by Chautona Havig
Then someone made her life a literary cliché. A mysterious accident with a light bulb sparked an interesting idea for her latest novel—and for Fairbury’s new serial killer. The first replication infuriated her. The second left an even worse taste in her mouth. The third blasted more than her self-confidence, and the fourth beat her down so far that she’s considering giving up writing completely.
Who is killing Fairbury’s citizens, and furthermore, why and how are they using her novels to do it?
The summary of this book really intrigued, so I could not wait to read it. I was not disappointed! The book is cleverly written and has a unique twist to it. The fact the main character is an author and that her plots are coming true before they are even published is pure genius. While I did figure out who the culprit was about half way through the book, the many red herrings that the author throws at us had me second guessing myself a couple of times. With quirky and lovable characters this book is a definite must read, and I cannot wait to read the other books in this intriguing series. While the original series was written several years, the author has a Christmas "Noelle" coming out on October 15. So that is something to definitely keep an out for. If you are looking for a mystery with a different spin to it, then I would definitely recommend this book.
I received a complimentary e-book copy of this book from Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
Author of the Amazon bestselling Aggie and Past Forward Series, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert. With dozens of books to her name, Chautona spends most of her time writing, but when she takes the rare break, she can be found reading, sewing, paper crafting, or sleeping and dreaming of finishing the dozens of books swirling in her overly-active imagination at any given moment.
I could see her as plainly as if she sat before me. She looked like a thirty or forty-something rendition of “Miss King” of Pride and Prejudice (1995 A&E version) fame. The girl Lydia calls a “nasty little freckled thing.” I always thought her rather pretty. Add a decade or two, and she’d be the very picture of my Millicent Hartfield.
Millicent would live in a cottage at the end of a cul-de-sac. Great sycamore trees would line the streets and shade the front and back of her home. She’d be hopelessly old-fashioned, always wearing Regency gowns and bowing to modern conveniences only when the alternative proved uncomfortable. So, electricity at night—yes. Candlelight when not reading or writing… double yes! Indoor plumbing? A must. Curling irons? Not so much. A car for out of town trips, but not for daily living.
And a fountain pen instead of quill and ink. She has much writing to do.
I think, and it’s only a vague recollection, I had her as a Regency mystery writer. In fact, I actually think she originally wrote Austen as a detective before that thing was “done.”
Millicent refused to exist. I tried. Truly, I did. But there she was, wearing a 1940’s WAC uniform! And then she put on Margaret Hale’s dress from North & South! What’s up with the jeans and newsboy cap.
And she refused to answer to Millicent.
I changed her name to Annette. And it worked. But out of the blue, young neighbor children called her “Miss Lexie.” Ahem. I tried to correct them, but Alexa, as she insisted on being called, told me to leave them alone.
I deleted Annette and typed in Alexa. She glared at me. No, really. She did. I could see her burning eyes through my laptop screen. I put it back. A self-satisfied smile appeared as if she said, “Now do something with that.”
She’s rather… demanding that way.
I wanted her to stumble over a body. She refused. “Too cliché,” she insisted.
I tried for having one fall through her roof. She threatened to sue me.
Then her idea formed. Someone taking her horror manuscript and playing them out in her town. I mocked her. “You call tripping over bodies a cliché? The copycat murders have been done.”
She eyed me with that look of hers—the one that says, “Oh, yeah? And you can’t do something with it to make it different? You know I’ll be affronted at the idea. Use that.”
Who was I to argue?
I needed means, motive, opportunity. I needed red herrings. Want to know the truth?
Didn’t have any of it. I just started writing. I got to the end of the story and then I knew who did it. Why. And how. I had to go put all that back in. It took a rewrite like none I’ve ever done.
But as I added that motive, those reasons that the killer did what he did, I had to explore Alexa’s reasons for doing what she does. Why does she write about gruesome murders and horrible people? How does that fit the idea of thinking on “whatever is true, lovely, pure, and of good report?”
Well, there’s more to the Bible than that scripture. As Alexa puts it,
“I write about justice. Others write about [mercy,] redemption or love, but the human heart was designed to crave all four. Because in all four, we see a bigger picture of God. I write the one best suited for me. I could do it in other ways, of course, but my talent lies here.”
And she perfectly explained why I sometimes write about the uglier sides of life. I don’t do it to glorify those things but to show a broader picture of what Jesus does for us. The Jesus who showed mercy and gentleness to the woman at the well is the same Jesus who drove out the money changers in the temple and crushed the head of Satan. I write different types of books to show that. And sometimes, those books include murder—like Manuscript for Murder.
And yes, I did get a perverse pleasure out of making Alexa a cliché after all the torment she put me through. Okay, so she was right. I admit it. But I don’t have to like it. I still miss Millicent. Poor soul.
On October 15, 2017 a Christmas “Noella” will release in the Mystery of Christmas 2 Novella Collection! Silenced Knight features Alexa, her Aunt Faye, Joe, and the gang. It takes place about six or seven years after this book and five years after the end of the series. I really enjoyed exploring Alexa working with Joe on a case—despite his unhelpfulness.
Past Forward— A life lived intentionally. That’s how Kari Finley would describe the world she created on her farm for herself and her daughter, Willow. But when Willow awakes one morning to find her mother with Jesus, that life changes in ways she never would have imagined. Past Forward is a serial novel released in six volumes.
They talked—my favorite Denny’s server and a guy she met. “Shanetta (she can’t get my name right to save her life) writes in booth 14 every night.”
Angela gave him a “duh” look. “Books?”
Again, the guy asked, “What genre.”
I’m sure she didn’t know what she was in for when Angela said, “Christian fiction.”
The man’s response? Priceless. “So, what, she makes up lies about Christians?”
As I said in THIS POST, I used to use Christian fiction as a general explanation of what I write but it wasn’t the “simple answer” that I’d expected. So, then I started saying, “Well, this one is…” and I’d fill in the blank. Mystery, romance, suspense, historical, contemporary, youth—you name it, I’ve probably written it. Well, except for erotica. And true sci-fi? Yeah. That probably won’t happen either. Horror? Not my thing.
Once I’ve explained my odd genre choice for this particular book, I tend to point out that most of my fiction follows under the general heading of Christian fiction. Inevitably the question follows, though. “Why Christian?”
It would be easier to answer why not. I could just say, “As a Christian, I find it almost impossible to leave my faith and worldview out of my writing.” It’s true, but I did manage. Once. Even then, if you look deep into the core of that little story, you’ll still find basic Biblical themes and truths. They’re just less overt.
But people never ask why not write something else. They ask why I write Christian fiction. So I tell them. I start with my purpose. “I write stories to point Christians to the Master Storyteller.” I write about Christians for Christians. I don’t write evangelistic fiction, although occasionally someone comes to Jesus in my books. The reason I do this is because I’m writing to encourage the body of Christ. If I wrote to introduce the lost to Jesus, I’d be writing mainstream to whet people’s thirst for the Word and the Lord.
But that’s not my goal. How I achieve my goal is my website’s tagline. “Christian fiction without apology or pretense—lived, not preached.”
In the books featured in this blog tour, you won’t find people, as a general rule, spouting sermons disguised as prayers. I show a faith-filled life lived… or not, as the story requires. I show you why Christians believe things that I may not even agree with. And I hope, that with each word, I create a desire for just one more minute in the Word.
To celebrate the Scavenger Hunt tour the author is giving away a grand prize of all 14 books featured in this tour. Click here to enter.