Saturday, September 8, 2012

Virtual Book Tour Guest Post, Review and Giveaway - Mrs. Jones by B.A. Morton

Hello and welcome to my stop on B.A. Morton's Virtual Book Tour for Mrs. Jones.  Please be sure to leave a comment or question below for B.A.  You can follow her tour here.  


Selling the Imaginary House by B.A. Morton

I was distracted by a recent discussion regarding sales. More specifically, book sales and how to stack the odds in your favour when writing your “best seller”. It got me thinking about the advice given when selling a house and how strangely relevant it is. When we write, we are, after all, creating a property, a building to house the imagination.

Some of us may follow set plans, start, middle and ending all established from the outset. The timber framed kit house formula. It works; it’s effective and particularly useful if you’re planning a series, an estate of imaginary houses, numbers 1-6 Adventure Drive. Others may adopt the strategy of the weaver bird, skilled builders of fine structures. You marvel at their work and wonder how such a delicate structure can survive and protect its contents. Of course the bird knows what it’s doing, but it’s not obvious to the onlooker, to the reader who is simply enchanted by the skill. And then we have the beavers and their precariously placed lodges. The constant battle against the elements to shore up the holes in the plot, contain the runaway storyline. Diligence and constant maintenance win the day, but will the building ever be fully complete? Will the story leak out on its own?

You’ve followed advice and built according to the market. You’ve ignored the lure of the mansion, the trillion word doorstop, that only a minority of insomniacs will be inclined to invest their money and time in. You’ve also steered away from the quirky windmill. Yes, you love windmills, but reluctantly accept that for most buyers, those pesky sails would be a problem. You’ve settled on that tried and trusted three bed semi. Romance on the first floor, Crime on the ground floor, paranormal in the basement and with an eye on a possible series, plenty room for expansion.

So, you’ve built your dream house. In your opinion it’s the best house on the road and everyone will want one...won’t they?

Not necessarily.

De-clutter - All that stuff, all that unnecessary prose that’s smothering your wonderful creation. Do yourself a favour, get rid. Hire a skip, or a red pen. Engage the services of the delete key and if you can’t bear to see your bric-a-brac, your endless waffling consigned to the tip, hire a house clearer or an editor to do it for you.

De-personalise – I’m talking curtain swags and crocheted loo roll covers, acid green wallpaper and shag-pile carpets. You might love these things, but remember, this marvellous structure you’ve proudly built isn’t just to house your imagination. You have to leave a little room for the buyer too.  So, don’t over describe, leave the vital statistics of the hero to the readers imagination and you’ll find your property far more appealing to far more buyers. Don’t underestimate your readers by overwriting. Allow them to discover, to work it out for themselves.

That something special -   Okay, so you’ve done what you can. You have what the market wants. It’s freshly tidied, awash with magnolia paint and the smell of ground coffee and home baked bread. Trouble is, everyone else on the road, the bookshelf, the genre has followed the same advice, so what makes your gem stand out from the crowd. It’s that “thing” that twist, that unique aspect and if you’ve got it, you’d better make sure everyone knows about it. Sea views, quirky provenance, marvellous architecture. Whatever it is, you’ve got to advertise it, give all those buyers a taste of what they’re missing and that’s where the blurb comes in. It’s the sneak preview, the seduction, the big sell. Your house may be in the estate agents window, your book up there on Amazon but you need to find that hook, and you’d better make sure it’s a good one.

Kerb appeal - You’ve done all of the above. Your house of imagination is the best it can be, you know it is, you believe in it. There’s one last thing you need to do to get people to agree with you, open the gate and come in. Remember you’re in a row of other semis. You might think all houses look the same. They don’t have to. It’s time to create your cover. A cover to draw the eye and tempt a buyer to read the blurb that will draw them into the property. So they’ll believe, as you do, that this is the best house on the road. A cover isn’t meant to tell the story, remember the de-clutter rule, less is more. Allow your reader some imagination. Set the right mood and make sure the genre is clear.

Sell – It’s out there, you’ve ticked all the boxes, you’ve given yourself the best chance all you need to do is sit back and count the sales...erm...not quite. Make yourself a coffee or a stiff drink and get ready for the hardest part of all...promotion!

