Friday, December 20, 2019

Spotlight/Guest Post: Author Kelley Kaye, Chalkboard Outlines Cozy Mystery Series

About the Book

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Emma Lovett leaves her philandering husband and crosses the country to begin her teaching career at a high school in Pinewood, Colorado.There, she meets Leslie Parker, a fellow teacher given to quoting Shakespeare to fit all situations, and the two become fast friends.

Arriving at work early one morning, Emma discovers the body of the school custodian, a man who reminds her of her late father. When the police struggle to find the killer, the ladies decide to help solve the murder. Their efforts lead them to a myriad of suspects: the schizophrenic librarian, the crude football coach, the mysterious social studies teacher, and even Emma’s new love interest.

As Emma Lovett discovers the perils of teaching high school, she and Leslie learn more than they ever wanted to know about the reasons people kill.

About the Book

Synopsis from Goodreads:

High school teacher Emma Lovett is finally recovering from her first year of teaching when she discovers another dead body. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this time, someone has killed a student, Kisten Hollis.

Emma and her best friend, Leslie, are desperate to solve this murder. But suspects abound. The perpetrator could be a teacher, an administrator, a member of Kisten’s zealous church community, or even another student.

Emma must juggle her teaching responsibilities, her new romance with handsome Hunter Wells, and interest from a hunky second suitor, all while searching for evidence to bring a killer to justice before someone else dies.

Author Guest Post
By Kelley Kaye

A while ago I took part in MTW—Mystery Thriller Week—for the second year in a row. It’s a celebration of what I write—murder mysteries—and also of what I read, all the time, mystery, thriller and action, and I love it! But it raises the question, re-raises it I guess, of my feelings about violence in the media—literature, movies, videos, you name it, and whether I think it affects the violence we see people commit worldwide, every minute, every day. It’s true, I write cozies, AKA Murder She Wrote tea parties and buddy flicks on paper, but still, somebody’s getting murdered, right? Since a cozy mystery is sometimes called ‘Murder Lite’ and it doesn’t have gore or graphic violence, still the storyline requires one human to kill another one. I could have a whole ‘nother conversation of how I feel like I can ‘keep a lid on’ my own dark side by reading and writing about it, but that can’t be the answer for everyone. And now that I have children of my own, the question broadens to not only my own responsibilities to humanity, but to what I am exposing my sons to and how I can teach them their responsibilities as citizens of the planet, too.

Am I screwing them up by immersing myself in murder, and letting them see it, too, and letting them see how much I love it?

See, it's turning out that my oldest son has become a reader. After he finished the Harry Potter series and the Rick Riordan Percy Jackson series, he was looking for something new and even maybe a new genre. Being the mystery writer and a mystery lover that I am, I wanted to show him some of that. I love Harlan Coben—he inspired me to write the first Chalkboard Outlines novel Death by Diploma, and it’s continued with the second book Poison by Punctuation, now  the third book under production at Red Adept Publishing, Murder by Metaphor.  Harlan recently wrote a young adult mystery trilogy with the nephew of his main series main character Myron Bolitar. The trilogy featured Myron’s nephew, Mickey, as the main character. Since it is a YOUNG ADULT mystery, it was a slightly easier to read and slightly tamer as far as the violence, even though it existed, as it usually to, in a mystery. My son read the trilogy in the blink of an eye, so I’m back searching for books for him to read., and I know I was reading ADULT books at a very young age. Maybe he’d like some of the mysteries I read?

My own parents never censored or excluded anything I asked to read or expressed an interest in reading. I continued this concept into my child rearing and my teaching career. In my book, censorship sucks.  But I don't believe in carte blanche with book choices, meaning I’m going to try and educate myself on what the boys are reading, so I can talk about it with them. As far as letting my 11-year-old read adult murder mysteries I felt that I should have read them also. Which was super easy in Harlan Coben's situation, because I've read all of his! I gave my son a standalone thriller called Missing You. But that put me back to the question of responsibility, because there are some violent scenes in that book.

I asked my friend Ken about it—he’s a psychiatrist, over 40 years in practice. In a particular scene in the novel, one of the victims of violence escapes by cleaving a bad guy's head open with an axe. So I wanted Ken's opinion--am I completely screwing up my kid? Honestly, it's a pretty violent scene, and my kid, mature and fabulous and worldly as he might seem to his supremely biased mother, is still only eleven.

Ken gave me a very interesting answer. He said he feels it's better to allow children to see violence in REALITY--meaning it comes from an actual story about humans and human situations, rather than games or videos where violence is the means of entertainment rather than one element of a multifaceted story. Ya know? A storyline instead of just sitting in front of a screen and killing stuff. It made sense to me, and made me feel better about the scene. But still…

Here’s an article I found on the subject:


How about  this one? I like this one better, maybe because of my  own confirmation bias, but also the source of the article—Psychology Today—is a source I feel is credible.
I took special note of this paragraph: 

Virtually without exception, when the villain of a story kills, his violence is condemned. When the hero kills, he does so righteously. Fiction preaches that violence is only acceptable under defined circumstances—to protect the good and the weak from the bad and the strong.

The stuff I read and write definitely fits this theme. I’m all about the happy ending, ya know? Especially since I’ve had kids.
Ken also commented that I'd probably want to address it further if I saw some evidence of a negative effect in my son's behavior--like he started having nightmares or acting out. I think my sons are pretty clear on the difference between fictional stories and reality, but I appreciated the perspective nonetheless. It's going into my hatful of parenting tools and writing tools.

In my author hat and my reader hat, I must say I’m going to keep on writing and reading about murder. It feeds a need in ME for escape, catharsis and therapy.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your viewpoint! Until next time…Stay Mystified!


Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog! I always love reading comments and getting to know my readers!

After some careful consideration, I've decided to become an award-free blog. Although I appreciate and am honored by each and every award I've received, your comments and friendship are enough award for me. Thank you all so much for your thoughtfulness.

Due to way too many spam comments, I disabled the Anonymous User comments. We'll see if this works, otherwise I'll have to go back to word verification.