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STUCK by C.T. Collier
Stuck (The Penningtons Investigate Book 2)
Self Published (March 18, 2017)
Paperback: 308 pages
Meet the Penningtons: Lyssa, Ph.D. Economics, and her husband “the handsome Brit” Kyle, Ph.D. Computer Science. When their clever minds ask questions, clever killers can’t hide.
Murder never entered the picture until Fritz Van Derzee decided, at long last, to clear his name. Who stuck a jeweled stiletto into his desktop after stabbing him to death? Fritz’s daughter, Emma, recruits her former professor Lyssa Pennington to find the killer.
But where’s the ten million Fritz was falsely accused of embezzling? Tompkins College President, Justin Cushman, hires his old friend Kyle Pennington to trace the missing money.
While Lyssa uses charm and tenacity on the long list of suspects, Kyle reconstructs the college’s old homegrown finance system. As they converge on the killer, Lyssa and Kyle may be the next two casualties.
Guest Post by the Author
Making the Shift from Romance to Mystery
by C. T. Collier
As a teenager, my teachers encouraged me to become a writer. Because I didn’t think I could make a living as a writer, I became an English teacher and later worked as librarian, programmer analyst, educational consultant, and professor. My writing was important in all those roles, and I authored and edited books with colleagues as part of my work. Yet my heart longed to write mystery novels.
With a fulltime job and assorted consulting gigs, I just didn’t have time to learn everything I needed to write a gripping whodunit. Sigh, maybe when I retire . . . Then one bleak winter day I had lunch with a friend who inspired me to set aside one hour a day, every day, to write my stories with the goal of learning, growing, and publishing. Within a year, I had a contract for publication of my first novel, a romance.
Wait! A romance? That’s right. I knew starting with the mystery genre was beyond me; first, I needed to learn character development, plotting and pacing, scene and structure, and the crazy new landscape of publishing. So I started with my second favorite genre and wrote a series of four romances. I had a grand time creating the Finger Lakes town with a troubled college as its main employer. I got to know the founding families, the police and business owners, the professionals and hairdressers, and all the supporting cast. Each book featured its own happy-ever-after love story, against the richly drawn backdrop of Tompkins Falls and Tompkins College.
As book four took shape, I felt ready to focus on writing my first mystery. It’s no coincidence that, although book four, Waking Up To Love by Katie O’Boyle, is a romance, the hero and heroine investigate criminal activity at the college as an integral part of the plot.
As I polished the book and sent it to my publisher, I realized I didn’t need to look any further than those two lovers as co-stars for mysteries. Hence, Kyle and Lyssa Pennington became the sleuthing duo in my mystery series, The Penningtons Investigate. Even though I knew the setting inside and out and had done a lot of the groundwork, the shift from writing romance to writing mystery was a steep learning curve. A whodunit is not a love story. To write an intriguing puzzle for the reader to solve, I needed to pay much more attention to plot and I had to think about to clues, red herrings, and the questions raised and answered as my co-sleuths investigated murder. I’d read thousands of mysteries, and many mystery authors have written how-to books about the craft, so it was a question of which expert in the mystery world could help me the most?
The resource that resonated with my natural inclination as a mystery writer turned out to be William G. Tapply’s The Elements of Mystery Fiction: Writing the Modern Whodunit. That shouldn’t have surprised me, since I’d always been a fan of Tapply’s Brady Coyne series. Tapply’s advice—to first “know how and why the crime was committed”—was essential to me as a beginning writer of mystery. As I constructed that knowledge base, I got to know the murderer, the suspects, the evidence, and the clues. And I developed a sense of how the investigation should logically unfold. With each new book in the series, I’ve honed my craft, and it’s exciting, not intimidating, to know there’s much more learning to come.
You might be asking why I’ve always loved mysteries, particularly whodunits. It’s the challenge of the puzzle. The sleuths start with only the knowledge that someone has been killed, and they have to tease out information by observing, questioning, and speculating about the possible implications of each discovery. Piece by puzzle piece, truth emerges and forms a clear picture. You’ve probably already guessed I was a kid who loved logic puzzles and whose favorite game was Clue. I hope my readers reach the last page of any of my mysteries satisfied that they’ve solved the crime along with Kyle and Lyssa, sure that justice has been served, and relieved that Tompkins Falls and its college can get on with their higher purpose.
C. T. Collier was born to solve logic puzzles, wear tweed, and drink Earl Grey tea. Her professional experience in cutthroat high tech and backstabbing higher education gave her endless opportunity to study intrigue. Add to that her longtime love of mysteries, and it’s no wonder she writes academic mysteries that draw inspiration from traditional whodunits. Her setting is entirely fictional: Tompkins College is no college and every college, and Tompkins Falls is a blend of several Finger Lakes towns, including her hometown, Seneca Falls, NY (AKA Bedford Falls from It’s a Wonderful Life).
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Amazon Print: http://amzn.to/2pnXSWU
Barnes & Noble Print: http://tinyurl.com/lpo7dsp
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