Rivers and Creaks: A Redwoods Country Mystery
by Marc Jedel
I am delighted to welcome Marc Jedel to Escape With Dollycas today!
What made you want to write novels?
I’ve wanted to write a novel since I was young. For the longest time, I couldn’t come up with a good plot. Yet, my research clearly demonstrated that having a plot is critical to a book’s success.
One day, I received an awesome birthday drawing from my nieces. And my kids, or nieces, or one of our friends’ kids had done some crazy things. Probably all of the above. One thing led to another and the idea formed to loosely base a mystery with a self-absorbed, fashion-backward software engineer, his sister, and his nieces on my life. My first book (Uncle and Ants: A Silicon Valley Mystery #1) is clearly fiction. I mean, I’m not a software engineer.
My second series, the Ozarks Lake Mysteries, was loosely based on small towns and people that I had met while growing up in the South and visiting Arkansas. My latest novel—Rivers and Creaks, the first book in the Redwoods Country Mystery series—was inspired by a family vacation to Monte Rio, in the redwoods and wine country of Northern California.
When did you first consider yourself to be an author?
I believe my entire professional life in marketing has involved writing fiction. On the job, we just called it advertising and emails. After wanting to write a book for many years, I finally buckled down and actually tried it. Lots of work, walks with my wife and dog, and many drafts eventually led to my first novel getting published. The next ones have come easier, but still involved a lot of dog walking. Because my dog doesn’t laugh at my jokes nor contributes much in the way of dialogue, he doesn’t get co-author credit.
I feel like I earned permission to change my title from writer to author by finishing my first novel and getting it published.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
Besides working in an imaginary world where I can knock off any character who displeases—or frustrates—me in an instant? When I first started writing a novel, I was surprised to find that I was far better at dialogue than I had expected. My friends and family kept telling me that they weren’t surprised that this part went smoothly because they felt talking was never one of my weaknesses.
When I have a good outline, I find I can focus on crisp writing and throwing in funny situations and anecdotes. This also means fewer rounds of editing, which helps me hang on to what little sanity remains.
I like hanging out with Andy, the protagonist, even if our conversations are all imaginary. My Hollywood formula to describe the novel is Grumpy Old Men meets Schitt’s Creek. Besides being a quick synopsis of the story, who didn’t enjoy Walter Matthau in that classic comedy movie? I’m most proud of how well I showed Andy’s character arc evolving as the story played out while also revealing more about his personality and unveiling new information about the crime. Andy’s growing appreciation of other characters—even, dare I say friendship with them—was fun to tease out of him onto the page.
Are there any unusual aspects to your story?
I purposefully had the novel take place over a very brief time period. In fact, none of my novels extend over more than about a week. I’ve found this keeps the pace moving quickly since there’s no time for the sleuths to lose when the whole story has to finish quickly. This technique puts a lot of pressure on the protagonists to keep their lives on track while they’re trying to solve the crime and that often adds additional humor or challenges that make the novels more entertaining. If only I could write the stories as quickly as they take place.
What did you find to be the hardest about writing this story? Why?
I always seem to spend an inordinate amount of time brainstorming ways that amateur sleuths can investigate a crime in a realistic fashion. I thought it would be fun, and more challenging, to have my protagonists have no special ties to the police. I find many cozies seem especially unrealistic when the amateur sleuths have some special “in” that gives them access to all the police information about clues, police reports, etc. Avoiding this makes my stories more realistic and pushes the sleuth to solve the crime even faster because competent police officers, who don’t share confidential info with outsiders, actually make headway on cases on their own. Real police would be annoyed that amateurs are interfering. I try to have the police actually discover some confirming information by themselves—just moving at a slower pace than our heroes—that verifies the amateur’s findings. Of course, the hero doesn’t learn this until after the criminal is caught.
Any advice for a new/prospective writer?
Read a ton and read widely. Reading different authors and in genres is the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t. And start writing. It’s easier than ever to become an author but just as difficult to become a good one. Practice with a diary or try some of the writing prompts you can find on the internet.
Anything else you’d like to add?
My novel, Rivers and Creaks, is on sale for only $0.99 during this tour. It’s available at: https://mybook.to/RiversandCreaks. You can find all my cozy mysteries at: https://www.amazon.com/Marc-Jedel/e/B07H7MVKJL. My novels are all free for Kindle Unlimited members. The first three books in the Silicon Valley Mystery series are out on audiobook from Tantor Audio, available everywhere audiobooks are sold.
Thank you, Marc, for stopping by today.
Keep reading for my thoughts about Rivers and Creaks.
About Rivers and Creaks
Rivers and Creaks: A Redwoods Country Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – California
BGM Press (November 30, 2023)
Print length : 227 pages
Digital ASIN : B0CNBGWSCK
A grumpy innkeeper. A dead guest. Can he solve the locked-room mystery before his business crumbles into chaos?
