Book Review: Gold Under Ice

Gold Under Ice is Carol Buchanan’s second novel based on the Vigilantes of Montana. Descended from Montana pioneers and homesteaders, Carol is a nonfiction writer and student of Montana history who turned to historical fiction in God’s Thunderbolt, The Vigilantes of Montana, which won the 2009 Western Writers of America Spur award for Best First Novel.

Gold Under Ice continues the story of frontier attorney Daniel Stark, who rescues a man from drowning only to learn that his autocratic grandfather sent the man to bring him back to New York with gold to pay his family’s debt. But Dan does not have enough gold to rescue the family from their financial burden. If he joins the gold traders, he could make enough to pay the debt and secure his family’s future. Or he could lose everything and be branded a traitor to the Union.

This story grabbed me on the first page and kept my nose between its pages until I devoured the last word. It is a quality book—from the cover photo to Carol’s excellent writing. It is obviously well-researched and well-written. Carol weaves in Civil War history, how gold is traded and its parallels to gambling in an interesting and captivating way.

Her characters are well-developed, with distinct, clear voices, and relationships are strongly drawn. Dan’s dilemma—his duty to his family back home in New York versus his new family on the frontier—catches at the reader’s heartstrings and raises the stakes for our hero. Carol builds the conflict with Dan’s strong, patriarch grandfather as well as the elements, the lawless frontier and basic survival.

Gold Under Ice, published by Missouri Breaks Press, is an excellent read, one I highly recommend. It is available through Carol’s Website and in Kindle and paperback versions on Amazon .

Do You Have What It Takes To Write A Mystery?

I’m grateful to Heidi for allowing me to be a guest here.  And I’m grateful to readers!  I love my work, and I’d be nowhere without you.  Leave a comment here, and your name will go into a daily drawing for one free book.  The winner can choose any of my sixteen titles.  Old World Murder, one of my American Girl mysteries, a Civil War novel—the choice will be yours!



Do You Have What It Takes To Write A Mystery?

by Kathleen Ernst

My short answer:  Yes!

Now, a little background.  I enjoyed mysteries when I was a kid, but in my teens I began reading historical fiction pretty exclusively.  I wrote historical fiction as well.  My first four published books were young adult novels set during the American Civil War.

Then the almost unimagineable happened.  The phone rang one day.  The caller introduced herself as an editor with Pleasant Company/American Girl.  She explained that the company was starting a new line of historical mysteries for girls.  She’d seen some of my work; would I be interested in submitting a proposal?

I assured her I was interested.  I assured her that although I’d never written a mystery, I was confident that I could do it.  And after I hung up the phone, I panicked.  I didn’t know anything about writing mysteries!

Success did not come easily, or quickly, but I found my way.  I wrote the manuscript.  Pleasant Company accepted it.  The year after Trouble at Fort La Pointe was published, it was named a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery.  Since then I’ve written seven more mysteries for young readers.  My first adult mystery, Old World Murder, has just been published.  I’m finishing up the second book in the series.

So here’s the thing:  If I can do it, you can do it.

Everyone writer has to find their own process and their own voice.  That said, I can share a couple of tips that helped me along the way.

1.  Read a lot of recently-published mysteries.  Sounds simple, right?  But I’ve encountered many newish writers who haven’t read a book in their chosen genre since they were kids or teens themselves.  Styles change.  Markets change.  Tastes evolve.  See what’s going on.

2.  Read analytically.  When you discover a book you love, read it again—this time with pencil or highlighter in hand.  How is the book structured?  What choices did the author make that you found appealing?  How is the book paced?  What can you learn from this novel?

3.  Create a compelling protagonist.  Sure, plot is important.  But one of the best thing about mysteries is that they are often published within a series format.  My favorite series are those with complex and engaging characters that grow and change within each book, and over the course of the series.  When asked to name favorites I often don’t recall many details about a plot, but I can discuss the characters at length.

4.  Understand the market.  What kind of mystery do you want to write?  If you’re targeting young readers, do you understand what differentiates middle grade from young adult?  If targeting adult readers, do you know the differences between cozies, romantic suspense, thrillers, P.I. novels, and police procedurals?   Read some of each variety, see who’s publishing what, and decide what appeals to you the most.  Many of the presses publishing mysteries have very particular styles and tastes.

5.  Become professionally active.  Groups like Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America are dedicated to professional crime writers.  Newsletters, online discussion groups, local chapters, and annual conferences can be enormous sources of information.  Other writers’ organizations, such as Women Writing the West, often count mystery writers among members.  Getting connected with other writers and professionals can provide avenues for getting feedback on your work, learning about the mystery biz, and connecting with agents and editors.

