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Blogging By the Sea
Friday, March 29 2019

One death. Two detectives. And unexpected backup.
A Callie Morgan and Carolina Slade crossover, standalone mystery!


When a renowned—and now dead—travel blogger washes ashore on the banks of Indigo Plantation, Edisto Beach Police Chief Callie Morgan agrees to head the investigation as a favor to the county sheriff, whose reasons are as questionable as the death itself. When death turns to murder and a watchdog from the county makes her investigation difficult, Callie reluctantly turns to Carolina Slade and Wayne Largo, vacationing agents with the Department of Agriculture.


Because poison is growing on this plantation and someone knows how to use it well.


Murder, corruption, and page-turning intrigue are usually the elements that shine the brightest in mysteries like Hope Clark’s latest Dying on Edisto. But it’s the characters that bring a vivid literary element to Clark’s prose and create a strong emotional response to their tangled lives. The scenic town of Edisto Beach is peopled with a modern-day pirate claiming to be a descendent of Blackbeard, a degenerate travel blogger, a yoga teacher who drives a baby blue vintage Benz convertible, a mixed race waitress and her matriarchal grandmother, and a whole slew of wealthy and crooked good ole boys. Leading the cast are two strong female protagonists—a police chief and an investigator with the Department of Agriculture. Did someone say hemlock? —Susan Cushman, author of Cherry Bomb and editor of Southern Writers on Writing


Here at Blogging by the Sea we are big fans of the Edisto series and the Carolina Slade mysteries, so we are excited to have both Chief Callie Morgan from Edisto Island and Carolina Slade with us today. One lady has a badge and the other doesn’t but somehow they both manage to find themselves up to their shoulders in mystery and dead bodies- always when they least expect it. If you’ve enjoyed their escapades join me in welcoming them.


SKYE: Chief Morgan, I understand you grew up in South Carolina and spent much of your time on Edisto in the beach house you now call home. How did you end up working as a cop on the Boston PD in New England?

CALLIE: Youthful defiance maybe? My father was a politician, my mother a social gadfly in a town where everyone knew my family’s business. I wanted none of that life. But I guess public service was in my blood, because I earned a Criminal Justice degree from the University of South Carolina. That’s where I met my husband John Morgan, and I followed him back to his hometown of Boston, where nobody would know my name. He was a US Marshall. I worked for Boston PD, ultimately becoming a detective.

SKYE: Do you miss the hustle and pace of both life and work in a city like Boston? By contrast Edisto must seem pretty laid back and quiet.

CALLIE: In some ways I do. Places to eat, lots of interesting people, the Red Sox (though Boston doesn’t do football like the South, that’s for sure), but I don’t miss the crime rate. At the time I lived there, I enjoyed the busy-ness of it all, and my job kept me hopping overtime most days. But the seedy underside of that city killed my husband, which soured my desire to remain there. Everything I liked is now tainted. Long story, but I was a mess when I left there with a teenager in tow. My father forced me to Edisto in his subtle way, telling me to get my head on straight. He knew what he was doing. That sand and water are a part of me now. Do I use all my training? No. But I do catch things earlier than the force used to, because of my past in Boston. Guess I have the best of both worlds in me now.

SKYE: Ms. Slade, until recently I think the two of you had not met. Certainly, your line of work would not normally cross paths with the police chief on Edisto Island. How did you get involved in the work you do? And how is it, you seem to trip over mysteries no one else ever suspects?

SLADE: My grandparents operated a cotton farm in Mississippi, and I loved visiting them each summer. Later I gravitated to Clemson (Go Tigers! National Championship 2001, 2016, and 2018!) and got a degree in agriculture. Of course, that meant USDA employment. But it wasn’t until a farmer offered me a bribe did I get a taste of investigations. Like Callie, I have a long story, but mine was about solving an investigation without losing my job, my life, heck, even my kids got kidnapped. When I nailed that case I was hooked, and Agriculture created a job for me to investigate all the time. Bummer! LOL Trip over mysteries, you say? LOL again. Guess you could call it that. After my indoctrination into the world of federal agents and the criminal element, I don’t trust so easily anymore. I see things, maybe ponder stuff deeper. Hell, I don’t know. My partner Wayne is a federal agent, and he can’t put a finger on it either. (Callie laughing.) I come out okay in the end, which I hope is a long-time habit. The alternative might be a little scary, so guess I like to think I’ll always win. Makes me misstep at times, but I land on my feet because I give myself no other option. 

SKYE: Ms. Slade, I’m curious – I never thought much about the Department of Agriculture or what it does, but I’d never have guessed it would present that kind of danger.  The kind that would get your kids kidnapped. You must have been terrified, never mind what they went through. I hope they’ve adjusted and are doing okay now. But tell me, what kinds of things do you investigate?

