Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!
Killer Deadline marks Lauren’s first venture into mystery’s purely cozy sub-genre with a female protagonist.
Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.
A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest
The Mighty Pen: Use with Caution
The pen is mightier than the sword.
Words can be dangerous. Handle them with care.
Writers work with words all day long. Some use them to take their readers on a journey of escape into another world or time filled with mystery, humor, romance, and adventure. Possibly, while conjuring up their adventure, the writer and their readers could learn something about the real world or life along the way.
Other writers use their words for a more noble cause—to inform or educate their readers about matters that may concern them like health, relationships, or professional success.
Through books, our words are amplified across the land to spread our message—or to act as a bomb to destroy our enemy.
Recently, a new writer requested my advice in promoting her recently published novel. Generally, the plot was about a woman suffering in a bad relationship with a charismatic man. The title, bitterly worded subtitle, and book cover screamed: Woman Scorned.
On Amazon, it had a handful of 5-star reviews that I could instantly tell had been written by friends and family. (When you’ve been reading reviews for several years, it is easy to spot those reviews written by reviewers and those written by friends of the author.) They raved about how virtuous the female protagonist was and how evil the male antagonist was.
Before I even spoke to her, I knew that this novel had been written to settle a score under the guise of fiction.
Instantly, the writer broke down into tears and confessed that she was the protagonist in the book, and this was her story. She had to get it out to warn women to beware of charismatic men like the one who had ensnared her.
Without minimizing her pain, mothers have been warning their daughters about these types of men since the days of Cain and Abel. So, her message to readers via this “novel” was not about a new issue.
One could rationalize that this novel was her therapy. If so, from what I saw, it was not very good therapy. Her tears told me that she has never moved on from her experience.
How could she? She’s relived the entire relationship through writing, re-writing, editing, and proofing. With each re-through of her novel, she has forced herself to take another pick at her wounds to make them fresh again.
That’s not to say that writers should never enjoy some vengeance in their books.
I believe most writers, especially crime fiction writers, have killed more than one of our adversaries between the covers of our books. I think personally, I have killed every former boss I have ever had—or made them the murderer to be carted off to jail for their misdeeds.
Thankfully, this has worked well. The mysteries in which I dabbled a bit of vengeance into the plotline were received well by readers and reviewers and sold well to boot. Meanwhile, I enjoyed some satisfaction while taking down my antagonists in a safe fictional environment.
My enemies change sex, appearance, professions and even transgressions against my protagonist to fit my storyline. In the end, only a tidbit of their crimes against me are revealed to the world.
Does that matter to me? Not really. In my imaginary world, my enemies are vanquished to prison or executed in a suitable manner. The score gets settled and I am free to move on to my next book… and possibly settle a score against another adversary.
Moving on is the important part of this exercise.
The thought of writing a novel for the sake of revenge reminds me of something that I had read quite a while ago and included in Winter Frost. In this scene, Chris Matheson urges his ten-year-old daughter Nikki to forgive her mother for abandoning them to take an overseas assignment with the state department:
He lowered his voice. “I’m going to tell you a secret about forgiveness.”
She narrowed her eyes. Suspicion filled her face. “A secret?”
Chris looked around as if to make sure no one was listening to them. “When you forgive someone, you aren’t letting them off the hook. You’re actually letting yourself off the hook. You see, when you refuse to forgive someone, you’re hurting yourself more than you’re hurting the other person.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Once, I got really mad at a friend of mine,” he said. “He’d screwed me over really good. I was furious. I was so mad that I was trying to plot revenge against him. I just wanted to get back at him for what he’d done to me.”
“What did he do?”
“I forget.” Seeing that she didn’t believe him, he laughed. “Seriously. At the time, I thought it was something that I could never get over, but now, I can’t remember what he’d done. I guess that means it wasn’t that serious.”
“Mom left us, Dad. How can we ever forget that?”
“The thing is, your grandfather told me that holding on to anger is like grabbing a hot coal to throw at someone else.”
“Have you ever grabbed a lump of hot coal?”
She shook her head.
“You end up burning yourself. That’s what happens when you hold onto a grudge. You end up hurting yourself more than the other person. It takes a lot of energy holding onto anger. Your stomach hurts.” He sat up and looked down at her. “Your stomach hurts, doesn’t it? Anger makes you sick.”
When sitting down to write a novel for the sake of revenge against your foe, you are taking up that mighty pen and shooting yourself in the foot. Meanwhile, your adversary is skipping on with their life – never the wiser.
A better form of revenge would be a revenge make-over.