Tag: A Well-Timed Murder

A Well-Timed Murder

I Have a Question

Book clubs seem more popular than ever. Focused on a variety of themes and genres, there are as many different types of clubs as there are different books. One thing common to all clubs, members talk about. Plots, characters, broader issues raised by the story—all serve as fuel for discussion. Authors may connect with readers by visiting clubs in person or virtually and sometimes facilitate discussion by providing discussion questions. Today, some of the Missdemeanors offer questions for book clubs.  Tracee1. Agnes lost her husband and changed jobs, taking on what many would consider a higher pressure position. What do you think about her decisions and her manner of dealing with loss and family and search for personal identity? 2. Julien Vallotton is clearly romantically interested in Agnes, yet she resists. Do you think there is such a thing as an ‘appropriate’ or ‘necessary’ time to mourn the loss of a spouse or partner before taking the next romantic steps? Have you witnessed a situation where the threat of external judgment prevented the bereaved from enjoying the next years of their life?     Susan1. Maggie Dove’s new client believes her sister is evil. Have you ever met anyone you believed to be evil? 2. As Maggie Dove begins investigating, she has to go through old high school year books and she’s surprised to see how some of the people she knows have changed. How have you changed since high school (beyond the wrinkles)?        Alison1. Abish has returned home to a state, and religion, she left thinking she’d never return. Now, she’s trying to reconnect with her family and navigate as an outsider in an insider community. How well do you think she gets along with a dominant outlook that differs from her own? 2. The first murder Abish encounters has hallmarks of a deadly ritual supported–in theory–by Brigham Young and other early LDS Church leaders. It has long been forgotten by most, but offers an interesting example of how communities handle dark parts of their own history. Do you think there are any societies that have dealt particularly well or particularly badly with this universal problem of processing ugliness in their own shared past (whether it be slavery, racism, sexism, violence, antisemitism, ethnic cleansing, pogroms . . .)? Is there a good template for handling these issues?  Michele1. Sabrina Salter’s gut told her that she and Henry should not take on an eleventh villa, but Henry was insistent and Sabrina relented. How do you know when to follow your gut instinct and not yield to the judgment of others or when to back down?. 2.Sabrina tells Henry at the end of the book, “I’m going back to Boston to meet the grandmother I’ve never seen before it’s too late.” What advice would you offer Sabrina about meeting a grandmother who has chosen to ignore her existence?    Alexia1.In Killing in C Sharp, Gethsemane has to work with someone she despises, someone who once libeled a friend of hers, in order to save people she cares about. How would you handle having to work with someone you disliked? 2. Maja’s relatives got away with her murder. She dealt with the injustice by coming back as a ghost and taking vengeance on not just her relatives, but anyone who reminded her of them. How would you deal with being a victim of injustice?      What questions have you discussed in your book club? Or what questions would you like to discuss if you belonged to a book club? What questions would you offer to readers of your books? Share in the comments or join the discussion on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/missdemeanorsbooks/   

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The Artist and the Entrepreneur

