

My favorite thing about this book is Alexa. She is such a great character that knows what she likes, is confident, and possess a courage in fashion I wish I could possess. This mystery hovers between a cozy and suspense, describing enough to give it a little edge while not going so far as to make it hard to sleep at night. For those of you who don’t like a lot of romance in your mysteries, you might like this one; there is some, but not overly so. My understanding is that it grows with the series.

I have to admit that it was hard for me to get into the story initially as is started slow and took awhile for someone to die (that’s such a morbid thought; I was sad someone didn’t die quicker). About halfway through I found myself really draw into the story and wanting to know how it all ended. The slower start is more typical of the first book in a series, but at the same time, some of you might tend to give up too early and miss a solid story; I encourage you to stick with it.

About the Author

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Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert with her husbnd and five of her nine children. Through her novels, she hopes to encourage Christians in their walk with Jesus.

Guest Post from Chautona Havig

How Arrows & My Obsession with Vintage Clothes Inspired Murder

A swath of fabric cut across my bedroom at an odd angle but that angle ensured that I could stretch it all out. With painstaking precision, I pinned every last piece to the fabric, disgusted at the enormous waste stretching out before me.

The pattern called for three and a half yards. I’d crammed it into two at most.

Just as I picked up the scissors for the first cut, Mom popped her head in the door to see how I was doing. I pointed out the waste. “Grandma said patterns always told you to buy way too much, but I’ve got enough to make another dress!”

Mom stepped closer. I want to say a cigarette hung from her lips, but let’s face it. No way would Mom ever allow the ashes to drop on the carpet. But it felt like one was there, nonetheless. Mom pointed. “Chautona, I don’t know anything about sewing, but I think those arrows are there for a reason.”

And with that, she turned away.

I stared down at the pattern. My arrows zig-zagged all over the place. A glance at the directions showed all arrows going exactly the same direction. Straight up and down the fabric.

You know, if I’d been doing this for the first time in 2017, I could have just zipped on over to “the Google,” as Mom calls it, and looked up why. Instead, I grabbed a thick sewing manual I’d bought for a buck at Pick-N-Save and flipped through it until I found a section on laying out patterns.

A couple of minutes later, I flew down the stairs. “The book says that the long, smooth edges are called selvages. The arrows are supposed to run parallel or the dress might hang wonky.”

Here, I can guarantee Mom took a puff of that cigarette. Man, I hated those things. “Well, like I said. I don’t know anything about sewing, but they looked important.” She blew a puff of smoke.

That’s when I suspected that Mom knew more about sewing than she’d let on.

What does this little sewing lesson have to do with mysteries and murder?

Well, see. This was a test dress. I’d only decided to learn to sew because I’d also decided that I wanted Nancy Drew’s wardrobe. In 1982, you couldn’t buy trim, neat clothing from the 50’s. I had Gunne Sax skirts and preppy tops with ruffles that my parents hated. When they found out I wanted a sewing machine to make clothes like that, they got me one.

Yep. I cut my reading teeth on Nancy Drew and didn’t stop there. I read all the youth mysteries—Bobsey Twins, Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, Meg Duncan (she was a fave, too), and when I got a little older, Phyllis Whitney.

I loved the challenge of seeing events play out—and figuring out why. Why told me who. You get to where you can figure out things rather easily. But if you make me doubt my ideas, that’s good enough. I love that.

Is it any wonder that one of the first books I conceived was a mystery? I’d never put the ideas together until I began working on this post, but really… is it any wonder that I gave that author a love of vintage fashion? Too funny. But those arrows on that pattern? They taught me pretty cool lessons as a kid. Like Mom said:

“Those arrows are there for a reason.”

Isn’t that what God’s directional arrows in His Word are like? They’re there for a reason. They keep us from getting all wonky. It’s why Alexa writes the kind of books she does. I never could, but as she says when she describes telling someone why she writes horror/suspense,

“I tried to describe a world where we never see justice—where sin surrounds us, but the only response we see is a sweet romance or a heartwarming tale of doing good to our neighbors… And God is a God of more than love and mercy. [He’s also a God of] justice.”

Alexa writes what she does to help people sort out those crossed arrows and see that there is a point to it all—that eventually justice and mercy converge paths into one rather than criss-crossing all over the place, trampling each other. She doesn’t write Christian fiction, but I don’t know how a Christian can write fiction without some part of faith shining through. In Alexa’s, and I hope in mine as well, there’s an overarching theme that illustrates that the Lord hasn’t forgotten the people He created.

