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Where The Mystery Begins...and Love Takes Over Carol.L. Exline

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Coffee Time Updates

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For a while now, I've had an official blog at http://carolexline.blogspot.com -- stop by and check out my updates there.

And I'll try to keep adding to the newsy tidbits on how the books are progressing and other things. So fix a cup of coffee and let's get acquainted..... 

(The most recent postings at the bottom.)

Creation of Woodmont Mystery Series. I've been asked many times at my book signings where the idea for the mystery books came from and how publishing them came about. The answer is — it wasn't intentional and not what I set out to do. Well, that didn't sound right, let me explain.

 

During a conversation with a co-worker, I told her about this collection of short stories I had and wasn't sure what to do with them. She said put them together in a book. What a novel idea! But as it often is in life, things don't go as you plan.

 

The prologue in my first book, Screams In The Dark, was written as a complete short story. It certainly wasn’t meant to end up being the beginning of a book. In fact it was the story I took with me to the seminars and workshops I attended as I researched what I was going to do.

 

After that wonderful suggestion to put the stories in book form, I wrote and rewrote the prologue, but somehow it grew into my first book. Although it wasn't planned, I used local names and local settings throughout the book. Names like Grandville, Witherspoon, and Atherton and places like Upton, Woodmont, and Cumberland.

 

The series takes place in Woodmont, which is a fictional town, surrounded by a huge farming community and forest land for hunters and a hunting lodge known as the Woodmont Lodge. Woodmont is the name of the area where my husband grew up and using it seemed logical, since we are surrounded by mountains and wooded areas. Grandville Manor is based upon a house I pass every day to and from work. It's a beautiful home, not as old as Grandville Manor, but regal, and it also has a pond. I could picture the Grandville family living there.

 

Thrilled that I'd written a whole book, I couldn't wait to talk to a literary agent. My bubble was burst when she informed me that if I insisted on writing mysteries that I had to write a series with strong characters, and no less than four books. (She thought I should write children books.) My hopes were dashed and I'd had my heart set on my next book being about time travel. Maybe one day.

 

Back home I trudged and sat down to stare at my computer. How could I do what she asked? Honestly I didn't know I could complete one book, but to continue with a series using the same characters? Three more books? It was a daunting task. After a few fretful tries, Haunting Cries In the Mist, was written. (This book was featured in the Hagerstown, Md., magazine and this book has the most beautiful cover. Not just because I design all my book covers.)

 

It was another conversation with the same co-worker that gave me the concept for the series— the fact that we don't really know anybody. We think we know our siblings, best friends, parents, but we only know what our loved ones allow us to know. The entire Woodmont Mystery Series brings that fact home in every book. Just as our characters think they have the puzzle solved, another piece is brought to light and the dynamics are changed. As we know, that is exactly how life is.

 

Even with the second book written, something didn't seem right. I felt disjointed from my characters. We weren't connecting. Then an idea occurred to just write background pieces about each character to see if that helped. It did. Secrets From The Grave flew from my fingertips. By the end of this book, I was falling in love with Woodmont and all its inhabitants. This book remains one of my favorites because of all the intimate secrets that are revealed.

 

For those of you who have read my books, you might find it interesting to know that the lovable Sam Watkins was only supposed to be a bit player. I needed a police chief to officiate the investigation of Cassie's missing sister, Lainey. Uncle Phil was supposed to be Cassie's tower of strength, but it didn’t work out that way. Sam was going to enter and exit by the second book. Instead Sam grew on me and his part took center stage in the series.

 

Spoiler Alert: If you haven't read the series, please don't read this paragraph. When I wrote the scene where Sam accidentally made Cassie cry and then hurried to the cemetery to confess to his precious Marie, I was as shocked as the rest of you that he turned out to be Cassie's father. Again the dynamics of the series shifted. Sam became the hub that will keep the group together.

 

By my fourth book, Never Alone, I'd hit my stride or as I often say — found my voice. I'd connected with everyone and quickly moved on to Destiny's Deadly Web. I wasn't stopping. With Sam in their lives, the Grandville family was reuniting and living together. Cassie's cousins joined them: Roy, Bill and Bill's sisters, Ruth Ann and Dora. So much happening. Beware of the Silent Footstep, was book number six. This book really brings home that we think we know the Grandvilles and got a handle on the Athertons, but nope. Lots of twists and turns throughout the entire series.

 

Another thing that has been brought to my attention is all the coffee drinking the characters do. That makes me laugh. The coffee sessions are written mainly to help readers in case they missed a clue and are not sure who did what to who. Can't have my faithful readers confused. Although if anyone is ever unsure, please email and ask. I'd love to hear from you and will be glad to answer any question you may have about the series.