I love themes. I’m the kind of person who plays bachata in the background if I’m hosting a dinner party with Central American cuisine (my sister-in-law is from Belize and got me hooked on bachata) and chanson for French. The reason I bring this up is because it’s launch week for Tracee’s second Agnes Lüthi Mystery A Well-Timed Murder.  Perfect timing for a week devoted to what’s really involved in getting your book out there into the world. With my own pub date set for this August, I’m learning quickly that it’s not just about the edits.  Spoiler alert: being an author requires a lot more than writing. It’s easy to think of writers as artists, but writing is also about producing something and getting that something to the people who will want it. In other words, a writer lives both in the world of the artist and the world of the entrepreneur. Exhibit A is Tracee’s elegant Tour Postcard below. After the writing and rewriting, the back-and-forth with an editor, then a copy editor, then a production editor, finally there’s a book. …but that’s just the beginning. That’s when the entrepreneur joins the artist. That’s when you do book readings, post videos, be interviewed, attend conferences, write guest blogs, send out newsletters, find a publicist. OR NOT. What I’m discovering as I stumble into this world is that there are as many options for what an author can do as there are opinions about what an author should do. My fellow Miss Demeanors will share their thoughts on the topic this Friday. In the meantime, if you’re in Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia or Texas, I know someone who’ll be signing her latest book about a Swiss-American police officer who is on leave in Lausanne, Switzerland, recovering from injuries she sustained in her last case, when an old colleague invites her to the world’s premier watch and jewelry trade show at the grand Messe Basel Exhibition Hall. Little does Agnes know, another friend of hers, Julien Vallotton, is at the same trade show—and he’s looking for Agnes. Julien Vallotton was friends with Guy Chavanon, a master of one of Switzerland’s oldest arts: watchmaking. Chavanon died a week ago, and his daughter doesn’t believe his death was accidental. Shortly before he died, Chavanon boasted that he’d discovered a new technique that would revolutionize the watchmaking industry, and she believes he may have been killed for it. Reluctantly, Agnes agrees to investigate his death. But the world of Swiss watchmaking is guarded and secretive, and before she realizes it, Agnes may be walking straight into the path of a killer.       

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What time is it?

The day has arrived for fans of Agnes Agnes Lüthi: A Well-Timed Murder is out, and before Tracee heads off for her book tour, I was able to get her to answer a few questions about book number two. Alison: Your book releases today, what’s the day look like for you? Tracee: I’m lucky to celebrate my pub day in a bookstore! The marvelous WordsWorth Books & Co. in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’ll be there from 5-7 pm so there’s still time to come out and chat and support a great independent book store. Alison: You live in Virginia, why Arkansas? Tracee: My mother’s family moved to Arkansas pre-statehood and she was born there. It is a perfect spot to kick off my tour. After Little Rock I’ll go to my hometown in Kentucky. Then I’ll carry on for another two weeks, through a variety of states, ending with a Barnes & Noble and a new independent book store, Book No Further, near where I currently live.  Alison: This is the second in a series. What is Agnes Lüthi up to now? Tracee: We pick Agnes up a few weeks after the conclusion of Swiss Vendetta. A Well-Timed Murder can certainly be read as a stand-alone, but if you’ve read Swiss Vendetta you’ll know why Agnes has a limp. I think of the connection between the two books as a behind-the-curtain glimpse that returning readers have. As a series reader myself, I like to feel a connection between books. At the same time, I don’t want to have to read them in order. Alison: Agnes works for a Violent Crimes unit in Lausanne, Switzerland. I’ve always thought of Switzerland as idyllic, what kind of trouble does she uncover? Tracee: You’re right about the country being idyllic. That’s part of the reason for crime! There is a lot of pressure to keep up such a high standard of living. For example, in A Well-Timed Murder we see the pressure behind the watch industry when a well-renowned watchmaker dies in suspicious circumstances. By the end of writing the book I started to think that timing is everything. In life, death, and love. It certainly proves to be for Agnes. Alison: I heard the book’s first victim died of a peanut allergy, is that true? Tracee: Yes! Recently, I possibly frightened a guest at our home when I mentioned this.She has a serious peanutallergy and I’m sure she wondered if I felt a need to test my ‘mysterious circumstances.’ The unusual circumstances of my victim’s death pose one of the first obstacles to Agnes’s investigation, an investigation that takes her to Baselworld – an annual show at the heart of the watch industry – and to a boarding school where the victim died. Alison: Didn’t your husband attend boarding school in Switzerland? Is this the revelation of a dark secret from hispast? Tracee: No revelations from his past, but certainly his idyllic school (there’s that word again!) served as inspiration.An international school is a true melting pot of cultures and languages at the very time when young people are testing their limits and finding their identity. A perfect place for chaos. That said, the main way my school is based on his, is in the central architecture. Who can resist a towering chalet? Murder and mayhem played no part in his education. Truly. Alison: Thanks for joining us on pub day! And promise to send us some photos during your tour.  I posted Tracee’s Book Tour Postcard in yesterday’s post in case any readers live nearby. If you missed that, just check below so you can see Tracee’s (rather packed) schedule. Do stop by. Tracee would love to meet you.  Tracee: Please do. I’ve met so many friends-of-friends and friends-of-readers in bookstores this past year and the connection is amazing! Tour dates Feb. 6 – Little Rock, ARWordsWorth & Co., 5 pm Feb. 7 – Madisonville, KYReadmore Book-N-Card, 3 pm Feb. 8 – Louisville, KYCarmichael’s Bookstore, 7 pm Feb. 12 – Lexington, KYJoseph-Beth Booksellers, 7 pm Feb. 13 – Knoxville, TNUnion Ave Books, 6 pm Feb. 14 – Chattanooga, TNStar Line Books, 6:30 pm Feb. 15 – Woodstock, GA (Atlanta)FoxTale Book Shoppe, 6:30 pm(With Roger Johns and Jonathan Putnam) Feb. 17 – Christiansburg, VABarnes & Noble, 2 pm Feb. 20 – Houston, TXMurder by the Book, 6:30 pm Feb. 24 – Roanoke, VABook No Further, 2 pm   

