Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Looming Murder by Carol Ann Martin (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Looming Murder by author Carol Ann Martin!

Author Guest Post

Why I went from self-publishing to traditional publishing.

Not everybody who reads my Looming Murder novel knows that I also write as Monique Domovitch. When they make the connection, one thing they often wonder about is why I went from self-publishing to working with a traditional publisher. The answer is that writing is my passion—not publishing, not promoting, not advertising. Writing is what I love.

The book as a product.

Imagine for a moment that you are an inventor and have just invented a new gadget. You’ve invested hours of your time creating it, and you’ve shown it to your mother, your spouse, your best friend and the mailman. Everyone agrees that your product is brilliant. You are certain that your invention will sell by the thousands—just as soon as you can find a manufacturer to produce it, and then stores to sell it.

This is the position in which I found myself when I finished my first novel. I’d worked long and hard on my book. I’d made it as entertaining or educational as I possibly could. I felt sure that if only a publisher would please, please publish and distribute it, the book would work its way to the bestseller lists all on its own.

Some daunting statistics:

According to a 2003 survey from the Jenkins Group, Inc., a Michigan publishing services firm, 81 percent of Americans feel they should write a book. I believe that. We all know somebody who dreams of someday writing a book. Not counting myself, I know at least a dozen such people.

If we do a bit of calculating, taking into consideration that there are 312,700,742 people living in the United States, 81 % means that 253,287,601 of Americans dream of writing a book; and according to another statistic, only 10 % of them will actually attempt it, which brings the number down to 25,328,760. We’re still talking a lot of people here. Of those, only about 10% actually finish a book, bringing the number down to 2,532,876—still a lot of people. Of those, only 10% actually find an agent and only another 5 % get published. That’s brings the total to 12,664, which in my estimation is still an impossibly large number of people. No wonder it’s so difficult to get noticed among all those writers.

Some great books never get published.

When I looked at these numbers, the first thing that I thought was that surely, among the books that were rejected, there must be some that are so great that, given a chance, would have become best sellers. But for one reason or another they just didn’t get picked up.

So if you are an author wannabe, as I was, and have devoted time and energy to your novel, and are sure your book is wonderful, what are you supposed to do? I wasn’t willing to let that manuscript gather dust somewhere. I didn’t want to abandon my ambition of being an author.

The alternative was to start my own business.

I decided there was another alternative—self publishing. That’s right. What in the old days they used to call vanity publishing, which, by the way, is a term to which I take offense. If we were talking about any other product than a book, people would applaud the efforts of the inventor for manufacturing his product. They would see this person’s effort for what it truly is, entrepreneurship. Yes. That is exactly what the self-published author is, an entrepreneur. He is the inventor of a product about which he feels so strongly that he chooses to invest into the production, advertising and distribution of it.

Self-publishing as a business.

However, like anybody starting a business, I had to approach self-publishing like the business it is. This meant doing the homework, starting with finding out what kind of books are selling. I’m talking here about, not only subject and/or genre, but also physical format. Should I go for hardcover? Paperback? eBook? I needed to know the cost of producing my books and estimate how many I needed to sell to break even. I also needed to know about advertising, which meant not only paid advertising but also social media.

Can an author make money by self-publishing?

We’ve all heard of the self-published authors who have sold over 1,000,000 books without the benefit of traditional publishing houses. There are also countless authors, who sell enough of their books to not only cover their costs but to make a profit. But here again, those almost impossibly high statistics come into play. Of all the people who self-publish, only a fraction sell many.

So, yes, I could make money self-publishing, and in fact I did surprisingly well. But the hard truth was that once I went that route, it seemed as if I was doing everything BUT write. I was so busy pushing sales that I had no time to sit down and do what I like best, writing. So, when an agent who read my work asked, I jumped. And I’ve been typing away happily ever since.

