It’s my pleasure to be participating in author Ritter Ames’ Great Escape Virtual Book Tour for her recent release, ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, the first installment in her new Organized Mysteries series.
Ritter will be joining us to answer some questions about her writing and I’ll share my thoughts on this charming new book. To celebrate this new release, Ritter is offering not one, but two special giveaways. Please see the end of the post for the details.
Here’s a synopsis of ORGANIZED FOR MURDER:
The right business hook is the most important criteria for success, and Kate McKenzie thinks she’s found a perfect one. As an organizational expert, Kate knows Americans are running out of space and money, and renting more storage units is usually not the best solution. Starting an organizational business, Stacked in Your Favor, in her new hometown of Hazelton, Vermont, seems like an answer to her family’s budget problems and an answer to southern Vermonters’ prayers.
Business looks good when she snags collector, Amelia Nethercutt, as her first client, signing on to organize the wealthy woman’s eccentrically-filled mansion. But things take a turn beyond chaos when Amelia is murdered and Kate’s fingerprints are found on the poison that killed her.
Join me in welcoming Ritter, who has graciously answered my questions.
Mason - How did you come to write a mystery featuring a protagonist who is an organization expert?
I was at an author signing once, before I started writing ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, and it suddenly hit me that if I didn’t want to just talk about writing I needed to figure out something else to talk about that would tie in with a book sale. I kind of mined the inner “what the heck do I know about” fathoms, and remembered all the times people loved the little methods I used to stay organized and keep down daily stress. And my cozy theme was born.
I’ve always been a person who thinks outside the box, and my biggest pet peeve is to have to look for things. Using colors as cues to keep like things together is something I do automatically now. I also hate to do repetitive things like laundry—which even when you’re done just means it will be time to start over again. So I started using tricks to make myself think things weren’t so bad, like always living by the white rule for sports socks and everyday towels and things, to cut down on sorting and matching.
But while Kate has slight OCD, I’m just a potentially lazy person who doesn’t want to have to do things over again. I have a couple of people in my life who suffer from slight OCD tendencies each day, so I’ve seen their struggle at different times in life. I didn’t want Kate to be “perfect,” so used a bit of this knowledge and made her an above average worrier who is working on this problem each day, and has a supportive family environment to help.
Mason - Do you work on your two ongoing mystery series – Organized Mysteries series and the Body of Art mystery series – at the same time? How do you schedule your time?
I brainstorm each series while I’m writing the other, but I don’t write both at the same time. My protagonists are very different in each series, as are the settings and objective, and I write one from first person point-of-view and the other from third person. Plus, the Bodies of Art series is actually light suspense, and follow a series arc, so the plot twists are more important. Whereas in the Organized Mysteries I get the fun of adding the organization tips within the story, and have to have the big reveal of the murderer.
All of those differences help me get into the next book in each series as I finish one manuscript, and switch to begin a manuscript in the other series. The Body of Art books take longer, about six months because of all the research. The Organized Mysteries are also quicker because of the closed community, and the fact that the neighboring families are all solid characters at this point and I don’t have to invent as many new characters each time.
I also work on nonfiction projects through the year, so my calendar really is like an extension of my right hand. And all of this has to be worked around marketing tasks to promote the book, which I think takes more time than the actual writing does.
Mason - What are the advantages and disadvantages of writing about a small town?
For a cozy, I don’t think there are any disadvantages. The small town setting is one of my personal must-haves when I pick a cozy mystery. The cozy genre has changed a lot in the last couple of decades, but I still prefer the tried and true criteria: a small, inclusive community, mystery solved by an amateur sleuth, no gory murders, characters who understand the quirks of the community, a bit of humor and minimal swearing. I read cozies to escape, and I think I probably write them for the same reason. The small town gives an added advantage that everyone knows everyone else, which sets up a shifting dynamic when a new character enters the mix.
Mason - Tell us something about your protagonist that we wouldn’t be able to learn reading ORGANIZED FOR MURDER.
Honestly, I can’t think of anything I haven’t already at least suggested a hint of in ORGANIZED FOR MURDER. You might say that Kate is an open book. I haven’t told her entire story, or the whole stories of everyone else in the series, for that matter, but more will be revealed with each book.
If I had to say the one thing that Kate McKenzie doesn’t completely know about herself, and is learning, is how capable she truly is. I’ve tried to make all my characters extremely relatable, and have been rewarded in how this is something that is noted in most of the book’s early reviews. Because of that, Kate acts like a typical person, and more readily notes her deficiencies than recognizes her abilities. We all tend to toot other people’s horns better than we do our own, and Kate McKenzie is no different.
