Apr 242013
 

cozy wednesday

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!!
I love that this series is set in Wisconsin!!
Just a hop, skip and jump from my home town!
I am thrilled to have Laura drop by for a visit!!!

laura aldenOne of the things people often ask me is: where do I get the ideas for my books?

The evolution of a book is an odd thing, but most of the time I have an answer for this question. As in, the idea came to me after hearing a news report about something similar. Or the idea popped into my tiny little brain when my husband was talking about a baseball game he’d watched the previous night. Or I was doing some free writing and one thought led to another and then another, and then bingo! the story idea was born.

curse of the ptaFor Curse of the PTA, however, the answer is completely different. Because…well…I honestly have no idea where the idea came from. None whatsoever. I don’t remember getting the idea. I don’t remember figuring out who the victim was going to be and I don’t remember how I figured out the killer’s identity. I don’t remember anything about setting up the murder and I don’t remember learning the why of it all.

Sad, isn’t it? To think that I’ve forgotten the origins of a book that occupied months of my time is more than a little disconcerting.

But there are bits that I do remember. For instance, there’s a crucial subplot that I couldn’t make work for beans. The motivation I’d given the character was weak and, really, just plain didn’t make sense. It took days of free writing and one critical conversation with my husband to have it gel into something sensible. (If you read the book, please note the dedication. He deserves it, without a doubt.)

And the Big Scene at the end was a big muddle until I begged some writer friends for suggestions. One of their suggestions worked like a charm – “How about adding another character to the scene?” – and everything suddenly started working.

Yes, the evolution of a book is an odd thing, and in my experience, no two books take the same path. Of course, there are some common elements to all the books I write. Such as? Well…there’s the First Flush. These are the heady days when I start a manuscript. The whole thing is fresh and new and I haven’t messed anything up. This is when I know, just know, that this will be the book that will sell zillions of copies and will enable me to quit my day job and write full time.

Book4_Sinii1

Sinii

Sadly, the First Flush doesn’t last forever, and somewhere around the middle the Deadly Doldrums set in. These are the days that I know, just know, that this is the book that will end my writing career. This is when I’m sure that everything I’ve written is complete dreck. This is when I know, without a doubt, that the entire book is junk and that my editor will make me toss it out and start all over again.

(This is also when it’s very, very nice to have writer friends who understand about this phase of a book.)

At some point, I write myself out of the Deadly Doldrums and next thing you know, it’s time for the Exciting Endings. These are the scenes the whole book has been aiming toward, the scenes where the Bad Guy (or Bad Girl) is about to get his (or her) just desserts. It’s during the Exciting Endings phase that I forget to eat and sleep, and these are the days when I know, just know, that writing is the best job in the world.

Unfortunately, right on the heels of the Exciting Endings phase is the Wretched Wrap-up. This is the last chapter or two, the chapters where I have to tie everything together, where all the tricky ends of the narrative are knitted together to make a solid and satisfying ending.

This phase makes me extremely nervous. Why? Well, it takes me roughly four months to write a first draft and odds are good that I’ve forgotten all sorts of things that I wrote into the book three months previously.

Not only that, but when I’m done with the Wretched Wrap-up, I’ll be done with the first draft. I’ll be done writing. I’ll be done with those characters and will have to say an odd sort of good-bye. Sure, I’ll see them again during the revisions, but that’s a more distant relationship, one in which I’m merely tweaking at their personalities, not diving down deep into their thoughts and feelings and memories.

So the wrap-up makes me feel a little wretched in a number of ways. Saying good-bye is rarely easy, even to fictional characters.

Then again, when a writer says good-bye to a set of characters, it means only one thing. Another set of characters is just around the bend, patiently waiting their turn to get into a book, waiting for their own evolution.

~Laura

About This Author
Laura Alden grew up in Michigan and graduated from Eastern Michigan University in the 80’s with a (mostly unused) Bachelor of Science degree in geology. Currently, Laura and her husband share their house with two very strange cats. When Laura isn’t writing, she’s working at her day job, reading, yanking weeds out of her garden, or doing some variety of skiing. Laura’s debut novel, “Murder at the PTA” was an Agatha Award finalist for Best First Novel. Her fourth book, “Curse of the PTA,” was released in April 2013.

To find out more about Laura visit her webpage here.

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curse of the pta

Curse of the PTA
3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Obsidian (April 2, 2013)
An Imprint of New American Library
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451415066
E-Book File Size: 711 KB
ASIN: B009UZ9J9O

Curse of the PTA (Beth Kennedy #4)

As the new PTA president, Beth Kennedy wants to make a difference in the lives of the students and faculty at Tarver Elementary. But with a killer on the loose, staying alive is the first order of business…

Beth’s fantastic Story Project, pairing senior citizens from the nursing home with elementary kids, ended up with the PTA publishing a book with the kids retelling the stories they heard from the seniors and it was a huge success. So successful the PTA may want to think about investing some of the money until they can decide how to spend it.  Beth has invited Dennis Halpern, a local financial consultant, to their meeting to inform them about their options.  Before he can even start to give his presentation different members start lobbying for how they think the money should be spent. Beth does her best to regain control of the meeting and calls for a short break.  During the recess Dennis’s ideas are overruled before he even gets to share them. Someone decided to expel him permanently! Right there in the school!

