In addition to her series set in the northern panhandle of West Virginia, Lauren Carr has also written the Mac Faraday Mysteries, set on Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland, and the Thorny Rose Mysteries, set in Washington DC. The second installment in the Thorny Rose Mysteries, which features Joshua Thornton’s son Murphy and Jessica Faraday, Mac’s daughter, A Fine Year for Murder, was released in January 2017. The next book, Twofer Murder, will be released at the end of the year.
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 four dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV. Visit Lauren Carr’s website at http://www.mysterylady.net to learn more about Lauren and her upcoming mysteries.
Every writer dreams of being a character in a Neil Simon play. In case you haven’t noticed, most of Neil Simon’s plays were autobiographical. Therefore, the lead character would be a writer and the plot would involve the protagonist’s loveable friends and family who would invade his life—creating chaos and disrupting his writing.
Such has been my life while working on my latest work-in-progress. One day, I will be able to laugh about it. One day. In the future. Not now.
Since January—count it—eight months—I have been working on Twofer Murder, my most ambitious mystery novel yet.
Twofer Murder will be a treat for mystery lovers because it is two mysteries in one novel. This book will contain all of the characters from the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose mysteries. The guys go fishing and get embroiled in a murder mystery. Meanwhile, the ladies go off to a murder mystery writers conference and end up wrapped up in their own mystery when an up and coming mystery author ends up dead! Can’t beat that! Two mysteries for the price of one!
I knew going into this project that it would be a challenge. Every writer needs to challenge herself—otherwise the writing gets stale. However, the biggest challenge that I have encountered is not the writing.
This project started off with a bang during the first week of February when I came down with the flu. I had come down with a fever of 102 and went to the emergency room at three o’clock in the morning. Several years ago, I had had pneumonia and with this illness, I felt the same way. At the ER, when Doogie Howser was finally able to tear himself away from his computer game to tend to me, I told him that I needed a chest X-ray because I suspected I had pneumonia.
Doogie disagreed. He gave me a shot. Several minutes later, after he managed to make it to the next level in his computer game, he came in and told me that I looked great.
“I don’t feel great,” I replied. “I don’t feel any better. I think I have pneumonia.”
“Oh, you have the same virus that’s been going around,” Doogie said with a wave of his hand. “You’ll be better in a week.”
Three weeks later, I still had a fever and had written a total of 40 pages on Twofer Murder. Doogie had managed to make me feel so much like a drama queen that I was afraid of making a fuss over feeling so lousy and my silly little fever. When my fever reached a hundred and four, I went to my regular doctor who chewed me out for waiting so long.
I had had the real influenza and had been contagious the whole time! It was six weeks after that before I felt more or less like myself again.
Normally, by the end of spring I would have a book off to the editor. However, with Twofer Murder, which is realistically two books in one, I was really only getting started. The plotline for this double mystery requires strict attention to detail.
Attention that keeps getting interrupted!
“Type up your book and fix my computer,” my husband said just now while pouring a cup of coffee—coffee that I brewed before sitting down to finish a chapter I had started last night.
Seriously? Writers don’t just “type up” a three hundred page book!
Civilians (non-writers) have the mistaken impression that writers can calmly finish writing whatever paragraph they’re working on, tend to the interruption, and then sit back down at the laptop and pick up right where they had left off.
We writers wish it were that easy.
Until I became a full-time writer myself, I truly was not aware of how delicate a writer’s attention span can be when working on an intricate portion of a book. It is maddening to get back into the zone to finish writing a scene in which your hero is walking into a trap after being ripped out of it to do laundry because you’ve run out of clean underwear. I wanted to go commando until I was sure that Mac Faraday and Gnarly had escaped the shoot-out unharmed. But, my husband pointed out that if I got into a car accident and ended up being taken to the ER by ambulance that Doogie Howser would most certainly tell all his friends that Lauren Carr didn’t wear underwear.
When writing fiction, especially novels, authors have to get into the zone, the setting, characters’ minds—including each character’s agenda—and pay attention to all the details pertaining to the storyline. Once they get into all that (the zone) then the words flow easily from the mind, down through the fingertips and across the keyboard.
Interruptions at this point drive mystery writers to consider writing the interrupter into their book—as a victim. For me, I find that I have to start all over again at the beginning of the section—or sometimes even the beginning of the chapter—to get back into the zone to finish the scene. Recently, with Twofer Murder, it took two weeks for me to write a three-page fight scene –not due to writer’s block, but constant interruptions.
My husband had broken his foot in two places and was on crutches. Since it was his right foot, he couldn’t drive. That meant all the errands he would do (including the grocery shopping), suddenly landed in my lap. Man! Never had I realized how much my husband did around the house! Boy, did I marry well!
While I sympathized with the pain and inconvenience of his injury, I was very frustrated as a writer. Seemingly, every time I sat down to write, I would have to return to the beginning of the chapter. Then, just as I felt myself getting up to speed, getting into the zone as I closed in on where I had left off in the fight scene, a dog would bark, the phone would ring, or I would hear the garbage truck in the distance and realize that I had not taken the can to the curb.
So, the month of August has arrived. Friends and family who are accustomed to a new Lauren Carr release in June are asking, “Where’s the next book?”
My response, “I’m working on it.”
“But you’ve been working on this book since January,” my mother said this weekend. “Usually, you release three books a year. What’s wrong? Do you have writer’s block?”
“No, I keep getting interrupted.”
“By what?” she’ll ask.
“By phone calls from friends and family asking if I have writer’s block!”