We can’t all have best sellers, but we can make sure our house is the best on the road.

BA Morton... August 2012


Mrs. Jones
By B.A. Morton

Publisher: Taylor Street Publishing
Date of Publication: April 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468116885

Number of pages:256
Word Count: 88.000
Cover Artist: Bradley Wind

Book Description:

A British girl with a secret.

A New York cop with a past.

And a mob that wants revenge

In the slickest, sexiest novel to come out in a long time, ruggedly tough and honest cop Detective Tommy Connell picks up an English girl, Mrs Jones, who claims to be the witness to a murder, and falls in love with her. Well, Mrs Jones, whoever she is, must be very attractive because an awful lot of people seem to want to get their hands on her if they can get her away from Connell's determined hands, including some organized crime boys along with the Feds.

Detective Connell definitely has his work cut out for him if he wants to end up with the body of Mrs Jones, dead or alive, that's for sure. All-in-all it's probably safe to say he hasn't a clue what is going on. It is probably equally safe to guess that Mrs Jones does. Not that 'safe' is quite the right word to use here. 

Excerpt Chapter One

She answered the door on the sixth knock.

He knew that because he had counted.

Six knocks, thirty seconds between knocks, three minutes.

He’d raised his hand to give her the seventh, seeing as how seven was his lucky number and three and half minutes was as long as he was prepared to wait, but she’d beaten him to it. All the same, six knocks.

These weren’t palatial penthouse apartments, they were studios. What
had taken her so long? Delays in answering the door in this neighborhood were usually accompanied by the sounds of a hurriedly flushed toilet. On this occasion there was silence.

When the door finally opened, she left the chain on, which he supposed was sensible, but didn’t make his job any easier or quicker.

He had a hot date waiting. He checked his watch. If she was still waiting. Taking out his badge, he flashed it through the crack in the door.

“Ma’am, New York Police Department, Detective Connell.” He made an
effort to speak slowly and clearly, wondering if they were old folks and whether that could explain the delay in answering.

“You called in a report about a hit and run. I’d like to speak with you, ask you a few questions.”

He pulled his badge away just in time to avoid his hand being jammed as the door slammed closed. Rolling his eyes, he checked his watch again. She definitely wouldn’t be waiting now. She’d be on her way home and deleting his number from her phone. That was twice he’d stood her up; she wouldn’t be letting him make it three. And that was a shame - she was a looker, and no dummy either. No matter,
probably for the best in the long run.

He was about to give her the seventh knock, when he heard the chain being slid. Placing a hand on the weapon holstered under his left arm, he watched as the door swung slowly inwards. All he needed now was some geriatric cop-hater to come barrelling out with a sawed-off Zimmer frame, so he stood off to one side of the door, just in case.

Connell had drawn the short straw on this case. Everyone else on the squad had more important things to do on a Friday night than chase up old ladies who may or may not have seen an accident. He had more important things to do; he’d been on a promise, after all. But he was on dicey ground and his arrest rate was looking bad. He’d been spending far too much time on impossible cases and this looked like an
easy wrap. Find the old lady, confirm her statement and sign off on the case. Maybe his date would wait. Maybe pigs would fly.

“Honey, is your mom at home?” he asked the young girl who peered anxiously at him from behind the door. She was slender and pale, with a mop of unruly dark curls and wide dark eyes. Her feet, resting one on the other, were bare, her toenails painted a vivid pink.

She wore washed-out jeans with holes at the knees and a baggy grey Tshirt. Connell processed her slight frame in seconds and disregarded her. It was a necessary knack - identify and eliminate any risks - certainly in this neighborhood. “I’m looking for a … ” He pulled out his notebook and checked the name he’d scrawled down back at the station “ … Mrs.Jones, Mrs. Elizabeth Jones.”

The girl nodded, opened the door wide and he realized his knack for on-the-spot identification was slipping. She wasn’t a young girl; she was a young woman who looked like she hadn’t been sleeping too well and he knew exactly how that felt.

“I’m Mrs. Jones,” she said hesitantly in a soft, British accent. “You’d better come in.”

