Five Dog Voodoo (Mae December Mystery)
Camel Press (November 15, 2016)
Paperback: 266 pages
As Halloween approaches, engaged couple Mae December and Sheriff Ben Bradley have devoted all their energy to Ben’s campaign for reelection as sheriff of Rose County, Tennessee. The race is already too close to call when the sheriff’s office is hit with yet another maddeningly tricky murder case. In recent years the town of Rosedale has had more than its fair share of murders, a fact Ben’s smarmy opponent is all too eager to exploit.
Investigator Dory Clarkson and her friend, Counselor Evangeline Bon Temps, are visiting the mysterious Voodoo village when a resident tells them her granddaughter, Zoé Canja, is missing. Her dog, a Weimaraner nursing four pups, escapes the house and finds the young woman’s body in a shallow grave. Evangeline becomes Sheriff Ben Bradley’s unofficial consultant because her grandmother in Haiti and later her mother in New Orleans practiced Voodoo. A threatening symbol is left on the pavement by Dory’s front door, effectively banning her from the case. Evangeline and the sheriff’s office ask too many questions, and Evangeline soon wears out her welcome. Voodoo curses aside, Ben’s job is at stake, and no one associated with the case is safe until the killer is found.
Book 5 in the Mae December Mystery series, which began with One Dog Too Many.
Writing with my Daughter, Lisa
Question 1: Many people ask us where the idea came from for our first book? The initial idea for what became “One Dog Too Many” came from an article my co-author and daughter Lisa read about widening a local lane—a historic scenic road near her home. The Road Commissioner was intent on broadening the roadway in the wake of one too many minor accidents. In a local newspaper article, he stated that he had delayed his retirement once and would do so again if necessary to achieve his goal. One of the women who lived on the lane had been fighting the project by filing injunctions and lawsuits.
“This is interesting,” Lisa handed me the newspaper. “Take a look.”
“I read a lot of murder mysteries,” I said after reading the article, “and if this was the plot of a mystery, someone would bump lady off.”
“Mom,” Lisa’s eyes were sparkling, “let’s write it!”
We sat down that day and began the creation of the characters of the book. Both of us were interested in writing a mystery, but one with a low violence factor, much like the old Agatha Christie mysteries. We didn’t even know at the time that this genre of mystery is called a “cozy.” We began by creating our protagonist. Lisa wanted to call her May December as a play on words, but we spelled it Mae, which is short for Maeve. We are both animal lovers and we gave Mae a business boarding and breeding dogs. We also came up with our victim, Ruby Mead Allison, the daughter of a prominent family who had inherited a large piece of valuable property that bordered on the street we decided to call Little Chapel Road. Mae finds Ruby’s body while out exercising her boarding dogs. One of her feet is bare and on the other she’s wearing a red boot.
We realized early on that the “small town mystery” of Agatha Christie fame would not work set in today’s world where sheriff’s offices are comprised of well-trained officers and labs for analyzing trace evidence and even DNA. So having one civilian solve the crime was not feasible. We needed a partnership between our protagonist and law enforcement. In time that partnership becomes a romantic one and in “Four Dog’s Sake,” Mae and Sheriff Ben Bradley get engaged.
Question 2: How do two people living in different states ever write a book together? Thank the Lord for email! We take turns writing a chapter or two and then sending them to the other half of Lia Farrell, who continues the process. We were about half-way through the first book, “One Dog Too Many” when we realized we were each thinking different people committed the murder! After that we decided we needed to agree on the general plot and the perpetrator in advance. We also decided to have four people tell each story and Lisa writes the chapters told by Ben Bradley, the sheriff, and Mae December, the protagonist. Each book features a different fourth character and I write that person as well as Chief Detective Wayne Nichols.
Question 3: How did we get published? There are so many avenues for getting published these days that you need to decide whether you want to be traditionally published or indie published. For those not completely in the know, traditionally published means getting a literary agent who then obtains a publisher. Indie publication normally refers to what used to be called self-publishing. There is an excellent indie publishing option by Amazon called Create Space. It’s completely free and you can get your book in your hands in about a week. I have used it for four of my YA (Young Adult) fantasy books. The end product is terrific and you can design your own covers.