With the doors to the building unlocked, virtually anyone could have done the deed. And they soon discover that Dennis had plenty of secrets. Now locals are whispering that the PTA is cursed, and it’s up to Beth to catch the killer before she gets cashed out.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Beth has her hands full as president of the PTA. Claudia is doing everything she can to make sure nothing runs smoothly. But Beth is resolved to show she can do this job, even if she has to be on every sub-committee to get things done. And now she has a murderer to catch.

What makes these cozies a success are that we all know someone exactly like these characters. We all have a friend like Marina, a senior we care about like Flossie, and one we have to care about because they are like family like Auntie May. We all know troublemakers like Claudia, and we shop at stores like Beth’s Bookstore. I do wish I had a “problem” like Summer’s. The stories are about small town life with problems like a murder we wouldn’t wish on anyone. Thankfully Beth can fit the clues together to help Gus catch the culprit even though he prefers she would keep her nose out of his police work.

Guns are a hot topic now in the U.S., guns in schools even hotter. I am sure Tarver Elementary will have a whole new set of rules by the next installment of this series.

This one will keep you guessing. The people of Rynwood sure keep more than their share of secrets. Kudos Laura! This is a wonderful story!!
a perfect escape
5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!

U.S. and CANADIAN RESIDENTS
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Leave a comment for Laura for 5 Bonus Entries !

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End May 8, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  44 Responses to “Cozy Wednesday with Author Laura Alden (Giveaway too!)”

  1. Hey Laura!!! When did you began writing books??

    • I started wirting my first manuscript in 1998. It was horrible. The next one was better, the next one a little bit better, and so on and so forth. I signed my first publishing contract in 2009, a short 11 years after I started writing, and it was one of the happiest days of my life!

  2. I think I have the first book in the series on my t-b-r list, but would love to win this one…Dee

  3. This sounds like a fun mystery. I love mysteries set in small towns — and the idea of the PTA is neat. It’s on my list to read!

  4. New series to me. Would love to read one.

  5. Can’t wait to read this latest one!

  6. That is a very attractive cat. This is a new to me series and sounds fun, so I’m going to get Murder at the PTA.

    • Anne, our Sinii is 6 little pounds of adorableness. She routinely beats up on our other cat, the 13-pound Eddie, but they always make friends afterwards and snuggle together in a big cat pile. Thanks for commenting, and I hope you enjoy the books!

  7. Great interview. Would love to win.

  8. I love this series. I’m an elementary school librarian (who among many other book related dreams, always wanted to own a children’s book store) and I’m a member of my school’s PTA. So you can see why I feel connected to Beth and this series.

  9. Fun series…looking forward to reading the next adventure.

  10. Sinii looks just like my Joey, only much thinner. Joey showed up 3 years ago just skin and bones, now he’s 25 pounds and very content.

  11. This is a new series for me, hoping to win as I like mysteries

  12. Congratulations. It sounds really good. Will any of the supporting characters get their own story written?(if they deserve one, that is!)

  13. This sounds like a good book, adding to my tbr pile!

  14. Sounds like a delightful new cozy series to add to my TBR list. Looking forward to reading the series!

  15. Sounds like a great book! =)

  16. Lots of back-stabbing in our local PTA—but no deaths yet. Sounds like a fun book.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

  17. I have been waiting for the latest book in the series. So glad it is finally out. Even though I don’t have children, I taught for 34 years. It’s fun to read about the PTA.

  18. Laura – I like that your books are set around the PTA. I am just starting your series and am enjoying it.

  19. I read your first book and enjoyed it.

  20. oh please enter me for this giveaway!!!

    thank you!!!

  21. I am anxious to read the new installment, thanks for the chance to win! I agree with Dolly’s assessment, that these are great characters, just like someone you know.

  22. Looks like another good series to add to my to buy list.

  23. I’m a new follower. Your book sounds very interesting and with the kitty by your books so I a seller! I don’t know anything about the PTA because I never joined it when my sons were in school. I always thinks it’s awesome how you can write a book and the ideas. I want to write a book about living in a nursing home but that’s as far as I get. I don’t have a clue how to get started. I personality lived in one for awhile. I hope I get a chance to win so I can read your book. Thanks!

    I liked your facebook page and following on twitter.
    I posted your book giveaway on facebook and twitter, here’s the links

    https://twitter.com/donnasquaw/status/327195481769922561
    https://www.facebook.com/donna.n.harris.9?ref=tn_tnmn

    Donna Harris
    donna_squaw_1952@yahoo.com

  24. Thanks so much to everyone who posted – and thanks so much for asking me to be your guest on Cozy Wednesday!

  25. I love this title, lol.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

  26. I am a tremendous fan.

  27. I love the pairing of seniors with children to retell their life stories. Curse of the PTA sounds wonderful, I will be putting it on my wish list!

  28. This book would be enjoyable and very special. Sounds unique.

  29. Thanks for this great book feature.

  30. I am just starting to read this series and would love to have the newest ready for me when i reach that one.

  31. I opted out of the PTA after the first year and found other ways to volunteer at my son’s school. What a bunch of flaming ninnies!

  32. I hope i win. i love a good mystery.

  33. sounds good would love to win.cats just love cardboard boxes dont they and bags..lol

  34. I love this series! 🙂

  35. Congratulations on the publication of Curse of the PTA! It sounds like a fun cozy mystery. Interesting post on getting ideas for a book. Thanks for sharing.

  36. Always on the hunt for a new book/author to start reading.

  37. goody … a new book for my collection

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