 

For the next couple years that's all I did — write, rewrite, and write some more. By 2003, I felt exhausted and thought I was losing my objective opinion of the characters. My male characters were either sickly sweet or so hateful they needed to be shot. So I searched and found an online writers' workshop and joined. That interaction helped me immensely. Being with other writers forced me to think outside the box and stretch my writing skills. The give and take between authors, especially those from other countries, was exhilarating. The books were set aside and it wasn't long before I was submitting and selling short stories & ebooks for publication, of course under a pen name.

 

It was 2005 when I could hear the inhabitants of Woodmont calling my name, begging me to return. They were tired of waiting. During the time I was absent from Woodmont, I'd discovered Lulu Press, thanks to my friends at the workshop. I'd proven myself as a writer by selling stories and I'd followed the rules and guidelines and made all the edits the editors demanded.

 

The Woodmont Mystery Series was mine and I decided to publish my mysteries my way. I did my homework and researched like crazy. But after being told that my last name wasn't salable. I knew what my path was. Oh I took flack from peers who thought I should have gone through the traditional publishing house. What’s amusing is the people who grumbled the most and loudest to my face have never written a book in their life, not one, and all except for one person none of them had ever published a single story. Reminds me of those people who tell you how to raise your children, yet they don’t have any kids themselves. Amusing.

 

I’m pleased with the success of my books. To date, my first two novels have ISBN numbers are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and can be ordered through any book store in the country. And all of my books can be purchased through Lulu Press.

 

There are so many loyal fans who can't wait for the next book in the series. In the town where I work, there are eight people. Where my husband works, there are four. Where I live, there are five. Even my mother is involved and has two ladies who stop by where she works to get the next novel.

 

In the near future, I'll be opening a book store at my home. Of course it’ll have copies of all my books, but it’s my heart’s desire to have items from other artisans of the local area. Not just authors, but painters, quilters, knitters or crafters. Whatever their talent is, I'd love to be able to have a spot for it and showcase it. Although not set in stone the name of the store will be Woodmont Books & More.

Dec. 1 -- Beware of the Silent Footstep, book #6 is done and ready to purchase.
 
Dec. 5 -- Whispered Words of Death is now in editing.
 
Special Note: There is only one more book after Whispered Words left in the Cassie saga. That mystery will be solved. Sami is next.

It's been a year  since we've started the book signing circuit. The first signing was on December 13, 2006, at a library housed in a historic home.  It's a beautiful library with lots of wood paneling, a couple fireplaces and big windows. 
 
This past Saturday, December 15, 2007, we had the last book signing of the year. Well, as far as I know. Oh and I use "we" because there are usually a couple of my best friends accompanying me.
 
Plans for 2008 include branching out for more signings. Will keep you all posted.

January 1, 2008 -- Happy New Year!!
 
Hope everyone had a great Christmas and a safe New Year's Eve.
 
This morning I've been recapping 2007 in my head. It was a terrific year.
 
Highlights of the year: friends, book signings, magazine with Nora Roberts, and promo experiences.
 
** The closeness I feel towards my dearest friends who accompany me to my book signings is overwhelming.  Who would ever have thought that I would be so connected to girlfriends from my high school days. It's like being with sisters.
 
Because of them, I'll be writing a book called "When Ten Becomes Seven -- Death Brought Them Together."  A fictional story based on real life high school friends who connect years after gradution when a classmate dies.  Very true, but I'll be adding more frills to our lives to keep the story interesting.
 
 Let's face it,  we're country chicks and our lives are not that exciting for a book. lol  You should see the house I picked for the book's setting.  Awseome!
 
** New friends. Met a wonderful woman, Shelle, who now helps me with the editing process. She's great and I love her insight.  And my Curves family is terrific. There are four ladies who have not missed a book. If you want to picture the character Ruth Ann in your mind -- you've got to see Trudy. 
 
** Book signings. My second book signing was a huge success. Makes me smile every time I remember that day. Every author should experience such a turnout at least once in their life. It's a shame that there won't be another signing held at that location. It seems management demanded a cut of my sales. That won't be happening. The one thing I've prided myself on is keeping the prices down as much as possible on the books so everyone can afford to own the complete Woodmont Mystery Series. 
 
The location of the last book signing was different, a very busy place, yet not once did we feel unwanted or in their way -- which is a big plus.
 