I may have stumbled into the mystery world, but I’ve fallen in love with the genre.  Creating a puzzle for my sleuth—and my readers—to solve adds an extra dimension to my writing.

Are you intrigued?  Go for it!  And if not, what genre are you interested in exploring?

Kathleen Ernst is celebrating the publication of her first adult mystery, Old World Murder (Midnight Ink).  She has also written eight mysteries for young readers.  Several have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards.  She’s also written in different genres.  For more information see her website, or her blog .

Join Kathleen tomorrow for the next stop on her virtual book tour 10/20 – “Revisiting My Past” at Women Only Over Fifty

My guest today is action suspense writer, Stephen Tremp. He is the author of Breakthrough, and has four more suspense thrillers to follow.

Hi everyone. First, I want to thank each and every one of you for contributing to and supporting my blog over these past few months. Without you, I could not consider this endeavor to be a success. My success as an author depends so much on support from individuals like you. And I trust I’ve been able to reciprocate and contribute to your success as well.
That being said, I’m going to ask you for your help. So take a moment to refill your cup of coffee, or wine, take a deep breath, close your eyes and say a few ummmmmssssss, and put on your creative hats, you’re imaginative and innovative cloaks, and your resourceful undergarments. Hmmm, let’s change that to capes. 

Okay, I need a breakthrough as there is one particular section of the next installment of the Breakthrough series entitled Opening that I am struggling with. I need an awesome jailhouse escape. Not a ho hum, seen it before, boring jail escape. But something spectacular, preferably involving cutting edge technology. But hey, a simple, clever rouse would work just as well.

I’ll give a little insight on the scenario. The protagonist needs to break out a particular M.I.T. professor from Suffolk County Jail in Boston, MA who has been arrested for murder. The breakout is necessary as Chase needs the professor’s help to prevent a certain heinous act from occurring and save thousands of lives. This is the modern jail that opened in 1990 on Nashua Street replacing the previous Charles County jail built in 1851. This is a state of the art facility, and the professor is deep in the bowels of the jail, so I need a series of clever events to bust out Prof. Fischer.

I feel confident in asking you for your help. I’ve known you for a long time and read your blogs and read your comments on my blog as well as other blogs. I have faith, brothers and sisters. I believe! I do declare that during these next few days, someone(s) will leave a comment regarding a jailhouse breakout that will be, well, cool and awesome, leaving the reader thinking, “Wow! That was cool and awesome!”

Thanks again every one. You’re the best. Oh, and don’t forget to leave a comment with an idea for a jailhouse breakout, big or small. Every little bit helps.

Stephen blogs at Breakthrough Blogs . There you can find links to purchase or download his book BREAKTHROUGH.

If you feel this blog is worthy, go ahead and make my day. Retweet it

New Release: Follow The Dream

At last, the long-awaited sequel to Cowgirl Dreams is available!

Nettie Moser’s dreams are coming true. She’s married to her cowboy, Jake, they have plans for a busy rodeo season, and she has a once in a lifetime opportunity to rodeo in London with the Tex Austin Wild West Troupe.

But life during the Great Depression brings unrelenting hardships and unexpected family responsibilities. Nettie must overcome challenges to her lifelong rodeo dreams, cope with personal tragedy, survive drought, and help Jake keep their horse herd from disaster.

Will these challenges break this strong woman?

This sequel to Cowgirl Dreams is based on the life of the author’s grandmother, a real Montana cowgirl.

Advance praise for Follow the Dream:

In her poignant tale of Nettie Moser’s diligent pursuit of a dream, Heidi Thomas gives a stunning example of what it means to “Cowgirl Up.” FOLLOW THE DREAM is a dynamic story of a woman’s strength and determination that is sure to inspire as well as entertain.—Sandi Ault, award-winning author of the WILD Mystery Series, including WILD INDIGO, WILD INFERNO, WILD SORROW and WILD PENANCE

“Follow the Dream draws the reader into the lives of tough Montana ranchers, Nettie and Jake Moser. Dreams come and go, but their ranching life goes on with hardships and struggles for basic survival, but also with abiding love and humor. A wonderful story of courage and endurance.” –Mary Trimble, award-winning author of Tenderfoot, Rosemount and McClellan’s Bluff.

“…a bittersweet novel with its accurate depiction of the lives of cowgirls in 1920s Montana and its tender portrait of a marriage.” –Mary Clearman Blew, award-winning author of Jackalope Dreams.

To preview and order an autographed copy of the book, go to Heidi M. Thomas’ website Or the publisher, Treble Heart Books.

Published in: on October 3, 2010 at 8:39 pm  Comments (9)  
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