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Thursday, September 15, 2011


Our Book Club Friday guest today is award-winning mystery author Anne K. Albert. Anne has taught high school art, sold display advertising for a small town weekly newspaper, and worked for a national brand water company, but now writes full time. Author of the Muriel Reeves Mysteries series, she also writes the romantic suspense Piedmont Island Trilogy series. Read more at her website. Anne is offering an e-copy of her latest release, Frank, Incense and Muriel, to one of our readers who posts a comment to the blog this week. -- AP

I’m excited to be at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers today, and especially glad to share a little of the process I used to pen Frank, Incense and Muriel, first book of the Muriel Reeves Mysteries.

Many authors plot their stories. They know the beginning, middle and end before they put a single word to paper.

Writing for me is more akin to being a fly on the wall.

I sit at the computer, place my fingers on the keyboard, and focus on my characters. Like magic, I zoom to their location and time. I’m there. With them. I see, hear, feel, taste and smell everything they do.

I have no idea what will happen from one sentence to the next. I experience the story at the same moment it unfolds for my characters. I also get a vivid image of their surroundings. I notice everything from steely gray clouds off in the horizon to the knick-knacks on their living room shelves. Often, it’s these little details that bring a story to life for an author.

That’s what happened when I wrote Frank, Incense and Muriel.

In the first scene, I joined Muriel in her kitchen. She’s upset because her sexy high school nemesis, now an even sexier private investigator, has asked her to help find a missing woman. Muriel wants an out. She wants him out of her life before her relatives arrive for the Christmas holidays.

I’m pretty confident she’ll cave. So confident in fact, I take a moment to look around her kitchen. I spot an assortment of magnets on the fridge. One, however, stands out from all the rest. Printed in white lettering on a black 3” square with rounded corners is a single sentence.

“Remember, as far as anyone knows we’re a nice normal family.”

I realized that quote sums up Muriel and her relationship with her family. She has struggled her entire life to fit in, but it’s difficult for a gullible intellectual to feel like she belongs in a clan of thrill-seeking eccentrics.

Muriel’s aunt is a strong, multi-married (and divorced) woman in her sixties. Val changes her mind as often as her hair color, but her heart is as big as the massive drooling mutt she rescued from the animal shelter.

Muriel’s uncle is a conspiracy theory aficionado, constantly in search of hidden listening devices and cameras and determined to stay under the radar.

Her brothers and cousins strive to surpass each other in a parade of extreme-sport activities that includes water rafting in the Himalayas, trekking across the frozen Antarctica wasteland to spelunking in a Central America cave inhabited by a colony of vampire bats.

The Reeves family tradition is to gather round the fireplace on Christmas Eve, but forget the mistletoe and caroling. There is only one gift on everyone’s wish list. Whether 18 or 98, they’ll just about kill to win the coveted D-DAY (Death Defying Act of the Year) Award. Everyone that is, except Muriel.

“Remember, as far as anyone knows we’re a nice normal family.”

I shudder to think what direction this comedic, cozy mystery might have taken if I had missed that fridge magnet!

Frank, Incense and Muriel is recipient of the 2011 Holt Medallion Award of Merit.

Night Owl Reviews gave it 5 stars and a Top Pick Award. “If you’re looking for a story with a little bit of humor, a whole lot of suspense and plenty of insanity, then you’ve found the perfect story.”

Happy reading!

Thanks so much for being our guest today, Anne. Readers, don’t you just love the title of Anne’s latest mystery? Post a comment to enter to win a free e-book edition of Frank, Incense and Muriel. Check back Sunday evening to see if you're the lucky winner. -- AP


Cathy Shouse said...

This sounds like a wonderful book. Thanks for sharing your writing method. I found it very interesting. Did you come up with that clever title?
By using your method, do you ever write yourself into a corner, so to speak? lol

Liz V. said...

Sounds like fun.

Don't enter my name, please, as I don't do ebooks (yet?), despite the best efforts of nieces and greats to drag me into the 21st Century. But best wishes for success of Frank, Incense and Muriel.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy, the title came to me because I wanted a holiday theme, and it fit the characters. As for writing myself into a corner, oh, yes! It happens all the time.

In book 1 of my other series (romantic suspense) I killed off the villian at the end of the 1st chapter. I honestly never saw it coming! The solution took a few days to figure out, but it made the book stronger in the end. Plus, I actually enjoy the challenge. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Liz. Frank, Incense and Muriel is also available in print. ;-)

Pat Dale said...

Anne, your book sounds delightful. Can't wait to read it. And it's comforting to find another author who writes mysteries the way I do. Plot boards and the like mystify me, so I let my characters dictate. To a point. When I'm done, I will go back and clean it up, but it's their story so I let them tell it.
Best wishes,
Pat Dale

Anonymous said...

I do the same, Pat. When I've written the first draft I sometimes create an excel spreadsheet, listing each scene. Then I can 'see' if I need to add, move or delete!

Beth Anderson said...

Your book sounds like a lot of fun, Anne, and I'm not surprised because you are too. I have your book, haven't got to it yet but I will soon.

Nancy Hinchliff said...

I would really love to read this book. Your process is very similar to mine, only I do not write fiction (at least not for publication), I write memoir and personal essay. Going with the flow always works for me...even though I must go back and be more crafty, etc afterward.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I'm saving your book to read during the Christmas holidays, Anne. My special holiday gift to me, although I'll probably be tempted to take a peak before then. It sounds like a very enjoyable read. Thanks for featuring Anne, Lois.

john M. Daniel said...

What an adventure you have every time you write a book, Anne. I bet you can't wait to hit the keys, just to find out what will happen next!

Warren Bull said...

Your description reminds me of some families I have known.

Earl Staggs said...

I know a lot of people who need that magnet and I'm sure they're all saying the same thing about me. I like the way you write, Anne, probably because it's the same way I do.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Beth! Thank you, and happy reading! :)

Anonymous said...

So true, Nancy. As someone once said good writing is all about re-writing. Happy writing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jean! I look forward to your comments. :)

Anonymous said...

It certainly is an adventure, John. Sometimes harrowing, other times exhilarating, but never, ever boring!

Anonymous said...

Like most people, Warren, I think the majority of us are either part of, or know of, an eccentric family. And so, we relate as readers.

On the other hand, I've spoken to authors who say writing for them saves on therapy bills. I won't say that's my case, but then, I'm not denying it either! ;-)

Anonymous said...

If I ever come across one of those magnets, Earl, I'll get two. One for you...one for me!

Anonymous said...

Loved the post! Loved FRANK, INCENSE, AND MURIEL.
Jackie King