Author Mary Angela Introduces Passport to Murder

 

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Death never takes a holiday, but it certainly can take away one. Will Professor Prather find out who killed her Parisian plans before the end of spring break?

 

 

 

 

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

 

 

About the Author

Mary Angela is the author of the Professor Prather academic mystery series, which has been called “enjoyable” and “clever” by Publishers Weekly. She is also an educator and has taught English and humanities at South Dakota’s public and private universities for over ten years. When Mary isn’t writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. For more information about Mary or the series, go to MaryAngelaBooks.com.

 

 

Book Blurb

Passport to Murder (Professor Prather Mystery #2)

 

Start with an unlucky number. Throw in a romantic location. Include a dashing Frenchman and an uncompromising professor. And you have all the ingredients for a passport to murder.

This semester, it seems that Professor Prather’s dreams are about to come true. Ever since she was a young girl, she’s imagined going to France, and her French colleague, André Duman, has finally made that trip possible. Over spring break, she and André are to lead a group of students and faculty to Paris to explore the City of Light. But before she can utter her first bonjour, a professor dies, and they are stuck in Minneapolis. She returns to Copper Bluff with an unstamped passport and a mystery to solve.
When André becomes the prime suspect, Emmeline puts her research skills to good use, determined to find out who really killed the professor and spoiled their spring break plans. With thirteen travelers assembled, the possibilities are varied and villainous. Luckily, her dear friend and sidekick, Lenny Jenkins, is close by. Together, they will sort through the conflicting clues even if it costs them time, trouble, or tenure.

 

 

 

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  1. What was your process for creating English professor Emmeline Prather?

I knew I wanted to set my series in a small college town in South Dakota, so I imagined a young professor relocating to the area. The landscape had to be a draw for my protagonist because the pay is definitely not. I like that she’s an outsider looking in. It heightens her awareness of the region.

 

 

 

 

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  1. What do you like about an amateur sleuth versus a professional one? 

I like that an amateur sleuth is not paid to solve crimes. It’s not her job, so she doesn’t have any police experience to help her. The amateur sleuth allows me, as a reader and a writer, to become intimately involved. I like to imagine what I would do in the same circumstances.

 

  1. What are some characteristics of Emmeline that help her solve crimes?

She is an excellent researcher, which helps her dig up information. She also has a degree in French literature, so she’s great at analyzing stories. Combined, these characteristics make her a tough sleuth to beat!

 

 

 

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  1. You affectionately call her “Em.” Describe your relationship to the protagonist. 

Em is so much fun, and I do think of her as Em as I’m writing. I enjoy writing her because she can be incredibly passionate when it comes to education, students, and crimes. Sometimes I get a chuckle out of her antics.

 

  1. What are the dynamics like between Emmeline and her sidekick Lenny Jenkins? 

There is a strong dynamic between Em and Lenny; they balance each other nicely. Em can take herself too seriously, and Lenny—doesn’t. They both challenge each other to see the world from another viewpoint, which is incredibly advantageous for crime fighting.

 

 

 

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  1. Describe some challenges writing Passport to Murder. 

Moving a group of thirteen characters was hard. I had to talk to the airport police in Minnesota and South Dakota. I also had to read about police procedures and what can and can’t be done when police investigate a suspicious death.

 

 

 

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  1. What did you learn while researching this book? 

I learned that the FBI has jurisdiction involving any crime committed in the air. I thought that was pretty interesting! I also learned that a plane can’t land on a full tank of gas.

 

 

 

Seriously, Just Ahead Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Sky, Clouds and Sunburst.

 

 

 

  1. Is it challenging writing a mystery? 

Yes, it is challenging, but that’s exactly what I like about the mystery genre. It works both sides of my brain. I spend lots of time making my characters and settings interesting, but I also spend an ample amount of time creating a clever and believable plot. All loose ends have to be tied up by the end of the novel. It takes great attention to detail.

 

 

 

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  1. Do you outline your novels? 

No, I don’t, but I do create a timeline and plot some events before writing them.

 

  1. Imagine yourself as Professor Emmeline.  Given the criminal circumstances, would you make the same choices as her? Why or why not?

That’s a tough one! I think I would. I might try to reveal the murderer in a less obvious way, but if I thought I could solve the crime, I would have to try, especially if it benefited my campus or friend.

 

 

 

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  1. Have you ever been to France? 

Yes, I have been to France and loved my time there. I would like to go back and spend the summer in a little French village. That’s my hobby: looking at vacation rentals in wine country. Maybe some day!

 

 

 

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  1. What’s next for you?

