Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Featured Author: Cathy Ace

Cathy Ace, author of The Corpse with the Golden Nose, is on tour with Great Escapes Book Tours, and I'm happy to have her here today with a guest post.

About the book:

A heartfelt plea to look into the death of a world-famous vintner goes hand in hand with the opportunity to attend an exclusive gourmet event in British Columbia’s stunning wine country. How can overindulgent foodie and criminologist Cait Morgan resist?

Sure that the award-winning owner of a family-run vineyard was murdered, Cait shares her findings with Bud Anderson, a retired homicide cop. But he is convinced that the woman took her own life, whatever her grief-stricken sister might say. That is, until death strikes once again, in the neat rows of grapevines that clamber up the banks of magnificent Lake Okanagan.

Uncovering obsessions that might have fuelled murderous thoughts among the victim’s wacky neighbours is a start, but as Cait unravels the clues, she realizes that more lives are at stake. Can she think, and act, quickly enough to thwart the killer?

The Corpse with the Golden Nose is the second book in the Cait Morgan Mysteries, a classic whodunit series featuring the eccentric Professor Cait Morgan.

Guest Post by Cathy Ace

Judge a Book By Its Cover?

We’ve all heard the saying, “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,” right? And yet we still do . . . or do we? If we don’t, then all books could be put on sale with just the title and author’s name in bold black lettering, nothing more. So what’s the purpose of a book cover—other than to protect the pages within?

When I’m browsing the bookstore—bricks or clicks—or the library, I always head for the FICTION section and, within it, the MYSTERIES. When I get there, I start at authors beginning with “A” (I’m really hoping you do too!) and have at it. The vast majority of the books are presented spine-on, even in bookstores. That means that the first thing that has to catch my eye is the title, or the author. Maybe you, like me, know certain authors’ names, and dwell on the titles available, or, if a person’s work isn’t known to you, it’s their titles that’ll tickle your interest. It’s only once I make a small commitment and pull the book from the shelf that the cover design can get to work on me.

I’ll be honest and tell you now that I have put books back onto the shelf because a) the cover didn’t appeal to me and b) I still took the time to read the cover notes, and I didn’t think, at that point, that the book would be my cup of tea. So I do try to not let just the cover put me off a book. If I don’t like it, I try to get past it—but I’m then in a frame of mind where the cover notes have to work even harder to win me over. I have chosen to read books with what I think of as dreadful covers, so it’s not an insurmountable obstacle.

However, if the cover is something that appeals to me, I’m already in a more receptive mood when I read the notes, and that means I’m more likely to open the book and check out some more about it . . . an important step in the selection process. Of course there are some books with very appealing covers that I’ve put back on the shelf, because the book didn’t seem to be for me, so it doesn’t make book selection a sure fire thing.

On balance, as an author, I’d rather err on the side of caution, so I work with a wonderful designer named Pete, who’s employed by my publisher, to try to come up with a cover that’s not only appealing, but resonates with something of the atmosphere that the book conveys. I don’t think it should merely be appealing—I think that it should give the reader a real insight into what sort of book you can expect it to contain.

From the outset of my relationship with my publisher, TouchWood Editions, they knew that I had planned a series of at least nine Cait Morgan Mysteries. What sets each one apart from the others is their location—Cait gets about a bit you know!—so we decided that the cover art for the books would be location/setting orientated. Cait’s first Mystery, The Corpse
With the Silver Tongue, takes place in Nice in the south of France, so beauty shots of the location weren’t difficult to come by . . . but finding one that didn’t look like a travel brochure were more challenging. The exact location for the first murder is an apartment in a Belle Époque building overlooking the glittering Baie des Anges, so Pete found a super side-shot of the iconic Negresco Hotel on the Promenade des Anglais, which he cropped perfectly. With the French flag fluttering atop the magnificent pink dome, and a wonderful ageing technique applied to the photograph, giving it some gravitas, I felt he’d really captured the mood of a carefree city by the sea, that hides its secrets under layers of complex history. I also think that the typeface he’s chosen for the titles is reminiscent of “The Golden Age” of mysteries, without imitating, or aping it—which is exactly what I’m trying to achieve with my work.

The Corpse With the Golden Nose is set in British Columbia’s wine country, surrounding Lake Okanagan, so, again, it wasn’t tough to find glorious photographs of such a naturally beautiful environment. This time the challenge was to find something that showed off the vineyards, but with a clearly identifiable section of lake in play as well . . . since both elements are critical to the setting. Once again, Pete found the perfect shot, and, using his wonderful ageing technique again, he’s given the naturally golden glow of the valley an extra shot of oomph! I think the cover is truly beautiful.

Both covers have made me very happy. I think they both speak to what the reader can expect within the book, as well as being very attractive pieces in their own right. Of course I hope that potential readers, and those who’ve reached the end of the books, agree. They also FEEL great in the hand—so hats off to the printers and finishers for that: how a book feels is very important to me, and they have a delightfully cool, smooth, matte finish to them, which I like in the hand (oh dear, I’m stroking one as I type!).