** Having one of my books selected to appear in a magazine was one of the biggest highlights of the year. 
 
** Followed closely by meeting Nora Roberts who was also in the magazine with me.  Wow! It was an awesome experience.
 
** Learning about promotion.  It's mind boggling how much promoting is a big part of getting my name out there.  Besides that is the promotion items. Not just business cards or postcards, but ink pens, bookmarks, book thongs, calendars, and coffee mugs. Gotta have coffee mugs since coffee is a big deal in Woodmont. To keep expense down, I've learned to make my own bookmarks and book thongs.  All these items will be stocked in my book store.
 
This brings me to another venture I'm working on. It'll be called Coffee with Carol & Friends just like this newsy blog. Plans are that one Saturday a month, I'd like to feature at my book store an artisan. Be it a writer, poet, painter, quilter, knitter, etc. who will share with us why they write, paint, knit etc. and how they started in their chosen craft such as influence from their mother or grandmother or grandfather, and perhaps the featured guest will give a demonstration of the craft.  We all have so much to share with others and we should.
 
Speaking of sharing, my cousin, Dora, shared a poem she wrote in honor of the Woodmont Series and it's now featured at the beginning of  my books. Its first appearance was in the fifth book, Destiny's Deadly Web. Look for it! Hugs Dora!
 
 
 
Please email me with any suggestions you may have. I'd love to hear from you. clexline@gmail.com
 
 

April 13, 2008: Just published book eight, Forever Love - Never Ending Death. I'm so excited. You're going to love this book. This novel is the conclusion of Cassie's living nightmare.
 
Never fear my dear readers, there are many more books to come in the Woodmont Mystery Series. Sami will take over for her mother. Except our dear Sami isn't Cassie and the same tricks won't work on her.
 
Things will be quite different in Hidden In The Darkness. Where being a Grandville-Watkins opened doors for Cassie, it will cause Sami problems and she can't let anyone know who she is. Cassie's beauty was plus, but it's a hindrance for her daughter.  If Sami wants to be taken seriously in her chosen profession, she has to work extra hard to prove herself and she'll discover it will be an uphill battle.
 
Something else exciting about Hidden In The Darkness, you'll discover who is married and about their children. Roy married and his wife has already been introduced in the series. I wonder who she is?
 
Back to Forever Love - Never Ending Death. Since this book concludes Cassie's nightmare, I'm holding a contest to celebrate. Hope you all paid attention.
 
I'm going to ask a question and whoever first answers it correctly will receive half-off the price of my next book. And for more thrills, it'll be a two-part question. If someone gets both parts correct, she or he will also receive a personalized goodie bag to go along with the half-off certificate.
 
Since a couple of my loyal readers purchase their copies via downloads of my books, that person will receive a free download.
 
Readers you have all summer to get caught up so you can answer my question.
 
Put on the coffee pot and get your brains perking, here's the two part question:
 
A character was introduced in book one, Screams In The Dark, and mentioned regularly until just a memory by book seven, Whispered Words of Death. Number eight, Forever Love - Never Ending Death, the character is not mentioned at all.
 
Name the character and why you think the character ceased to be used.
 
All answers must be received by August 31, 2008. Email answers to: clexline@gmail.com
 
First correct answer received will be the winner. If there's a tie, I think something can be worked out to everyone's satisfaction. :)
 
Good luck!

Congratulations to Trudy! She is the grand winner. Thanks for everyone who participated. Cheers to Trudy for being the first one to guess correctly!!
 
For those who are curious, the answer is: Tess, the dog. She was very necessary at the beginning of the series, but slowly the need for her vanished. I didn't have the heart to kill her off, so Tess just wasn't mentioned any more. Never fear though, later in the series, you'll discover more of Tess's heroics in regards to Sami.

Drum roll please...... I've just signed a contract with Wild Child Publishing for three ebooks which are part of the Sheryl Locke Holmes Mystery Series. Hopefully, the series is a hit and will go into print. (((doing a happy dance))))

Happy dance continues -- I've received a contract for book four, Dragon's Pearl, in the Sheryl Locke Holmes Mysteries. Currently I'm working on edits for book one, Amber's Mysterious Death. If you enjoyed the Woodmont Mystery Series, you'll love this series as well. When I get a release date, I'll announce it right here. Sorry my posts are sporadic, but I'm busy writing to keep my readers happy.
 
Yesterday a reader told me how much she enjoyed the Sami character and you will too. Keep your eyes open for number 10 -- Faces of Evil. Yep, I'm putting the final touches on that book.

May 2, 2009: Yippee! Book number 10 "Faces of Evil" is now available for purchase.  The cover I designed for this book was very difficult and very rewarding. It took me a long time to get the look I wanted, but when it was done -- perfect for the book.
 