Blog Stops

July 25: A Baker’s Perspective

July 25: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

July 26: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

July 27: The Fizzy Pop Collection

July 28: Bigreadersite

July 29: Avid Reader Book Reviews

July 30: A Reader’s Brain

July 31: Blogging With Carol

August 1: Mommynificent

August 2: Moments Dipped in Ink

August 3: Carpe Diem

August 4: With a Joyful Noise

August 4: A Simply Enchanted Life

August 5: Lots of Helpers

August 5: Christian Bookaholic

August 6: Kat’s Corner Books

August 6: Southern Gal Loves to Read

August 7: Karen Sue Hadley

August 7: Blossoms and Blessings

Giveaway

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In honor of her Manuscript for Murder Celebration Tour, Chautona is giving away a mystery prize package worth over $100. Enter here: https://promosimple.com/ps/bc16

Would you like to know what’s in it? Find the first clue within the giveaway image below, then hop on over to Chautona’s website to begin the search for more clues and you might find a special giveaway just for clue hunters! Can you find all the clues before Augusta Septemus does?

I received a digital copy of this book from the author/publisher for promotional purposes. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.

Crazy about Alaska- On Tour with Celebrate Lit- Giveaway

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Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

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Book title: Crazy about Alaska

Author: Shannon L. Brown

Release date: June 30, 2017

Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance

Can she trust love?

Holly has her eye on a handsome state trooper. Not on her boring, oh-so-serious, former professor, Adam.

Having her toes curl when she’s near Adam must be ignored.

Holly just wants a great dad for her twin girls. She’s going to find one, write a novel to fulfill her dreams, and create a happy life.

Falling in love isn’t part of her plan.

My Review

Crazy About Alaska is the first book that I’ve read by Shannon Brown. When I finished the book, I immediately thought, “I HAVE to get the first two in this series” and promptly went to look them up on Amazon. I am always a little hesitant to try new authors, but it sounded like a sweet romance story line, and I am trying to broaden my horizons. Crazy About Alaska is exactly what I hoped it would be; a sweet romance, but with just enough depth to not make it too sugary.

I will admit that the first couple chapters had a lot of place names, which was a little overwhelming, but as Alaska is a huge place and the characters end up going to many various locations, it helped to have the lay of the land. Alaska is a beautiful place and Shannon’s descriptions really take you there. I hope one day I’ll be able to visit in person.

The premise of a professor-student relationship is something I’ve wondered about many times with so many “older” adults going back to school. Shannon captures the angst that I felt as a student wanting to succeed in my classes while balancing the more mature perspective that age and mommyhood bring. The interactions between Holly and Adam are never boring and were enjoyable to read as their relationship transitioned from professor-student, to friends, to more. Holly’s relationship with her sisters’ and what you see of her sisters’ relationships all make me want to get to know more of this family.

If you’re looking for a gripping story line or deep characters, this may not be your thing. But, if you’re looking for a pleasant way to pass en evening with an entertaining story that leaves with that happy sigh, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy.

I can’t wait to see the next thing from Shannon!

 

About the Author

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Writing books that are fun and touch your heart

Even though Shannon L. Brown always loved to read, she didn’t plan to be a writer. She earned two degrees from the University of Alaska, one in journalism/public communications, but didn’t become a journalist.

Years passed. Shannon felt pulled into a writing life, testing her wings with a novel and moving on to articles. Shannon is now an award-winning journalist who has sold hundreds of articles to local, national, and regional publications.

Shannon was born and raised in Alaska so she enjoyed writing the books in the Alaska Dream Romance series. “The Feather Chase” was her first published book and began the Crime-Solving Cousins Mystery series. The eight-to-twelve-year-olds in your life will enjoy this contemporary twist on a Nancy Drew-type mystery.

Shannon lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her professor husband and adorable calico cat.

Guest Post from Shannon Brown

Open Doors

When a character opens the door and steps from her world into mine, writing about her is easier. Holly Harris in Crazy About Alaska is a real estate agent, and I was once one. I’ve driven clients around and shown them houses only to have them go a different direction. My husband and I bought a new house a few years ago, so I have tales to tell from that experience too. (Readers may think the purple shower is made up. Think again.) I chose to bring a college professor into her life as a love interest. I’m married to one.

