Sunday, April 5, 2015

Mindy Quigley's Mystery Series - a sure-fire, good clean read!


Author Mindy Quigley








Historian by training, globe-trotting university project manager by necessity, and fiction writer by the skin of her teeth, Mindy Quigley has had a colorful career.

She has won a number of awards for her short stories, including the 2013 Bloody Scotland prize. Her non-fiction writing includes an academic article co-authored with the researcher who created Dolly the Sheep. More recently, she was project manager of the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, a research clinic founded in Scotland by the author J.K. Rowling. Her work as the coordinator of a pastoral services program at the Duke University Medical Center provided the inspiration for her bestselling Reverend Lindsay Harding mystery series.

She now lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA, with her Civil War history professor husband, their daughter, and their miniature Schnauzer.




For hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding, facing death is part of the job. After all, she spends her working days comforting sick and dying patients. But when the annual Civil War reenactment in her hometown of Mount Moriah, North Carolina produces a real casualty, the Grim Reaper suddenly gets a little too close for comfort. With the clock ticking, the police struggle to unravel how and why a beloved local re-enactor was shot in front of hundreds of on-lookers. As fingers point and tempers flare, another victim ends up laid out on Lindsay's front porch.

Lindsay's life is in danger, but her efforts to expose the century-old sins that lie at the heart of the mystery are undermined by her disastrous love life, her no-good mother, and a ninja-like squirrel--not to mention the small matter of a dangerous killer who'll stop at nothing to keep a sinister secret. Will courage, curiosity, and Lindsay's irreverent brand of religion be enough to catch the killer before she becomes the next victim?


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Do you ever draw on the personal experiences of family or friends for events in your book(s)? If so, do you disguise them well enough you don’t feel you’ve invaded someone’s privacy? My main character, Lindsay Harding, is a hospital chaplain, whose father and best friend are also ministers. Two of my four college roommates became ministers, and I’ve stolen little pieces of their personalities and theology for Lindsay. Having known them personally before they donned their ministerial robes gave me a totally different take on clergywomen. My two roommates provide wonderful, heartfelt pastoral care, all while taking irreverence to new and hilarious heights—traits I stole for Lindsay.

For the sake of my poor mother, I should take this opportunity to clarify that my main character’s mother, a no-good criminal sleazebag, is NOT based on her.

When you’re planning your characters/setting, do you ever make charts or draw maps to help you visualize the story? Do you feel the time spent is of benefit? As a writer of twisty-turny mysteries that have lots of interconnecting subplots, I really couldn’t keep my sanity without mapping the whole book out before I start. I plot my novels using little fortune-cookie paper sized strips. I write down the significant plot points for each story that needs to be told, and then I lay them all out in order. Sometimes I realize that something that I’d planned to happen late in the novel actually needs to happen at the beginning, so that other, dependent plots can be set in motion.

My favorite part of this approach is, as soon as I finish this paper plotting process, I type everything into a Word document with my book’s title. So usually, when I actually start writing, I already have a 2 or 3 page plot document to structure my work. It avoids the dreaded blinking-cursor-on-empty-page and instills me with confidence that I know what story I’m going to tell!

Have you ever become so involved with a character that ending the story is difficult? Usually by the time I finish the draft of a book, I never want to see any of the characters again! For me, that feeling lasts through the editing and proofing stages, which I always find to be the writing equivalent of having paper cuts repeatedly inflicted on all of my fingers and toes, and maybe my eyes, too. Then, a few weeks or months later, when someone tells me how much they enjoyed the book or when I read a positive review on Amazon or Goodreads, it’s kind of like that feeling you get when you hold your newborn baby—pregnancy might’ve been hard, labor was atrocious, but suddenly you’re ready to do it all over again!

Strangely, despite my maternal urges, I have “birthed” only one human child, but three novels. Maybe the memory of pregnancy and childbirth has stuck with me a little more vividly than I’m willing to admit…

I often use epilogues in my books to tie up all the loose ends and give closure to the characters’ future lives. Is this helpful to you, or do you prefer to make up your own “ever-afters” for a book you’ve read? Because I write a series, it’s probably easier for me to get away with leaving a few dangling threads in a story. Readers expect that you’ll resolve the main plot, but leave a few things to be explored in subsequent books. What I would never do is end a novel on a cliffhanger. I don’t think that’s fair after someone has invested hours or days reading your work.  I’m more comfortable leaving loose ends in a short story, perhaps because one of my all-time favorite short stories is Frank Stockton’s quintessential cliffhanger—“The Lady or the Tiger?

