I connected with Lauren Carr, murder mystery author through my work. Always an avid reader, in 2015 I decided to sign up with iRead Book Tours as a reviewer for their digital book tours. In the beginning, I chose to review every book that looked interesting and was writing numerous reviews each month. I had the pleasure of working with a few authors several times. Of these, my favorite is murder mystery writer Lauren Carr who has over 25 titles published and continues to release 3 new novels each year.
I love reading murder mystery stories – the intrigue, the danger, the suspense. I love well-developed, intelligent, strong characters – both men and women. But I also prefer authors that avoid going too dark and disturbing. I want to be able to sleep afterward. Lauren Carr offers all this plus a truly unique cast of pets with as much personality as their owners.
One day I finally had the chance to interview Carr and was totally intrigued. While I intend to include her story in a future book, I want to share a bit of her story now with At Forty Five readers. Embracing fully who she was – a writer – was accomplished when she took a leap of faith and walked away from her “safe” career. Everyone around her thought it was a mistake. Thank goodness she didn’t listen to them.
Can you share a bit about your journey to writing? Looking back, how early did this interest start and how did it develop over the years.
I believe writers are born writers. Either you’re a storyteller or you’re not. Even before I could read or write, I was making up stories. If someone asks me how my day was, I can’t just say, “Fine.” I have to set the scene, establish all of the characters, and build to a thrilling climax.
My mother was a big reader and she loved murder mysteries. She’d read Perry Mason to me at bedtime. I started out with the Bobbsey Twins. From there I moved onto Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and then on to Agatha Christie. I was got hooked.
But while I was always a writer and I always loved murder mysteries, I didn’t attempt to write murder mystery novels until I was in my mid-thirties. I believed that only someone extremely clever could put together a murder mystery and pull it off and I didn’t think I was that clever.
What was the career you had before you became a full-time author? Can you share about that day – that moment – when you decided to walk away from your job and focus on writing full time? How did your family react?
I’d spent ten years working in Washington, DC, for the federal government. I was an editor and learned layout and design. I hated it. The materials I worked on were so boring.
When I decided to quit and start Acorn Book Services, my family thought I was crazy. I had come from a family that believed in safety nets. Normal people get full-time jobs with benefits and you stayed at that job until you retire. My husband declared that the world was going to end. It was a huge change.
The journey was much too long for me to go into here. Let’s just say there were good times and bad. There were so many times when I was on the brink of achieving all of my goals, and then the rug would be yanked out from under me.
For example, I had sent the manuscript for A Small Case of Murder to a literary agent whose clients often ended up on Oprah Winfrey. He’d sent it back with a two-page letter going on and on about how tremendously talented I was. He touched on every detail in the book. It was clear that he had read every word. He declared the plot and writing brilliant. Then, in the last paragraph of the letter, he said, “But I don’t know how to market it.”
My response, “Why don’t you market it as a brilliantly written mystery written by a tremendously talented author?”
Do remember what it was like to publish your very first book? Highest moment? What did you learn from this experience that surprised you?
After a few years of beating my head against the wall, I decided to take a chance and self-publish A Small Case of Murder with iUniverse. When I received the proof, they told me to “look it over and let us know if you want to make any changes.”
So, I stared at the cover. This was the cover for my book! Finally, I was a novelist. I hugged it and stroked it and thumbed through the pages and called everyone to tell them that I was officially an author. Then, I called iUniverse and told them to release it.
I had no idea I was to read it to proof it for typos! I had edited it and I had paid an editor to edit it. Having been through that book so many times, it never occurred to me that I would need to read it again once formatting was complete. The book was released. My mother received her copy. She sat down to read it and called me screaming.
Do you want to know the real horror about this? I had spent over ten years working as an editor and layout design artist for the federal government. The purpose of a proof is to proofread it. I couldn’t get it through my head that the process of publishing dry government documents in Washington is the same as publishing novels in New York. It wasn’t until It’s Murder, My Son, that that realization struck home. I knew everything I needed to know to publish my own books and do it well. It was one of those moments where you smack yourself in the forehead.
You are a prolific writer of over 25 books. How do you stay so scheduled working from home and did that come easy for you from that start? What does your daily schedule look like? What benefits came from embracing this career at a later age?
I’ve never had any problem scheduling my writing. I write when the words come, and they are always coming. When I had a full-time job outside the home and a son living at home, I still had time for writing.
There are things that I call “time thieves” that I steer away from. Like watching television. I don’t spend hours a day watching television. When someone mentions celebrity names or television shows, I have no idea who they are talking about.
In addition to writing, you run Acorn Book Services, iRead Book Tours and have also just started a new podcast interviewing authors? Can you share a sound byte on each?
I started Acorn Book Services in the 90s when I first left the federal government. It started out as writing, editing, and designing newsletters. I even did a couple of small magazines. It was a natural transition for Acorn Book Services to move into self-publishing services. We don’t buy the rights for the books. We only offer services that authors need.
Book promotion is essential for every author. With every new release, I go on a virtual book tour and have been using Laura Fabiani’s iRead Book Tours for years. This year, Laura offered to sell her company to me. I guess you might say I bought the company out of self-preservation. I didn’t want to risk the quality of my book tours by having Laura sell iRead to someone else. So I bought it and put it under the umbrella of Acorn Book Services.
“Authors on iTours” is our podcast in which we feature the authors touring with us, our tour hosts, and professionals in the book industry. I invite them onto the podcast to discuss their books, blogs, and what they do. I quickly realized that listeners learn so much more about the guest if we just let the conversation go where it may.
In closing, do you have any spoiler alerts for upcoming title releases?
I’m really excited to be working on the next Thorny Rose Mystery. I really love getting back to Jessica and Murphy and their dogs, Spencer and Newman. The title is 13. This suspense-filled mystery throws Jessica and Murphy into Washington’s cesspool of intrigue when their investigation into a friend’s murder turns up a connection to an attempt to assassinate the president.