Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Rose Before Dying (A Second Sons Mystery) by Amy Corwin

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Only Sir Edward had the motive, the opportunity, and a garden full of the identical roses sent to each victim before their death.

The first victim was Sir Edward's ex-mistress, a woman who threw him over for a younger man. After receiving a mysterious rose, she dies while alone with Sir Edward. Then a second rose is delivered and a deadly game commences, where roses are the only clues to save the next victim.

However, Charles Vance, Earl of Castlemoor, refuses to believe his uncle, Sir Edward, could commit the murders, even when the renowned head of the Second Sons Inquiry Agency warns him there may be some truth behind the rumors. "The roses are Sir Edward's attempt to cast suspicion elsewhere." "Misdirection." Or so the whispers say.

Convinced he can prove his uncle's innocence, Vance enlists the aide of notable rosarian, Ariadne Wellfleet, little realizing his actions will involve the Wellfleet household in the killer's game.

Before the week is out, another rose is delivered.

And someone else is missing.

A Rose Before Dying is a witty, fast-paced historical whodunit in the tradition of Bruce Alexander's Blind Justice and Victoria Holt's The Mistress of Mellyn. This addition to the Second Sons mystery series includes
an unwilling detective who refuses to let his earldom stand in the way of catching an elusive killer. It will keep you guessing until the unexpected end.

Amy Corwin is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America and recently joined Mystery Writers of America. She has been writing for the last ten years and managing a career as an enterprise systems administrator in the computer industry. She writes Regencies/historicals, mysteries, and
contemporary paranormals. To be truthful, most of her books include a bit of murder and mayhem since she discovered that killing off at least one character is a highly effective way to make the remaining ones toe the plot line.
Amy's books include three Regency romantic mysteries, I BID ONE AMERICAN, THE BRICKLAYER'S HELPER, and THE NECKLACE; the historical mysteries, THE VITAL PRINCIPLE and A ROSE BEFORE DYING; and her first paranormal, VAMPIRE PROTECTOR.

Join her and discover that every good mystery has a touch of romance.


Miss Wellfleet's fingers pushed the petals into a line on the table and hovered over them. Thirteen petals, thin and wilting, spread in a tattered line. The slender spray was dying. The small, tight buds had already
blackened and hung limply. His chest tightened with frustration. Then with a theatrical gesture that suggested more defiance than scientific inquiry, she ripped apart the remaining flowers. She arranged the petals in three parallel lines, one for each flower. The roses didn't all have the same number of petals. The first had thirteen petals. The next had eleven. The final rose had seventeen.  After examining what remained of the stalk, the yellow stamens, and leaves, she looked at him. Although she didn't precisely shrug, there was a quality in her
expression that spoke of disdain when she said, "Rosa Collina fastigiata." 
"That's it?" His tired disappointment reminded him of the lateness of the hour. Useless. He needn't have come here at all. Lee had it right thefirst time.
"Well, yes. What were you expecting?"
"Something.more. A name."
"That is a name." Irritation sharpened her voice. "Or Flat-Flowered
Hill Rose, if you prefer an English one."
"You're sure?"'
Her eyes hardened. "As sure as I can be from this small spray."
A life could be saved if he interpreted Rosa Collina fastigiata properly.
How many people named Collins lived in London? Unless the clue rested with the English name, Flat-Flowered Hill Rose. Did this blossom point to a location instead of a person?
Time was slipping away.

Interview with Amy Corwin

What will readers like about your book?
Readers who remember the classic mysteries from authors like Mary Stewart or historical mysteries from Victoria Holt and missed them, will enjoy the Second Sons line of mysteries. They combine the intrigue of a mystery with a fascinating glimpse into our past. Rest assured, each mystery stands alone and it is unnecessary to read them in any particular order. For those who like a touch of romance with their mystery, the Second Sons mysteries dovetail with the Archer family series. There is crossover between the characters and a wider view of Society during the first half of the 19th century, although again, each book stands alone.

Why did you self-publish?
I've worked with agents and have some books that are traditionally published, but since it takes me about 2 years to produce a book, it might be up to six years before that book hit the shelf. In addition, it was
difficult to find an audience. By moving into self-publishing, I could cut down on the time from the completion of a book until it "hit the shelf" and I had more control over key elements like the covers and classification.
This has proved to be a successful strategy for me as not only have my indie books done well, but they've expanded the audience for my traditional books, as well.

What is your writing process?
Once I get a story idea, I do some basic research to frame it and create a bare-bones outline. The "outline" is really just a blank file with chapter headings. Under each chapter heading are about three things that I feel I
must accomplish that chapter, written as bulleted items. It can be a clue that must be found or a conflict that must arise or be resolved. After that, I start writing. The outline often has to change as the story develops so
I'll move around the bulleted items or revise them as I go. Since I work a day job, I write in the evenings after dinner, and on weekends. I try to write about 5 pages a day.

Once the first draft is done, I put it away and work on another book. I won't touch the first one for at least 3 months since I need to "forget it" to come into the editing stage with fresh eyes. When I pick it up again, I'll go through it once for structure, once for characterization/descriptions, and then at least one more time for
nit-picking. I also send chapters to other writers and critique groups to get their input during the editing stage.

It generally takes about two years from start to finish.

How long does it take you to write your first draft?
It take me approximately six months to write the first draft of a novel.

What inspired you to write this particular story?
I've been growing Old Garden Roses for close to fifteen years now and at meetings of our rose society, we often get asked to identify older roses that folks have found abandoned by old home sites. It's more of a challenge than folks realize as there are literally thousands of roses and each rose can have many, many names. One day when I was looking at several specimens of medium pink roses a story idea came to me. If a murderer sent a rose that indicated the next victim, could a detective really identify it in time to save the victim? That idea inspired "A Rose Before Dying" where the amateur detective faces that very challenge.

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