About The Author

Carol Ann Martin is a pen name. The author lives with her husband and an ever expanding family of dogs. They travel extensively and she is never seen without her laptop. When is not writing or traveling, she bakes and weaves.

Looming Murder by Carol Ann Martin ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Book Review

Looming Murder by Carol Ann Martin
Book 1: A Weaving Mystery Series
Publisher: Penguin Publishing
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Format: Paperback - 337 pages / Kindle - 548 KB / Nook - 879 KB
ISBN: 0451413601
Genre: Cozy Mystery 

BUY THE BOOK: Looming Murder

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Della Wright has come to peaceful and picturesque Briar Hollow, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, to realize her lifelong dream of owning a weaving studio. To promote her new business, Dream Weavers, Della is offering weaving workshops for all levels of ability. In her first class, she meets half a dozen of the town’s colorful characters, who seem as eager to gossip as to learn how to work a loom.

But when a shady local businessman is found murdered, Briar Hollow suddenly appears a lot less idyllic. And when one of her weaving students is suspected of the crime, Della can’t help getting entangled in the investigation—with some help from her criminologist friend, Matthew. But can she weave together clues as well as she weaves together yarn—and stop a killer from striking again?

*Features weaving tips!

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Sometimes in middle of the night, I worried that this all might have been a huge mistake—this, being the leap I’d recently made. At the age of thirty-five, a time in life when—as my mother liked to point out—most sane women were either married and with children or just hitting their professional stride, I had left a perfectly good career as a business analyst to become a weaver. That’s right. A weaver.

But, whatever she thought, I didn’t arrive at this decision easily. A year ago, something happened that shook me to my core. I was accused of embezzling from my company, and if not for my proving to the authorities that my boss was the guilty party, right now I would be serving a ten-year jail term instead of him, just as sure as my name is Della Wright.

It’d been time for a change.

So, crazy or not, here I was in my new studio, waiting for somebody—anybody—to show up. I glanced at my watch again—six forty five, and still not a soul in sight.

I looked down at Winston, the French bulldog I’d inherited with the house where I was living and setting up shop. He wasn’t exactly the kind of dog I might have chosen for myself. My taste in pooches ran more along the tiny-poodle variety. In fact, I used to have a tiny poodle, and she was a lot prettier than the dog at my feet. Winston was thirty pounds of solid muscle on a squat frame, and with a flat face frozen in a perpetual grimace. Good God, the dog was ugly. Admittedly, though, for all his vicious appearance, he would have been about as effective as a lamb when it came to protecting me. Winston, or Winnie as I had nicknamed him, was more likely to lick an intruder to death than to chase him away. He was so sweet that I was beginning to actually like him.

I bent down to scratch his ear.

“You are my buddy, aren’t you?”

He glanced up at me with big, mournful eyes and yawned.

“Don’t worry, Winnie. People will show up, you’ll see.” He stared at me, looking less than convinced. Oh, God, people had to show up. I couldn’t have done all of this, only to fall flat on my face.

I’d moved here just over two months ago, and so far I’d hardly earned enough to keep me in java, my personal addiction. All the while I’d been spending, spending, spending: three new looms picked up on Craigslist (I needed those. Honestly! How was I supposed to give classes unless I had a few looms?); yarn—dozens upon dozens of gorgeous yarns I hadn’t been able to resist (what can I say—fate led me to that yarn shop two days before it closed); then there was the cost of fixing up my new abode.

Last Christmas, I’d admitted to my friend, Matthew Baker, just how miserable I felt. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t sleeping. I was a zombie at work. Being branded a stoolpigeon and a whistleblower by one’s coworkers will do that to a person. That’s the damn thing about the investment industry, they’d more easily forgive a person of stealing than of reporting criminal activity from a superior. So rather than applaud me for giving the evidence to the SEC, my coworkers turned on me. It was a nightmare, living in a place where no one trusted you enough to share weekend plans.

Anyhow, after confiding in Matthew he very generously offered to lend me his house.

