THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY – GRETCHEN ARCHER SPEAKS!

I love back stories. I’m one of those nosy people who has to research everything. I want to know not only what happens in the movie or the book, but what the author or director was thinking. Why he or she did it that way and not some other way. I love hearing about the inspiration behind a great piece of creative work.

Double Strike Gretchen Archer

Double mint gretchen archer

To say that I loved Double Knot doesn’t quite capture my feeling on the subject. I loved that Ms. Archer stretched herself to go beyond snarky humor and easy laughs to explore her main character’s heart and motivations. Davis Way has gained depth. The things she does, the ways she reacts are no longer “out of the blue.” There is context where before, there were just questions.

I also love the whole “locked room” mystery genre. I think every mystery writer has tackled this at least once. Agatha Christie did it often and was, perhaps, the all time grande dame of the locked room mystery. Conan Doyle did it too, as have almost all great modern mystery writers. Who could resist?

The tension between a few characters locked together in a race with death? Whether it’s a train, a haunted house in the country, or below decks on a luxury cruise ship — this is the ultimate setting for a mystery and murder.

And now, without further ado, here’s Gretchen Archer to give you an inside look.

72-Gretchen-beigetop

Double Knot (A Davis Way Crime Caper) (Volume 5)

Paperback – April 12, 2016


Question: What made you take the leap into writing a classic locked room mystery with a pregnant Davis Way in the middle of the action? What were you thinking?

What was I thinking? I wanted to challenge myself. Writers have to do that, I think. Maybe we all need to do it, to compete with ourselves and see what we can do that we haven’t done before.

I knew I wanted a locked-room mystery. Double Knot is the fifth book in my series. My characters needed a change of scenery. They’d covered every square inch of the Bellissimo Resort and Casino, the fictional Gulf Coast casino where the Davis Way crime capers are set in Double Whammy, Double Dip, Double Strike, and Double Mint. So, I built a boat. I packed my characters into a suite and sent them on a Caribbean cruise. I locked the door, threw away the key, and let loose the dogs of war, as it were.

Question: Unlike in your previous books, this one has a very tight timeline. Why?

That tight timeline was my second big challenge. The previous four books each spanned weeks, sometimes months. I allowed myself just two days for Double Knot. My goal was to write eighty thousand compelling words that would take place in forty-eight hours.

Question: You brought in new characters and left old characters out of the story. Again, why?

Character arc was my third big challenge. First, I profiled an unlikable and unsympathetic character with the intent of gradually redeeming her. Next, I took a core character — who my readers didn’t know well and surely didn’t embrace — and I put her out there. With all her hopes, fears, trials, motivation … and hopefully, salvation.

And in what turned out to be the biggest test of all, I let my star — Davis — start a family. A pregnant main character is unusual for the mystery genre. Going in, I didn’t think anything of it. After all, I’ve done it myself. How hard could it be?

As it turned out, very hard. Striking a balance between Davis taking care of herself while actively solving a mystery was a high-wire act. Truth be told, three wonderful editors, all of whom were on one side of the labor and delivery fence with me — thrice on the other, led to more treacherous editing waters than any of us expected. I’m happy to say we survived and Double Knot endured. I’m a better writer for it. (My editors might not agree.)

Was it easy? KNOT! I mean NOT! Did I love writing this book? A resounding yes. I hope readers connect with it. If knot, a chuckle.

Happy reading, and thank you Marilyn!

Double Knot Cover


Not only did I love this book, but Garry loves it too. So Gretchen, you hit the target dead center this time. This is the Davis Way mystery which gathers up all the loose threads. A Double Knot indeed!


Double Knot will be out Tuesday, April 12 in hard-copy, paperback, and for all e-readers (including Kindle) and as an audio CD (Amber Benson, narrating)


Tune in tomorrow, Tuesday, April 12th for the big book giveaway! You could win a full set of all FIVE Davis Way capers — picked randomly from all the commenters on tomorrow’s post.

Don’t miss it!


