Ritter Ames — USA TODAY Bestselling Mystery Author of the Bodies of Art Mysteries series and the Organized Mysteries series

Posts Tagged ‘cozy mystery

You know the old saying about how the best way to get something done is to give the job to a really busy person? I’m changing that saying to “This busy person’s office door is closed–effective immediately.”

Also need to give out the warning that this blog post is a little longer than I like, but it contains a lot of new information, and I hope it is more than a little interesting to boot 🙂

Earlier this week, ORGANIZED FOR SCHEDULED SABOTAGE hit all the online bookseller shelves. Hooray! More exciting is that I got it out despite the fact my workhorse computer died September 28th. The laptop had been acting persnickety for about a month but seemed to rally each time I sweet talked it and promised that rest time was coming soon. My family also had a big emergency during this same time and we had to do some unexpected traveling (and travel spending), so I just tried coaxing the computer into not being so ornery. It was only a couple of years old–much too soon to replace, I thought. The computer thought differently, and instead, I woke up the morning of the 28th and found the laptop was no longer in sleep mode, but rather in the Big Sleep. I had to resurrect from hibernation the older one it replaced–the really slow one that still ran Windows 7.0–update all the updates I’d let it ignore as it rested in the desk drawer, all to get the final version of the Organized for Scheduled Sabotage into all the formats I needed to get it available by release day (and you thought all authors did was write books and hang out on social media–LOL!).

Seriously, by about October 12th I felt more than a little like Jack Bauer in 24. I was looking for new traps everywhere.

Thanks to the help of a friend, this week a new Acer joined our household, and when I’m not cursing Windows 10 (I was really happy with Windows 8.1), I’ve been getting to know this little wonder, downloading all the subscription software I use on a daily basis, and adding new files from backups as needed.

In all of those misadventures, the book eventually got online at all the booksellers (yea!), but since all non-Amazon bookstores came on later, the special $1.99 pricing on the New Release has been extended until Sunday to make sure everyone has a chance to grab a bargain on this title. Here’s the Amazon buy link, and a second link–Books2Read–that will allow you to pick any of the other bookstores that carry this book–just click the bookseller’s icon on the page and the link will shoot you right out to the book page on your bookseller of choice. I love this idea, and it keeps your choice automatically so the next time you encounter a Books2Read link it will automatically direct you to the right store for your ereader. How cool it that?  Anyway, here are the quick buy links.

Amazon:  http://smarturl.it/O4SSnr

All other booksellers: https://www.books2read.com/u/mgrjWD

One casualty of the dead computer seems to be my newsletter. I found out in early September my newsletter mailing list was kind of scrambled and dropped by my mail service. They had no way to fix their problem, but I didn’t panic right away. I had it backed up…backed up on the computer that died, of course. Well, in pieces, anyway–but I hadn’t yet put the pieces together, and now that I need it to put out a newsletter, of course, I only have a couple of the pieces of the list. So if you don’t get a newsletter from me by tomorrow, please consider signing up again, as I did not mean for anyone to get dropped off the list.

Honestly, I would never go back to a time when I didn’t have my laptop as pretty much an extension of my right hand. But for the last 45 days or so, computers have created as much new work as they’ve saved me.

Now, I’m working on the initial edits of the next Bodies of Art Mystery. I would offer the title, but I’m still arguing with myself over that one, too. I’ve had a working title all along, but it’s one I think would better serve a book later in the series. So, for now, I’m still searching for the best option. I have one of the words, I just have to figure out the other to use. Who would think a two-word title could be so challenging? Right?

But the good news is that despite not having a firm title yet, book #5 of the Bodies of Art Mysteries is on the publishing schedule to debut the last week in June 2018. And at the end of Organized for Scheduled Sabotage is an excerpt of the next book in the Organized Mysteries series which will be released in February 2018. Plus, I have the first in a new cozy series drafted too, so there will be a third book with new characters coming out in 2018.

