Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Guest Author: Carolyn Hart + Giveaway

Carolyn Hart, author of the Death on Demand series, has been kind enough to stop by Reading with Tequila to tell us about writing a long running series.

LAUGHED ‘TIL HE DIED is the 20th in my Death on Demand series. Although only a few years have passed in fictional time on my sea island of Broward’s Rock, the first Annie Laurance (later Darling) adventure was written 25 years ago.

Jennifer asked how an author keeps a series fresh after so many books. My answer is the same when I am asked, "How do you plot?" My reply is always, "If I knew, I would bottle and sell it."

More seriously, if there is a secret, I think it is this: Annie comes to life for me every time I start to write about her. I see her clearly, flyaway sandy hair, brown eyes, a good humored, happy face. She moves fast, she thinks fast, she cares about the people around her. I love Annie because she is patterned after my daughter Sarah, who always tries to do her best, is unfailingly thoughtful and generous, and adds joy to the lives of everyone around her. Whenever I think of my daughter, I hear her laughter. Sarah always has fun and so does Annie. So I love to spend time with Annie.

And Max? Hey I’m writing fiction, so why not a tall, blond handsome guy who is rich? But Max is also honorable and he loves his wife. I wanted to make the point that love exists, that two people can care for each other and want the other person’s happiness. In fiction, there are many dysfunctional relationships. But I believe in love and that’s why Annie and Max are together.

Each title in the series tells a distinct and separate story. There are recurring characters, but each mystery is individual. And there is the other secret to freshness. Pretend you are in a room filled with people, possibly most of them strangers. Perhaps you are in a committee meeting or a doctor’s waiting room, or a voting precinct. Each person in that room is unique. If you knew each of those persons, no matter what their age or background or race or experiences, each one would have a fascinating story - if you really knew them, really listened.

A book is like that committee meeting or waiting room or precinct. The people in those pages start out as strangers and then you learn their stories, the disappointed lover, the desperate job seeker, the selfish sister, the indulgent mother, the vengeful employee, the impossible voice. Their stories come together and their voices are raised and they clamor for their space in the story and as long as you hear them and seek them out, individual, unusual, and compelling, the book will be fresh because they are fresh.

In LAUGHED ‘TIL HE DIED, I once again met new characters and they took me in surprisingly directions. I enjoyed following them and telling their story and I hope readers will find them fresh and engaging.

About the Author

An accomplished master of mystery, Carolyn Hart is the author of twenty Death on Demand novels. Her books have won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards. She is also the creator of the Henrie O series, featuring a retired reporter, and the Bailey Ruth series, starring an impetuous, redheaded ghost. One of the founders of Sisters in Crime, Hart lives in Oklahoma City.

About the Book

Intrigue and foul play are no strangers to the idyllic South Carolina sea island of Broward's Rock. Mystery bookstore owner Annie Darling and her husband, Max, who specialize in solving problems, plunge into a startling web of danger and deceit when a trio of deaths is linked to the island's youth recreation center.

With the evidence mounting against her, the center's director seeks out Max to clear her name. When it comes to intrigue, where Max goes, Annie isn't far behind. To save an innocent woman, the pair scrambles to unravel three complex interlinked puzzles: the mystery of three guns, the pulled-out pant pockets of one victim, and the disappearance of a teenager whose stepfather always had the last laugh—until he died.

Laughed 'Til He Died on Amazon
Carolyn Hart's website 

Reading with Tequila's review of Laughed 'Til He Died


I have one brand new hardcover copy and one softcover ARC of Laughed 'Til He Died to give away. There will be 2 winners!

Deadline for entry is Monday, April 12 at 11:59pm EST. US only.

To enter, leave a comment telling me why you like cozy mysteries.

Be sure to leave an email address so I can contact the winner.


  1. I like to escape after a long day with the kids.

  2. Escaping into a mystery is always so fun...challenges my brain to see if I can figure it out. I love suspense! derekannette at gmail dot com

    (PS, at your recommendation I am getting my first Death on Demand book from the library this week!)

  3. I like a cozy because all the "fun" of reading in included..a little laugh, a little suspense and alot of fun

  4. I like a cozy mystery because I know it will be funny, have some mystery and have that hometown feeling.

    dawnpnr at aol dot com

  5. Cozy mysteries are fun to read, have great characters (in general), provide interesting locations and settings...

    I enjoy reading about "everyday" people solving murders. And I'm always interested to learn how the author is going to find a new and different way for the character to stumble on yet another murder in a continuing series, what resources the character has (or makes) available to help solve the murder(s), what motivates the character(since it isn't her/his job), etc....


  6. Escape, definitely. Nothings better then curling up with a good book after a trying day. A mystery is a good way to unwind, challenge the brain...


  7. Why I like cozy mysteries?

    Well, to tell the truth, it is kind of a new genre for me. I know... I know... I so unread! But I'm trying hard to catch up!

    I read your review and mentioned it being the 20th book in the series! Whoa! Do they have to be read in order to follow?

    Thanks for all the giveaways! What great fun!

  8. I like to try to work out the solution before the hero/heroin does.


  9. I love cozies because they are quick, fun and light reads that you can't help but enjoy and relax reading.

    ruthann at cygnature dot com

  10. because they are light yet get your mind going thanks for the giveaway minsthins at optonline dot net

  11. Nice post and good review! AND, what a fun contest!! Thank you :)

    Cozy mysteries are such fun to read. I enjoy trying to match wits with the normal everyday characters of the stories. There is just enough intrigue, twists and turns, and a touch of danger to keep things interesting.

    rjleflar at gmail dot com

  12. I love a good mystery but I also like to laugh and be entertained while reading them. I also like cozies because the lead women are always filled with such moxie and gumption.


  13. I've been reading Carolyn's books for many years. I've loved Annie Darling's bookstore and envied it as well. Who wouldn't want the perfect mystery bookstore? But why I love cozies, because sometimes they just hit the spot. No graphic violence and a sleuth that is not perfect. Justice is always still served though. Thanks for sharing!!


  14. I love a book that has mystery, suspense, murder.. I try to figure out "who done it" before the end of the book. These are interesting books that grabs hold and pulls you into the story and entertain you at the same time.

    Thanks for the great giveaway and pls count me in.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  15. I like trying to figure out who done it!! They help me to relax..Enter me please

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  16. I like cozy mysteries because you just never know when I might be called upon to help out an investigation in my community! Having read quite a few, I can imagine I would be able to help.

    aussietex at gmail dot com

  17. I like cozy mysteries because you can have a cup of tea, snuggle up in your favorite chair, and have a blast all by yourself!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  18. I am a lover of cozy mysteries. I love to curl up with the book and a glass of vino & if necessary a quilt to warm my toes.
    Love & Hugs,
    pk4290(at)comcast (dot) net

  19. I absolutely love cozy mysteries! You feel like you are taken into a different world. And if it is a good mystery you are never quite sure what is going to happen.
    email bangersis(at)msn(dot)com

  20. They keep me entertained and I like figuring out the mystery
    mstlee2000 @ hotmail.com

  21. I like cozy mysteries, because they are fun, fast reads that you can't put down. This one sounds really great. Please enter me. Thanks!


  22. I love cozies because they are light, fun, and full of good things. This one sounds so good. There is nothing better then a Sunday afternoon sitting in a favorite chair with a cozy:)

  23. Carolyn Hart is one of my favorite people. I have met her a few times and she is so generous and gracious. Her books are wonderful - I also love her new series about a red-headed ghost called Bailey Ruth.