SLADE: If I had a dime for every time somebody said that about Ag. Listen. Agriculture at the federal level doles out a ton of bucks. As much as VA. More than Education and Transportation. Wherever there’s money, there’s crime, and if you don’t understand the rural community, you don’t know how to spot the scams. I can spot things my agent friend Wayne never thought of. Farmers faking what they bought with loans. Taking government subsidies and using them for personal use. . . cars, vacation, or if you want to really get funky with it, drugs, bootleg items, firearms, and equity scams. Money’s money, honey, and it attracts such wicked people.

SKYE: As I mentioned earlier, your worlds are very different: Different place, different job. How did you two ladies meet?

CALLIE: Oh Lord, that’s a story.

SLADE: (Arms up to the side, shrugging.) Hey, I just went on vacation with Wayne. Just happened that we chose Edisto Island. I grew up an hour away, and used to go to that beach as a kid.

CALLIE: You just gave away that Wayne’s more than your partner, silly. She does that, you know. Talks and talks until she slips up. We met during a murder case. We had a new B&B on the island, and Miss Priss here came down to learn how to weave baskets. (Laughing.)

SLADE: Laugh all you want. I found the body.

CALLIE: You didn’t find anything. You stumbled, then stumbled again. Destroyed that crime scene to smithereens.

SLADE: We solved the case, didn’t we?

CALLIE: (Smiling at her friend.) That we did. 

SKYE: Is there anything either of you ladies would like your fans to know about your newest adventure?

SLADE: Well, it turned into the weirdest vacation I ever had. I decided I don’t want to live within ten miles of salt water and will never go in a boat again.

CALLIE: And I learned there’s stuff that’ll kill you in the woods, thanks to this lady who gets off on all things green. An agriculture investigator. Who’d have thought? I mean, what kind of law is broken with farmers? 

SLADE: Way more than you know, girl. The country isn’t just populated with dumb farmers in straw hats like everyone thinks. So I earned some respect, huh? Me and my plant knowledge?

CALLIE: You did, Slade. Opened my eyes big time.

SLADE: And I wondered what the hell (excuse my French) the beach police does more than stop golf carts and deal with drunks. Guess there are some skills there, too. 

CALLIE: (Smiling.)

SKYE: Are there things going on in your lives that never gets mentioned in any of the stories that you’d like to share?

SLADE: What else is there? My world is an open book. Just ask anyone who knows me.

CALLIE: And my life is on a need to know basis. What you don’t learn in the stories doesn’t need to be said.

SLADE: (Watching Callie introspectively.) I still need to get you to loosen up some more, girl. 

SKYE: I want to thank you both for taking time out of your busy lives to talk to us today. We can all hope that you both have a peaceful summer without any dead bodies showing up or farmers getting up to mischief. But I have to admit that I am looking forward to your next adventure, whatever it might be, or wherever it might take you. Thank you Callie and Slade for joining us today.


If my readers enjoyed this interview, be sure to look up the books you haven’t read and get caught up. Dying on Edisto features both Ms Carolina Slade and Chief Callie Morgan and is available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads



C. Hope Clark’s latest release is Dying on Edisto, Book 5 of the Edisto Island Mysteries. She has also authored the award-winning Carolina Slade mystery series and is working on another. She founded, selected by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for 18 years. Her newsletter reaches 35,000 readers. / /


Reviews for Dying on Edisto:

Having read and very much enjoyed both the Carolina Slade and Edisto series, I was eager to see where Ms. Clark would go when these two very different ladies met and I was not disappointed. Her use of point of view to see Callie Jean Morgan through the eyes of Carolina Slade and vice versa added spice to the story as we got to see both women in very different ways than we had before in their individual series. The story itself was well plotted and full of twists and turns with an ending I never saw coming. It was also fun to see Wayne, Slade’s “Lawman” as people other than Slade see him. He’s such an interesting character and we got to see more of his personality, and charm in Dying on Edisto. Every pivotal character in this story was so well drawn and interesting I felt like I was on the case with Callie and Slade and I didn’t want to put the book down. Snap this book up as soon as it is out and you won’t be disappointed. Skye Taylor, Author of the Camerons of Tide's Way series.


Murder, corruption, and page-turning intrigue are usually the elements that shine the brightest in mysteries like Hope Clark’s latest Dying on Edisto. But it’s the characters that bring a vivid literary element to Clark’s prose and create a strong emotional response to their tangled lives. The scenic town of Edisto Beach is peopled with a modern-day pirate claiming to be a descendent of Blackbeard, a degenerate travel blogger, a yoga teacher who drives a baby blue vintage Benz convertible, a mixed race waitress and her matriarchal grandmother, and a whole slew of wealthy and crooked good ole boys. Leading the cast are two strong female protagonists—a police chief and an investigator with the Department of Agriculture. Did someone say hemlock? —Susan Cushman, author of Cherry Bomb and editor of Southern Writers on Writing


"In a plot as complicated as the numerous waterways that create Edisto Island in South Carolina, C. Hope Clark has combined the characters from her two series to solve the murder of a renowned travel blogger. They mystery requires all of their detective skills and blends the two mystery worlds in a page-turning standalone. The story opens with a floater and progresses with edge-of-your-seat action. Prepare to be absorbed by Clark's crisp writing and compelling storytelling. This is one you don't want to miss!"--- Carolyn Haines is the USA Today bestselling author of three mystery series. She is the author of over 80 books and has received numerous writing awards.