Some of myself always finds its way into a story. Sometimes, it’s just something I might like to do. Holly’s sister Jemma rehabs furniture in Falling for Alaska, book one in the series. The idea for her business came while I was watching HGTV’s Flea Market Flip. Taking trash and making it beautiful sounds like something I’d like to try. Jemma also dislikes coffee and drinks tea. (Here I am again.) But she is not exactly me. She’s cooking challenged, and I’m a good cook.

Does the story become about the author when she inserts herself into it? Reality is only a fun fraction of the book. Holly has two men vying for her affections. That never happened. (It might have been fun if it had!) She also has five-year-old twins. I never experienced that.

By far the most challenging of the sisters in the series was Bree in book two, Loving Alaska. She’s a doctor, and my knowledge of the medical profession comes from sitting on the exam table, not from doing the exam. I spoke with doctors I knew and brought her to life. But Bree isn’t all made up either. She despises being in nature, especially camping. I’ve camped on a frozen river, beside a lake after canoeing or boating in, and many more places, but I’m with Bree and hotels are greatly preferred. There I am in the story again.

Reading the books I’ve written helps you know who I am. I’m a woman with a big imagination who enjoys bringing stories to life. Oh, and that slightly sarcastic sense of humor you may notice with Jemma and Holly? That might be from me as well.

Blog Stops

July 20: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog

July 20: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

July 21: A Baker’s Perspective

July 21: Reading Is My SuperPower

July 22: Artistic Nobody

July 22: Just Commonly

July 23: Live.Love.Read.

July 23: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

July 24: Carpe Diem

July 24: autism mom

July 25: Redeemed Hope Dweller

July 25: Baker Kella

July 26: A Rup Life

July 26: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

July 27: Karen Sue Hadley

July 27: Quiet Quilter

July 28: Pause for Tales

July 28: Have A Wonderful Day

July 29: Remembrancy

July 29: Cafinated Reads

July 30: Zerina Blossom’s Books

July 31: History, Mystery & Faith

August 1: Kat’s Corner Books

August 1: For the Love of Books

August 2: Avid Reader Book Reviews

August 2: Ashley’s Bookshelf

Giveaway

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To celebrate this tour, Shannon Brown is giving away a grand prize of a book lovers gift basket – a basket filled with book-related things!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/bb35

I received a digital copy of this book from the author/publisher for promotional purposes. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.

Behind the Scenes – Giveaway/Interview

Behind The Scenes For anyone who hasn’t heard, Jen Turano has a new book out called Behind the Scenes! That is always a happy event for me as I read to escape and for entertainment and I can ALWAYS count on Jen for both. Her newest series features wallflowers during the Gilded Age and is called “Apart From the Crowd.” I am so excited to have Jen on the blog today for an interview, plus, Jen has graciously agreed to give away a copy of Behind the Scenes to a lucky reader! Keep reading for Jen’s interview, my thoughts, and to enter the giveaway.

 

Miss Permilia Griswold, the wallflower behind “The Quill” gossip column, knows everything that goes on in the ballrooms of New York. When she overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Asher Rutherford, she’s determined to warn him. Away from society’s spotlight, Asher and Permilia discover there’s more going on behind the scenes than they anticipated.

 

Jen has joined us for an interview. We like to start all authors out with a couple fun questions.

1. Open your text message app. What are the first 10 words that come up automatically?

Jen: I don’t have a text message app – texting is just on my phone😊

Kat: Don’t feel bad, my hubs still has what everyone refers to as a “dumb phone.”

2. Here are Kat’s Corner Books we’re partial to cats, but love pets of any kind. Do you have a pet?

Jen: I do not have a pet.  My Australian Cattle Dog, Sasha, died last year.  She was fifteen, lived a great life, was a great companion, but I don’t think I’ll get another dog for a few years. 

Kat: So sad. It’s always hard to lose a member of our family.

Now onto book questions!

3. Many of your readers know that you’re working your way through the Gilded Age, but I must confess, other than the late 1800’s, I don’t really know what that means. Can you give us a little summary?