If your dream is to have a traditional publisher, you need to search first for a literary agent. And put your big girl panties on before starting. Literary agents are overwhelmed today by the volume of submissions and they normally reject 96% of them. Plus, you often have to wait months for your rejection. We found our agent, Dawn Dowdle from Blue Ridge Literary, using an on-line resource called Publisher’s Marketplace; a search engine for agents and publishers. It costs $25 per month so it adds up quickly. Once you have an agent and get a contract (the agent takes 15% of the profit from book sales) s/he looks for a publisher for you. I recommend asking your agent to send you all the rejections. They usually come with feedback you can use to strengthen your submission. We were lucky our agent got us a three-book contract (extended to six after publication of our first book) with Camel Publishing and they have done a superior job for us. However, even the big publishers these days expect authors to do most of the marketing. So prepare to switch from writing to selling. You will need a web site, a presence on social media, options for presenting at bookstores, monthly newsletters and willingness to sell books at art fairs.
Question 4: Why did you use the penname Lia Farrell? Both of us, Lyn Farquhar and Lisa Fitzsimmons, have the same initials. We decided we didn’t want two names on the cover. Some authors do, but to us it looked busy. So we decided on a penname using the initials L.F. and Lia Farrell was born.
About the Authors
Lia Farrell is the nom de plume for a mother/daughter duo of writers. Mom Lyn Farquhar and Daughter Lisa Fitzsimmons have been collaborating on the Mae December mystery series for four years.
Lyn Farquhar taught herself to read before starting school and honed her story telling abilities by reading to her little sister. Ultimately, her mother ended the reading sessions because Lyn’s sister decided she preferred being read to over learning to read herself. She fell in love with library books at the age of six when a Bookmobile came to her one-room rural elementary school. The day the Bookmobile arrived, Lyn decided she would rather live in the bookmobile than at home and was only ousted following sustained efforts by her teacher and the bookmobile driver.
Lyn graduated from Okemos High School in Michigan and got her college and graduate degrees from Michigan State University. She has a master’s degree in English literature and a Ph.D. in Education, but has always maintained that she remained a student for such a long time only because it gave her an excuse to read. Lyn holds the rank of Professor of Medical Education at Michigan State University and has authored many journal articles, abstracts and research grants. Since her retirement from MSU to become a full time writer, she has completed a Young Adult Fantasy trilogy called Tales of the Skygrass Kingdom. Volume I from the trilogy is entitled Journey to Maidenstone and is available on amazon.com. Lyn has two daughters and six step children, nine granddaughters and three grandsons. She also has two extremely spoiled Welsh Corgi’s. Her hobby is interior design and she claims she has the equivalent of a master’s degree from watching way too many decorating shows.
Lisa Fitzsimmons grew up in Michigan and was always encouraged to read, write and express herself artistically. She was read aloud to frequently. Throughout her childhood and teenage years, she was seldom seen without a book in hand. After becoming a mom at a young age, she attended Michigan State University in a tri-emphasis program with concentrations in Fine Art, Art History an Interior Design.
Lisa, with her husband and their two children, moved to North Carolina for three exciting years and then on to Tennessee, which she now calls home. She has enjoyed an eighteen year career as a Muralist and Interior Designer in middle Tennessee, but has always been interested in writing. Almost five years ago, Lisa and her mom, Lyn, began working on a writing project inspired by local events. The Mae December Mystery series was born.
Lisa, her husband and their three dogs currently divide their time between beautiful Northern Michigan in the summertime and middle Tennessee the rest of the year. She and her husband feel very blessed that their “empty nest” in Tennessee is just a short distance from their oldest, who has a beautiful family of her own. Their youngest child has settled in Northern Michigan, close to their cabin there. Life is good.
Check out these other blogs on the tour
November 9 – Readeropolis – REVIEW
November 10 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
November 11 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW
November 12 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
November 13 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
November 14 – T’s Stuff – REVIEW
November 15 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW
November 16 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
November 17 – 3 Partners in Shopping,Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – REVIEW
November 18 – fuonlyknew – REVIEW
November 19 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – GUEST POST
November 20 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
November 21 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW, GUEST POST
November 22 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST