Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{March 19, 2013}   Guest Post With Lauren Carr–Author of the Mac Faraday and Joshua Thornton Mystery Series


Guest Post: So Many Murders, So Many Plotlines

By Lauren Carr

Last night, my son brought up a discussion that he and some of his classmates had in school. According to something one of them had read on the Internet (so it must be true), there are only seven basic story plotlines. All of the stories and books written are variations of any of these seven plots. Therefore, my son said with a cocky grin, my books are not original because all of the basic plotlines have already been written.

Stab me in the heart, why don’t you? Writers are always striving for new ideas or new twists to old ideas.

As a mystery writer, I confess that I do work off of one basic plotline: commit murder, search for clues, piece together the clues, identify the killer, catch the killer. Hopefully, my main characters can have some fun and adventure along the way.

Now, this is not to be confused with being a formula writer, which I believe is what my son was insinuating. Writers who use formulas work almost from a template, not unlike an administrative assistant will use a Word Doc template for a letter: para 1 (introduction), para 2 & 3 (message), para 4 (closing).

While the basic plotline for murder mysteries may be the same, the genre has come a long way, baby. Since Edgar Allen Poe’s The Purloin Letter, the murder mystery genre has grown and branched and sprouted new sub-genres: thriller, suspense, cozy, romance-mystery, medical-mystery, courtroom-mystery, hobby-cozy, etc. As a writer or a reader, you name what you like or what you don’t like and you can find it in this genre if you hunt hard enough.

The twists and turns that a murder investigation can go are as numerous as the setting (small town/big city), motives, weapons, and suspects.

One website I found listed eighteen common motives for murder from money to jealousy to desire for fame to survival. We aren’t even talking about the less common ones: to benefit someone else. An example is bumping off someone in order to have a loved one inherit.

In my latest Mac Faraday Mystery (Blast from the Past), Mac Faraday has to check off a few of these motives when looking at multiple deaths at a café. One of the victims is a major mob boss. The obvious conclusion is that he was the intended victim. Or was he. There are other victims in the café. Maybe it was the FBI agent working undercover. Maybe he or one of the other victims was the target and the mob boss was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Even if Tommy Cruz was the intended victim, what was the motive? Revenge for a past crime? Or could it be the thirst for power, in order to let the second in command move up the ladder. Or survival? Could someone on his hit list have decided to take him out first?

Weapons: Used to be knives, guns, and poisoning with arsenic or strychnine were the standard weapons for murder. I remember reading a mystery that was written years ago where the detective concluded that the killer was a woman because the weapon was poison. Such sexism would not fly anymore.

Do you want your victim to drop dead instantly or do you want a delayed reaction? Choose your poison wisely.

Yes, the genre has really changed since the basic plotline was created.

Old school murder mysteries used to have the mystery end with identifying the killer, who, in the face of all the evidence against him or her, breaks down and confesses. However, in recent years, readers have become so savvy about the justice side of things, that it is not enough for the detective to simply identify the killer. How many cases have made the news of known killers walking free because of a mess up by the investigating officer violating a suspect’s right, evidence being compromised, or some other legal loophole or twist by the defense attorney?

No, now mystery writers have to be on top of how the legal system works. It is not enough to identify the killer. The detective also has to catch him in such a way that there is justice in the end. The reader has to close the book knowing that the killer is going to jail for a very long time.

Yes, maybe my son is right in that there are seven basic plotlines. Maybe at the very root of a book or story, this is the case.

When it comes to a murder mystery, the possibilities are endless if you use your imagination. In the hands of an imaginative writer, anything can sprout from those roots.


Book Spotlight: Blast From the Past

Blast_from_the_PastThe Past Comes Back with a Blast!

In Blast from the Past, Mac Faraday finds himself up to his eyeballs in mobsters and federal agents.

After an attempted hit ends badly with two of his men dead, mobster Tommy Cruze arrives in Spencer, Maryland, to personally supervise the execution of the witness responsible for putting him behind bars—Archie Monday!

Mac Faraday believes he has his work cut out for him in protecting his lady love from one of the most dangerous leaders in organized crime; but when bodies start dropping in his lakeshore resort town of Spencer, Maryland, things may be hotter than even he can handle.

In this fourth installment in the Mac Faraday Mysteries, readers learn more about Archie Monday’s past in a flash—as in a gun fight when the syndicate comes to town. “Readers love to be surprised,” mystery author Lauren Carr says. “In Blast from the Past, they are going to be surprised to discover the secret of Archie Monday’s past, which threatens her and Mac’s future.”

Blast from the Past also takes the Mac Faraday Mysteries to a new level as his relationship with Archie Monday moves onto a whole new level. “I do listen to readers,” Carr explains. “They have been clamoring for Mac and Archie to get together for three books.”

What about Gnarly, Mac Faraday’s canine inheritance—the only German shepherd to be dishonorably discharged from the United States Army? “It’s not a Mac Faraday Mystery without Gnarly,” Carr promises. “Let’s just say Gnarly kicks things up a notch in his own way.”

Available through: CreateSpace, Ingram, Baker & Taylor,,, and Everywhere Fine Books are Sold

ISBN: 0985726776 • ISBN-13: 9780985726775
Pub. Date: January 11, 2013 • Trade Paperback/Kindle • $13.99 (Print)/$0.99 (EBook)


About the Author:

Lauren_CarrLauren Carr
Author/Publishing Management

Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award.

Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. It’s Murder, My Son, Old Loves Die Hard, and Shades of Murder, have all been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. Blast from the Past is the fourth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series. The next installment in the Mac Faraday series will be released in October of this year. Released September 2012, Dead on Ice introduces a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates. The second installment in the Lovers in Crime series will be out in 2013.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers

Ferry, WV.

Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:
Website:  and
Blog: Literary Wealth:

Gnarly’s Facebook Page:

Lovers in Crime Facebook Page:
Acorn Book Services Facebook Page:

Twitter: @TheMysteryLadie


Lauren Carr says:

Thank you, Shana, for hosting me on this book tour. I look forward to meeting your followers to discuss the wide variety of plot lines in mysteries.

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