I’m writing book three in the series, A Very Merry Murder. It’s a holiday mystery, so I’ve been spending most of my days dreaming about baking sugar cookies and eating fudge. Not a good omen for the impending holidays!

 

 

 

Connect with Mary Angela

 

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

 

 

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Maryangelabooks.com

 

 

 

Thanks for ridin the train folks! Come back and see us. Peace out.

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

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Scottish Crime Fiction Blogger Discusses The Huntress Moon Series by Alexandra Sokoloff

 

 

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Hello all, today we have with us Sharon Scottish crime fiction blogger discussing the Huntress/FBI series by Alexandra Sokoloff. I saw Sharon’s recent review of Cold Moon book #3 of the series and couldn’t resist asking questions! Check out her excellent review here: #BookReview #ColdMoon @AlexSokoloff

 

Alexandra Sokoloff

 

 

ALEXANDRA SOKOLOFF is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the Amazon bestselling Huntress/FBI series (HUNTRESS MOON, BLOOD MOON, COLD MOON, BITTER MOON, HUNGER MOON – now in active development as a TV series), and the supernatural HAUNTED thrillers (THE HARROWING, THE PRICE, THE UNSEEN, BOOK OF SHADOWS, THE SHIFTERS, THE SPACE BETWEEN). The New York Times Book Review called her a “daughter of Mary Shelley,” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”

 

 

23957469     Blood moon

 

Cold moon      Bitter moon

 

 

Book 5 Hunger Moon releases Octorber 24, 2017!

 

Hunger Moon

 

Pre-order here

 

 

 

What was your first impression when you began to read this series?

I always think that starting a new series is like walking into a party where you don’t know anybody. You kind of hover around the edges, observe your surroundings and watch the interactions between the other guests, working out who you might get on with and who is best to avoid. So when I started this series I spent some time trying to get to know who was who but very quickly the characters and the plot engaged me and #Boom I was hooked.

 

What do you appreciate about the protagonist?

I guess there are two protagonists in this series, Special Agent Roarke and Cara Lindstrom and both bring something very different to the novels. They are both on the side of justice and the dilemma is for Roarke in fulfilling his professional quest for justice versus his understanding of Cara’s quest.  Both characters were utterly compelling for me.

 

 

 

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Name a few unique things you’ve noticed. What sticks out that you haven’t seen in other books?

This was the first time I’ve ever read a novel where both the law enforcer and the hunted evoke such very strong and similar emotions in me. It is also the first novel I’ve read featuring a female serial killer and most of all for me is the voice that the author brings to the victims of trafficking, prostitution and modern-day slavery that stands out. There is a message behind the novel, a drive and a passion to challenge what is a current issue, it’s a representation and dialogue that stands up and sticks up its middle finger to the idea that we should just sweep this under the carpet. It is a very current issue and this series gives a fictional justice, if you like, to those who have been wronged.

 

 

 

“I say that justice is truth in action.” -Benjamin Disraeli

 

 

 

Do you have any favourite scenes?

Too many to mention and don’t want to give away any spoilers! However, I LOVE all the scenes where Cara is getting her revenge on those lowlife bad guys!

 

Which book is your favourite of the series?

To date, I’ve only read the first three (will be devouring the last two later this month!) and I’d say Blood Moon was my favourite (actually all three are my favourite and you are bad making me pick just one!)

 

Which characters did you like most?

Easy, no contest, Matthew Roarke and Cara Lindstrom

 

 

 

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If you could ask special agent Matthew Roarke a question what would you ask?

If you are forced to choose, will you retain your role in law enforcement or would you give it all up for Cara?

 

If you could ask Cara Lindstrom a question what would you say?

Are your actions destiny or fate and what would bring peace to your soul?

 

If you could ask the author a question what would you say?

Did you set out to give such a powerful message against trafficking and prostitution or did this just evolve as you wrote?

 

 

Thanks for sharing with us Sharon!

 

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See Sharon’s Blog: Chapter in my life: Scottish Crime Fiction Blogger

 

Connect with Alexandra Sokoloff

Twitter | Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by. Don’t be a stranger!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

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Writing a Memoir with Roz Morris & Joanna Penn

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

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Writing Memoir With Roz Morris

 

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite resource for writing memoirs? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

Don’t miss Mystery Thriller Week 2018!  #MTW_2018

 

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Thanks for stopping by the The Writing Train! Don’t be a stranger.

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

The Caitlin Strong Series with Author Jon Land

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Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of the 38 novels, including seven titles in the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense) and Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller). Caitlin Strong returns this October in Strong Light of Day, to be followed by Darkness Rising, his sci-fi collaboration with Heather Graham coming from Forge in June of 2016. Jon is a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found on the Web at jonlandbooks.com or on Twitter @jondland.