Of course as with all things, Lulu had updated their services with what they consider terrific (I beg to differ) and the option to use the older version to upload my design would not work. I tried at least fifty times. Since I have a book signing next week and needed the books ASAP, I used their new and improved studio (can we all say yuck?). Unhappy isn't strong enough word for my feelings.  But yesterday (Friday) the gods smiled down upon me and the older version worked and my cover has been uploaded. Yeah!!!!!! Doing a happy dance. 
 
Due to online thievery, downloads are still available but only through me. Please email  if you want to purchase a download.  It's sad that there are so many faces of evil ready to take advantage of hard working authors.
 
On the bright side this matches my newly released book "Faces of Evil."
 
Although Sami and her mother's life are running parallel, there are unique variations between the two women. Sami doesn't run for help, she is the help.  Sami works hard, lives on the edge, and loves deeply.
 
Be sure to always listen for the whippoorwill -- Sami may need back-up.
 
Switching gears, let's move on to the Sheryl Locke Holmes series:  Amber's Mysterious Death is almost in final edits. It's been a long process. I adore my editor Renee.
 
And I'm working on book five: Curse of Jade's Bluff. Sheryl has gotten the attention of a stalker. Will she catch him before he gets her? Wouldn't you like to know?
 
Also check out my Blog. It's really pretty and I work hard on it as well.
 
For those of you who are local, please stop by and see me at my book signing next Saturday, May 9.  Lots of free goodies.  Both for the Woodmont Series and from the Holmes Series.
 
See you there. Email if you need more info.

Feb. 5, 2010: It's snowing. We're supposed to get two feet. Hard to believe. Hope the power stays on.
 
On a more positive note, I'm working on another series while waiting for edits. The new series is called Black Roses. I'll post a snippet of it for your reading pleasure:
 
 

The phone fell from Maggie's fingers. She jumped to her feet and pulled on jeans and a top. She was going to the party. When her cell phone rang, Maggie turned to stare at it like it was a snake. She took one step toward the phone and saw the black roses—they had been a warning. Instead of picking up the phone, she hurried to the intercom to ask the doorman to escort her to her car. Henry didn't answer the buzzer. Maggie turned on her heel, packed the laptop, hung her three flash drives around her neck, and grabbed her cell phone off of the floor. Green flashed. U r nxt the text message read. She raced to the front door and stopped. Elevator doors slapped and heavy footsteps approached. Closer and closer. The doorknob rotated back and forth.


Backing away from the door, she banged into the table. The flower vase tumbled, ebony petals scattered, and liquid fingers of red-colored water streaked across the oak. Crimson drop after drop splashed onto the carpet. For a moment, Maggie saw blood—Allison's blood. Fear encased her body.

 

April 25, 2010: The new series, Black Roses, has consumed me. After I finished Roving Eye, I wrote Ebony Nightmare and I'm currently trying to complete Tattered Letters. It's a great series, the best suspense I've written since my Woodmont Series (according to my editor).   The three stories were completed and sent to the publisher.

Sept. 2010: Black Rose Warning series was published in print for the Mystery Mountain Crafters  Expo held on Oct. 2 in Berkeley Springs, WV.


The mystery continues and in next part of the saga, in the series, is called Midnight Silk. The following is an excerpt:


Silvery moonlight streamed through her bedroom window. Her fingers worked tirelessly as she wound the black silk yarn in a figure eight pattern between her thumb and index finger. The clock struck twelve. Bong. Bong. Bong. The last chime hadn’t faded when she heard heavy footsteps ascending the stairs. Terror filled her. She hid the yarn, blew out the candle, and burrowed under the blankets. Her bedroom door opened and banged against the wall. Pictures rattled. Bottles jangled. Her heart pounded. Footsteps heralded his arrival. Her blankets were yanked back. Her cries echoed.

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Butterfly Dreams

Working on my new book -- Butterfly Dreams.


Legend goes: if anyone desires a wish to come true they must capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it. By making the wish and releasing the butterfly it will be taken to the heavens and be granted.  


Abby has a wish. Maybe in her dreams, her heart's desire will come true.  She follows the trail of the golden butterfly, what will she find?

An excerpt from the book: 

The wind howled. Window panes rattled. Each gust slammed against an unlatched shutter. Abby sat up and looked around. The full moon brightened the bedroom. Out of nowhere, a woman appeared who hummed and twirled in the splash of moonlight on the wooden floor. Butterflies gathered in the strands of her red gold hair. Suddenly there was a loud thud and the window sash rose. White silk curtains billowed and dropped. Up. Down. At times resembling ghosts dancing to and fro. A hand with long fingers reached through the opened window.
 

All content belongs to the author.  Carol L. Exline 2003-2012 /  All Rights Reserved