Friday, June 23, 2017

"Stuck" by C. T. Collier

(The Penningtons Investigate Book 2)
by C. T. Collier

Stuck (The Penningtons Investigate Book 2) by C. T. Collier

Stuck is the second book in The Penningtons Investigate series by C. T. Collier. Also available: Planted.

Planted by C. T. Collier

Stuck is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my interview with the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Meet the Penningtons: Lyssa, Ph.D. Economics, and her husband "the handsome Brit" Kyle, Ph.D. Computer Science. When their clever minds ask questions, clever killers can’t hide.
Murder never entered the picture until Fritz Van Derzee decided, at long last, to clear his name. Who stuck a jeweled stiletto into his desktop after stabbing him to death? Fritz’s daughter, Emma, recruits her former professor Lyssa Pennington to find the killer.
But where’s the ten million Fritz was falsely accused of embezzling? Tompkins College President, Justin Cushman, hires his old friend Kyle Pennington to trace the missing money.
While Lyssa uses charm and tenacity on the long list of suspects, Kyle reconstructs the college’s old homegrown finance system. As they converge on the killer, Lyssa and Kyle may be the next two casualties.

Justin’s assistant claimed the president was in a meeting but added, “You sound out of breath, Lyssa. Is it urgent?”
“I’m running to a murder scene. Yes, it’s urgent.”
Justin came on the line, and she told him what little she knew.
“For God’s sake, be careful.”
That spooked her. But he was right. A man was dead. Was the killer still in the neighborhood watching the aftermath? Hanging around would be too risky, wouldn’t it? People in these neighborhoods watched what happened all day. And night. Someone must have seen something. Heard something.
She pressed forward the next two blocks and paused at the end of the Van Derzee’s brick walk. Where were the police? Emma had said she’d called them. Surely they hadn’t come and removed the body already? And why leave the door open?
Though the front door was open a crack, there was no sign of activity, no sound.
She took deep steadying breaths as she climbed the front steps and toed open the door.
From the front entry, she heard sobbing. “Emma?” she called in her loudest teacher voice.
“In here,” Emma squeaked from somewhere down the central hallway. One door stood open.
Lyssa peered in. Emma sat on the floor on the far side of the room between two windows, her back against the wall, knees drawn up, blotting her tears with a ragged tissue. She didn’t appear to be injured in any way, just huddled in shock.
Lyssa’s gaze shifted to the freestanding desk, angled to give whoever sat there a view out the bay window. Her breath hissed through her teeth at the sight of a man’s form, crumpled on its side, motionless, between the chair and the desk. His hair, white-blond, was the same shade as Emma’s. Over his chest, a stain darkened the blue polo shirt. One step closer, a coppery smell closed her throat and made her cough.
She avoided the man’s feet as she approached the desk, her attention drawn to a thin knife with a jeweled handle sticking up from the desk’s burnished wood. The murder weapon? Dark red stained the length of the blade and the wood below.
The weapon lured her. Her hand reached forward without her permission, until she almost touched the ornamentation. In her body she sensed the rage and triumph of the person who’d rammed it straight down into the dense wood.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"Stuck, the second mystery in The Penningtons Investigate series, is just as wonderful as the first! The professor-sleuths Lyssa and Kyle are well-developed and engaging. The setting is sharply drawn, and the mystery unfolds at a steady pace, with myriad twists and turns to keep you guessing. Collier marries compelling attention to campus life with a very suspenseful mystery. I am a big fan of academic mysteries, and this one is an absolute delight." ~ Cyn

