Guest Post: Lois Schmitt – PLAYING POSSUM

Playing Possum

by Lois Schmitt

February 1-28, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Good day, book people. Have you ever considered the importance of the names of characters. Would Gone with the Wind have been as memorable without characters named Scarlett and Rhett? Would we still be talking about Pride and Prejudice if the primary characters weren’t named Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy? (Did you even remember his first name was Fitzwilliam?!) We place a lot of importance on names, whether consciously or subconsciously aware. Today’s guest, Lois Scmitt, author of Playing Possum is joining us and discussing the importance of names. Thank you, Ms. Schmitt, for joining us today and sharing with us your thoughts on “what’s in a name.” I hope everyone will enjoy your insights, add Playing Possum to their TBR lists, and follow this blog tour to learn more about this book and author. Ms. Schmitt, the blog is now all yours.

What’s In a Name?
by Lois Schmitt

Who is older—Ethel or Ashley? Who comes from old family money—Cynthia Pickney Winslet or Blanche Dipple?

Names tell a lot about characters. They create powerful images. Fagan (Oliver Twist) immediately makes you think “bad guy.” Since a name is often the reader’s first introduction to a character, it can be instrumental in creating a first impression.

Another reason names are important is to enable the reader to recall characters that may have appeared in earlier chapters. In reading a mystery, this is essential if you are an armchair detective who wants to figure out “whodunit.” For this reason, names need to be memorable.

One technique that can be used, sparingly, to help the reader remember is to have a name that relates to the character’s profession. This actually happens in real life. Years ago, there was a veterinarian in my community named Dr. Fish and a Water Commissioner whose last name was Flood.

In my mystery series, my amateur sleuth deals with two police detectives—Detective Wolfe and Detective Fox. My sleuth is a writer for a wildlife magazine, so since my series deals with animals, there is a connection. The detectives are introduced in my first mystery, Monkey Business, which involves murder at a zoo. My sleuth makes the following comment upon meeting them.

“Wolfe? Fox? At a zoo? Really?”

There are lots of other ways to make names memorable. If a character mentions how he got his name that can make it easier to remember. For example, a character named Cody might state that his parents had a fascination with Buffalo Bill whose real name was William Cody.

In the series by G.A. MeKevett, her main character is named Savannah Reid. Savannah was born in Georgia. Her brothers and sisters are also named after cities in that state, such as Marietta, and Macon.

First and last names that begin with the same letter can sometimes be easier to remember too. In my new mystery, Playing Possum, I have a character named George Grogin.

In mysteries, names can sometimes provide clues to the murderer. Example: A necklace with the initial “E” is found at a crime scene. There are three suspects—Emma, Beth, and Mary. It must be Emma, right? Wrong. Beth is actually a common nickname for Elizabeth. Although this suspect may be called Beth throughout the book, an armchair detective might figure it out along with the amateur sleuth.

Choosing character names is fun, and I use lots of methods. The most obvious is the white pages of the phone book. (Yes, I have an old copy.) Thanks to the Internet, I also can research the most popular names for the year, and I can go back many years to check (Example: The most popular names of 1970.)

I also pay attention to names in the newspaper, on television, and of people I meet. While I would never knowingly use someone’s real name, I might combine one person’s first name with someone else’s last name if I thought the two names worked together.

I have two ways to help me overcome writer’s block, and I use these to help me with names too. I think about a character right before I go to bed and often wake up with a name. I also take a walk every day, weather permitting. I like to walk in a nature preserve near my home. I’ll think of a character while I’m walking and sometimes a name will pop up.

Names are important as they are part of a character’s identity and help enrich the story. ♦

Playing Possum

by Lois Schmitt

February 1-28, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Playing Possum by Lois Schmitt

Murder, Mayhem, and Missing Animals.

When animals mysteriously disappear from the Pendwell Wildlife Refuge, former English teacher turned magazine reporter Kristy Farrell is on the case. Days later, the body of the refuge’s director is found in a grassy clearing.

Kristy, assisted by her veterinarian daughter, investigates and discovers strong motives among the suspects, including greed, infidelity, betrayal, and blackmail.

As Kristy delves further, she finds herself up against the powerful Pendwell family, especially matriarch Victoria Buckley Pendwell, chair of the refuge board of trustees, and Victoria’s son, Austin Pendwell, who is slated to run for the state senate.

