Guest Post with Giveaway ~ Cat With A Clue by Laurie Cass

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Where I Get My Ideas

To tell you the truth, I have no idea where the plots of my books originate. Not really. Not even when I’m writing them. For me, a book comes together in chunks. These chunks are of different sizes, ranging from huge (the identity of the killer, say) to very small (the name of a new restaurant in town).

The other thing that keeps me from remembering where I get my ideas is my incredibly poor memory. Case in point: a couple of months ago I was talking to some nice ladies who knew I also wrote the PTA Mysteries under the name Laura Alden. They asked about the motive of the killer in that book and—please believe me when I say I am not making this up—I had no idea who killed the victim, let alone why.

It was not a proud moment in my life, and I’m sure those nice ladies think I’m a nutcase (“You wrote the book and you don’t remember?”) but I truly could not summon up the killer’s name. And I never remembered to go back and look so I still don’t know.

Anyway, CAT WITH A CLUE started with the following idea: What if, one morning, Minnie found a murder victim in the library? Okay, that would work. Now what? Well, then I had to figure out why anyone would be killed in a library in the middle of the night. So it most likely had something about books, right? What on earth could that be?

That’s pretty much how it went for the entire outline. (Yes, I outline my books. I didn’t always, but in the interest of less time spent rewriting, I moved to detailed outlines a number of books ago.) I figure out one thing, which leads to another thing that needs to be figured out, which leads to another thing and umpteen hours of hair-pulling later, the outline of a book is complete. Ta-dah!

I do, however, remember the origins of a couple things in CAT WITH A CLUE. One particular character came out of an information-gathering spurt I’d undergone while working on a book proposal. The main character of this particular novel featured a female conservation officer who had Asperger’s Syndrome. She was on the functional end of the autism spectrum and had never been diagnosed, but developed a friendship with a teenage boy who also had Asperger’s.

To develop those characters, I read up on Asperger’s, talked to a number of people, etc., and learned a tremendous amount. Then I wrote character studies of the main character and her young friend, incorporated their personalities into a detailed synopsis, wrote fifty pages of the book, and sent it off to my agent, who was excited about the whole concept.

Sadly, no publishing house agreed, and the novel was never completed. But no research is ever wasted, right? When CAT WITH A CLUE needed a secondary character who happened to have a bizarre amount of knowledge about a particular thing, I knew exactly what kind of character to create. Hooray!

The other thing I know for sure about CAT WITH A CLUE is where I got the idea for the layout of the historical museum. Though it isn’t exactly the same as the museum in the small northwest lower Michigan town in which I work, there are a tremendous number of similarities.

Bottom line, as I said at the beginning, I basically have no idea where I get the ideas for my books. I spend a lot of time staring at the computer and thinking and, with any luck, something that isn’t complete crap will transfer itself from my head to the laptop.

In many ways, the act of writing is itself an adventure. Every single time you sit down to write you never know exactly what’s going to happen, not for sure, and that’s a big part of the fun.

Guest post provided by the publisher.

post-divider rightcatSeries: A Bookmobile Cat Mystery (Book 5)
Publisher: NAL (August 2, 2016)
Genre: Cozy Mystery
ISBN-10: 0451476557
ISBN-13: 978-0451476555
ASIN: B01839Q3Y6
Buy: Amazon, Kindle, IndieBound, The Book Depository

cat-with-a-clue

The national bestselling author of Pouncing on Murder returns as librarian Minnie Hamilton and her rescue cat Eddie discover there’s a true crime story unraveling in their own nonfiction section. . . .

Early one morning while shelving books in the library, Minnie stumbles upon a dead body. Authorities identify the woman as an out-of-towner visiting Chilson for her great-aunt’s funeral. What she was doing in the library after hours is anyone’s guess . . . but Minnie and Eddie are determined to save the library’s reputation and catch a killer.
 
As rumors about the victim circulate through Chilson, the police are in a bind over a streak of baffling break-ins. Luckily, Minnie and Eddie are traveling the county in their bookmobile, and they'll stop at nothing to find the spineless killer before the final page is turned on someone else.

post-divider leftThanks to the publisher I have one (1) copy of Cat With A Clue to give away.

Giveaway open to residents of the US only.
Giveaway ends on September 10th

 



a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Winner will have 48 hours from the time of notification to confirm their win or another winner will be chosen.

