Thursday, September 2, 2010

Guest Post & GIVEAWAY ~ Laura Alden - Murder At The PTA

After people find out I’m a writer, one of the most common questions I’m asked is; “When did you start writing?”

The most truthful answer would be; “Um…I’m not sure.”

Should I count the play I wrote in second grade? As I vaguely recall, it started as a narrative about the history of my home town but slid ever-so-gently into a murder mystery. Even at age seven I was taking advantage of the privileges of artistic license.

If I don’t count the play, should I count my poetry? In fourth grade I entered a school-wide poetry contest. To tell you the truth, I don’t remember if I won third, second, or first place, but I must have won something, because part of the “prize” was getting up in front of entire student body and read my poem out loud.


I’d still like to know whose bright idea that was. Back in the 70’s, didn’t they know that kids who write poetry almost certainly aren’t the same kind of kids who want to speak in public? I mean, honestly. If the intention was to frighten me from publicly admitting I wrote, it worked like a charm.

Despite that, all through junior high, high school, and sad to say, through college, I continued to write horrible poetry. (Side note: How do I know it’s that bad? Because last year I came across a couple of pieces and, after a long bout of red-faced cringing, I couldn’t decide whether to laugh at my pompousness or cry at my naïveté.)

After college I entered the work world all eager and determined to Make Something of Myself. There were lots of long nights and Saturdays at the office. There was minimal time spent thinking about what I really wanted out of life, and even less time spent writing poetry – for which the world should be grateful.

Fast forward fifteen years. I left the management job for a simpler way of living. No more committee meetings, no more monthly newsletters, no more marketing plans to dream up, no more clients to cajole, no more drop dead deadlines to worry about.

Within a month, I was bored silly. A month after that, I’d started to write fiction. Go figure, eh?

I wrote a romance (it was awful), then a mystery (equally awful). Then another mystery (not quite as bad), then yet another mystery (nearly publishable). After that came a thriller and a mainstream novel set in the White House, and then I wrote the start of a cozy mystery and ended up with….a contract! For three books!! I may be a late bloomer, but at least I’m blooming.

Yes, twelve short years after I started writing in a serious way I’m about to see my debut novel in print. A dream come true? Well…yes!

About the author (short version)

I grew up in Grand Haven, Michigan, where I spent summers picking blueberries and winters falling down on skis.

In the early 80's I graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science degree in geology. While my pursuit of the degree was interesting, a knowledge of how biaxial crystals behave in convergent polarized light has proven completely useless in my various careers. Ah, well.

Except for a year spent in Connecticut, I've lived in Michigan all my life. Currently, I live on a lake with my husband and two cats. Which means I now spend winters and summers falling down on skis.

 Click HERE to visit Laura's website
Find Laura on Facebook HERE
Find Laura on Good Reads HERE
 Email Laura at lauraalden42 AT gmail DOT com 

Laura's DEBUT novel - Murder at the PTA is going to be released on October 5th.  She generously sent me an advanced reader copy to read and review. I'll be starting it today at lunch and I can't wait!  I'll be back with my review as soon as I finish the book!

Murder at the PTA (Pta Mysteries) 

  As the owner of a children's bookshop in the quaint town of Rynwood, Wisconsin, and a mother of two, Beth Kennedy has a full plate. So when her best friend, Marina, asks her to become the secretary for Tarver Elementary School's PTA, Beth can think of better ways to occupy what little free time she has. But after some arm-twisting (Marina's favorite activity), Beth agrees to come on board.

The course of PTA meetings never has run smoothly, but when Tarver's unpopular principal turns up dead, Beth realizes that making bake sales wheat-free and funding class trips weren't the only things on the agenda. Then the local gossip blogs, WisconSINS, starts fanning the flames of speculation, and it seems like everyone is a suspect---especially certain members of the PTA. Beth knows she must race to find the killer before he teaches another fatal lesson....


Beth Kennedy, mother of Jenna and Oliver, has been divorced for a year now, and her BFF Marina thinks it’s about time she got off her butt and got out some more. It doesn’t seem to matter to Marina that Beth thinks she gets out plenty. Hello - she does own a children’s bookshop in town and has two children – all of which keep her plenty busy. Unfortunately for Beth, that is not what Marina has in mind. She thinks that Beth should run for secretary of the PTA. What Beth doesn’t know is that there are no other “candidates”. She’s it, and she has just volunteered for the position. There go her Wednesday nights alone while the kids are with her ex.

Granted the PTA meetings never go easy, but had Beth known what was about to happen at her very first meeting as secretary, she never would have “volunteered.” Agnes Mephisto, the much despised principal of Travers Elementary School, has decided that, thanks to a very anonymous and very large donation, there will be a new addition to the school. And not only has SHE made this decision, she already had the plans (they were hideous) and the builders are ready to start. Since it was a private donation, there needed to be no discussion about it, as there were no taxpayer dollars involved. WELL….let me tell you, this news did not sit well with the parents. And not to long after the meeting, Agnes ends up dead.

The gossip blog, WisconSINS, starts printing not so nice information about the locals and soon Marina (the not so anonymous author of the blog) starts receiving death threats warning her to back off. With her friend’s life in jeopardy, and having gotten a better understanding of Agnes’s life after speaking with her sister, Beth sets off to track down the killer. With a list of parents/suspects a mile long, it takes some clever sleuthing on Beth’s part to whittle down the list. But will she find the killer before he/she finds her or Marina? Is it a parent hoping to put a stop to the ugly addition or someone that has nothing to do with the school itself? Or just maybe it’s the handsome, mysterious man that has reappeared in Beth’s life? A man she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl. While it was fairly easy to figure out who the mysterious donor was, it wasn’t so easy when it came to the killer. There are lots of hints that will have you thinking one thing, only to find out they mean something completely different, and those things having nothing to do with murder and mayhem. Laura Alden’s Murder at the PTA is a fun, fresh, and exciting addition to the cozy genre. It’s great start to a new series by a new author. Just don’t let the teacher catch you not reading it.


I'll be giving away my copy of Murder at the PTA (Pta Mysteries) to ONE (1) lucky winner.

GIVEAWAY  Rules for entering:

  • This contest is open to residents of USA residents only!
  • Please complete the form below - do not leave information in the comments - it will not count.
  • The contest will end on September 16, 2010 at 11:59PM EST; 1 winners will be selected and contacted thereafter.
  • Once the winner is contacted, they will have 48 hours to respond to my email or another winner will be chosen (make sure to check your spam filters!).
  • Book will be shipped directly from me


FTC Full Disclosure ~ the author sent me this book in the hopes that I would review it.