Monday, October 15, 2018

Murder by Perfection by Lauren Carr

Audiobook Details:

Book Title: Murder by Perfection by Lauren Carr
Series: Thorny Rose Mystery Series (Volume 3)
Genre: Murder Mystery
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Release date: Aug 28, 2018
Narrator: Mike Alger
Length: 8 hours, 32 minutes, unabridged
Tour dates: Oct 8 to Nov 2, 2018
Content Rating: PG (mild violence and sexual suggestion)

Book Description:

Perfection can be a fatal endeavor.

Frustrated with their busy schedules, Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday attempt to find togetherness by scheduling a weekly date night. The last thing Jessica Faraday expected for her date night was to take a couple’s gourmet cooking course at the Stepford Kitchen Studio, owned by Chef Natalie Stepford―the model of perfection in looks, home, and business.

When Natalie ends up dead and Murphy goes missing, the Thorny Rose detectives must peel back the layers of Natalie Stepford’s life to discover that the pursuit of perfection can be deadly.

To read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr's page on iRead Book Tours.

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How Long Is Too Long? Does Word Count Really Matter?
By Lauren Carr

Back in the days of the giant lizard (aka dinosaur), I wrote my first book, which I call The Great American Catastrophe. This was back before the delete button was invented and traffic on the expressway during morning rush hour was often held up by a T-Rex chowing down on a Volkswagon on the on-ramp.
The Great American Catastrophe was over about 1200 pages long. Don’t ask me about the word count. Bill Gates, who was in puberty at the time, hadn’t invented that function in MS Word yet.
However, I can tell you the word count for Murder by Perfection, the latest installment in the Thorny Rose Mysteries, which was released on May 30. It has a word count of 80,762 words. That is a fraction of the length of The Great American Catastrophe, which is currently locked away in the back corner of a closet in my studio.
My writing has definitely tightened up over the decades. By tighter, that means my writing is leaner. (This is not my assessment, but that of reviewers who have praised my mysteries for being quick, fast paced reads.) Extemporaneous scenes or facts that add nothing to the mystery are left out, nor is there an overabundance of adjectives and adverbs. Part of that can be attributed to my laziness. I have better things to do than sit at the laptop trying to think of a creative way of describing a tree. (It’s tall, made of wood, and has green things hanging from the branches.)
But just because I don’t like to sweat bullets coming up with flowery ways of describing nature, does that mean description is bad? Has the Charles Dickens’ style of writing gone to the wayside with readers’ longer attention spans? Is there still a place in literature for sweeping epics like Moby Dick and Gone With the Wind.
Good question.
As an author who has mentored new writers, occasionally, this question will find its way to the forefront. At practically every book event, I will get asked about word or page count. “What word count should my book be?” “How many pages are too many for my sci-fi?”
When I started writing, I didn’t ask that question. My belief was that my book will be as long as it needs to be. Not all stories can be fit into a box dictating a specific size.
My first published book, A Small Case of Murder, was 134,000 words. It did well. However, when my next book, A Reunion to Die For (121,000 words) was picked up by Five Star Mystery, I was told to trim it down. With the removal of a subplot, it came in at 112,000 words. At a mystery writers’ conference, I was perplexed by comments from other authors about how thick my book was. I didn’t think it was that big of a book.
Compared to Murder by Perfection, A Reunion to Die For and A Small Case of Murder are epic novels.
I have found it surprising to discover that my mysteries, stretching across four series, have been enjoying great success in sales and reviews, while other authors I know, who have thicker books with large word counts, are having difficulty in even getting reviewers to take them on, even though their books are great literary pieces. For some time, I have concluded that the issue was a common problem with new authors. Reviewers didn’t want to risk investing the time on new authors with big books that would require more time to read and write a review.  
Then, one Christmas, I released a mini-anthology, A Gnarly Christmas and was shocked when this twenty-seven page short story (without any marketing to speak of) began to outsell my full books. This summer I published an anthology of my mystery shorts that has been resting comfortably among the top one hundred among mystery anthologies on Amazon for the last three months.
While a host of explanations for the volume of sales could be offered from fans of my books snapping up the short stories to fans gravitating toward the dog on the cover, I can’t help but wonder if readers are clamoring for a quick read.