 

DAVIS WAY IS BACK!! DOUBLE KNOT – GRETCHEN ARCHER

I have loved every book Gretchen Archer has written, but with Double Knot, she has outdone herself.

DKpromo3Capture-72

Hearkening back to classic mystery writers of earlier decades, Double Knot is a taut, complex, witty, smart mystery with twists and turns that will keep you guessing … while keeping you charmed and amused. Although the characters are sometimes thoroughly wacky, the story has many serious points to make.

Breast cancer and its ravages and survivors. The relationship between mothers and daughters. The vulnerabilities of security in the real world. Tension builds from page one to the final word on the last page. I was not ready for the book to end. I wanted it to go on for many more pages.

This is the book in which Davis Way becomes fully realized. Gains dimensions you knew were there, but had never been revealed. Emotional issues she must face and work through. With her mother along for the ride, it’s time for both to confront their shared past and the painful secrets they have feared to acknowledge. They do it all under the most terrifying circumstances and with everything … life and death … at stake.

72-Gretchen-beigetop

In Double Knot, Ms. Archer has dived into deep water. If, like me, you’ve been wondering “Who is Davis … really?”, this is your golden opportunity to find out.

This is no mere caper. Surviving this will require every ounce of Davis’s creativity, intelligence, training, and techno-savvy. She’s going to have to use it all to save her own life and the lives of those she loves.

DKpromo4Capture-72

Gretchen Archer’s ability to create an intricate story is hugely augmented by her ability allow her characters to evolve, develop previously unsuspected depths.

The story is not merely exciting, complex, and deliciously edgy, it’s also poignant and heartfelt.

Do NOT miss this one!

DOUBLE KNOT will be available in hard copy, paperback and for all eReaders on April 12th.

DOUBLE KNOT – GRETCHEN ARCHER – COMING APRIL 12th!

COMING APRIL 12th!!

DOUBLE KNOT – THE FIFTH DAVIS WAY CAPER!

 Davis Way Caper #1 – Double Whammy 

Davis Way used to be a cop in Pine Apple, Alabama. Her name sounds like a road and the name of the town looks misspelled, but really, that’s her name and Pine Apple is indeed the town from which she hails. She used to be married. To Eddie. Twice. It didn’t work out the first time and it’s hard to figure why she married him a second time.

doubleWhammy

In the course of the second divorce from her first-and-second husband — she refers to him as her ex-ex — Davis and Eddie behaved badly. Badly enough to get her fired from the force by her father and for restraining orders to get slapped on Davis and her ex-ex. The juicy details of what happened are never given. I rather hope future books will flush out that piece of history.

After a very long search for some kind of job, she is hired by a Biloxi casino, purportedly to discover how someone(s) is beating the machines to collect the jackpot on their Double Whammy Poker slot machines. The terms of her employment are murky. From the get-go, Davis is sure that there’s something seriously awry with the entire setup but she needs the job. She needs the paycheck.

It’s hard to do your job when you aren’t sure what your job is. Harder still when nobody is who or what they appear, including Davis herself. Davis gets in deeper and deeper until she is about to be swallowed by the crime she is investigating. Eventually, with help from unexpected parties, she extracts herself from the quagmire that threatens to keep her in prison for a very long time. And she finds love. Her own double whammy.

Davis comes from a small town, but she’s no hick. She has degrees in Computer Science and Criminology. There’s not a dumb bone in her body. She has the makings of a strong female character and that’s rare enough in the world of mystery writing. I like Davis Way. She’s bright, observant, creative, dedicated and brave. She has a lot of heart. The book is a bit uneven but Gretchen Archer has a fresh voice and I hope to hear it many more times.

Double Whammy is ambitious and well-realized. Ms. Archer has created a strong character with a great back story. Plenty of action, too. A complex plot, lots of characters, a love story and more. The author keeps track and ties up the ends with a bow, an amazing accomplishment for a new author. Fast-paced, lively and charming,Double Whammy leaves you wanting more — much more!