So the Gilded Age – cliff note version.  Right after the Civil War, and because of the advances within industry, gentlemen began making fortunes at an unprecedented rate.  Because taxes were not paid on a lot of that newly acquired money, conspicuous consumption became the norm for the privileged in the country.  Mansions were built without a care to cost, wardrobes were acquired for every season, most high society ladies traveling to Paris to shop from Worth, and established society members had to work incredibly hard to prevent the newly rich, and as they thought of them, uncouth industrialist, from entering their hallowed circles. Rules did begin to relax when the fortunes being made were so large they could not be ignored, and with that relaxation came incredibly ridiculous society events and a disregard for common sense, something that helped bring an end to the Gilded Age, right around the start of World War I and the passing of income tax laws which had these very wealthy Americans no longer able to keep every cent they made. 

 

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I was so excited when I recieved my copy! Yes, that is my very messy desk.

4. I know that you enjoy contemporary stories as well (a là Finding Margo), how did you pick the Gilded Age for your series?

 

When I first tried my hand at writing historical, I wrote Regency, although I had absolutely no success procuring the interest of a publisher, but I did manage to snag an agent with a Regency story I wrote titled “A Marriage of Inconvenience.” While she was shopping that book around, we discussed what I should write next, and she suggested setting a story in America since she’d been successful placing quite a few of her clients with American-set stories.  Since I’m all about high society, I knew I wouldn’t be good at a Western, so got a friend of mine who is a research librarian to pull a bunch of books in different American eras, finding myself enthralled with the Gilded Age.  It’s a fascinating period in time, overlooked in my humble opinion, and since it does stretch all the way up until World War I, I have plenty of fodder for my stories.  I’m looking forward to doing a series about working women in industry, but that will be a few years from now.   

5. As a researcher myself, I know that you can come across some really…interesting…stories and photos. Can you share a unique one? (You can’t use any that are in the book. 😉)

One of the most disturbing stories I’ve come across is that of Eve Nesbit. She was the most photographed woman of the era, becoming famous at the ripe-old age of sixteen.  Men took advantage of her, especially Stanford White.  He was a famous architect of the day and designed Madison Square Garden.  Eve and Stanford were involved with each other for years, but he was already married, and disturbingly enough, he seemed to have a propensity of taking young girls under his wing.  As Eve began to age, he lost some of his fascination with her, which is when she decided to marry Mr. Harry Thaw.  Unfortunately, Harry was an incredibly jealous man, and he hated the idea she’d been involved with Stanford White. On a hot afternoon in 1906, while enjoying a performance at the Madison Square Garden rooftop theater, Henry shot Stanford at point blank range, killing him. All the sordid details of Eve’s past with Stanford came out at trial, and the rest of her life was spent under a cloud of scandal, with Henry spending eight years after his murder trial committed to an asylum.  They never lived as husband and wife again.  When he died in the 1940’s, Henry left Eve $10,000 – the same amount he left a waitress he barely knew.

 

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Eve Nesbit (photo provided by Jen Turano)

 

6. If there’s one lesson you’d like readers to walk away with after reading this story, what is it?

I don’t really expect readers to walk away with a lesson from my stories.  What I’m hoping is that they’ll be entertained by my characters and will have found a brief respite from any problems they may be facing. 

Kat: This is exactly why I love reading your books. Though, I feel like I do always walk away from something. Your characters always have such a great perspective on faith and insight on life and God without getting preachy. It’s just part of who they are. I want to be more like that.

My Thoughts

 

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Best didication ever.

We first met Asher and Permilia in the (free!) prequel novel At Your Request, in January. I was intermediately intrigued by the interaction between these two characters and could not wait to read their story. Jen is known for her strong female leads who ahead of their time and Permilia is exactly that. And Asher. He is just so sweet. Unlike many of the heroes in Jen’s book, Asher is smitten from the start and steadily pursues Permilia, which is a refreshing storyline in Jen’s novels, and isn’t a rugged “manly man.” Though his pursuit of the title is quite humorous.

 

Readers often put pressure on their favorite authors to churn out another story they love, and Behind the Scenes is another classic Jen Turano story without getting repetitive of earlier stories. It is an absolute delight that I will reread for several years to come.

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Giveaway

Jen has graciously agreed to giveaway a print copy of Behind The Scenes! Click on the link below to enter. Due to shipping costs and international regulations, this giveaway is open to US mailing addresses only. Giveaway is subject to Kat’s Corner Books’s giveaway policies which can be found on the Disclosure and Policies page. The winner will be announced next week. Giveaway open until midnight on 5/15/2017.

Enter via the Rafflecopter form here.