Thursday, June 23, 2016

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: Homicide in the House by Colleen J. Shogan @cshogan276 @GoddessFish

Homicide in the House
by Colleen J. Shogan
GENRE: Cozy Mystery


During a government shutdown, Kit’s congresswoman boss is found standing over the dead body of a top staffer she tangled with in front of the press. The police are about to name her as the prime suspect. The weapon was the Speaker’s gavel, an item entrusted to the congresswoman the previous night. The killer knows Kit is on the case. Can she solve the mystery in time to save her job and her life?


Smartphones are great time wasters. I fiddled with various apps as I waited. The next level of “Angry Birds” was within my grasp when I heard footsteps and voices across the hallway. I got up and stood in the doorway to greet my boss.

From the look on her face, she was not pleased. She charged like a linebacker to the exit of the Speaker’s lair with Jack Drysdale on her heels.

“Stop, Congresswoman Dixon. You’re not listening to reason!” From behind, Drysdale placed his hand on Maeve’s left shoulder in an attempt to prevent her from leaving the suite.

Maeve had impressive reflexes. She turned her body toward him and grabbed his wrist with her right hand. “Don’t touch me! Is this how the Speaker’s staff treat members of the House?” Her voice was loud and filled with vitriol.

The gaggle of reporters who had been relaxing inside the anteroom trailed behind me. This was better than a boring pen and pad session. One of them murmured, “I think that’s Dixon from North Carolina.”

This was not a good development, but Maeve didn’t know that the press had a front row seat to her implosion.

Maeve clutched Drysdale’s wrist for several seconds until she let it go. Apparently her physical assault didn’t intimidate him. He ran ahead and stopped directly in front of her.

Stretching his arms out wide to slow her down, Jack made his last stand. “I apologize. I shouldn’t have done that. Please come back in the office so we can sort this out. You’re a valuable part of this caucus and the Speaker wants to work with you on this deal.”

Maeve shook her head. “You guys in House leadership are typical politicians. You can’t take no for an answer. I’m not ready to make a decision. Now get out of my way.”

Unmoving, Drysdale locked eyes with Maeve. She didn’t look away and squared her shoulders. I could almost feel the tension around me as the reporters anxiously waited for the outcome. What was Maeve going to do? Knee him in the groin if he didn’t back down?

After a moment that seemed like an eternity, Drysdale gave in and stepped aside. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and hurried into the hallway to catch up with her. As we exited the corridor, I glanced back to the doorway where I’d been standing. Every reporter was on his or her phone, ostensibly calling in the most salacious story of the shutdown thus far. A junior member of Congress and the Speaker’s top aide had nearly come to blows in the Capitol. A high school reporter could make that story fly.

Guest Post:

The Writing Process of a Moonlighting Novelist

No matter if I’m talking about the Washington Whodunit series at a bookstore or on a panel at a festival, I’m often asked how I find the time to write novels. The short answer is the one Jim Lehrer often provides: “Butt in seat.” In other words, the only way to publish books is to devote significant time to writing them.

However, most readers who ask the question don’t want a glib answer. They really want to know about the writing process itself. In a nutshell, here’s a brief description of my methodology.

I begin with a premise. In a few sentences, what is this story about? What happens to whom? For example, in my first book Stabbing in the Senate, the premise was: “A congressional staffer arrives early to work on morning and discovers her boss has been murdered. She’s immediately named the prime suspect and has to find the real killer to clear her name.”

After I have the premise, then I work on developing the characters. In my series, I have four recurring characters that drive the action. How will they help solve the mystery? What other characters can I create to support the action and interact with Kit, Doug, Meg, and Trevor?

The characters help me figure out a general arc of the story. I don’t write a detailed scene-by-scene outline, but I do try to come up with a general sequence to ensure the story develops. This helps with pacing. If there’s not important information revealed throughout the novel, the reader’s interest can wane. At a writers’ workshop I attended earlier this year, crime novelist Laura Lippman described the middle chapters as “where stories go to die.” She’s absolutely correct. Writers need to figure out how to keep and hold a reader’s interest.

Once I’m satisfied I have a good story to tell, then I start writing. Because I work a full-time job at the Library of Congress, progress on my novels moves slowly. Most weekdays, I write for an hour in the evenings. On the weekends, I usually squeeze in longer sessions. It will take me seven or eight months to produce a first draft. Some authors say most novels should be written in half that amount of time. I think that’s a luxury enjoyed largely by those who can devote all their energy to writing.

Because I’ve followed my outline during the actual writing, my subsequent drafts require considerably less time. Yes, scenes are added and others are deleted or changed. But the sequence of the story works at this point, so drastic edits are not needed or desirable.

Of course, pesky little problems do present themselves, and those glitches need to be fixed. Mysteries must be tightly written. Everything doesn’t have to twist and turn on a dime, but the logic of the solution need to make plausible sense. I spend a lot of time with the second and third drafts thinking about how careful readers might find flaws or inconsistencies.  An additional clue or red herring might make the story more enjoyable or robust, for example.

Even when a draft of the novel is delivered to my publisher, the work does not stop. Editors read the book several times. The first read examines the basics of the storyline. The second read might be a careful line-by-line edit. The third read makes sure the changes to the story have been executed properly. A fourth edit, usually done by someone who hasn’t read the novel previously, provides yet another check for consistency, flow, grammar, and typos.

There’s one last challenging aspect of the process. When sequential drafts are completed on a novel, I’m usually ensconced in writing my next book. Then I need to make certain I keep my stories straight!

Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. She writes the Washington Whodunit series published by Camel Press. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason University, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service. She is currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress. Colleen lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan.


$50 Amazon or B/N GC

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.


Mary Preston said...

A great Guest Post.

Unknown said...

Congrats on the Blog Tour; the novel looks great, and thanks for the chance to win :)

CJ said...

Really enjoying the book tour! Great excerpt and guest post. Thank you for the giveaway! :)

Anonymous said...

It's a fun interview!


Victoria Alexander said...

Great post - I loved the excerpt :)

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a great read.

Colleen Shogan said...

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

I have added this to my TBR list and can't wait to read it.

James Robert said...

I'm running late today but still wanting to stop by to thank you for the chance to win

Anonymous said...


Ally Swanson said...

Congrats on the new book and good luck on the book tour!