What marketing method do you find most useful in getting your books ‘out there’? The big Kindle discount websites (BookBub, eReader News Today, eReader CafĂ©, etc.) have been invaluable for me. Really, those are the only way I’ve found to get the work of a no-name author like me into the handles of hundreds of new people in a short space of time. Word of mouth has also worked well for me, but that’s obviously a much slower burn. My first book was published a year and a half ago, and I’m now getting invites to the book groups of friends of friends of friends. Soon it will be friends of friends of friends of friends. Only a few more degrees of separation and I’ll get an invite to Kevin Bacon’s book club!

If you’ve written more than one book, what have you learned between the first one and the new release? I’ve learned to greet critiques from my beta readers with wide open arms. The prospect of doing major rewrites (or even minor ones!) can be daunting, but it’s a necessary part of improving the final product. I owe it to my readers to put polished, entertaining work out there for them. Odds are high that anyone’s first draft is going to suck. The more comprehensive the feedback you receive and incorporate, the more you diminish those odds in subsequent drafts!

I’ve also learned that there’s a reason most writers don’t achieve success at a young age. Writing well, for me, involves a deepening of wisdom, a broadening of life experience, a honing of the skills of observation and concision, and a hell of a lot of practice. A few very gifted, very lucky individuals write fantastic first books at an early age, but obviously those people are freaks of nature who should be isolated from society to keep the rest of us from looking bad.

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With the new year approaching, hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding heads for a much-needed break in the peaceful resort town of Duck on North Carolina's Outer Banks. Her plan to attend the wedding of her friend Anna runs aground when a boatload of trouble washes ashore, and as the old year ticks down, the body count goes up. Thrust into the path of an increasingly desperate killer, Lindsay must uncover a sinister secret before she winds up swimming with the fishes.

Old family scandals, sunken World War II U-boats, obscene desserts, and a stolen Doberman all guarantee a far from restful break for the irreverent reverend, who makes her second appearance in this lively mystery.

"I read a lot of mystery books, and I'm always very happy when I come across a book that keeps me guessing until the end!"


 Book 1 here!

Praise for A Murder in Mount Moriah:
Finalist for The Next Novelist.com's first novel competition 2013

"Bringing some Southern Comfort to the world of Civil War re-enactments." --Recommended book in the 52booksorbust's 2013 holiday gift giving guide"












Find Book 2 in the Lindsey Harding Series here.


With the new year approaching, hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding heads for a much-needed break in the peaceful resort town of Duck on North Carolina's Outer Banks. Her plan to attend the wedding of her friend Anna runs aground when a boatload of trouble washes ashore, and as the old year ticks down, the body count goes up. Thrust into the path of an increasingly desperate killer, Lindsay must uncover a sinister secret before she winds up swimming with the fishes.

Old family scandals, sunken World War II U-boats, obscene desserts, and a stolen Doberman all guarantee a far from restful break for the irreverent reverend, who makes her second appearance in this lively mystery.

"I read a lot of mystery books, and I'm always very happy when I come across a book that keeps me guessing until the end!"

3 comments:

kevinformal said...

Thanks so much for hosting me on your site, Judy!

offbeatcompassion said...

Am fascinated to hear about your multiple book journey, and about the idea that "word of mouth" is a "slow burn." It seems that such a thing would vary. Not? I am coming upon the anniversary of my 1st book, but my concern is that my second involves a switch in genre. I guess that complicates things... you think?

Mindy said...

When I say "slow burn" I mean that there is often a months-long lag time between someone buying your book, then reading it, then recommending it vs. the big sales bumps you can get all at once from running kindle promotions. I know that often, even when I really want to read a book, it takes me quite awhile to get around to it, and then a few weeks (or sometimes months!) to finish it. That probably does vary.

Re: switching genres, I'd personally go with a pen name for a new genre, if it's really different from your original genre. I think a different "brand" would be helpful for a different genre. But having never done this, I'm just basing it on a hunch! If it's more of a spin off, conceptually or genre-wise, I'd keep my own name.