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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Mystery Plotting: An Interview with Carolyn Bowen

What drew you to the idea of writing your first mystery/suspense novel?
It was totally an inspired book. I never questioned whether I could write this mystery/suspense. I knew it was a story that needed to be told.

How long did it take for you to write the first book? Was it harder or easier to write your second book? 

My first book was five years in the making. The Long Road Home was by far the easiest book I’ve ever written.

Are you active in any writing critique groups?
No groups per se, but with knowledgeable individuals willing to share their expertise.

What makes for a good mystery?
A good mystery has five key components: The plot which surrounds the whole story and has a clear beginning, middle and end; Characters who tell the story; The setting where the action takes place; Introduction of the problem/s and the solution. These elements keep the story running smoothly and allow clues to the solution of the mystery to be revealed in a logical way the reader can follow.

How do you go about deciding what red herrings to throw into the mix?
In mystery/suspense, red herrings have their place to divert the reader/listener from the original issue. In my novel, The Long Road Home, red herrings made the story much more interesting. Once you believed you had the problem/s solved you found information that could make you draw a different conclusion.

What type of research do you do for your books? Tell me about the process.
Research for my books differs in some ways. For example: Settings- travel to the locations and explore the culture. In The Long Road Home the southern flavors of Charleston and the coast of FL, I have experienced firsthand. The places to dine and local food customs were authentic for readers who have lived or traveled to these locations and they could relate.

Did you go through the normal process of pitching your book to agents and traditional publishers?

Yes, I did pitch to a few agents with exclusive rights while they reviewed my book. The process took months to a year. I wanted to get The Long Road Home out to the readers this year. I decided to indie publish the mystery/suspense and it was a good decision.

How do you write? Did you do an outline first? Did you do individual character

development before doing the full plot?
The Long Road Home: I sat down at my computer each day and typed the manuscript. I enjoyed the flow of words and ideas. Later in editing, I did more to fill in the blanks for character development, etc. Afterward, I sent the manuscript to a professional editor and did rewrites as suggested.

For other books, I have plotted, outlined and provided full major and minor character descriptions before beginning the writing process.

What type of publicity do you do to promote your book? What has worked best for you in generating sales?
Social media is my favorite go-to publicity generator as you will see from my numerous platforms.

I have a good relationship with bloggers. They make a positive impact along with professional book reviewers. I think a good mix of paid ads in the right places are also a good idea.

The bests promoters are my readers who love the book and share with their friends and family. There’s nothing like word of mouth to increase sales. I thank them for sharing.

What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had

known sooner?
Never second guess yourself about the process you have in mind. Be brave and carry it through.

What is the best advice you've been given about writing or that you've learned that you would like to pass along?
Keep reading and writing.

That's it for today's interview. If you would like to learn more about Carolyn's writing, here are some links to get you started. 

Carolyn M. Bowen, Author
The Writing Life:

Amazon Carolyn M. Bowen's Author Page:

Barnes and Noble
The Long Road Home by Carolyn M. Bowen ~

Goodreads: Carolyn M. Bowen, Author

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