Finally, I want to give a little info on how Organized for Scheduled Sabotage came to be. A wonderful friend…I’ll call her Carolyn Haines (wink, wink)…thought it would be fun for Kate and Meg to be involved in a job where they had to organize an author who wrote yearly organization calendars, but who (just maybe) wasn’t as organized as her calendars implied. Well, since this good friend…Carolyn…has her own animal rescue, instead of the character being disorganized, I made the main character, Liz, just a very committed, very busy woman with a lot of irons in the fire–including an animal rescue farm where she took care of every kind of animal. I was even able to incorporate the four miniature goats my father used to raise (I miss those little cuties so much. I have so many goat stories I could share. Trust me). Being able to incorporate Kate’s minor phobias with the animals was a lot of fun, and I loved being able see Meg step up whenever Kate needed backup. This friendship is one of the things I love about writing the Organized Mysteries series. I also love writing the interactions between Kate and her husband Keith. The kids (both human and goats) are an added benefit. And I love watching Kate & Meg solve the murder each time. It doesn’t always feel like work. Can’t wait to get the next one polished up and out for everyone to read, but in the meantime be sure to read the first chapter that’s excerpted at the end of Organized for Scheduled Sabotage.

Happy reading, everyone!

 

 

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One of the best things about being a mystery author is brainstorming new stories and settings. I love that I can “virtually” hang around London most days as I write, and have my characters hop a fictional plane at any moment to go to France, Italy, Spain–or wherever. My friend Eleanor was “literally” hanging out in England last week and sharing pictures of her trip on her FB page, and giving me some fun new things to think about as I work up future Bodies of Art books.

That’s the beauty of writing about characters who use their passports on an almost daily basis, all the time I spend reading my friends’ FB pages that show their travel shots counts as research, too. But that’s not all.

If you like your mysteries with an international flair, consider joining me and four other fun mystery authors (including the afore mentioned Eleanor) at a new Facebook group we’re starting called Passport Ready Writers. The page doesn’t officially open until June 1st, but here’s the link if you want to check it out, and click the JOIN button to be ready on day 1:   https://www.facebook.com/groups/PassportReadyWritersReaders/

What’s the connection? All of us write fiction that globe trots, and we want to connect with readers who want to know behind the scenes info and why we write what we do. The five of us don’t just put our characters in danger, we make sure they’re in great settings while they run for their lives or catch a murderer. So, do you like mysteries with English tea and scones, overlooking the pyramids, or in a gondola on an Italian canal? Or fast-paced plots with more twists than a Grand Prix at Monte Carlo? How about likeable characters and lively conversation? If so, grab your virtual passport and join us as we cross borders and solve murders. After all, crime doesn’t require a visa.

FP&OF memeI thought today would be a good day for a sneak peek at the short stories coming in a couple of weeks in MIDNIGHT MYSTERIES: 9 Cozy Tales by 9 Bestselling Mystery Authors.

Midnight Mysteries large web sizeAs I already mentioned in an earlier post, this collection has All Brand New, Never Before Published Stories from favorite mystery authors and feature bestselling mystery series. The book tops 400 pages, and I’ll post the buy link in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, look forward to these stories–

Ritter Ames – “Organized for Masked Motives” (from the Organized Mysteries series) Kate McKenzie never dreamed when she started her business, Stacked in Your Favor, that she’d spend nearly as much time crime solving as organizing. But with Halloween approaching, and too many items on the to-do list, she and Meg Berman find themselves in another puzzling dilemma—where every answer leads to another question.

Morgana Best – “No Time to Witch” (from The Kitchen Witch mystery series) Offering both a historical mystery and a paranormal flair, in this story Thelma Spelled must discover the mystery around a murder that entangles her and her husband. The tale is also a prequel to the novel Miss Spelled, and reveals more about the magic of the house, as well as about Australia in the early 20th century.

Karen Cantwell – “It Takes a Ghost” (tie-in to the Sophie Rhodes mystery series) Newly promoted detective Brenna Sage wants to be taken seriously in her new position, but that’s difficult when she can’t solve a series of robberies in Stephens City. Until she gains a partner in the guise of Marmaduke Dodsworth. While Marmaduke might be better versed in decorum and refinement than forensics and interrogation, he has one decidedly clear advantage: He can walk through walls.

Carolyn Haines – “Clacking Bones” (from the Sarah Booth Delaney series) When Jitty’s husband, Coker, goes missing from the Great Beyond, Sarah Booth Delaney, Tinkie, and all the animals sign on to find out why the spirit is AWOL. Sarah Booth has to dig deep into the past to find the answer to this puzzling mystery.