Think about it: How many of us, even those of us who are readers, have the time to commit to a four-to-five hundred page book? Sociologists have been reporting for years about how busy our lives are compared to our parents. With only sporadic portions of time to sit down to our e-reader, most people may prefer books that they can quickly devour over the few hours they may have to read over the course of a week rather than invest weeks in a longer piece.
Publishers have been trimming back the word count for years. It used to be anything goes, and then it was down to 120,000 then to 100,000, until it was 80,000, and so on. Their explanation: Readers want shorter books.
Another explanation: Longer books make for more publishing material, which makes for higher production costs, which makes for more expensive books for which readers don’t want to pay when it comes to new authors.
E-books took that explanation out of the equation. They don’t require paper and ink. Therefore, an author can make their book as long as necessary to tell a great story without any consideration for production cost.
Based on the surprising success of my short stories, I have come to suspect that there is truth in publishers’ assertion that most readers are seeking quick reads over long reads.
Is the market for longer books reducing?
A few years ago, I asked that question to a fiction writing class I was teaching, I was almost lynched by this roomful of avid readers. Those wanting longer books were offended by the very question. So I can say, yes, there are readers for longer books.
But then, why are authors of longer books, great longer books, having difficulty achieving good sales?
Well, while there are avid readers crying out for big fat books, there are other readers who will confess that they do gravitate toward shorter books.
Does word count really matter? Answer: Yes and No.
With the revolution in publishing, and authors taking the power back for their creative literary success, we no longer answer to publishers dictating the word count to us. We can make our books as long as they need to be to tell our story and still get it out there to the readers.
HOWEVER, if we want our books to be successful in sales, we need to keep in mind that while there are readers who love big fat books, there are also a large number of readers who don’t want to commit to a big read—especially for an unknown, unproven author. They only want something to read on the train into work or at night before they go to bed, or while their child is practicing fencing, or they have a short attention span. Whatever the reason, there are many readers who won’t buy or commit to large books.
That being the case, if your book has a large word count, this segment of readers won’t be buying your book.
Another way to look at it:
Authors of quick reads can attract readers from both pools. Thus, these authors can enjoy a wider audience.
Authors of longer books do lose that portion of the reading audience who run screaming like little girls at word counts above 100,000. However, while these authors may not rake in as much in sales, that does not mean that they cannot be successful.
It depends on your definition of success.
If success is measured by how many books you have sold, then you want to keep your word count down.
If your definition of success is measured by the praise of a smaller audience for having created a great literary piece that will stand the test of time, then word count is an irrelevant issue. Take heart. Everyone loves a good cheeseburger, but it takes an educated palate to enjoy the fine taste of caviar. Point in fact: Moby Dick was discovered decades after Herman Melville died penniless.
Conclusion: Does word count matter? The answer is up to each individual author.

I love the way Lauren Carr thinks and writes. Reading her books is always a joy and an adventure. LISTENING to one takes the experience up a notch. Mike Alger narrates this series to perfection. From the voice of the "smart house" to the attitudes of the dogs to each of the many individual characters, this book is amazing to listen to.
The plot, as always, will take you through a range of emotions. As often as you are on the edge of your seat, you will find reasons to smile. Sensuous and dangerous, Carr writes characters that are well developed and individual. Male readers/listeners will be as intrigued by the characterizations as the dangerous intrigue.
This is a mystery you have to pay attention to as the details are masterfully encased in the narrative.
A range of controversial elements fit perfectly into the plot.

Meet the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement retirees to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Laura, for the fabulous review of MURDER BY PERFECTION. I am so glad you enjoyed this latest Thorny Rose Mystery. Here's wishing each of yourfollowers great luck in the giveaway!


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