Tribute to a Literary Critic, Cheering Coach, Mystery Lover & MOM—and a Giveaway

Lauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. Killer in the Band is the third installment in the Lovers in Crime Mystery series.

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.

I am very sorry to say that last Friday I lost my life mentor, inspiration, harshest literary critic and biggest cheering coach. My mother passed away at eighty-two years of age.

Seven days before, she called with the news that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer. No, she was not a smoker. She never smoked even one cigarette. But she had spent twenty-one years with my father, who was a chain smoker. He died of lung cancer in 1974. The dangers of second hand smoke are real.

As my mother, she was the one who taught me the love of books and literature—especially murder mysteries. My fondest memories are lying next to her in bed while she read Perry Mason to me. Mom was not into Dick and Jane. She was into Erle Stanley Gardner and Agatha Christie. As soon as I learned to read, I was consuming the Bobbsey Twins—quickly moving onto the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. I was never into love stories like other girls. I wanted a dead body and a mystery to solve in my books. This was a love I got from my mother.

Every one at all the libraries in and around Chester, WV, knew my mother. My fondest memories of being with her was going to the Carnegie Library in East Liverpool, Ohio, every Friday morning. As the youngest child in the family, I would make these trips with my mother while my brothers and sister were in school. The love of books and reading was something that the two of us shared together that the rest of my family didn’t take part in. This made it something special.

In recent years, my mother took me back to the mystery section of that same Carnegie Library and pointed at each of the books saying, “I read that. Read this one. This one, too.” She devoured every mystery that would come out. So much so, that the libraries had to borrow books from other libraries just for her because she had read everything they already had.

It was only a few weeks ago that she told me that while at the library, she was waiting in line to check out that week’s books when the lady ahead of her asked the librarian where to find the latest Lauren Carr book. As the librarian directed her, my mom swelled up with pride. When it came her turn in line, she told the librarian that Lauren Carr was her daughter. She says the librarian, who did not know her, almost scoffed until she saw the name “Carr” on her library card. Then she believed her, and called over to the woman that Lauren Carr’s mother was right there. Upon hearing this news, the lady told my mother about how she had read all of my books and enjoyed them.

Once, my mother told me that she was uncertain if she should take the credit or blame for my writing success. Whichever one it is, she certainly played a pivotal role in my becoming an author. She had never attended college. In fact, she went to school in a one room schoolhouse in Pennsylvania. But she was wonderfully smart. She knew books and what made a good book—especially mysteries. She didn’t know the literary terms tossed around by writing coaches and editors, but she did know what worked and didn’t.

That’s why I chose her to critique my books before I would send them off to the editor. One hundred percent of the time I would have to do a rewrite after she’d read them. If she had been born at another time or place, she could have become a great literary critic.

It was her intense knowledge of what made a good murder mystery that kept me motivated to continue pursuing my dream of being a mystery writer—even in the face of continued rejections by agents and publishers. Yes, there was some maternal bias there when she would tell me how good I was, but I knew that she knew what she was talking about when it came to mystery novels.

Don’t get me wrong. Mom was not totally biased about my books. Once, when I told her that a reviewer had said I was as good as Agatha Christie, my mother replied, “You’re not that good.” She did know how to keep me grounded.

At her age, Mom had chosen to have no treatment for her cancer. She cut the doctor off when he gave her the news and didn’t even want any specific details about the type, etc. She swore the doctor to secrecy under the threat of death. (That’s my mom!) For the next year, instead of chemo and other medical treatments, she bowled with her team, had lunch every week with her friends, traveled with my sister to visit my home five hours away, and took trips with her friends—all without saying a word to anyone about the short time she had left.

Two days after breaking the news to our family, my brother took her to the ER. They admitted her into ICU. Five days later, she passed away. Just the way she wanted. (Actually, she had told me that she wanted to go out in a blaze of glory in a big fiery car crash, but to peacefully slip away in her sleep was a close second.)

My mom made me the woman I am today—a lover of books—which I have proudly passed on to my son, who is pursuing a minor in journalism. Because of her, the love of writing will continue.

For this, I thank and love my mom.

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To enter the drawing for an ebook
advance reading copy of

  Twofer Murder by Lauren Carr,
just leave a comment below with
your thoughts about who in your life
inspired you with the love for reading.

The winning name will be drawn
on Monday evening, September 25th
and the ebook will be sent in late October.