“I have just the place for you,” he’d said, going on to paint an idyllic picture of Briar Hollow, the small town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains where he lived. He offered to switch places for a little over a week—I take his house, and he, my condo in Charlotte. “You’ll enjoy a much-needed vacation, and I’ll save myself two hours of daily commuting at the same time.”

Matthew had recently accepted a position teaching criminology at the University of Charlotte, a job he intended to leave just as soon as he realized his life dream—landing a publishing deal for a book on criminology. What he didn’t say, but I suspected, was that he’d also enjoy living closer to his girlfriend, Amanda, whom I referred to as Blondie. He had been dating Blondie for a couple of years, and even though she somehow always rubbed me the wrong way, the truth was she was perfectly nice.

I decided to take his offer. Ten days away from my job was exactly what I needed. Afterwards, I would go back to work refreshed and reenergized. Except...that’s not exactly what happened.

The further I got from Charlotte, the more I wondered, why just ten days? I’d always dreamed of opening my own weaving studio, a notion that my mother insisted was sweet and romantic, but hardly practical. (Poor mom, to this day, she could not accept that I was a grown woman who did not need her advice.) I had long ago folded away my dream and stored it into an almost forgotten corner of my mind. Weaving was perfectly fine as a hobby, and that was what it had become. Whenever the stress of my work became too much, I would sit and weave, sometimes far into the night.

It’s incredible just how soothing the process can be—the regular rhythmic throwing of the shuttle from hand to hand, and the beat of one’s foot pounding the treadles, not to mention the satisfaction of the completed project—ahhh, happiness.

In the past, I’d have reluctantly packed away the loom and trudged off to my real job in the morning. But when I got to Briar Hollow, I just kept thinking...why not? Why can't I do it? Maybe it was because I had nothing left to lose; few friends in Charlotte (lately, anyway), no job satisfaction, in fact, hardly a stable job at all, given how things were going.

The old fashioned gingerbread house was perfect. It had a living and dining-room combo separated by an arched doorway. I could open a shop in one, and in the sunny corner of the other, I could have a studio with an AVL loom—the one I’d always dreamed of owning. All I would have to do was convince Matthew that we should make our arrangement permanent.

“You want to live there?” Matthew had exclaimed when I told him my new idea. “You mean…full time?” I could almost hear the gears clicking in his mind. “Well...I suppose we could switch places until you find something permanent. There’d be no rush. I love living in your condo. It’s so close to my work—”and to Blondie, no doubt—“But Winston would have to stay with you,” he’d added. “He’d be miserable by himself in your small condo all day.”

We’d struck a deal. I would take care of Winston, and Matthew would stay in my condo until either one of us changed our mind, which I knew meant I could count on living here for as long as I wanted. I mean, honestly, anyone would be nuts to take a two-hour commute over a ten minute drive—right?

From then on, Matthew’s dog became my roommate, and I never looked back.

I named my studio Dream Weavers, and to help generate interest I announced weaving classes for all levels of ability. I also decided to organize weaving groups as a good and inexpensive way to promote my shop. Tonight’s group was for a charity project, making baby blankets for the local hospital. Well, it wasn’t really the local hospital. St Anthony’s was about ten miles out of town, nearer to Belmont than to Briar Hollow, which technically made it the closest hospital. I was hoping the charity angle would attract a mix of people, and that those with less weaving proficiencies might enroll in my classes. But it was now five minutes to seven and nobody was here. My earlier optimism was fast deflating.

I looked down at Winston. “What do you think, Winnie? People are bound to show up, right?”

He snorted.

“You are such a pessimist.”

For the tenth time, I pulled back the lace curtains and peeked outside. And—yes, at last—a car was pulling up. I hurried away from the window, coaxing Winston to follow. He lumbered behind me, a puzzled expression on his mug.