Mason - What can readers look forward to next from you?
The first draft of the sequel to ORGANIZED FOR MURDER is finished, but it still needs revision. I’ve had a lot of great early feedback on ORGANIZED FOR MURDER about how readers couldn’t figure out whodunit until the murderer was revealed in the end, and that there were so many characters they kept thinking could be the killer. That’s what I’m shooting for again with the second book, and that bonus comes through in the rewrites and feedback from my beta readers. No matter how many books I ultimately write in this series, want everyone to know they’re going to get the same experience from Book 10+ that they received when they read the original in the series.
For the Bodies of Art series, I’m just starting that book now. The synopsis is developed, and the first few chapters are in their early rough stages. That book is due to the publisher by mid-summer, so that it can be released near the end of the year like the launch for COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES.
Ritter thanks for joining us and sharing this look at how your new series came to be. I like the fact that even though Kate has OCD, she isn’t perfect and so down-to-earth.
For those of you who don’t know Ritter, here’s a bit of background on her.
Ritter Ames lives in a small town in the middle of America, but spends each day globetrotting the art world from her laptop, with her cat riding shotgun and Pandora blasting from the speakers.
COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES is her first full-length fiction. A second cozy mystery series, starting with ORGANIZED FOR MURDER was released by Gemma Halliday Publishing in January 2014.
She tries to blog regularly at http://ritterames.wordpress.com/ and uses her Pinterest boards at http://www.pinterest.com/ritterames/ to capture great places and ideas she wants to use in both series.
Follow her blog and boards to learn more about Ritter and her upcoming books. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
You can also learn more about Ritter and her writing by checking out the following blogs that are also participating in her tour.
March 31 – Chloe Gets A Clue - Interview
April 1 – A Year of Jubilee Reviews - Review
April 2 – i blog 4 books - Review
April 3 – Book Club Librarian - Review
April 4 – Queen of All She Reads - Review, Guest Post
April 5 – Mysteries Etc - Review
April 6 – Cozy Up With Kathy - Interview
April 7 – Bea's Book Nook - Review
April 8 – Brooke Blogs - Review, Guest Post
April 10 – Melina's Book Blog - Review, Guest Post
April 11- I'd Rather Be At The Beach - Review
April 12 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review
April 13 - Socrates' Book Review Blog – Review
Here are my thoughts on this new release.
ORGANIZED FOR MURDER by Ritter Ames
Author Ritter Ames has given her new protagonist a full family life and a business to contend with as she gets caught up in murder.
Kate and her husband Keith have moved to Keith’s hometown of Hazelton, VT, with their young daughters. A former pro hockey player, Keith is now a radio sportscaster. To help with the family budget, Kate begins Stacked in Your Favor, an organizing business.
Kate is excited when the wealthy Amelia Nethercutt wants to hire her. After visiting the Nethercutt mansion filled with its treasure of eccentric items, Kate begins to wonder about her decision to say yes. Things really take a drastic turn when Amelia is found murdered after Kate’s visit. It’s up to Kate to put all the clues in order to discover the real killer.
The characters are well-developed and likable. Ames has created realistic characters with their various problems and faults. She doesn’t make Kate a stuffy organizer without problems. She makes her down-to-earth with worries and concerns readers can relate to.
The setting draws you in as the story moves at a steady, smooth pace while you try to figure out the killer’s identify. There are twists, turns and organizational tips to keep you on your toes.
ORGANIZED FOR MURDER is a refreshing start of what promises to be a delightful new cozy mystery series. For the book collector in all of us, Kate’s new escapades will add to our reserve.
Organized for Murder by Ritter Ames, Organized Mysteries series Book #1, Gemma Halliday Publishing, @2014, ISBN: 978-1495379956, Paperback, 254 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the author as part of her virtual book tour in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
There are two giveaways in conjunction with this tour. In the first, Ritter is giving away organizing goodies and a hard copy of ORGANIZED FOR MURDER.
The second giveaway is for an e-copy of ORGANIZED FOR MURDER or COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES – winner’s choice.
To enter the giveaways, simply click on each Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. Always be sure to include your email address in your comments, if not included in your profile.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Are you well organized or do you need someone like Kate to help you out? If you’re a collector, what do you like the most of – books, shoes, trinkets, etc.?
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