But ferreting out the murderer and finding the missing animals aren’t Kristy only challenges. While researching a story on puppy mills, she uncovers criminal activity that reaches far beyond the neighborhood pet store.

Meanwhile, strange things are happening back at the refuge, and soon a second murder occurs. Kristy is thwarted in her attempts to discover the murderer by her old nemesis, the blustery Detective Wolfe.

Kristy perseveres and as she unearths shady deals and dark secrets, Kristy slowly draws the killer out of the shadows.

Praise for Playing Possum:

Lois Schmitt’s Playing Possum does cozies proud. Fresh and traditional all at once.”
-Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of Sleepless City

“In her third book of the series, writer Lois Schmitt has crafted an intricately-plotted mystery full of twists and humor, with a cast of colorful characters, set in a wildlife refuge rehab center. Cozy fans, and especially followers of Schmitt’s animal lovers’ mysteries, will find great entertainment in Playing Possum.”
-Phyllis Gobbell, award-winning author of the Jordan Mayfair Mysteries

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Encircle Publications
Publication Date: December 8, 2021
Number of Pages: 296
ISBN: 1645993051 (hardcover)
ISBN13: 9781645993056 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781645993049 (paperback)
ASIN: B09LK4CFB7 (Kindle edition)
Series: A Kristy Farrell Animal Lovers Mystery, #3
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Lois Schmitt

A mystery fan since she read her first Nancy Drew, Lois Schmitt combined a love of mysteries with a love of animals in her series featuring animal magazine reporter Kristy Farrell. Lois is member of several wildlife conservation and humane organizations, as well as Mystery Writers of America. She received 2nd runner-up for the Killer Nashville Claymore award for her second book in the series entitled Something Fishy, She previously served as media spokesperson for a local consumer affairs agency and currently teaches at a community college. Lois lives in Massapequa, Long Island with her family, which includes a 120 pound Bernese Mountain dog. This dog bears a striking resemblance to Archie, a dog of many breeds featured in her Kristy Farrell Mystery Series.

Catch Up With Lois Schmitt:
LoisSchmitt.com
Goodreads
Instagram: @loisschmittmysteries
Twitter: @schmittmystery
Facebook: @LoisSchmittAuthor

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Guest Author: Lois Schmitt – SOMETHING FISHY

Good day, book people. I hope that everyone has had a great week and found some time for reading. I had been in a bit of a reading slump lately due to these incessant migraine headaches accompanied by a bit of vertigo (migraine the gift that keeps on giving). Fortunately, the slump is over and it’s back to reading some favorites (I know, I keep saying I won’t do it then I do…I love re-reading!) as well as some new-to-me authors and books. Having a blog is a great way to be introduced to these new-to-me authors and books considering there are at least 2700 books released each day (yes, that IS the number for daily new releases). Today I’m pleased to introduce you to one such new-to-me authors, Lois Schmitt. Ms. Schmitt writes the Kristy Farrell mysteries including Something Fishy and she’ll be discussing unusual animals with us today. So kick back, grab a cool beverage, and let’s visit with Lois Schmitt for awhile. Thank you, Ms. Schmitt for joining us today, I’m looking forward to what you have to say. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

 

The Most Unusual Animal

by Lois Schmitt

If you were to pick the most unusual animal in the world what would it be? The giraffe because of its long neck? The elephant with its trunk? The zebra that looks like a horse in crazy striped pajamas?

My mystery series always involves animals in some way. In researching background on wildlife, I’ve come across several strange creatures.

The duck-billed platypus looks as if its body was formed by a committee—with each committee member picking a part. This animal has the beak of a duck, the tail of a beaver, and the torso of an otter. The duck-billed platypus is native to Australia. The male is one of the world’s few venomous mammals. It has sharp stingers on the heel of its feet which can discharge this venom.

Next is the midwife toad—who carries his eggs on the back of his legs. Yes, HIS legs. It is the male who does this. When the eggs are ready to hatch, the midwife toad puts his back legs into the water. Soon after, tiny tadpoles burst out of the eggs and start swimming.

Then, there is the pinecone that moves, otherwise known as a pangolin. Of course, it’s not a real pinecone—it just looks like one when it rolls up in a ball for protection. The pangolin does this when it senses danger. Its dark brown scales are very hard, and they act as armor.

