A Writer’s View of a Slice of Life

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. A Reunion to Die For was released in hardback in June 2007. Both of these books are in re-release.

Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in her series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. The third book in this series, Shades of Murder, was released in May 2012, also to glowing reviews.

The first in the Lovers in Crime series, Dead On Ice, was released in August 2012.

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Note: Please forgive any typos in this post as the author is recovering from a concussion. For that matter, if you find this post objectionable for any reason, forgive that due to the injury to the writer’s brain. If you love it, well, credit that to the author’s normal state of brilliance.

Writers are always on the lookout for story ideas. Readers should know that. Many writers and readers claim there are only so many plotlines out there. The trick to making your book unique is the chemistry of the characters, the writing style, or the mixture of subplots. So, it is not just the main plot the writers are looking for, but it is those little slices of life that have the power to bring your book to life.

That’s why it’s so hard to get a writer’s attention when you’re having lunch with us. We’re always sitting with our ear pressed up against the booth next door collecting tidbits of human interaction to add to our work in progress.

Or, those of us who are crazy, are always on the lookout to try new and exciting things—like horseback riding. I know it seems safe enough. That’s what I thought … until I ended up in the emergency room with a concussion and a grumbling husband giving me that look.

Here’s what happened. First, I grew up on a farm. I learned how to ride bareback. My family was too poor for a saddle. When I was in high school, while I was riding my Arabian mare along a roadside, she got struck by a car. The car came out in worse shape than she did. Lady got a small cut on her shoulder. I fell off, got my foot caught in the stirrup, and was dragged several yards down the road.

That was the first trip to the emergency room following a close encounter with a horse.

Flash forward thirty years: I decided I wanted to take up horseback riding again. Only now I don’t live on a farm and my husband thinks I’ve lost my mind considering that I don’t seem to have very good luck when it comes to horses.

So, when my friend Paige, who does live on a farm and has horses, invited me to come over to ride her Quarter Horse Peter Pan, I felt like a little kid who had been denied candy spotting a giant Hershey bar. I grabbed for it.

When Paige told me that Peter Pan loved to do jumps and run, I envisioned myself in a red hunting jacket riding Peter Pan in a running of the hounds during a fox hunt. Of course, in my vision, I was thinner and very accomplished in the saddle.

That was my fantasy. Peter Pan replaced it with his reality.

We did do one jump, and Paige said I did great. I had great form. It was beautiful. Until Peter Pan kicked it up a notch, whirled around to go back to do the jump again and I decided to go sky diving into a pile of horse manure.

Later—

In the emergency room, my slice of life had switched from experiencing the thrill of equestrian sport to the blazing headache, body ache, and amnesia. Yep, I lost several minutes while my brain was whirling around inside my head.

There sitting next to my bed was my husband, his arms folded across his chest. Every time we made eye contact he would shake his head and ask dumb questions like, “What were you doing riding a horse?”

I’d respond with something like, “Well, someone has to ride them.” Give me a break. I had a concussion. I wasn’t up to my usual witty self yet.

There we waited for an hour for the results of my CAT scan to see if there was any bleeding in my brain. Over time, my vision cleared, the ringing in my ears stopped, and I saw the opportunity to use this situation.

In my next Lovers in Crime mystery. The working title is School of Murder, where Joshua Thornton delves into the disappearance of a Law School classmate.

In this scene come to life, I was Cameron Gates. Instead of falling off a horse, she jumps out of a second—no, make that a third—story window to nab a killer she had been chasing for months.

Instead of my husband giving me the look of disgust, it’s Joshua Thornton giving Cameron that look for going to such extremes when it comes to catching her man.

“Tell me again why you decided now to take up horseback riding?” Jack blurted out to break through my fantasy.

“Hey, Paige said it was a beautiful jump. She said I’m a natural.”

“That’s not what she told the EMTs.”

At which I told him, “Hey, this is my amnesia and I’m allowed to fill in the blanks anyway I want.”

It was about this point that the doctor came in with the results of the CAT scan. “We took an X-ray of your head and didn’t find anything.”

“Like you really expected to,” Jack replied.

Now that my concussion is healing up, I’m starting to think Jack’s comment had a hidden meaning.

Released to go home, my fantasy had ended. Once more, I was Lauren Carr, the nutty mystery lady, and my husband was Jack, known as the sensible half of our couple.

I spent the weekend following the doctor’s orders to take it easy to the extreme as an excuse to put this slice of life to the page for the opening of School of Murder, which I expect to release in Spring 2013, which gives readers plenty of time to meet Cameron Gates and Joshua Thornton.

The Lovers in Crime meet in Shades of Murder, when Joshua Thornton is tasked with granting a condemned serial killer’s last wish—solve a murder wrongly attributed to him. He finds an unexpected ally in Pennsylvania State Homicide Detective Cameron Gates, who has reason to believe the young woman known to the media only as Jane Doe, Victim Number Four, was the victim of a copycat. Together, Joshua and Cameron set out to light a flame under the cold case only to find that someone behind the scenes wants the case to remain cold, and is willing to kill to keep it that way.

In Dead on Ice, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of Cherry Pickens, a legendary star of pornographic films, when a body turns up in an abandoned freezer. The case has a personal connection to Cameron’s lover, Joshua Thornton, because the freezer was found in his cousin’s basement. It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué star’s roots were buried in their rural Ohio Valley community, something that Cherry had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept her hometown off her road map, too—because when this starlet came running home from the mob, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.

While you’re meeting and getting acquainted with the Lovers in Crime, I will finish School of Murder, while taking breaks only to study for my online course in bungee jumping. My final exam is in six weeks. Don’t tell my husband.