Connell wasn’t often surprised. In his line of work it was a necessary requirement to be unflappable and un-shockable, or at the very least to present that image to the public, but she was definitely not what he’d been expecting. She was far too young for a start, didn’t look old enough to be Mrs. Anybody and she didn’t sound like the voice on the tape. The voice had been muffled, admittedly, but had sounded older and certainly not British. Either she hadn’t made the call or the voice had been deliberately disguised. He narrowed his eyes. The first of his inner alarm bells had just gone off.

He followed her into the room. If she wasn’t what he’d expected, then the room certainly was. It was typical of a thousand more in the neighborhood. Close your eyes, stick a pin in a map and you couldn’t fail to come up with a place like this. Short-term, low-rent housing where absentee landlords turned a blind eye and made a killing.


Author Bio:

B.A. Morton is a British crime, historical and romance writer.

Her first novel is 'Mrs Jones'. The next in the series, 'Molly Brown', will be published during 2012.

She lives and writes on the Scottish Border.


My Review:  

I wasn't sure what to expect when I began reading Mrs. Jones by B.A. Morton, sometimes I'll love a mystery written by a British writer and other times I'll have problems with either the plot or the pacing of the story.  I'm happy to report that this was not the case with Mrs. Jones, I found Ms. Morton's writing style easy to follow, the pacing was pretty even (though it was a little slow to start) and I enjoyed getting to know the characters.  I found the dialogue to be sharp, the romance to be well developed and the mystery kept me turning the pages.  

Lizzie, or Mrs. Jones as she calls herself at the beginning of the story, is an interesting character; a young and quite lovely young woman, she's traveling on someone else's passport and is one of several witnesses to a motor vehicle accident which kills a man.  Most of the witnesses say it was an "accident" while Lizzie is the only one to come forward, via an attempted anonymous 911 call, and state positively that it was no accident - she claims it was a murder, the driver ran over the man twice.  The only problem the investigating officer has with her story; she identifies a different driver than everyone else and she's lying about who she is and why she's in the U.S. I liked how Ms. Morton developed Lizzie's character throughout this story, at first she's not really sure who she can trust and has a lot of issues but as the story moves on Lizzie begins to open up and we get to see a young woman who's got a lot of spunk and personality.

Detective Tommy Connell has been having a bad run of luck at work and needs to break a case.  Assigned to investigate the 911 call by "Mrs. Jones", he finds himself intrigued by the lovely young woman, who keeps lying to him.  Determined to get the truth, Tommy finds himself with a witness who identifies his arch-nemesis, Mo Pater, an albino mobster who's somehow tied to the death of Tommy's previous girlfriend (the mother of Tommy's son). While Tommy's attracted to Lizzie, he's not about to let her out of his sight or out of his grasp until he can prove Mo's involvement in a crime that will finally put him behind bars.  He'll do whatever it takes to keep Lizzie safe, he just didn't plan on falling in love with her at the same time.  I really liked how Ms. Morton developed Tommy's character; it's easy to see why people find him so charming and yet he's got issues which he needs to confront - such as his desire for revenge which causes him to take some risks he should not.  

The scenes between Tommy and Lizzie are very well written, their chemistry is pretty obvious from the start but that doesn't detract from them as a couple; they still have plenty of obstacles - her lying and his continuing run of bad luck. The romance works well between Tommy and Lizzie, it's got enough tension and heat to make things interesting.  Plus they seem to get interrupted a lot just as things are beginning to heat up.  

The secondary characters help move the story along, are well developed and even add some humor, from Marty, Tommy's friend in the INS, to the FBI agents who try to hijack Tommy's case.  The villains of the story, and there are 2, are just creepy enough to make you want to see them get the justice they deserve.  There's even a twist with the identity of one of the villains, which I thought added to the story.

Will Tommy be able to prove Mo Pater is a cold blooded murder and keep Lizzie safe?  Will Tommy and Lizzie's relationship ever really get off the ground?  You'll have to read Mrs. Jones to find out.  I enjoyed this story quite a lot and I'm looking forward to reading Molly Brown, the next book featuring Tommy Connell as the main character.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Crowns

Because I enjoyed this story and it's the weekend, I'll be giving away one ebook copy of Mrs. Jones in Kindle format. Just enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. Maria, I feel the same as you first described in your review. Great review though, sounds interesting!