Now we’re working on the cover of my third Cait Morgan Mystery, The Corpse With the Emerald Thumb, which will be published in the spring of 2014. It’s set on the Pacific coast of Mexico in a small municipality which has a resort along the beachfront and tequila-producing agave plantations in the hills. Again, there are a lot of photographs available of this naturally beautiful area, it’s just a matter of finding the right one. If Pete’s track record is anything to go by—he’ll do it again.

So, whether you’re one of those who does, or one of those who doesn’t, judge a book by its cover, please know that this author, for one, tries to make sure that her books are presented to you with the best possible cover for each book.  All I can hope is that you like the title enough to pull the book from the shelf; that you like the cover enough to read a little; that you like the snippet you read to buy or borrow the book . . . and that you enjoy each book so much that you head out actively looking for the next one!

About Cathy Ace:

Welsh Canadian mystery author Cathy Ace is the creator of the Cait Morgan Mysteries, which include The Corpse with the Silver Tongue and The Corpse with the Golden Nose. Born, raised, and educated in Wales, Cathy enjoyed a successful career in marketing and training across Europe, before immigrating to Vancouver, Canada, where she taught on MBA and undergraduate marketing programs at various universities. Her eclectic tastes in art, music, food, and drink have been developed during her decades of extensive travel, which she continues whenever possible. Now a full-time author, Cathy’s short stories have appeared in multiple anthologies, as well as on BBC Radio 4. She and her husband are keen gardeners, who enjoy being helped out around their acreage by their green-pawed Labradors.

Connect with Cathy:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Buy the book:
Amazon | B&N | Powell’s Books | Book Depository

Tour Participants:

July 18 – A Blue Million Books: Guest Post

July 19 – Melina’s Book Blog: Review & Guest Post

July 20 – Kaisy Daisy’s Corner: Review & Giveaway

July 21 – Cozy Up With Kathy: Interview

July 22 – THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK: Review

July 23 – Storeybook Reviews: Review & Giveaway

July 24 – readalot blog: Review & Giveaway

July 26 – Books-n-Kisses: Review & Interview

July 28 – Brooke Blogs-Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway

July 29 – Mochas, Mysteries and More - Guest Post

July 30 – Escape With Dollycas-Guest Post & Review

July 31 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading: Review & Interview

August 1 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard: Interview

August 2 – Socrates’ Book Review Blog: Review

Featured Author: Jarod Kintz

Author Jarod Kintz is here with Virtual Writers, Inc to talk about his humorous novel, The Mandrake Hotel and Resort to violence if necessary. He generously sat down for an interview, and also allowed Tess to talk with Jar Tin Zoo. As well as attending all tour stops, Jarod will be doing a one-hour 
Tweetup, where he will share some of his writing secrets and 
publishing tips on Twitter. He'll be using the hashtag #MandrakeHotel and it will be conducted from @virtualwriters Twitter page. Jarod will also be awarding 80 copies of  
his book to 80 randomly drawn commenters on the blog tour, plus  
another 15 e-copies on the Facebook event page (where there will be some fun challenges and games) and 5 e-copies for the best 
publishing/writing questions asked during his Twitter Chat at 1pm EST  
on 20th July.

About the book:

Right versus wrong, good versus evil, and peanut butter versus jelly—these are just a few of the many eternal struggles this book tackles.

But don’t worry, based on the NFL’s recent concussion scares, all this book’s characters were made to wear helmets before these hard-hitting issues were tackled.

Some central questions will be answered, like:

Who is Dark Jar Tin Zoo, and why is he trying to take over the world?

Will Jackson Jackson Jackson be able to thwart Dark’s diabolical plans? And why does he have a last name for a first and a middle name?

Is Abby Norma Sykes simply too sexy to be featured in such a dramatic thriller such as this book clearly is?

Finally, is it improper to refer to a dwarf as a midget? And what is the shortest height you can be without technically being a dwarf? Is it really as tall as 4’11”? Does that make a person who’s 4’10” the World’s Tallest Dwarf?

This book doesn’t actually discuss such serious social issues as I alluded to in the last paragraph, but it should. I’ll speak to the author immediately, and maybe he’ll address them in the sequel.

Oops! Did I just spoil the surprise? Yes, I most certainly did! Well, there it is—there will be more adventures featuring Dark Jar Tin Zoo, Jackson Jackson Jackson, Abby Norma Sykes, and a smorgasbord of other quirky characters.

This is just the first book of many (unless of course the government poisons me to stop me from exposing their methods of exploitation).

What reviewers are saying:

"Combining absurd, farcical and surreal humour with some more serious and thoughtful musings the book is a firework of clever lines and quirky episodes.

The Mandrake Hotel has a room for everyone, whatever your desires, hobbies and preferences are. It is a madhouse and a world of liberty: Whether you want a room made of sand, one with specific collectibles or a floor full of nudists - the hotel has got it.