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lauraPseudonym for Laura Alden.

I was one of those kids who was always being told to “Get your nose out of that book and go outside.” So I did. Book in hand, I’d climb the maple tree next to the garage and spend hours among the rustling leaves and swaying branches. Sadly, those idyllic years didn’t last long.

In the part of Michigan where I grew up, the prime agricultural products are blueberries and Christmas trees. Back in those days, kids could work in the fields picking berries at age 12, so the day after I turned 12, off I was sent.

The main thing I learned from those summers was that sitting in a classroom isn’t so bad compared to standing in the blazing sun for eight hours. The other thing I learned was that while Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden were fun, there was a whole world out there filled with books by authors such as Dick Francis, Josephine Tey, Ellis Peters, and John D. MacDonald.

I stated writing seriously in the late nineties. After a number of years in management, I felt the need to move on and took a job with fewer responsibilities. A month later, I was dead bored. I desperately needed something to wake up my brain; what could be better than writing? I started reading a lot of books on writing and happened across a particular sentence: “What’s it going to be, reasons or results?”

The phrase practically stuck me in the eye. I printed it out, framed it, and put it next to my computer. “Reasons or results?” At the end of my life, was I going to have a pile of reasons for not having done what I really wanted to do but was scared I couldn’t? Or was I going to sit down and write a book? Once I started looking at it that way, the decision was easy. A short 13 years later, my first book (Murder at the PTA, published under the pen name of Laura Alden) was published.

Except for a year in Connecticut, I have always lived in Michigan. Thanks to my maternal grandparents, my husband and I, Eddie, and Sinii, our six-pound killer cat, have the great good fortune to live on a lake in northern lower Michigan. We spend summers entertaining weekend guests and winters guessing which day the lake is going to freeze over.

When I’m not writing, I’m working at my day job, reading, yanking weeds out of the garden, or doing some variety of skiing. I also play the piano and violin and dabble in photography, but most of the time, almost all of the time, what I really want to do is write.

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Comments

  1. Kristin A. says:

    You sound a lot like me, Laurie/Laura! Wherever the ideas are coming from, may they keep coming! And yes, I still occassionally look for another PTA mystery and know now that they are finished (you did use past tense "wrote" not "write), which makes me super sad. As a mom (baby #4 is on the way!) I really enjoyed that series. Loved that your protangist (now what is her name? grin!) is a PTA mama and really enjoyed the setting and her children's bookstore. I will cross my fingers that one day we'll get a book #6, but in the meantime I am certainly enjoying your Bookmobile Cat series. Thanks for the chance to win!

  2. Ferne E. Knauss says:

    Without a doubt, The Bookmobile Cat Mystery Series is one of my favorites! I was a late arrival to discover cozy mysteries in 2013 but they are now part of my prime reading delights! ๐Ÿ™‚ I remember visiting the bookmobile as a child was a highlight of life so it's super-easy to imagine the interactions and relationships developed with librarian Minnie Hamilton and her rescue cat Eddie. And as a former children's librarian (and once upon a time being an assistant librarian in a library in a county seat), you never lose the delight of reading novels starring librarians and especially a librarian with a rescue cat. My first rescue cat was through the rescue on a cold winter's morning at the elementary school where I taught at that time. What unconditional love and purrs! Although I don't work as a librarian in my current full-time employment, whenever I meet someone new and they ask me what I do, I still begin to answer, "I'm a librarian!" and then I have to backtrack. I can't wait to read about Minnie's next adventures and to learn who will be the next library director. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Will start reading "Pouncing on Murder" this evening.  This is the first of your books I'll be reading and you'll just be another author for me to love and for that reason, I can't wait to start the book but, I'm sorry I didn't begin with the first one ๐Ÿ™ but, such is life.

    Have a blessed week and keep on writing what I'm sure will be yet another amazing book from the reveiws I've read.

     

  4. Della Williamson says:

    Discovered this series recently and loved the book immenselly. It is really interesting how the different authors go about writing their books. So many different approaches. It is one of the things that make it so interesting. Remember asking an author several years ago (35 yrs ago) how they approach their book. He said. "I sit down at the typewriter and the typewriter just starts typeing. All by itself."  "Uh, huh. And the moon is made of green cheese.  But it was a good one." Things got rather lively after that. Any way I really like this series and am looking forward to getting the others and am hoping this will be a beginning to the rest of the series.

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