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Timing is Everything.

My next book, A Well-Timed Murder, is about the Swiss watch industry. In it, Agnes Lüthi investigates the murder of a prominent watchmaker, Guy Chavanon. Agnes quickly learns that despite the industry’s reputation, nothing about the man’s death seems precise. Ultimately, timing will be the key to law enforcement, and possibly to love as Agnes races to stop the killer before he strikes again. While writing A Well-Timed Murder I dove head first into the watch industry. Today, with a ‘watch’ on every smart phone and inexpensive wristwatches that keep accurate time, we don’t give much thought to how time controls our life. For thousands of years, time related to the rise and fall of the sun. The Egyptians divided the day into two 12-hour period and used obelisks to track the sun’s progress. In the early 14th century mechanical clocks yielded more precision. As the century progressed, watches (as jewelry) developed as novelties for the wealthy elite. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries pioneering pilots strapped timepieces to their wrists so they could keep track of fuel usage. At the same time, the British army required greater coordination and timing among the troops. Clearly the need for practical and precise wristwatches had arrived. Fast forward to today and every person with a smart phone can mark time to hundredths of a second. Time is now everything.   Watches are appreciated for their beauty and collectability. Every minute of our day is accounted for (and in some industries billed-for). We have greater accuracy but, perhaps, that’s not always a good thing? I wonder how people mark their days now. Through constant checking of the computer clock, their iPhone, or an antique Patek Philippe? And does the constant realization that minutes are slipping past help or hurt us? I have days where time seems to stand still. Those are the days I want to capture. That’s the kind of timing that means everything.

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Final Edits. The End. (Almost.)

 Today I’m starting on final edits for A Well-Timed Murder, the second in the Agnes Lüthi mystery series. I have a couple main objectives: trimming and accelerating. There will likely be a few other changes to specific words, responses to my editor’s questions or requests for clarifications and other minor fiddling. I like this phase of writing when my mind is already on another book and the tasks are more concrete. That’s not to say creativity isn’t at the heart of all edits – what to trim isn’t about cutting every 5th word, it’s about cutting precisely the right words. Accelerating the story at a specific point feels like surgery. Don’t get carried away and add complications, try to bring all of the existing ones together. It’s a finite problem. These final edits also take place weeks after the last time I’ve looked at the manuscript and time helps. I’ll try to bring a fresh eye to the project while remembering that this is the end…. The finish line is in sight and everything I do should be about making it better and tighter…. All of the new ideas that plague a writer’s mind belong in the next book. What’s your experience of final edits? Panic or pleasure? 

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