Interview With the Author
Author C. T. Collier joins me today to discuss her latest book, Stuck.
Thanks so much for hosting me today. I’m excited to tell your readers about my mystery series, The Penningtons Investigate. As you know, book two, Stuck, was released just a couple of months ago.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
Stuck is an adult mystery that will appeal to Cozy fans, Traditional mystery fans, and those who enjoy Academic mysteries.
What sparked the idea for this book?
While I was working on my doctorate, I did consulting for schools and colleges all over. One college was getting great press for reinventing itself (I won’t say too much, to protect their identity), and the PR suggested that their endowment and other funding had also increased. A year later, the college closed its doors. It was actually millions in the hole. A treasurer at a different college gave me a knowing look and said, "Somebody was doctoring the books, want to bet?" That case stayed in my mind for a decade or more until I started writing Stuck, which deals with an embezzlement scheme that nearly bankrupted a small college.
So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
Lyssa and Kyle Pennington came first, in their own romance novel (Waking Up To Love, written as Katie O’Boyle) a few years ago. In that book, Lyssa and Kyle worked together to identify criminal activity at Lyssa’s college, and I knew right away I had found the co-sleuths for the academic mystery series I’d been wanting to write. Quickly, the whole series of The Penningtons Investigate came into focus, with six stories vying for my attention.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
Stuck, which is book two in the series, was much more difficult to write than the book before it, Planted. Honestly, the opening chapters underwent three complete revisions - each radically different from the one before. Then I found my rhythm with the story.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
As with all the books in the series, I want readers to keep turning the page to find out what’s coming. With Stuck in particular, I want readers to recognize how easily a con can slip into an organization and do major damage without anyone suspecting, even very bright administrators. It takes courage, collaboration, ingenuity, and tenacity to root out problems that undermine institutions. At the same time, I want my readers to chuckle at Kyle and Lyssa’s banter and smile at their cleverness.
How long did it take you to write this book?
More than my usual one year, mostly because of the three false starts I mentioned earlier. I had several critique groups giving me feedback, and that kept me from getting too far off track or quitting in frustration.
What is your writing routine?
I am committed to writing one hour every day, regardless of when that hour happens. But I’m at my most productive when I start each day writing; when I revise as I write; and when I regularly get feedback from critique partners on good-sized chunks at a time.
How did you get your book published?
The publisher of my romance series (written as Katie O’Boyle, for Soul Mate Publishing) was interested in the mysteries, but our business models didn’t mesh for my mystery readers. By then, I had learned enough about publishing to take the plunge into self-publishing, and I’ve been very pleased with the move. I’ve found a fabulous editor (Lourdes Venard, Comma Sense Editing) and a terrific book cover artist (Dave Fymbo, Limelight Book Covers). And, as always, my writers’ groups and my critique group keep me on track.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Write every day, develop your own voice, listen to feedback, and get connected with authors, with the express goal of getting published. If you do that, you’ll be guided to the right resources to help you make it happen.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I live in a naturally beautiful area - the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York - and I walk outdoors every day, often with a camera in my hand. I read every day, too, mostly mysteries of all kinds.
What does your family think of your writing?
They’re excited! They enjoy reading early drafts and want to know when the next signing is happening and when the next book is coming out.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do a lot of direct marketing through local events and libraries, and that helps me know my readers and receive feedback from them. Individual readers have said things like, "The embezzlement story [Stuck] is fascinating," or "I just had to finish it that same day," or "I love how you work in the beauty of the Finger Lakes area." Recently, a teacher chose one of my books for her high school summer reading program, which I consider a huge honor. I’d love to know what the kids think!
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m working hard on the third book of The Penningtons Investigate, and there are six books planned in total. Check them out at my website.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Kate. Best of luck with your future projects.
Thanks, Lynda, I enjoyed my visit!

About the Author
C. T. Collier
C. T. Collier was born to solve logic puzzles, wear tweed, and drink Earl Grey tea. Her professional experience in cutthroat high tech and backstabbing higher education gave her endless opportunity to study intrigue. Add to that her longtime love of mysteries, and it’s no wonder she writes academic mysteries that draw inspiration from traditional whodunits. Her setting is entirely fictional: Tompkins College is no college and every college, and Tompkins Falls is a blend of several Finger Lakes towns, including her hometown, Seneca Falls, NY (aka Bedford Falls from It’s a Wonderful Life).

Enter our giveaway for a chance to win a print copy (US only) or a Kindle or Nook copy (international) of Stuck by C. T. Collier. Check out the other tour stops for more chances to win!