DAVIS WAY CAPER #2 – DOUBLE DIP

Something is rotten at the Bellissimo casino where Davis Way works high level security. Employees are double dipping all over the place, including at the slot machines. It’s slot tournament season. How better to catch a cheater at slots that be part of the action? Davis Way’s has never seen, much less played in a slot-tournament, but duty calls … this time as a competitor in the tournament. Good news? She gets to wear really great clothing and stay in the finest accommodations Bellissimo has to offer.

Bad news? She working day and night until further notice. Her personal life is going down the tubes. Even on the job, she’s in the deep end of the pool … and swimming isn’t her best sport.

Of course nothing is what it appears to be. Nothing is simple or straightforward. Work is driving her crazy. Her personal life is running off the rails and working all the time is not helping.

The boss’s wife’s personal assistant is missing after bullets are fired. A mousey elderly church lady appears to be the key to a suspicious series of slot machine wins. Meanwhile, after Davis faints dead away in the arms of Bellissimo’s hugely popular emcee, he seems to be gaga over her — not exactly what Davis needs while trying to track down where that slot-playing church lady came from — and what her real motives are.  And what does the So Help Me God Pentecostal Church have to do with all of this? Everything is linked to everything else and it’s going to take all Davis’s sleuthing skills to untangle this Gordian knot.

dbl dip cover

Where’s Bradley Cole during all of this? Working late with Mary Ha-Ha, that’s where. The class action suit on which Bradley is working is as suspicious as the So Help Me God Pentecostal Church … and maybe connected. What’s worse? Davis is pretty sure her persistent upset stomach is not the flu. If only their respective jobs left them some time to talk. If only her sleaze-bag ex-ex Eddie Crawford, would stop showing up where he is so unwanted!

acknowledgement

Complicated? It is indeed. Yet the author carries it off with aplomb, style and humor.

Plots within plots, entwined with subplots and back stories. Ms. Archer juggles all the complexities while keeping track of at least a dozen characters, then ties all those dangling threads into a beautiful bow. Nothing is left hanging by accident. At the end of the book, all that remains are tidbits designed to lure you into the next adventure.

All my favorite books make me laugh. There’s nothing I value more in an author than a good sense of humor and a sharp wit. Gretchen Archer has these in abundance. I admit I got more involved in this book than usual and had a small part in an early edit of the text … which changed enormously afterwards. I’m delighted to have taken part in the project and grateful to Gretchen for giving me more credit than I deserve.

DAVIS WAY CAPER #3 – DOUBLE STRIKE

It took me almost a week to read Double Strike. I could easily have read it in one marathon night, but I was enjoying it so much, I intentionally slowed down to make it last longer. I didn’t want to eat it in one bite, as it were.

double strike gretchen archer

I didn’t think it was possible, but Gretchen Archer and her cast of characters have gotten even better — and they were already wonderful. Ms. Archer’s writing is crisp, sure-footed, smart. You can clearly hear the author’s voice, something that was a bit muffled in earlier books.

I have it on good authority the editors — this time — let her “have at it.” There are sections in Double Strike, descriptive, opinionated, and hilarious. So good I stopped and read them aloud to my husband. I don’t usually do that, but I was having a “wow” reading moment and had to share.

Davis Way and her associates are becoming more 3-dimensional. No more cartoons. Everyone is a person with motivation, a back story, and a unique personality. Even the “bad guys” are complicated. The interpersonal relationships are also filling out and filling up. Bradley Cole works with Davis, at the same casino. Ms. Archer could easily create an entire other series — the same events from Bradley’s point of view.

I loved the book. The complexity and depth of old and new characters. The intricacies of a plot which the author handles perfectly, never dropping a stitch. I have read a lot of mysteries over the years. Thousands of mysteries — and I have never seen a plot of this complexity handled better or more elegantly.  Gretchen Archer is a champ and a pro. Each book is better than the last.

Bradley’s growth as a character is particularly satisfying. He always had potential, but he was never around enough to become real. Now he’s in the middle of the action. All of the “regulars” get flushed out in this third book. Fantasy, No-Hair … even Bianca Sanders are growing new layers, developing depth.

