Friday, June 13, 2014

Maltipoos are Murder Book Tour with Jacqui Lane: Guest Author & Giveaway

Maltipoos are Murder

by Jacqueline Corcoran
When you write a novel, the opening is critically important since if your reader is not interested in the start, they won’t go any further. Here are some elements to think about before diving into your opening. 

1) Framing or Structuring Devices

Is there a natural framing or structuring device that you can open with and that you will carry throughout your novel? Common types of devices described by Laura Whitcomb in Novel Shortcuts are poetry/songs/spells/psalms, cautionary tales (starting at the beginning with a line about what might happen if a law or principle is broken), an instruction manual (e.g., in a paranormal about witches, starting each chapter with a brief line or lesson on how to be a witch), and fairy tales.

Some examples of framing devices in cozy mysteries are recipes that begin each chapter or a craft-related theme, such as knitting or needlecraft patterns. Diary entries are a long-standing device but were more recently used to great popularity in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Susan Wittig Albert has a mystery series organized around herbology. Chapters begin with information about relevant herbs and her titles reflect this theme: Wormwood, An Unthymely Death, Holly Blues, to name just a few. Sara Rosett has a cozy mystery series featuring the wife of an airforce pilot. As well as being a stay-at-home mom, the protagonist has a sideline business as an organizer. Therefore, Rosett concludes each chapter with organizing tips that are of relevance to the topic of the chapter.

2) Prologues

The topic of prologues has actually become quite controversial. I have to admit I am one of those people who always skips a prologue, and I never seem to miss out on anything critical by doing so! However, I know some people still hotly defend prologues, so it will be up to your own judgment. Here are a couple of don’ts for prologues.

* Don’t start with a prologue that is filled with exciting events that will take place much later in the book: find a way to start with exciting events rather than holding out on the reader for too long

* Don’t start with a prologue that is filled with gore and mayhem: readers won’t care at this point about the victim or the other characters and might be put off by gratuitous violence

*  Don’t start a prologue in the viewpoint of a creepy character with whom the reader won’t identify – i.e., the murderer. You want to start building reader identification early.

3) First Lines

First lines, according to Mary Buckham, workshop leader and author of Break into Fiction, should involve something unexpected, so that the reader's interest is raised. The unexpected could involve a unique situation, shocking or witty dialogue, and/or a question being stated directly by a character.
These are the types of first lines to avoid:

* "Weather, description, or scene setting" (Maass, p. 161) as these can be boring and are parts that readers often skip anyway. But placed at the beginning of the book means that a reader may immediately lose interest.

* Narration of the character making an introduction of him or herself. Instead, weave in information about the main character as you start the dialogue and action.

* Explanations about how the character got to where he or she is now. Maass suggests withholding backstory until at least page 50!

* Start with your main character waking up in the morning. This is a pet peeve of Nathan Bransford, now a blogger, as it tends to be trite.

* Phone calls. The telephone is a removed means of communication and thus, you are placing a barrier between you and the reader. Also, characters cannot reveal body language and touch while they are on the phone, and the action of the person on the other end of the phone cannot be seen. Face-to-face interaction is much more dramatic and interesting, so choose it whenever possible and especially in the first line.

* Driving: Usually, when characters are in the car at the opening, they’re going to where the real action will start. Driving also tends to lack drama; characters are seated and are removed from surroundings with which they can actually engage.
You will undoubtedly find many novels (and perhaps even your favorite novels) that open in a way that goes against the advice I’ve posed here. But if you want to attract attention in today’s fast-paced and competitive environment, these guidelines are helpful for setting up your beginning in a way that will keep people reading on. And you don’t have to stress about writing the perfect opening before you write your whole novel. You can come back and refine it at any point before sending it out for submission.

We’ll end here with the first line of MALTIPOOS ARE MURDER: I drove up the horseshoe driveway of the Victorian home that had been renovated into La Maison de Chien. We hope you want to read more!
Blog Posts on Opening Lines

Buckham, M. & Love, D. (2009). Break into Fiction. Adams Media.
Whitcomb, L. (2009). Novel Shortcuts. Writer’s Digest Book, 2009)
Maass, D. (2004). Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. Writer's Digest Books.


Can a murder investigation keep these opposites from attracting?

Cara Rogers wants a fresh start after a slew of bad luck in Washington DC. Moving to Virginia to help her aunt run La Maison de Chien, a doggie spa, is just the peace of mind she needs. No stress. Just her aunt, the dogs, and wide-open country.

But when she finds Aunt Marian floating in the doggie swimming pool, the rest she so desperately needs flies out the window. The only witness to the death is Rex, an apricot maltipoo, and while he may not be able to talk, he’s communicating the only way he knows how—one paw at a time. And Rex’s clues lead to murder.Can Cara keep the doggie spa afloat, convince Middleburg homicide detective Cole Sampson that Aunt Marian’s death was no accident, and keep Rex from the killer’s clutches before they all end up as dead as dogs?

About This Author:
Jacqueline Corcoran and Lane Stone have teamed up to write about some of their favorite topics – dogs, mysteries, and Middleburg, Virginia, which is known as the nation’s horse and hunt capital. MALTIPOOS ARE MURDER is the first in their doggie day spa romantic suspense series.

Jacqueline Corcoran lives in Arlington, Virginia with her rescue animals, husband, and two children. She holds a Ph.D. in social work and is on faculty at the Virginia Commonwealth University. She has published numerous professional academic articles and fourteen books in her field. Her mysteries include Maiming of the Shrew (Cozy Cat Press), A Month of Sundays (Whimsical Publications), Backlit (Etopia Press), and Memoir of Death (Etopia Press). See her website at

Lane Stone and her husband, Larry Korb, divide their time between Sugar Hill, Georgia and Alexandria, Virginia. She’s the author of the Tiara Investigations Mystery series. When not writing, she’s usually playing golf. Her volunteer work includes raising money for women political candidates and conducting home visits for A Forever Home, a dog foster organization. She is on the Political Science Advisory Board for Georgia State University, and she serves on Sugar Hill’s 75th Anniversary Planning Committee.

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Unknown said...

I don't tweet
libbydodd at comcast dot net

Unknown said...

New author for me. Sounds like a good book too. Love to read and review this . Ronnalord(at)msn(dot)com

Unknown said...

i agree with the "don't start with mayhem and gore" isn't too bad if it helps explain why the characters are in a certain place.

Kaye Killgore said...

New author for me, sounds fun.