Eleanor Cawood Jones – “Salad Days, Halloween Nights” (from the author of A Baker’s Dozen) A vegetable-loving chef finds he’s cooked his way into trouble when a Halloween treat leads to murder. If he wants a happy future, he must first make sure the police don’t have him down as the main ingredient in a recipe for a prison sentence.

Larissa Reinhart – “The Vigilante Vignette” (from the Cherry Tucker Mystery series) Cherry Tucker can get herself into the worst predicaments without even trying. This time, a mercy call on a neighbor gets her roped into a quid pro quo deal—if Cherry recovers a stolen family heirloom that is both somewhat embarrassing and due to be discovered missing very shortly, the neighbor will use his family clout to help her with some zoning issues. But if she fails, the expression “someone’s got her goat” will take on a whole new meaning for Cherry. And when she discovers a thievery ring, illegal auctions, and some green-eyed emotions after spotting Luke where she doesn’t expect him—well, it’s just another hilarious day in Halo, Georgia.

Connie Shelton – “Spellbound Sweets” (from the Samantha Sweets Magical Cozy Mystery series) It’s Halloween, one of the busiest seasons of the year for Samantha Sweet and the crew at her pastry shop, Sweet’s Sweets. The gang looks forward to a gala costume party at the neighborhood bookstore, but the evening takes a different turn when a guest is murdered, a rare book vanishes, and Sam finds herself in the midst of another mystery.

Maria Grazia Swan – “Weeping Moon” (from the Lella York Mysteries series) Lella York has a way of getting herself into trouble, even when she’s doing volunteer work. Who is the mysterious storyteller, and what is going on at the senior living center? And will Lella find out before it’s too late?

LynDee Walker – “Frightening Features” (from the Nichelle Clarke Mystery series) Nichelle Clarke is not a patient recovery patient. While she’s waiting for an injury to heal, all she really wants is a story to write and research—hard news to get her mind occupied, even if she can only work one-armed. Instead, her boss gives her a fluff piece. Not her idea of fun. But with Nichelle snooping around, it’s not surprising her soft story takes a decidedly hard turn.

I’ve just sent off an Organized Mysteries short story for a summer anthology project (more about that later), and I’m spending the next couple of weeks finishing up another full length Organized novel (again, more info coming soon). All that organized writing got me thinking about early interviews I did that talked about the series. I’m reposting one of those interviews today, conducted by Mason at Thoughts in Progress. If you’ve already read it, I apologize for the repeat, but when I reread it this morning it was a nice reminder that planning out a series well ahead of time truly has helped me keep all my writing on-track.

Interview – April 9, 2014 (Thoughts in Progress–Interview Organized for Murder)

Mason – How did you come to write a mystery featuring a protagonist who is an organization expert?

Ritter:
I was at an author signing once, before I started writing ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, and it suddenly hit me that if I didn’t want to just talk about writing I needed to figure out something else to talk about that would tie in with a book sale. I kind of mined the inner “what the heck do I know about” fathoms, and remembered all the times people loved the little methods I used to stay organized and keep down daily stress. And my cozy theme was born.

I’ve always been a person who thinks outside the box, and my biggest pet peeve is to have to look for things. Using colors as cues to keep like things together is something I do automatically now. I also hate to do repetitive things like laundry—which even when you’re done just means it will be time to start over again. So I started using tricks to make myself think things weren’t so bad, like always living by the white rule for sports socks and everyday towels and things, to cut down on sorting and matching.

But while Kate has slight OCD, I’m just a potentially lazy person who doesn’t want to have to do things over again. I have a couple of people in my life who suffer from slight OCD tendencies each day, so I’ve seen their struggle at different times in life. I didn’t want Kate to be “perfect,” so used a bit of this knowledge and made her an above average worrier who is working on this problem each day, and has a supportive family environment to help.

Mason – Do you work on your two ongoing mystery series – Organized Mysteries series and the Body of Art mystery series – at the same time? How do you schedule your time?

