Reviews: To Read or Not To Read

My third thriller, Lies She Told, launched Sept. 12 and the reviews have been coming in fast and furious. Last I checked, there are about forty-five on Amazon and 470 reviews/ratings on GoodReads. There are also reviews on Instagram, which I am learning about and just started obsessing over.  And I am reading all of them.  Why? The true artist might ask. The book can’t be changed now. As long as I feel good about my work, what does it matter what other people think?  There are a couple reasons that I read nearly all my reviews. The first is that, like any insecure creative, I must know what people are saying about my brainchild and, by extension, me. I’m as bad as any high school girl with a new haircut. I’ll pretend that it doesn’t matter if the popular kids think my bangs are cute because I like them, but I desperately want the validation.  The far more important, non-ego-centric reason that I read reviews is because they are the second part of the conversation that I initiated with my imagined readers when I started writing my latest novel. I told a tale intending for particular themes to emerge and for my characters to resonate in certain ways. I put in twists and turns that I crafted to be believable red herrings. I aspired, above all, to entertain. Now the readers get to react. I have to listen to their interpretation of the story. I need to know what I succeeded in communicating and where I might have fallen short.  Crossing my fingers that I’m in for a good conversation. Do you read reviews?   

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Party at the Deer Path Inn

 Yesterday was book launch day or, as I prefer to call it, book birthday for Death in D Minor, the second book in the Gethsemane Brown series. Thank you to my fellow Missdemeanors for hosting a blog party. I was in meetings all day at my, to borrow a phrase, daytime situation so I appreciate their help making the day a success.
After work, I celebrated my new novel’s release at one of my favorite places, the Deer Path Inn. This historic inn opened in its current location in 1929. Architect William C. Jones of Holabird and Root fashioned it after a Tudor manor house in Chiddingstone, Kent, England so it looks as if it came straight out of an Agatha Christie mystery. When I arrived at the inn, after a hearty “Welcome back” from several staff members (yes, I visit a lot), I headed for the White Hart Pub. I started with a new (to me) cocktail called The Chancellor, a slightly sweet, completely delicious concoction of Balvenie 12yr scotch, 10yr tawny port, and campano vermouth. I followed up with the charcuterie (a French word that, a friend explains, translates to “big ole pile of cured meat”) tray and topped the evening off with coffee and chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream. Then I went home and slept until around 1 a.m. when lightning flashed so close it illuminated my bedroom and thunder boomed loudly enough to shake the house. I interpreted these as a celestial fireworks show celebrating my new book instead of harbingers of the power-outing, stoplight-frying, flood-inducing storm that’s created a Chicagoland traffic nightmare this morning.

What places do you frequent that transport you into your favorite mystery? 

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Murder In D Minor is Born!

   We’re celebrating the book birthday of Alexia Gordon’s “Death in D Minor” today. The Miss Demeanors love a party, especially a book birthday party for one our own. We asked Alexia to share a little about the process of transforming Death in D Minor from an embryo to a beautiful baby. Here’s what the Birthday Girl had to say. Miss Demeanors (“MD”): So what the new book about, Alexia? Alexia:   In Death in D Minor, Gethsemane has to clear her brother-in-law of antiques theft charges, herself of murder charges, bring Eamon back from wherever he’s got to, and save Carraigfaire from a greedy hotel developer, all while dodging a killer and outwitting a law enforcement agent who may not be what she seems. And she has to do it all by Epiphany. Luckily, the ghost of a dashing 18th century sea captain shows up to help her. (No, writing back cover copy is not my forte.) MD: Was writing your second book as painful for you as many authors describe?  Alexia: Book two was excruciating. If self-doubt was a bus, I’d be road kill. I was afraid to write for fear I’d “violate canon”. Yeah, I was actually afraid to play in the world I’d created lest I mess things up and disappoint readers. How’s that for neurotic? MD: What inspired the story for Murder in D Minor? Alexia: Death in D Minor was inspired by My personal interests. Needlework, particularly embroidery, is a hobby. Colonial-era history and art crime are fields that interest me. I decided to work my interests into the story because it’s always more fun to write about what interests you. Especially when you’re in the midst of an imposter syndrome-induced nervous breakdown and have deadlines looming. Plus, I had an excuse to finagle a behind-the-scenes tour of Colonial Williamsburg.  MD: When you started your series did you know the plot or theme for the first and second one? Or did the second one come about organically? Alexia:   I knew I had to the up certain loose ends from book one in book 2 and I knew which characters I had to carry over to book 2. But the actual plot for book 2 came about organically. I pulled some ideas from my mental Rolodex (How many people who read this will totally not get that reference?) –art crime, antique embroidery, Colonial history– and puzzled out a way to make them for together with the characters I already had. M.D.:    Gethsemane talked about her family in book one. Now, in book two, we see one of her family members. How did that family dynamic change writing her character? Could we see more family members in the future Alexia:   Actually including a family member in the story meant I had to imagine how Gethsemane would interact with someone who knew her history (and secret nickname) and who would interact with her differently from someone she’d recently met. We all (at least I do) speak about our absent family differently than we act in their presence. Yes, I plan to have more family members as characters in the future. MD: Does your protagonist Gethsemane ever annoy you? Alexia:  Gethsemane doesn’t annoy me. My challenge is not to let Gethsemane become my channel to express my annoyance with other people. My fatal flaw is not suffering fools lightly. It’s hard to keep that off the page. MD: Any questions for the Birthday Girl, please chime in. After we’re done partying, we’re off to buy a copy of Murder in D Minor.   

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