Sterling and Me: Tail of a Mystery Author and Her Dog #8—and a Giveaway! @TheMysteryLadie

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:
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How Michelangelo Became a White Supremacist

The year: 1508

Setting: Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo enters the Sistine Chapel with his paints and scaffolding. He has a great image in his mind. This will be his masterpiece that will define him as an artist. The creation that he puts on this ceiling is going to put his name in the history books to immortalize him as a great master painter.

As Michelangelo is setting up, someone comes in. Spying one of the cans of paint, he asks, “Is that red paint you have there?”

Michelangelo says it is. The red will be needed for much of the painting. For example, in the creation of Man.

“Can’t you use another color?”

“No,” Michelangelo says. “Red is one of the primary colors.”

“But it is so offensive. Red is the color of evil,” the visitor says. “Evil is offensive. Therefore, red is offensive.”

“It is the color of blood which gives us life,” Michelangelo says.

“According to you. A significant percentage of people don’t like the color red. Using it will offend them, which will make you―and us―look bad. People will think we’re endorsing evil. We’ll lose business.”

Michelangelo relents and takes the bucket of red paint out of the chapel. He is thinking about how he is going to adjust his painting when he returns to find someone else standing over the bucket of yellow paint.

“Is this yellow paint?” the new visitor asks with a glare in his eyes.

“Yes,” Michelangelo manages to say before the gentleman launches into his tirade.

“Are you saying that we’re cowards? Yellow is the color of cowards used in terms like yellow-belly and—”

“No!” Michelangelo throws up his hands. “I just need to use yellow because it’s the base color in brown—”

But before Michelangelo can finish the second visitor runs from the chapel declaring Michelangelo a racist. Michelangelo is still trying to comprehend how painting a picture on the ceiling of a building could cause such a scandal when a third person comes in to spy yet another bucket of paint.

“Is that green?”

“‘I need it for the Garden of Eden,” Michelangelo says in a firm tone.

“Why green? Aren’t you discriminating against the color blue? Blue has just as much right to be used for the Garden of Eden as green. Besides, were you there? How do you know the Garden of Eden wasn’t blue instead of green?”

A month later, Michelangelo finishes the Sistine Chapel. When the great ceiling is revealed to the public, they stare up in awe at the great white ceiling high above. After Michelangelo had eliminated every color that offended anyone, all he had left was white.

“Why did you go with white instead of black?” someone asked.

That was when Michelangelo went down in history as a white supremacist.

Portrait of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Early 17th cen. Found in the Collection of Galleria Enrico Lumina, Bergamo. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

* * * * *

This week, an author friend of mine called to vent.

Writers love to vent. It’s a great exercise in putting heightened emotions into words and broadening our vocabulary.

My friend received a review for her new release. The reader loved everything about the book but deducted one star from the otherwise five-star review because she had used the word “faggot” twice.

A historical fiction, the novel was set in the 1960s and the word in question was used in dialogue between two characters. The reader goes on to note that the character who uses the word transforms by the end of the book and even apologizes for using said word. However, the reader says, she was offended by the author using the word in her book and for that reason, she was deducting the star in her rating.

“So I’m not allow to use the word ‘faggot’ in my books,” my friend said, “even when vernacular calls for it.”

“Nope,” I said. “You are also not allowed to use manhole because that is not gender neutral. And don’t even think of setting your next book in Washington DC during the 1980s and mentioning their football team.”

The sad thing is that this is not the first time that I’ve had such conversations with some of my writer friends. I’ve had three such conversations in the last month! Political correctness and cancel culture have muzzled novelists—even those who are not writing about culture or politics—but they feel compelled to seek historical accuracy.

One author’s upcoming cozy mystery is also set in the 1960s. She is terrified and seriously thinking about not promoting it! Not promoting it! How can an author put in the trouble of writing a book and then not promote it because they are terrified of some snowflakes having a meltdown?

Her feel-good mystery contains an African-American character. Since the book is set in the 1960s, this character would be referred to as “black.” Realistically, that was the term used at the time. The author went so far as to research when “African-American” started being used. That was the 1990s.

She is so nervous that she has gone out of her way to insert narrative stating that nowadays, this character would be called African-American in hopes of soothing potentially sensitive readers, but she knows that some won’t accept this apology.

I believe my author friends contact me for understanding because I have been unintentionally offending readers since the beginning!

Several years ago, I received a review for a Mac Faraday Mystery, in which the reader opened with “Thankfully, this book in the series contained no insulting-to-fat-people characters.”

I did a lot of head scratching trying to figure out what she was talking about. When did I insult fat people? Apparently, one of my fans had the same question because she went onto the site to ask. The reader claimed that in one of my previous books I had presented a fat character in a derogatory manner. The fan came back to say that if it was the book she was thinking of, it was the character, not fat people who were presented in a derogatory manner.