Ritter:
I brainstorm each series while I’m writing the other, but I don’t write both at the same time. My protagonists are very different in each series, as are the settings and objective, and I write one from first person point-of-view and the other from third person. Plus, the Bodies of Art series is actually light suspense, and follow a series arc, so the plot twists are more important. Whereas in the Organized Mysteries I get the fun of adding the organization tips within the story, and have to have the big reveal of the murderer. 

All of those differences help me get into the next book in each series as I finish one manuscript, and switch to organized-for-murder-finalbegin a manuscript in the other series. The Body of Art books take longer, about six months because of all the research. The Organized Mysteries are also quicker because of the closed community, and the fact that the neighboring families are all solid characters at this point and I don’t have to invent as many new characters each time.

I also work on nonfiction projects through the year, so my calendar really is like an extension of my right hand. And all of this has to be worked around marketing tasks to promote the book, which I think takes more time than the actual writing does.

Mason – What are the advantages and disadvantages of writing about a small town?

Ritter:
For a cozy, I don’t think there are any disadvantages. The small town setting is one of my personal must-haves when I pick a cozy mystery. The cozy genre has changed a lot in the last couple of decades, but I still prefer the tried and true criteria: a small, inclusive community, mystery solved by an amateur sleuth, no gory murders, characters who understand the quirks of the community, a bit of humor and minimal swearing. I read cozies to escape, and I think I probably write them for the same reason. The small town gives an added advantage that everyone knows everyone else, which sets up a shifting dynamic when a new character enters the mix.
 
Mason – Tell us something about your protagonist that we wouldn’t be able to learn reading ORGANIZED FOR MURDER.

Ritter:
Honestly, I can’t think of anything I haven’t already at least suggested a hint of in ORGANIZED FOR MURDER. You might say that Kate is an open book. Smile I haven’t told her entire story, or the whole stories of everyone else in the series, for that matter, but more will be revealed with each book.

If I had to say the one thing that Kate McKenzie doesn’t completely know about herself, and is learning, is how capable she truly is. I’ve tried to make all my characters extremely relatable, and have been rewarded in how this is something that is noted in most of the book’s early reviews. Because of that, Kate acts like a typical person, and more readily notes her deficiencies than recognizes her abilities. We all tend to toot other people’s horns better than we do our own, and Kate McKenzie is no different.

It’s been several days since I’ve had time to blog on organization tips because I’ve been blogging so much on the new release. Anyone reading this who purchased ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, read & reviewed it, and/or blogged about it to share the news, thank you so very much. I cannot begin to put into words how much it has meant to see people like this book and help spread the news about it.

Early reviews and sales have been overwhelming. More than a hundred 5-star reviews on the online bookseller sites, and the book hit #1 on Amazon’s Cozy Crafts & Hobbies category on the first day. Right now, it’s still #4 as an Amazon Cozy, #1 on their Top Rated books, #2 in Hot New Cozy Releases, and #13 for Women Sleuths, which means that my amateur sleuth is measured against the popularity of all the other women sleuths in all the different categories of the mystery genre–what a thrill! On the B&N side, my book is currently #23 in Bestselling Mysteries–what a thrill to have the first book in my new series appear on the first page of that list! And while this is what I could call a very American cozy mystery, it’s become a pretty good hit in the U.K. as well, and by yesterday, which was Day 2 there on sales, it reach #26 in Bestselling Mystery category, and remains #1 on the U.K. Bestseller list for Cozy Crafts & Hobbies, just like the U.S.Image

While I meant to give a few more organization tips this week, the best tip I can offer today is to suggest if you have any interest in what I humbly call a good mystery, and/or like to read about ways to make your life more organized–but prefer to get the information in the midst of an intriguing cozy crime story instead of a conventional How-To book–please consider buying ORGANIZED FOR MURDER. Until the end of this week, it’s available in all ebook versions at the bargain price of 99 cents, but that price will go up to the regular pricing soon. So, if you want to save some money, get a well-reviewed mystery, and gain some organization tips along the way, please consider purchasing a copy of ORGANIZED FOR MURDER 

It’s available in print copy, too, at the Barnes & Noble site and the Amazon U.K. website, but the sale price is only for the ebook version. You can find all the easy links to buy by clicking on my page ‘Here’s Where To Buy My Books’ that you see listed just under the banner at the top of this page.


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