Ms. Archer’s descriptions of southern culture are mind-blowing. I doubt they will make her popular in Alabama, but it’s some of the best, snarky, sharp, intelligent descriptive writing of a place and its culture I’ve ever read. Astute, witty. Highly quotable.

Double Strike Gretchen Archer

I am so impressed with Double Strike.  I hate to gush, but it was a privilege and a pleasure to read this, especially because I’ve been a fan of Gretchen Archer since Double Whammy. And I was sure  — knew for sure — that this author has “it,” the special something which separates an author from the herd, makes her unique, memorable. And I’m betting “best seller.”

I didn’t want Double Strike to end, but when I got to the final few chapters, I knew I could not put it down until I finished it. It was 2:30 in the morning when I finished the book … and I read the last chapter three times, just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. A fantastic, climactic finish to this story! Our intrepid Davis Way has plenty of bread crumbs to follow into her next adventure. A satisfying conclusion for readers with enough dangly bits to make us come back and read the next installment.

Author, author!!

DAVIS WAY CAPER #4 – DOUBLE MINT

I have loved everything Gretchen Archer has written, from her first book “Double Whammy,” to this latest, greatest entry into the Davis Way caper novels.

Double mint gretchen archer

Davis is growing into herself. Still madcap, but madcap in a Sherlock Holmesian way. She knows what she’s doing. She knows why she’s doing it. She sees connections between seemingly random events. How they form a pattern. The problem is getting anyone else to see.

She and Bradley make a great team. They have that “thing” which makes husband-wife detective couples so much fun — the ability to communicate so cryptically no one else understands. But they “get” each other … and it may save a life or two.

It serves them well as the complex plot unrolls. Finding themselves living in the Bellissimo Casino itself (it’s temporary, isn’t it?), in the most hideous apartment imaginable. There’s a conference of bankers going on and Davis can’t get in. Not even for a quick security scan.

Why not? What’s really going on?

Bankers who have their own security people? Who look and act like thugs?  What’s going on with that super-secure vault? What does the apartment’s previous occupant and (shudder) designer, have to do with it? Has Fantasy gone nuts? Where is No Hair when you need him?

Mysteries within mysteries call for Davis’s clever mind and remarkable ability to see what no one else can see. Will anyone else believe her? Will they “get it” before it’s too late?

Welcome to another taut mystery and hilarious romp through the world of casino gambling, mysterious bankers, and sealed vaults. Not to mention gigantic heaps of money. Or something like it.

GET ALL 4 DAVIS WAY CAPERS FOR ONE GREAT PRICE – NOW ON AMAZON!

Talk about your lucky day! You can get all four Davis Way capers — Double Whammy, Double Dip, Double Strike, and Double Mint — on Kindle at one special price! In case you have a mystery-loving friend, it won’t get better than this.

Also available in hardcover and paperback. I can’t say enough good things about this series!

THE NARRATOR

Who should narrate my life? 

This is an area in which I can truly claim expertise. I listen to … have listened to … thousands of audiobooks. Am currently listening to two (one on the computer in the living room, a second in the bedroom on the Kindle).

Marguerite Gavin.

75-Audiobooks-NK-01

She has a warm, easy-to-listen-to voice. She puts enough feeling into her readings and characterizations that you know who is “speaking” without a cheat sheet, but has that hard-to-find ability to become the book. To disappear into the author’s words so that you forget you are listening to a performance and feel that you have moved into the story and are living it.

Many “famous” narrators, actors really, don’t get narrating as a different art form. Meryl Streep is a brilliant actress, but an awful narrator. Dustin Hoffman, on the other hand, is as good a narrator as he is an actor … which is remarkable. Will Patton is a good actor, but an absolutely brilliant narrator.

So Marguerite, please reserve some time to record my life. I’m sure you could do it perfectly.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/voice-work/

TAX TIME WITH ROYALTIES

I am a professional author. I know this because I collect royalties from a book I wrote. Today, I got two 1099 forms from Amazon. One is for the Kindle version of my book, the other for the paperback (trade) version.