The fact remains, this reader was so offended by my use of an obese character in It’s Murder, My Son that she felt compelled to carry out her grudge by posting a negative comment several books later.

In It’s Murder, My Son, Betsy is a victim. She is sloppy and, yes, obese. Her low self-esteem puts her in the perfect situation to be manipulated by the killer—who is slender and attractive, by the way.

Rightfully, it should be the skinny people posting negative reviews about me making them out to be homicidal. In It’s Murder, My Son, I killed five slender people.  Only one victim was overweight. I mean, if I’m prejudiced against overweight people because I killed one—I must really have it out for slender people!

A psychologist could claim that I have deepseated jealousy against people who can successfully control their weight. Maybe we should do a survey of the murder victims in all of my books to compare how many were average weight and how many were overweight.

Fiction writers should not walk on eggshells!

Those who want to excel at their craft should not allow a few to force them to measure every single word or portion of a plotline for fear of offending a small group of readers with a political or cultural agenda.

Unfortunately, our culture has driven many writers to do so. Which explains the phone calls, emails, and zoom calls with writers asking, “Do you think this is going to offend someone?”

My answer: Yes.

No matter how hard we try to please everyone, someone will take offense. It’s like my mother and many mothers out there used to say: You can’t please everyone!

Today, “faggot” is on the list of Banned Words. No matter what the setting or the characters, you cannot use this word at all for any reason.

However, fifteen years ago, that word was not on the Banned Word list. What are authors of those books where that word was used supposed to do? Are they responsible for going through their backlist, deleting those words, and then re-releasing their books?

What if the author is dead, like Mark Twain, who wrote Huckleberry Finn. Famously, this American Classic was written at a time when the N-word was not on the Banned Word list. In the case of this book, the N-word was commonly used as it still is today in rapper music. This classic features an African-American as a protagonist—a positive character and portrays the friendship of a Caucasian boy and the African-American.

However, because the author used this word at a time and place in American history when it was not on the Banned Words list, many libraries and schools have banned the entire book—denying young readers of the historical and literary benefits of the story of Huckleberry Finn. Likewise, with To Kill a Mockingbird.

Who’s compiling this list of offensive words? How are writers supposed to get it so that they can be informed in real time about what words not to use? It seems only right that we receive regular updates when words are added to the list so that we don’t unintentionally offend someone. Are words ever taken off the list—making them okay to use?

Does anyone out there have a name or email address of this contact person? Raise your hand if you have it. … I didn’t think so.

This post is not directed toward those sensitive readers who throw hissy fits in the form of negative reviews because their feelings were unintentionally hurt in the name of art. Nothing I, or any author, say can change their perception.

This post is directed to writers paralyzed in front of their laptops. They are terrified that the next word they type may be on that list—or will end up on the list in the future—ideally during the publishing process.

Writers who attempt to bend over backwards to please those who find offense in a word used by a fictional character in a work of fiction might as well throw away their laptops and take up dogwalking.

It’s an unrealistic feat for novelists to keep track of words banned by others. When you start measuring your writing vocabulary based on what others deem correct, you cease to write for yourself. You are now writing for a group of readers who are impossible to please.

Do they really care about your books? Or are they more concerned about controlling what you write? Censoring the words you use in your books? Muzzling your right to free speech? Is that their endgame?

Yesterday, they didn’t like you using the word “black.” Today, it is the word “faggot.” What will it be tomorrow? What words will they add next month?

As writers bend to their demands, they add more words to their list—until like Michelangelo, all you have is a blank white laptop screen.

Then, they will call you a white supremacist because your screen is not black.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Coming in March!

Mac Faraday and Gnarly Are Back in SHADOW OF MURDER

True crime blogger, Erica Hart starts a new chapter in her life with a bang when a dark shadow darts into the mountain road to send her SUV off a cliff and to the bottom of Deep Creek Lake. Spencer’s newest addition to the police force, Dusty O’Meara assumes it was a bear. Erica is not so sure.

Soon afterward, contractors discover Konnor Langston’s body at the bottom of an abandoned swimming pool at the new summer home of Mac Faraday’s son.

With Police Chief David O’Callaghan on paternity leave, Deputy Chief Dusty O’Meara must lead the investigation in his first murder case since moving to Spencer. Not only does Dusty have to work under the shadow of the legendary Mac Faraday, but he also has to match wits with Erica, who is determined to find justice for Konnor, her childhood friend.

The police chief and Mac aren’t so difficult. Even Gnarly, the town’s canine mayor, is manageable if his authority is well-respected and he is kept entertained.

Erica Hart, Dusty finds, is more of a challenge. It wouldn’t be so difficult if she wasn’t so irresistible.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Giveaway

Win audible download codes for both
It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard,
the first and second Mac Faraday novels.
Leave a comment to tell what American Classic
that you loved has been banned from school
libraries and why? The winning name will be
drawn on the evening of Friday, February 11th.