I wondered for a long time if the hotel was written as a fantasy world for lazy and hedonistic people (as one reviewer suggested) or as a wider symbol for the world as it is; a statement not unlike the questions of all questions in Douglas Adams book. The world population is exploding, so are we sitting on a powder keg that will go off once the resources run out? Can humanity survive? Are we sane in doing what we are doing?
A lot of ideas are covered in this book at a fast pace, highlighting absurdities and having a good laugh at them.

The author draws you into the book with his wit and once I had handed over total logic to the valet and stopped trying to make sense of every line that was thrown at me - at times very fast paced and confusing - I eased in to the rhythm of the story. It reminds me of the great Eugene Ionesco and Haruki Murakami, without wanting to imply that the style is close to either of them.

'Resort to violence' refers to the plot as it thickens. Our hero of many names and his date Abby decide to fight Dark, the villain from the 13th floor and here a more structured narrative continues.

The book is hugely entertaining, clever and will probably divide the audience into those who appreciate it and those who may not 'get it'. Luckily I was part of the latter group.” Diebus

Interview with Jarod Kintz:

How did you come up with the title of your book?

The title of The Mandrake Hotel and Resort to violence if necessary just sort of occurred to me. I chose The Mandrake because it sounded both luxurious and sinister, and then since it is a humor book, I carried out the title to show the playfulness of it all.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I do have another job. I work as a concierge in a hotel, though unlike Dark Jar Tin Zoo, I’m not trying to take over the world. But I do like writing love quotes.

How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)

“The Mandrake Hotel and Resort to violence if necessary” is the most important book since “Two Guys, a Goat, and a Ghost: A Love Story.”

Excellent. How did your cover art come about?

I make all my own covers, and for this one I took a picture of myself wearing a fedora. I pulled the hat low so you couldn’t see my eyes, both to disguise the fact that it was me, and not my alter ego Dark Jar Tin Zoo, but also to add a sense of mystery and shadyness to the portrait. Then I converted the image to grayscale before tinting it red, to give it a menacing, evil look. 

I'm impressed. What’s your favorite line from a book?

“The things you own end up owning you. It's only after you lose everything that you're free to do anything.” –Fight Club

Sophie’s choice: Do you have a favorite of your characters?

I really enjoyed writing Jackson J. Jackson and Abby Norma Sykes, because they got to engage in witty banter. What I really liked is how each character sounded like the other, and both sound exactly like me. Also, did I mention that Dark Jar Tin Zoo is an anagram of my name? It’s true! Jarod Ora Kintz equals Dark Jar Tin Zoo. So every character in the book is based on me, and that’s what makes it great. It’s also what makes it terrible.

You're a funny guy. Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

Weird thing: Florida is the retirement capital of the world. Nice thing: I’ve never had so much sex as I have since I started working in a nursing home. Fact: I just made that up—I have no idea if Florida is the retirement capital of the world.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage.”-Ambrose Bierce

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Portland, Oregon

What are you working on now?

A new book of love quotes featuring Dora J. Arod called “Love quotes for the ages. And the ageless sages.”

Tess Talks with Dark Jar Tin Zoo:

About Jar Tin Zoo:
The owner of The Mandrake Hotel and Resort is a man called Rot, a billionaire like Bill Gates, only nerdier.

Rot Kugelschreiber isn’t the name he was born with.

No, the name on his birth certificate is Dark Jar Tin Zoo. He chose that
penname because in German it means Red Pen—and a Red Pen is
mightier than a Red Sword, which in turn is mightier than a Rothschild. me, how did you first meet your writer?

My name is Dark Jar Tin Zoo, and I feel like I’ve always known Jarod Ora Kintz. We look alike, we think alike, and we talk alike, though I’m a better lover.

Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

I always knew I’d end up starring in a book. I was born for greatness, wealth, and ultimately to rule the world. It is with a heavy heart that I say I’m going to have to murder billions of people, including the author of this book.

Yikes. Let's make this a short interview, shall we? Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

My favorite scenes in the book are the ones that feature me. I’m not being narcissistic when I say that I think the writing quality is just better in the sections where I appear, which is astounding because even though the writing is better, it’s still not very good at all. In fact, the whole book is rather dreadful. It’s not nearly as good as my book, “Love Quotes For The Ages. Specifically Ages 19-91.” You know you can trust that when I tell you my book is great it’s an honest assessment, and not a ploy to get book sales, because what do I care about selling more books? I’m a billionaire.

Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?

There was this magnificent sex scene between me and Taylor Swift, but Jarod decided to cut it out of the book because, as he said, “I don’t want her writing a retaliation song dissing you, and have it get played on the airwaves for all of America to ignore.” He has a point. If I’m going to be mocked, I’d prefer if people paid attention.

Do have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?

Everybody knows I want to take over the world, but not many people know that I want to settle down and have kids—six billion children.

Well, Jar, you certainly are an intriguing character. Thanks for talking to me...I think.
(Tess smiles sweetly, but nervously, and hurries away.)

From the author:

From the ages of 8-18, me and my family moved around a lot. Mostly we would just stretch, but occasionally one of us would actually get up to go to the fridge.

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