A sloth is the slowest animal in the world. It spends most of its life hanging upside down from a tree. It eats, sleeps, and gives birth to its babies this way. The three-toed sloth has arms that are 50% longer than its legs. Sloths sleep more than twenty hours a day. When awake, they barely move.

Another unusual animal is the fainting goat. When frightened, this animal’s muscles become completely stiff, and the goat falls over. Luckily, this causes no pain, and the goat recovers in ten to twenty seconds.

The lyrebird is unique in its ability to imitate sounds of not only human voices and other animals, but also the noises of industrial and power equipment. These birds have been found mimicking the noise of a chainsaw in a forest, a camera shutter opening and closing, and a car alarm. A single lyrebird also has the ability to imitate the sounds made by an entire flock of birds.

One of the world’s funniest looking creatures comes from the ocean—the red lipped batfish. Its bright red lips make it appear as if it is wearing lipstick. It also looks like it has legs, but these are actually fins that it uses to stand on the ocean floor.

While the red lipped batfish may have a comical appearance, the goblin shark, is one of the world’s scariest looking fish. Often called a “living fossil,” it resembles a prehistoric monster with its beady eyes, huge snout, and its bizarre extendable jaw. Elastic tissue allows the jaw to be thrust three inches out when capturing prey. It gets its name from the long nosed, red faced, Japanese demon known as the Tengu.

Since the goblin shark lives deep in the ocean, sightings of it are rare. I don’t have a goblin shark in my mystery, Something Fishy, but my protagonist does have an encounter with a nine foot bull shark. Although the bull shark doesn’t resemble a prehistoric monster, it is frightening to see one coming toward you.

What animal do you think is the most unusual?


 

Something Fishy

by Lois Schmitt

June 1-30, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

When attorney Samuel Wong goes missing. wildlife magazine reporter Kristy Farrell believes the disappearance is tied into her latest story concerning twenty acres of prime beachfront property that the Clam Shell Cove Aquarium hopes to purchase. Sam works for multi-millionaire land developer Lucien Moray who wants to buy the property for an upscale condominium. The waterfront community is divided on this issue like the Hatfields and McCoys with environmentalists siding with the aquarium and local business owners lining up behind Moray.

Meanwhile, a body is found in the bay. Kristy, aided by her veterinarian daughter, investigates and discovers deep secrets among the aquarium staff–secrets that point to one of them as a killer. Soon the aquarium is plagued with accidents, Kristy has a near death encounter with a nine foot bull shark, and a second murder occurs.

But ferreting out the murderer and discovering the story behind Sam’s disappearance aren’t Kristy’s only challenges. When her widowed septuagenarian mother announces her engagement, Kristy suspects her mom’s soon to be husband is not all he appears to be. As Kristy tries to find the truth before her mother ties the knot, she also races the clock to find the aquarium killer before this killer strikes again.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Encircle Publications
Publication Date: July 15th 2019
Number of Pages: 244
ISBN: 1948338793 (ISBN13: 9781948338790)
Series: A Kristy Farrell Mystery #2 || Each is a Stand-Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Encircle Publications | Goodreads

Author Bio:

A mystery fan since she read her first Nancy Drew, Lois Schmitt combined a love of mysteries with a love of animals in her series featuring wildlife reporter Kristy Farrell. She is a member of several wildlife and humane organizations as well as Mystery Writers of America. Lois worked for many years as a freelance writer and is the author of Smart Spending, a consumer education book for young people. She previously worked as media spokesperson for a local consumer affairs agency and currently teaches at Nassau Community College on Long Island. Lois lives in Massapequa with her family which includes a 120 pound Bernese Mountain Dog. This dog bears a striking resemblance to Archie, a dog of many breeds who looks like a small bear, featured in her Kristy Farrell Mystery Series. Lois was 2nd runner up for the Killer Nashville Claymore Award for Something Fishy.

Catch Up With Our Author:
LoisSchmitt.com
Goodreads
Twitter: @schmittmystery
Facebook: @LoisSchmittAuthor
Instagram: @loisschmittmysteries

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=301443

ENTER TO WIN:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Lois Schmitt. There will be TWO winners. TWO (2) winners will each receive (1) Amazon.com Gift Card of varying amounts. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2021 and ends on July 1, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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