 

 

 

 

Tell us about the decision to write a thriller with a female lead. 

Well, confession time here, starting this series was as much a marketing decision as a creative one. I owe the whole concept to the head of mass market sales for Tor/Forge Publishing going back about a decade. At a meeting where we were discussing trends in publishing, he raised the point that thrillers were the most popular genre and 70% of books were bought by women. Yet nobody at the table could name a single female thriller hero. Mystery, yes. But a female Jack Reacher? Uh-uh. So then and there I piped in with “What about a female Texas Ranger?” And in that moment Caitlin was born.

 

 

 

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What do you appreciate about the Texas Rangers?

So many things! First and foremost, they are the most famous and legendary lawmen in American history. The only frontier body out of the Old West to still be around today—and not just around, they’re still operating pretty much as they always have. They’re still gunfighters by reputation, even if they never have draw their weapon. They still command the same respect they always have and have built wondrously on the folklore of their forebears. All those great stories of the likes of Bill McDonald, Jack Hayes, Frank Hamer, Manuel “Lone Wolf” Gonzaulles, and so many more. You see so many male thriller heroes who are ex Special Forces, Navy SEALs, or something like that. Since women can’t service in active duty for special ops, making Caitlin Strong a Texas Ranger was the next best thing.

 

 

 

 

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Did you do any travel related research?

You can never do enough. I get to Texas twice a year and base scenes on where I visit. So you’ll see a lot of Midland in STRONG LIGHT OF DAY, a lot of Houston in STRONG COLD DEAD, and a ton of Austin in STRONG TO THE BONE which comes out December 5. I’m a whiz when it comes to Google searches and, another confession, I write about a ton of places in Texas that I’ve never been to.

 

 

Strong Cold Dead

 

 

 
What’s your process with research? Is there a method to the madness?



That’s a great question because it comes down to process. The method to my madness is not really having a method. I don’t outline and am very spontaneous in my writing, figuring if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, the reader can’t possibly know. So I don’t necessarily know what research I need to do before I start a book. I’ll actually do the bulk of it in the midst of the writing. If I need to know something as specific as the kind of tree you might find a body under in Laramie. Or what that tree smells like. Or what diner Caitlin might in when she visits this town or that. Attention to detail is crucial but the real trick is knowing how much not to say so the reader is left with the impression that I’ve been there, mostly because I don’t give them enough to figure out that I haven’t.

 

 

 

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How do you view Caitlin Strong among all the characters you’ve created over the years?

Easily the best and most fun I’ve ever written. I have so much faith in all of them, meaning I let them do the heavy lifting when it comes to figuring out the plot—or, better stated, my characters are also my collaborators. The reason I can take the risk of being so spontaneous, of literally not knowing exactly where I’m going or how I’m going to get there, is because I trust my character can sketch out the roadmap for me. They write their own dialogue, they make their own decisions, they make their own mistakes. Some of the best scenes I’ve written in this series, I can’t even tell you where they came from.

 

 

 

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What are the stakes and do they affect Caitlin personally?

As far as STRONG TO THE BONE goes, it’s the most personal of any book in the series because we learn for the first time that Caitlin was raped 18 years before when she was in college. The man was never caught. He just disappeared. And now he’s back, his DNA showing up in another victim of sexual assault. So Caitlin, all grown up and a Texas Ranger now, has a chance to slay her greatest dragon. Which brings us to the question of whether she really wants to, because she’s afraid catching him will strip her of the edge that defines who she is. As you can see, there are often aren’t easy answers in this series!

 

 

 

Strong to the Bone

 

 
Is it difficult writing a female lead?



Not really, because she’s so real to me, as are all of my characters. I’ve written serial killers and terrorists, when I’m not either of those. I’ve written Israelis, Palestinians, teenagers, along with blind, deaf and people suffering from other disabilities. And I’m none of those things either. Well, breaking news, you can add to that list the fat that I’m not a woman. Storytelling springs not from the conscious mind but from the imagination, where anything is possible. The key to being a great storyteller is to able to recapture the magic of role playing that children do. I think that’s why so many love books as a adults: because it makes them feel like kids again, the way I feel when I’m writing.

 

 

 

 

“Storytelling springs not from the conscious mind but from the imagination, where anything is possible.”–Jon Land

 

 

 
How have readers responded to her thus far?