Hope Clark converges her sleuths, Carolina and Callie Jean, on Edisto Island for the finale, Dying on Edisto, concluding her two murder mystery series. Slews of fans always awaited these highly addictive and superbly penned novels - grabbing you from the first page and not letting go until the last. A pristine, sleeper sea island, two determined masters of law who butt heads, a mystery corpse from Atlantic waters, a few idiosyncrasies along the way - the absolute best cast and plot for an intense coastal thriller. ~Karen Carter, Owner, Edisto Bookstore


Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 01:00 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, March 23 2019

Our March Round Robin Blog asks the questions -- How do you self-edit your books before submitting or publishing?


Back when I first began writing, it was on yellow lined paper with a pencil. Editing was done with the eraser and often with lots of notes in the margin, so many notes the document became difficult to read. Thankfully since then computers have arrived on the scene and they make it so much easier to edit, however one goes about it.


The other thing I did when I first began was to just write, and write, and write – NO editing at all. As another writer friend of mine often says, “The first draft is supposed to suck.” She’s a retired sailor, thus the colorful expression. As she and many other experienced authors will say, you can’t edit something that isn’t written and some folk, beginners especially, tend to second guess everything, get caught up in finding just the right word, or going back to fix something and end up stalling out with nothing ready to read. I’ve morphed from that beginning of writing everything that came into my head to a writer who tends to do some editing as I go, but save the big stuff for after the book is done. One of the reasons for this is I have a critique partner who reads each chapter as it is written and sends it back to me with comments and critique, and I usually fix those things before I dive into the next chapter. The other reason is that, even without a critique to consider, if I’ve been away from my characters and the action since I put the computer to sleep last night, or even longer, like several days, my mind and emotions have lost their immediate connection to the story. If I go back and read the last chapter I wrote, I can get my head back into the game a lot quicker, and there are always little things I notice and fix along the way.


But the bigger fixes – like I need to research something for a name or a title or a process or whatever, I type in something relating to what I need, highlight it with bright yellow and move on. If I have doubts about whose point of view I should be in, or if some big section should move to another place, or something should happen here first that I haven’t written yet, I’ll hit all caps AND MAKE MYSELF A NOTE ABOUT WHAT NEEDS TO BE FIXED OR CHANGED then move on. Staying in the story is important when you write character driven stories and write by the seat of your pants. If you happen to be a serious plotter, perhaps it doesn’t matter so much if you stop and fix big issues, because you have only to look at your outline to know where you’re going next. I’m a pantser and if I have any outline, it is bare bones. I need to stay in the story and not get sidetracked with editing as I go.


But now I’ve filled all those gaps, done all the research, figured out the POV and made the section consistent, and those ALL CAP places dealt with – NOW it’s time for my first major revision and edit. My personal method for this is to print the entire manuscript out, punch it and put it in a big binder. Then I go find a comfortable chair and settle in. I have post-its at hand, sometimes in more than one color and a pen. If it happens to be romance, I have blue and pink flags and I go through the first time marking each POV section with a blue flag for my hero and a pink one for my heroine. Then, just by glancing at the edges I can easily see if they are both well represented throughout. I have one book with five points of view so there were five colored flags. Then I read just those sections for one POV character, skipping over the others to see if that character is acting and thinking consistently and that I haven’t missed any important changes in their attitude. And finally I read the whole thing through as if I were a beta reader, leaving notes on post-its along the way or in the margins about possible problems. Once this is done, I put the printed book on a stand side by side with my computer monitor and open the manuscript. Page by page, I make whatever changes, edits, additions and deletions I’ve noted.


Then the document goes to my dedicated beta readers who just read. No editing or critiquing, just reading. And when they are done, they tell me how it went. Maybe they felt they didn’t know a specific character well enough, or something another character did didn’t make sense. Now I review the things they mention and maybe I’ve skipped some backstory information I knew so well I forgot the reader didn’t and I have to find a way to weave it in. Or maybe they were right and whatever my character did was so OUT of character I need to revise his or her behavior. By the time I get to the end of this, it’s time to have a copy editor or my acquiring editor at my publisher put eyes on it. I can fix whatever they find later, but my eyes have been looking at it for so long I no longer see any problems even when they are staring me in the face.


So, that’s my process. My advice to other authors who ask is to be open to honest critique. A second pair of eyes sees things you no longer see and might have ideas or thoughts that strengthen your story. It is your story so you are also free to ignore advice, but at least listen and give the thoughts a fair hearing before dismissing. And enjoy the ride, wherever it takes you.


Check out these authors and see how they approach this must do task.

Diane Bator 
Beverley Bateman 
Connie Vines 
Anne Stenhouse  
A.J. Maguire  
Dr. Bob Rich  

Victoria Chatham 
Helena Fairfax 
Judith Copek 
Rhobin L Courtright 

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 12:01 am   |  Permalink   |  9 Comments  |  Email
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