“Sorry Winnie, but you’ll have to stay in here.” I closed the kitchen door behind him and hurried to the front just as the bell above the door tinkled. A middle-aged woman with Lucille Ball hair and eyes heavy with makeup waddled in, carrying a large knitting bag. She set it down and brushed her hands over her zebra-printed Capri pants, which made her already-large behind look twice its size.

“Hello, hello,” she exclaimed. “I’m sorry I’m late.”

“You’re actually a few minutes early,” I smiled. “I’m Della Wright. Welcome to Dream Weaver.”

“Marnie Potter,” the woman said, fanning herself dramatically with a bejewelled hand. “My, but it’s hot in here. Don’t you have air conditioning?” Beads of moisture had gathered on her forehead. I thought it was humid rather than hot, but wasn’t about to argue.

“It is hot, isn’t it?” I looked around for a solution. “I’ll open a window. That should help. Oh, and I have a fan upstairs.” I hurried to the window, but no amount of struggling would get it to budge.

Marnie sighed and glanced around. “Where is everyone? I thought I was joining a group. We won’t produce very many baby blankets with just the two—”

At the sound of the bell, we both turned to see a pleasant looking, sandy-haired woman, wearing a tie-dyed, gauzy top over a pair of black yoga pants, hugging what was probably one of the tightest bodies I had ever seen. I wasn’t in the habit of ogling other women’s bodies, but this one could have been a walking advertisement for a health club—not a look I could ever hope to achieve with my short stature and gargantuan appetite. I was just lucky to weigh one hundred and fifteen and not two hundred and fifteen. I glanced at her tiny waist enviously. On second thought, I wouldn’t give up eating, not even for a tight body like hers. I studied her outfit. It was interesting—sexy, in a New Age or bohemian sort of way.

I became aware of my own Ralph Lauren natural-linen pants and Navaho-inspired beaded shirt, which identified me as exactly what I was—a city girl trying to fit into her new small-town life by dressing in a designer’s version of country duds. I suddenly felt self-conscious.

“Hi, I’m here for the weaving group.” She spotted the looms in the workshop. “And it looks like I’m in the right place.” She offered her hand. “Jenny Davis.” Her smile lit the room.

“Della Wright. I’m the owner.”

“Nice to meet you.” She looked around and nodded a hello to Marnie. “So you’re joining the group too?”

“I am.”

“You two know each other?”

Marnie chuckled. “This is Briar Hollow, sugar pie. Everybody knows each other around here.”

It was difficult for a city girl to conceive of a town being so small that everybody knew everybody. I really wasn’t in Charlotte anymore. That, however, had been the whole point of moving here. I’d wanted to live in a place where one could live their life at a slower pace. I’d wanted a home in a town where people said hello to each other on the street, where there was trust and loyalty and where the likelihood of being embroiled in an embezzlement case was non-existent.

Meanwhile, Jenny had wandered further into the room. “I’ve been dying to see what you did with the place. Oh, will you look at those.” She made a beeline to the maple hutch I’d salvaged from the garage next the house. I’d emptied it of car parts and an assortment of tools, and then waxed and polished that old piece until it glowed. Now, it was the display case for my fine-linen towels and dishcloths.

Jenny reverently touched one of the towels. “These are gorgeous. Did you make them?”

“I did. That one is a Swedish design called Monk Cloth. It’s also known as Huck embroidery.”

Marnie Potter approached. “That is fine work indeed. You’re very good.” Her tone was almost grudging.

“Thank you. I’m glad you think so. Weaving is my passion. I just hope I can make a living at it.” I was about to ask the women about their experience with weaving when the doorbell rang again.

“Hi, I’m here to weave baby blankets,” the young woman said, her gaze sweeping over Marnie and me, and then over the store. I had an immediate impression of a laser-sharp mind.

“Welcome to Dream Weaver. I’m Della. And you are...”

Her dark lashes flickered, and she smiled. “Susan Wood.” She extended her hand, her eyes focused on mine. “Nice to meet you.”

