Real Murder by Lauren Carr (Tour, Excerpt, Guest Post)

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Lauren CarrLauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. Twelve to Murder is the seventh installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series.

In addition to her series set on Deep Creek Lake, Lauren Carr has also written the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates, who were introduced in Shades of Murder, the third book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. They also make an appearance in The Lady Who Cried Murder.

Lauren launched the Lovers in Crime (first introduced in Shades of Murder) mystery series in September 2012 with Dead on Ice. Real Murder is the second installment in this series.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

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Real Murder 2When Homicide Detective Cameron Gates befriends Dolly, the little old lady who lives across the street, she is warned not to get lured into helping the elderly woman by investigating the unsolved murder of one of her girls. “She’s senile,” Cameron is warned. “It’s not a real murder.”

Such is not the case. After Dolly is brutally murdered, Cameron discovers that the sweet blue-haired lady’s “girl” was a call girl, who had been killed in a mysterious double homicide.

Meanwhile, Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton is looking for answers to the murder of a childhood friend, a sheriff deputy whose cruiser is found at the bottom of a lake. The deputy had disappeared almost twenty years ago while privately investigating the murder of a local prostitute.

It doesn’t take long for the Lovers in Crime to put their cases together to reveal a long-kept secret that some believe is worth killing to keep undercover.

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Everything I Learned About Writing I Learned in the Kitchen … Well, Maybe Not Everything

By Lauren Carr

I love to cook and eat. I’m not the only one. Don’t believe me? Try telling my son that we aren’t going to stop by Chik-fil-A on the way home from school. Or maybe you should peek in my window one night when I find out my son had eaten the last of the ice cream.

I’m a gourmet cook who is adventurous when it comes to cooking … and eating. I have no fears when it comes to trying new techniques and eating something wildly exotic.

Likewise, I’m never afraid to investigate a new twist in one of my storylines, or tackling a new mystery series, which I am currently planning to launch next year!

Now, since they say, write what you know, gourmet food and cooking has to seep into my mysteries. It is no accident that my protagonist Mac Faraday owns a resort complete with a five-star restaurant, or that Joshua Thornton’s daughter Tracy is a student at the CIA (that’s Culinary Institute of America). It is also no accident that the Lovers in Crime love ice cream (that will be me!) and frequent Cricksters, a genuine retro restaurant in Chester, West Virginia, which I love to stop in when I visit my childhood home.

My years in the kitchen have taught me many things about writing, and life, which have spilled over into my books. It isn’t just the ice cream.

When it comes to character development, you are what you eat. In the Lovers in Crime, Cameron Gates has a love for good food. She doesn’t worry about fat content or cholesterol, good or bad. If it tastes good, she’s all for it. Her adventurous eating habits reflect how she lives. She goes for the gusto. It is any wonder that in the opening of Real Murder, Cameron Gates ends up on medical leave after jumping off a second story fire-escape to catch a murderer.

Joshua Thornton is almost as reckless—almost, but not quite. A father, and the moral compass of the Lovers in Crime, Joshua is responsible for trying to keep his teenaged son Donny on the straight and narrow when it comes to his eating. He has to set a good example. When Cameron is searching the fridge for an egg casserole or something equally unhealthy, Joshua breaks out the grapefruit.

A teenaged bottomless pit who still has a lot to learn, Donny will eat anything and everything anytime or anyplace. His eating habits haven’t developed that much yet—just like his character.

Possibly, one of the more complex characters introduced in the Lovers in Crime’s Real Murder, is Joshua’s grown daughter, Tracy Thornton. Like the depth of knowledge that goes into learning to be a gourmet cook, Tracy is complicated. She is lovely (delicious), drawing anyone who meets her to her beauty and depth. But, for some readers, she may be an acquired taste.

Tracy arrives to shake things up a little bit for the newly married Cameron and Joshua in the Lovers in Crime.  As Joshua’s grown Daddy’s girl, she’s got her territory marked in the family and she has no intention of giving it up freely.

Being a woman and a cook, it was only natural for me to set this encounter between the two Thornton women in the kitchen the night Tracy returns home to help Cameron and Joshua investigate the murder of a sheriff’s deputy, who happens to be her boyfriend’s father.

Here’s an excerpt of that scene from Real Murder:

The huge country kitchen in the Thornton home had been renovated upon Joshua’s return to Chester with his children. Then sixteen years old, Tracy had had a hand in renovating the kitchen to bring it up to modern standards.

It was Tracy’s kitchen—where she used to cook for her family. It was her territory.

Cameron was the outsider … or so she sensed when she came into the kitchen to find Tracy searching through the drawers. “What are you looking for?”

“The whisk.” Tracy extracted the tool from the drawer and slammed it shut. “It belongs in this basket with the frequently used utensils.” With the end of the whisk, she tapped the wire container holding spatulas and other kitchen tools next to the stove before proceeding to use it to stir the sauce on the stove.

“I’m sorry,” Cameron said, “I guess I don’t use the whisk frequently enough to consider it a frequently used utensil.”

Tracy shot a quick glance in her direction.

There was definitely a tension present that had not been there when Tracy and her brothers and sister had met Cameron at Christmas. Things had been different then. Cameron had been their dad’s girlfriend. While Cameron and Irving spent much of their time in the Thornton home, there was no hint that Cameron and Irving would become a permanent fixture.

But Cameron had not only become a fixture—she was also a full-fledged member of the family.

“Do you know how to use a whisk?” Tracy asked her.

“I believe so,” Cameron replied.

Abandoning the whisk and saucepan, Tracy moved on to where she was mashing the potatoes.

Cameron peered into the saucepan at the thick yellowish sauce. It smelled delicious. “What’s this?” She picked up the whisk and stirred it.

“Light lemon hollandaise sauce,” Tracy replied. “It’s for the chicken. Mom taught me how to make it. She was a great cook.”

“Your dad told me that,” Cameron said. “He says you take after her.”

There was a moment of silence. Cameron noticed Tracy pause while mashing the potatoes to stare into the bowl.

“You look like her.” Cameron peered over her shoulder at her. “Her picture is still in the study on the bookcase.”

“Yours is on his desk now.” Tracy abandoned the mashed potatoes to return to the saucepan. “You’re doing it wrong.” She took the whisk from Cameron’s hand. “You don’t stir with it. You whip it. Let me show you how to properly use a whisk.” Edging Cameron to the side, she proceeded to make quick whipping motions with the whisk in the sauce to thicken it. “It’s all in the wrist. Your goal is to incorporate air into the sauce to thicken it and make it creamier.” She turned to her. “See?” Holding up the whisk that was covered in the light yellow sauce, she shook it in Cameron’s face. “That is how you properly use a whisk.”

The two women’s eyes met.

Like two gunfighters, they faced each other eye to eye.

“How’re my two favorite ladies?” Joshua trotted in from the back staircase and stopped when he saw them. “What’s going on?”

Without a word, Cameron grabbed the whisk out of Tracy’s hand and turned back to the saucepan.

Tracy scurried back to the mashed potatoes at the other end of the counter.

“Did I miss something?” Apprehension made his question come out in a stutter.

Forcing a smile across her face, Cameron held up the whisk and shook it menacingly in his direction. “I’m learning how to use a whisk properly.”

As if he feared that she was going to use the whisk as a weapon against him, Joshua backed up a step.

Yep, that’s what happens when you put two women together, one a gourmet cook and the other a junk food expert. In life, there are certain types of people who just aren’t meant to be together, even in the same family—unless you want to shake things up—which, as the writer, I love to do. Have you ever tried sweet and sour chicken?

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