Beyond anything I ever could have imagined. She doesn’t have the sales of the Jack Reacher books, but I honestly believe she compares very favorably to Lee Child’s iconic hero. The thing about those books, and the ones featuring Caitlin, is they’re both essentially modern day Westerns. The storytelling, at its heart, is very basic: Somebody good willing to do anything it takes to stop somebody bad from doing something really wrong. That’s the crucial element of this series and any great thriller, as well as why readers have responded to Caitlin as positively as they have: she isn’t just about solving crimes, she’s about preventing something much worse from happening. That’s what makes a true hero.

 

 

 

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Connect with Jon Land

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Amazon

 

 

 

 

Don’t miss Mystery Thriller Week 2018!

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

The Self Publishing Podcast: Making the Audiobook Market Accessible

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

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SPF Podcast 85: Kevin Tumlinson

 

 

 

Have  thoughts? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

 

Enjoy Mystery and Thrillers? Come join us for Mystery Thriller Week Feb. 12-22nd 2018. Check out more info:  About MTW

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

NaNoWriMo Prep with Kristen Martin

 

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PREPTOBER | Planning Your Novel for NaNoWriMo

 

 

 

How are you prepping for NaNoWriMo this year? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

Do you read, write, blog about awesome Mystery & Thrillers? Don’t forget to sign up for Mystery Thriller Week! 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

K.M. Weiland: The Highschool Years

 

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K.M. Weiland is an international bestselling author who writes speculative fiction from the confines of her Nebraska home. She’s my favorite author, not only because of her books, but also for giving back to the writing community tenfold. A kind, generous spirit, endlessly fascinating person and Jedi Master.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to present to you, the AWESOME award. Let it be known to all; that on this blessed day October 4, 2017, I bestow upon you the seal of awesomeness. May it be inscribed therein, and may you bear its signature all the days of your life in peace.

 

 

 

 

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1. Name up to three things in homeschooling that helped shape you as a writer.

1. The extra time and flexibility to pursue extra-curricular activities—in my case, writing and producing a newsletter called Horse Tails, which gave me the opportunity to write hundreds of stories and articles and the discipline to create a consistent writing schedule from a young age.

2. Love of reading and learning. I worked well on my own, which made me very well-suited to homeschooling. It let me pursue my interests—particularly, history—at my own pace and, to some extent, tailor my education to my life goals.

3. Family support. My parents and siblings have been there for me every step of my writing journey, starting in my school years. They were always supportive and did everything they could to encourage and help me.

 

 

 

 

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2. Describe your experience that lead up to writing a newsletter.

I’ve always made up stories, but I didn’t start writing them down until my siblings and I decided to form a family newspaper. They lost interest pretty quickly, but I was hooked! Eventually, I moved on to edit and publish Horse Tails, a small newsletter for youth, which I continued throughout high school.

 

 

 

 

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3. What did writing mean to you at this point in your life?

On through high school, I viewed it merely as a hobby—a way to write down the stories I imagined, simply so I wouldn’t forget them. Up until graduation, I seriously thought I would be pursuing a career with horses. But then I began realizing I enjoyed staying inside to write more than I did going outside to ride.

 

 

 

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4. What kind of feedback did you receive from family and friends?

Positive and constructive. I’ve been blessed to have few naysayers in my life. The people who are closest to me have always been my biggest fans and have encouraged me to explore my talents and interests.

 

 

 

 

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5.  Who were your role models? (Real or fictional)

It’s clichéd, but: Jo March and Anne Shirley. I read Little Women and Anne of Green Gables over and over as a child, and I have always resonated with the awe and wonder of these heroines’ imaginative coming-of- age stories.

 

 

 

~Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.~

 

 

 

 
6.  If you could go back in time and give yourself advice what would you say?

Probably the biggest bit of advice I would offer would be to seriously consider where your writing will be in five years if it succeeds. By that point, for me, many of the decisions I made in the beginning were too difficult to change. I wish I’d spent more time considering my blog title, url, publishing platform (Blogger, WordPress, etc.), subscription options, all that stuff. You don’t want to have to make major changes down the road that might undo some of your hard work in building a following.

 

 

Connect with K.M. Weiland

 

 

KM weiland

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

Horses

 

 

 

 

 

Write character arcs? Don’t miss out on this! Creating Character Arcs Workbook: The Writer’s Reference to Exceptional Character Development and Creative Writing. Just released Aug. 5th 2017.

 

 

Character arcs workbook

 

 

Paperback | E-book 

 

 

 

 

RESOURCES

 

Introducing the Creating Character Arcs Workbook!

Creating Character ARCS: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting a Story Structure

Audiobook: Creating Character ARCS by K.M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software for Macs & PC

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

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