The total for 2015 was … are you ready? $6.89 for the year.

The_12-Foot_Teepee_Cover_for_Kindle

I don’t know how I spent all that money. It leaves me breathless. The good news is I’m pretty sure 2016 has already proved more lucrative than all of last year . It’s only the beginning of February, but I’ve breached the $10 bottom line and may hit the heights of greater than $25 — the amount at which the I.R.S. wants to know about you.

This is probably the only time that having the I.R.S. notice you feels good.

teepee book shelf

It turns out that giving my book away for free (or almost free) does not generate royalties. I remember one month where the total royalty was 5 cents and many months of royalties direct deposited to my account which were much less than a dollar.

That being said, I’d rather you read it and find it worth the time, than have it molder unread — the fate of most books of this type.

teepee book back

To all of you who “read me” this year and were kind enough to tell me you enjoyed my book, thank you. Very much. Though “The 12-Foot Teepee” may not generate a lot of money, your enjoyment makes me feels rich.

Wealth is more than a number.

GREAT NARRATORS FROM WHOM TO CHOOSE

Voice Work – Your blog is about to be recorded into an audiobook. If you could choose anyone — from your grandma to Samuel L. Jackson — to narrate your posts, who would it be?


Narrating is not acting. It is a separate skill set from acting, though it is certainly related. Many great actors make atrocious narrators. Witness Meryl Streep’s venture into narration where she totally failed to grasp the concept — the narrator is not the voice of any or all the characters. The narrator is the mind of the author.

More than that, the narrator is the mind of the reader, the almost subliminal prompt that gives us the images without forcing us to notice what he or she is doing. It’s the subtlety of narration that makes it such a difficult art form. Enough animation to make the characters identifiable from one another … but not so “acted” that the narrator becomes more important than the story. It’s a thin line.

As a devotee of audiobooks, I think I’d have to go with either (both?) of my two favorite narrators — Will Patton, who narrates all of James Lee Burke’s books as well as many other southern authors and was terrific in the movie I saw last night, playing the good-bad CIA director in November Man

Will Patton

Will Patton

If a woman seems called for, Marguerite Gavin, who has done a remarkable job narrating Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series would be my top choice.

WitchWithNoName

I’m very much looking forward to listening to her one more time as she narrates the just-released final (13th book) book of the series, The Witch With No Name.

And because he is willing and has such a beautiful voice, Garry — who offered to narrate my book for audible years ago before life so altered my plans — can narrate anything. Because he will do a wonderful job and understands the difference between narrating and acting.

 

JUDGEMENT DAY

February 1st and winter hasn’t started. The only very cold weather came and went while we were in Arizona. We should take January vacations every year.

72-Mountain-MAR-Sunday-011016_154

Since November, time has flown. One day it was Halloween, the next Thanksgiving. Then Christmas whooshed past and we were boarding a plane for Phoenix.


I spent all of November and December 2015 reviewing books.

I had more than 60 books to read in two months. Some of the books were very long. The number of hours required exceeded the number of non-sleep hours in the allotted time. It was unfair to me. Even more unfair to the books’ authors.

books and the duke

I’m a fast reader, but I was defeated by the sheer weight of it. It was an “elimination” round to reduce the number of books in the finals, but even so …

All of this explains why I feel as if those months didn’t happen. I barely remember anything. I was buried. While I’m reading, I’m not in this world. I’m wherever, whenever the story is happening. It has left me feeling displaced.

The pressure of participating in projects like this is huge. In theory, I could have quit. I’m not getting paid; I never signed a contract. But I promised. I felt obligated to keep my word. Even when I felt hard done by.

75-Books and stuffNK-1

By the end of this month, I might be able to write again. Reading is supposed to inspire writing, but 60 books in as many days drained me. I’m still recovering.

It is making me rethink the meaning of “fair.” Maybe it also explains some of the more bizarre selections I’ve seen as literary “winners.”

https://teepee12.com/2016/02/03/tax-time-with-royalties/