Say “Hello” to Rachel Neuburger Reynolds. She is visiting today to share with us her second book in the Red Frog Beach mystery series, “The Wipeout Affair .” After reading her blueprint for writing a story arc over several books, scroll down to the tour section to click the big red button for your chance to win one of five digital copies of her new book.
THE BIG PICTURE – SUSTAINING CHARACTER ARCS OVER A SERIES
At the beginning of November, I had the privilege of sitting on the ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ panel at this year’s 50th Bouchercon Mystery Convention. I felt lucky, honored, and happy as a clam.
We were given many of the questions in advance so we could prepare for the panel intelligently. I’d say I was raring to go.
I was thrown an impromptu question I was not ready for. Our excellent moderator threw out the question, “How do you know that your series are going to be exactly 5-books or 7-books?”
Crikey (as we say in England). It threw me for a loop, and I don’t think that I did my best work in the panel.
I’ve clearly stated in many versions of my bio that the Red Frog Beach Mystery Series will run for-five books, and the Evelyn Bay Murder Mystery series will run for seven books.
I was flummoxed for what might have been a minute, but it felt like forever. I stumbled through some words where I felt dumb as ducks (I don’t know if ducks are dumb, but I like the saying).
Cozy and soft-boiled mysteries have a natural arc within every book on its own. A crime is committed, and it is solved. I don’t do an outline, but I follow this rule of key events:
1. The stage is set
2. Dream Stage
3. Frustration Stage
4. Nightmare Stage
5. Climax (also sometimes referred to Final Battle)
Every good book should follow this ABC, in my humble opinion.
The crime story must be solved within the book. The main character must grow. The audience must be satisfied. There is absolutely no toleration for cliff-hangers. We want the story done and dusted.
Sometimes authors give a little teaser at the end of the book but scarcely reveal the murder.
So, how do you get the character to be so compelling that the reader will
immediately pick up Book Two?
I’ve only had two books published, so take all with a grain of salt. This is just my personal view.
So how do you become sure about a five or eight-book series? Firstly, you’ve got to have a super likable main character, flawed, in a small community, insecure with room to grow, who can grow sufficiently through their goals.
For me, I have to meet a hopeless romantic, so the arc is defined by matters of the heart. If you’ve got a couple who get together in a Book Three, a major part of the tension of the book ceases to be. Think Moonlighting. Think Cheers. Think Friends.
Lexie, my character in the first book of the Red Frog Beach, is nursing a broken heart, so is careful in the next choice she will take towards love.
Hedy, the main character in the Evelyn Bay Mystery series, has promised to herself that she’ll take a year off dating since the finalization of her divorce. It will take seven years to figure out who she wants in the love triangle. I figured early on that I needed to fall in love with both characters, so I would be in the dark in who she would finally pick. All I’ll say is it ends in a wedding. And we all live happily after ever.
I base my books on the romance I’ve designed through the number of books. The mysteries show up when they do, but it gives you a solid base of the subplot that drives me until I get a particularly titillating mystery to write.
This might be a problem for many, but I ended the panel question with the words, “For me, it’s all about a boy.”
Check out rachelneuburger.com for more information.
Lexie Milano is a reformed New Yorker. Having visited Bocas Del Toro previously as a part of a wedding, she has found that the islands have won her heart and she is giving it her all to make her new surroundings work for her. Aside from Spanish lessons that don’t quite stick and snorkeling lessons, that can’t quite get past her abject fear of the open water, she has made new friends and kept some old ones. When one of those friends is found murdered on the beach belonging to her surfer boss she is once again pulled into a murder investigation. As the investigation uncovers blackmail, jealousy, and treasure, the suspects are many and the locals all seem to have something to hide.
I have to comment that a cozy set in the Carribean is awesome. The islands in this setting are almost a character in themselves with such wonderful detail about the daily life of the locals strewn throughout the story. This is an entertaining read, full of action and interaction. The subplot of ‘just what will Lexie do with her life’ is always at the forefront, but the mystery is never lost. Lexie and her friends are definitely worth visiting again.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
About The Book:
The Wipeout Affair (Red Frog Beach Mystery #2 ) by Rachel Neuburger Reynolds
There’s trouble in paradise, in the hilarious second book of the Red Frog Beach Mystery Series.
Ready to go back to the beach?
Lexie Milano left her heart in Bocas del Toro, and the new and improved New Yorker makes the big choice to move to the laid-back Caribbean island permanently. Piña coladas, white sand beaches, and a little cabin of her own on the edge of the rainforest complete her picture of the perfect tropical future awaiting her. But if it looks too good to be true, it usually is. . . .
When the body of a beautiful wealthy local is found at an isolated surf camp, the owner calls on Lexie to help him figure out who did it in this delicious whodunit. Reluctant sleuth Lexie first turns to the police, but her sudden access to a treasure-trove of island secrets convinces her it’s time to solve another murder on her own.
Favorite characters from Drowning Lessons return to grace the pages of this comedic mystery, including Migs, the handsome photographer; Lloyd, the genius with the cryptic past; and Lexie’s new best friend, Detective LaGuardia. Between old friends, new associates, and the added potential of shark attacks, The Wipeout Affair will leave you laughing and guessing until the very end.
This is the second in the series but can be read as a stand-alone novel.
Book Links: Amazon
About The Author:
Rachel Neuburger Reynolds is the author of the Red Frog Beach Mystery Series. Book 1, Drowning Lessons, was released on May 21, 2019, and the second in the series, The Wipeout Affair, was released on October 17, 2019. She’s also working on a separate series, The Evelyn Bay Murder Mystery series, and has written book one The Death Of A Classic. If all goes as planned you’ll be reading this in 2020. This is the first of book of seven in the series. Two of her plays have been produced in recent years. The Silencer, a cautionary tale about the perils of online dating, premiered at the Edinburgh Festival, followed by a run in New York. Nepenthe, a one-woman show about the 1960’s Hollywood-fication of the Holocaust had its premiere in London, and she is currently in talks about a film adaptation in 2021. Previous to her life of putting pen to paper, she produced theatre in New York City for fifteen years. Though she bounces back and forth between London in New York my headquarters is in Crowhurst on the South Coast of the UK. Please check out more at RachelNeuburger.com
Tour and Giveaway:
November 14 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
November 14 – Lori’s Reading Corner – GUEST POST
November 15 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, GUEST POST
November 16 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
November 17 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT
November 18 – My Reading Journeys – CHARACTER GUEST POST
November 19 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 20 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
November 21 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW
November 22 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST
November 23 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
November 24 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
November 25 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
November 26 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 26 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
November 27 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – REVIEW
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