In the heart of Redwoods Country, where even the towering trees whisper secrets, there’s an innkeeper who’s anything but welcoming. Meet Andy Shirley—a man who’s made grumpiness an art form, detesting both guests and life’s little inconveniences. Now a dead guest and a killer on the loose threaten not only Andy’s solitude but his livelihood.
His cherished wife’s memory keeps him tethered to the small-town bed and breakfast they dreamt of running together. When a guest is found dead in a locked room, can this retired copy editor use his meticulous attention to detail to uncover the truth and save his business?
Fearing this shocking event will deter future guests and buyers, Andy’s frustration intensifies as the sheriff shifts his focus to a higher profile case. Yet, amidst this turmoil, Andy’s even more shocked when the most unexpected event happens as he hunts for clues . . . he strikes up an unlikely friendship.
Rivers and Creaks launches the humorous Redwoods Country cozy mystery series. If you like cranky but lovable characters, classic closed-door conundrums, and light-hearted fun, then you’ll love Marc Jedel’s laugh-out-loud tale. Imagine “Grumpy Old Men” merged with “Schitt’s Creek.”
Andy Shirley didn’t want to run a bed and breakfast. His wife did but sadly she passed away. Now a year later he has to take possession of the place and he is downright grumpy about it. He was supposed to be the fix-it guy and his wife was supposed to deal with the guests, their problems, and their breakfast.
Well, now he has a problem and something else to fix. One of his guests has been found dead in a locked room and another guest broke the door down to find her.
His B&B is now a crime scene. The current guests must find other accommodations. If that isn’t enough to affect his bottom line, who is going to want to stay somewhere there has been a murder. The killer has to be apprehended quickly or his entire investment will go down the drain.
Cozy mysteries have quirky characters and in Rivers and Creaks, there are plenty including protagonist Andy Shirley. He’s a grump who loved his wife so much but is struggling to follow through on her dream of owning and running a B&B in California Redwoods Territory. He trusts no one and runs off a couple of contractors thinking they were padding their bills. He has his wife’s teacup poodle, Fifi, for company, and that’s all he needs. My first thought was boy, Andy is out of his element, in the wrong line of work, and this is going to end badly. That was just after reading chapter one and then the dead body was found.
I have read other books by Mr. Jedel and he knows very well how to bring humor to his stories and that starts with the characters he creates and that sure is the case here but the characters are nuanced. My heart broke for Andy being without his wife but some of his internal dialogues were so funny, as were some of his interactions with townspeople.
The mystery was very well-plotted and I enjoyed the way Andy used his knowledge and contacts as an editor to work through the clues. He also made keen observations that solved another serious case the police were working on. The Agatha Christie-esque reveal of the killer didn’t go exactly as planned at first but it finally came together after some crazy drama. With all the twists I was completely surprised when the actual killer was ultimately revealed.
Rivers and Creaks has set this series off to a grand start. The ending has me very intrigued about the future of Andy’s Quilt House Inn. I am anxious to see what Mr. Jedel has planned for Andy and his new friends next.
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More About Marc Jedel
Marc Jedel writes humorous murder mysteries. He credits his years of marketing leadership positions in Silicon Valley for honing his writing skills and sense of humor. While his high-tech marketing roles involved crafting plenty of fiction, these were just called emails, ads, and marketing collateral.
For most of Marc’s life, he’s been inventing stories. It’s a skill that’s served him well as both an author and marketer. The publication of Marc’s first novel, Uncle and Ants, gave him permission to claim “author” as his job. This leads to much more interesting conversations with people than answering, “marketing.”
Like his character, Andy, from the Redwoods Country Mystery series, Marc continues to grow older and would prefer not to run a bed-and-breakfast inn when he retires. Like his character, Marty from the Silicon Valley Mystery series, Marc now lives in Silicon Valley, works in high-tech, and enjoys bad puns. Like his characters Jonas and Elizabeth from the Ozarks Lake Mystery series, he grew up in the South and spent plenty of time in and around Arkansas. Like all his protagonists, Marc too has a dog, although his is neurotic, sweet, and small, with little appreciation for Marc’s humor.
TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Please visit all the stops.
January 5 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
January 5 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST
January 6 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
January 6 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
January 7 – The Mystery Section – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
January 7 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
January 8 – Mystery, Thrillers, and Suspense – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
January 9 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
January 10 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
January 10 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
January 11 – Novels Alive – REVIEW
January 11 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – CHARACTER GUEST POST
January 12 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
January 13 – StoreyBook Reviews – AUTHOR GUEST POST
January 14 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW
January 15 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
January 16 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT
January 17 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT
January 18 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
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.”