On second glance, Susan Wood was older than I’d first thought. She looked in her mid to late twenties, with auburn hair in a shoulder length blunt cut. She wore jeans and an open white shirt with rolled up sleeves over a T-shirt. That was how I should dress if I wanted to fit in. On second thought, scratch that. With my body, it was easy to look chubby rather than curvaceous. I would stick to Ralph Lauren. My body needed Ralph almost as much as it needed caffeine.

“Susan, why don’t you join the others? I’m sure I don’t have to introduce you. I’ll be right back.” I dashed upstairs and retrieved the fan from my bedroom, making a mental note to buy a couple more before the next meeting. When I returned to the front room, Marnie and Jenny were chatting away like old friends—which, for all I knew, they might well have been.

With excitement I heard the bell jingle again, but my cheer ebbed when a man walked in. He was tall and handsome in a business sort of way, looking to be in his late thirties to early forties and wearing a gray suit and tie. Surely he was not here for weaving. Everyone grew silent as they turned to stare.

He closed the door behind him and scowled. “Is this the place for the charity weaving group?”

“Yes, it is.” I set the fan on the floor. “Are you here to join the group?”

“What else would I be doing here?” he grumbled, looking about as pleased as a bear in a trap.

I sensed trouble. Why was it that every group had to have at least one churl?

My Book Review:

Cozy mysteries have always been one of my favorite genres, and author Carol Ann Martin doesn't disappoint me with her entertaining whodunit with a chick lit twist, Looming Murder, the first book in A Weaving Mystery series.

Written in the first person narrative, the readers follow the adventures of Della Wright, as she establishes her new weaving studio, Dream Weavers, in the picturesque small town of Briar Hollow, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hoping to promote her business and a chance to get to know the quirky townsfolk of Briar Hollow, Della offers weaving workshops for all levels of ability. But when Della stumbles upon the murder of a shady local prominent real estate businessman, and one of her students is accused of the murder, Della goes on a quest to find the real killer before they strike again.

Author Carol Ann Martin weaves a riveting tale filled with intriguing twists and turns, a long list of quirky suspects, and cleverly hidden clues interwoven throughout the story that keeps the reader engaged as they try to guess the identity of the murderer. And if that isn't enough to peak your interest, the reader is introduced to a idyllic small town setting with quirky townsfolk who provide some laugh-out-loud moments, a lovable French Bulldog named Winston ("Winnie"), a heroine who has romantic issues and a penchant for high heels, and even some interesting weaving tips.

This story easily peaked my interest, I loved the richly detailed and descriptive small town setting of Briar Hollow, the quirky characters, the subtle chick lit romance twist, and the chance to become an amateur sleuth following Della on her quest to solve the murder mystery. This is a fun whodunit that whets my appetite to continue to read the next installment in the series.

Looming Murder is an entertaining cozy mystery that engages the reader to immerse themselves into this fun whodunit as an amateur sleuth. As the reader tries to figure out the identity of the killer, the cleverly interwoven twists and turns, and unexpected surprise ending will shock even the best of sleuths!


Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: July 8-29, 2013

Everyone who leaves a comment on Looming Murder by Carol Ann Martin ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Looming Murder before July 29 and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

July 8 – Between Boyfriends – Guest Post, Q&A & Excerpt
July 9 – Musings and Ramblings – Review
July 10 – Mary Castillo – Review & Guest Post
July 10 - Mary Castillo - Excerpt
July 11- Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries & More – Guest Post
July 12 – Karma For Life Chick – Review
July 16 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
July 17 – Defining Women’s Evolution in Discovery Blog – Review & Guest Post
July 18 – Samantha March – Q&A & Excerpt
July 22- Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt
July 23 – Every Free Chance Book Reviews – Guest Post
July 25 – Lavender & Camomile Press – Excerpt
July 26 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
July 29 – Keep Calm and Blog On – Review


  1. Thanks for sharing your review!

    1. Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event. I love cozy mysteries, and this one was a fun read! :)