As part of a Blog Tour organized by iRead Book Tours, I am pleased to have Lauren Carr as my guest today as she celebrates the recent release of Candidate for Murder. In her post, she shares her perspective on writing and the need for writers to raise the bar – to be fearless in writing.
Fearless in Writing By Lauren Carr
A few years ago, I attended a banquet at yet another conference. The special guest speaker, whose name I can’t remember now, was telling the audience, all authors, about his journey to success.
His very first book, he was blessed to be picked up by a big New York publisher with a huge advance and his book was a hit. His second book was not so great because, as he explained, he wrote the book he wanted to write. The readers, expecting it to be like his first, deserted him … as did his publisher.
So, for his third book, he went back to the formula of his first book, expanded on it, and regained his success. That book went to Hollywood.
As he explained it, this author’s journey was really not that uncommon. Generally, authors write their first books for publishers and literary agents. After obtaining their goal of snagging a literary agent and publisher, many authors proceed to write what they want to write. Upon being chastised by lack of sales (and most likely the loss of their publisher and/or agent), they return to their proven formula for success.
After working more than thirty years to make it to best-selling status and having consistent sales and fabulous reviews from readers and book reviewers, I can understand the fear that some successful authors may have about changing anything in their books, especially if it is a series, for fear of losing devoted readers.
Most likely, this may explain why I have heard many readers say about some of their favorite, or rather one-time favorite authors, “All of her/his books are the same. Each one has the same general plot. All she/he does is change the names.”
These authors are afraid of messing with success. Why fix what isn’t broken? they may ask.
That’s not me. When I was nineteen years old, I went up in an airplane for the first time and jumped out. Fortunately, I was wearing a parachute. Even more fortunately, it opened. I didn’t go up in a plane and land in it until I went to Washington, D.C. four years later.
If I wasn’t fearless I would never have struck out to be an independent author and tried to make my way through the world of publishing on my own.
Several years ago, after my second book A Reunion to Die For was published, I attended an event in which two cozy authors spoke. Both of these writers had been published by New York houses. During her presentation, one expressed frustration with both her publisher and literary agent because now, a successful cozy author, she found herself in a box. She had written a romantic suspense but her publisher rejected it because her fans knew her as a cozy author and her literary agent was uncertain if he could sell it elsewhere for the same reason.
Actually, the categorization of genres (mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, humor) was created by brick and mortar bookstores for a simple reason—so that they would know which shelf to place books for customers to easily find—based on the genre they are looking for.
As a result, many authors, upon succeeding in one genre, can be afraid of writing outside the confines of that box for fear of not being able to get back inside if they fail.
However, I believe, the tidal wave of independent publishing has overturned the apple carts in which authors have allowed themselves to be confined. Writers and as a result, their readers, are now allowed to reach outside the box with their imaginations and be thrilled by the experience.
I’m not only talking about crossing genres, but stepping out of safe spaces to touch on subjects that some readers or reviewers may consider hot-button topics.
The first time I stepped out of the safe space was in January 2015, when I released Three Days to Forever. Inspired by recent events and issues, domestic terrorists show up in Spencer. Of course, since the mystery was set against the backdrop of Islamic terrorists, the topic came up and was discussed by some characters.
Did everybody love it? No. While the book was praised by reviewers and is still one of my best-selling books, a small fraction of readers who identified themselves as ex-loyal readers because I “insulted” them with my politics—in spite of an author’s note in the front of the book stating that it was not meant to be a political message.
Authors are like athletes. We need to write every day or our writing muscles lose their strength. Also, like athletes, we need to push ourselves harder in order to reach bigger goals in our craft. When authors are afraid to touch on hot topics for fear of offending a reader or two or three or hundred, then their writing becomes dull, not only for the writer penning it, but for their readers.
Despite the risk of offending sensitive readers, in my heart, I’m still the same girl who jumped out of an airplane at nineteen.
I admit, I do keep my readers in mind when I pen my mysteries. With them in mind, I don’t expect my readers to have any more fun reading the same book with the same backdrop and setting over and over again than I would have writing it over and over again. So, it is not only for my own selfish reasons that, when I sat down to write Candidate for Murder, this time using politics as the backdrop, I set out to—
Am I excited? Yes!
Am I scared of offending some readers who read unintended messages between the lines? Of course!
But, I look at it this way. Sometimes, when you jump out of an airplane, your chute doesn’t open. But when it does, you get to enjoy a wonderful ride that others can only wish they could experience.
Candidate for Murder promises to be just such a ride!
About Candidate for Murder
It’s election time in Spencer, Maryland, and the race for mayor is not a pretty one. In recent years, the small resort town has become divided between the local year-round residents who have enjoyed their rural way of life and the city dwellers moving into their mansions, taking over the town council, and proceeding to turn Deep Creek Lake into a closed gate community—complete with a host of regulations for everything from speed limits to clothes lines.
When the political parties force-feed two unsavory mayoral nominees on the town residents, Police Chief David O’Callaghan decides to make a statement—by nominating Gnarly, Mac Faraday’s German shepherd, to run as mayor of Spencer!
What starts out as a joke turns into a disaster when overnight Gnarly becomes the front runner—at which point his political enemies take a page straight out of Politics 101. What do you do when you’re behind in a race? Dig up dirt on the front runner, of course.
Seemingly, someone is not content to rest with simply embarrassing the front runner by publicizing his dishonorable discharge from the United States Army, but to throw in a murder for good measure. With murder on the ballot, Mac Faraday and the gang—including old friends from past cases—dive in to clear Gnarly’s name, catch a killer, and save Spencer!
Check out the trailer! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvCB5VnQlmU
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About the Author
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries. The twelfth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series, Candidate for Murder will be released June 2016.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.