I received this book for free from . This review is voluntary. My opinion is not influenced in any way.A Disguise to Die For on February 2, 2016
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Someone is dressed to kill in the debut Costume Shop Mystery from the national bestselling author of the Material Witness mysteries.
No sooner does former magician’s assistant Margo Tamblyn return home to Proper City, Nevada, to run Disguise DeLimit, the family-owned costume shop, than she gets her first big order. Wealthy nuisance Blitz Manners needs forty costumes for a detective-themed birthday bash. As for Blitz himself, his Sherlock Holmes is to-die-for—literally—when, in the middle of the festivities, Margo’s friend and party planner Ebony Welles is caught brandishing a bloody carving knife over a very dead Blitz.
For Margo, clearing Ebony’s name is anything but elementary, especially after Ebony flees town. Now Margo is left to play real-life detective in a town full of masked motives, cloaked secrets, and veiled vendettas. But as she soon learns, even a killer disguise can't hide a murderer in plain sight for long.
Includes Recipes & Costume Ideas!
I have always been good about writing under pressure. It helps to have a date in mind when I’m expected to pass a manuscript off to a beta reader or editor, or to turn it in to the publisher. It does not always help to ask for more time, because I have found that, like most jobs, the work will expand to fill the time allotted!
By the time this blog post goes live, I will have turned in the third Costume Shop mystery. I know this for two reasons: 1) the deadline is February 1, and 2) the original deadline was December 1 and I already asked for one extension. (That’s the first time I asked for an extension to a deadline, and, being a Capricorn, I’m not one to abuse the grant of time.) A few personal issues kept my mind from achieving total focus early on, but I must say, I like how it’s shaping up.
Here’s my process: I write a first draft as quickly as I can. This often includes messy spots, where I write “XXX GO BACK AND FIX” or “XXX LOOK UP THE NAME OF A SUITABLE CAR.” (True confession: in order to expand my word count, I changed the car in question from a Pinto to a Le Sabre, thus getting two words instead of one.) Writing quickly without an outline can lead to spontaneous discoveries along the way, but it can also have pitfalls, like when you write a scene and then realize the story stalled and you have to go back and take it a different direction.
Once I have a finished draft, I read over the whole thing and fix all of the XXX spots (you didn’t know cozies could have XXX spots, did you?), fix any typos (they creep in there!), and do a general polish, and then send it on to early readers for feedback. These are people who I trust will know that a polished first draft is still far from a finished draft. A huge wave of relief washes over me at this stage, largely because denial allows me to believe that I’m finished. Ha!
When feedback arrives, I read over the comments and my subconscious starts to process the information. A few weeks have passed since I sent the manuscript off, and with the benefit of time and space, I can go back in and view the story with more clinical eyes. I do a general edit, fixing the issues that have obvious room for improvement. Then I print and go at it with the dreaded red pen.
True confession: of 246 double-spaced pages, this current manuscript has probably less than 10 that didn’t earn red pen edits.
I do believe that being an avid reader helps to train my internal editor, so now I can read the story and see sentences that are unclear, fix word echos (where the same word appears multiple times in a short amount of text), identify obvious questions that are not being answered in the plot, and attempt to follow the clues that I’ve laid out to see if they lead to the correct conclusion. Sometimes I find passages that can be expanded and other times I delete entire paragraphs. My overall word count tends to stay pretty close to where it started with additions and deletions voiding each other. Character and scene descriptions benefit from a little TLC at this point, too. Often I gloss over them in the initial fast-first-draft phase.
Redline edits complete, I’m ready to turn the manuscript in. This does not necessarily mean it’s ready for publication! In most cases it finds its way into the queue of my editor, who does her own read through and sends back to me with anything I failed to catch. This stage won’t happen for a few months, though, so I’m back to that wonderful place called denial, where the overwhelming sense of accomplishment at having met my deadline outweighs the reality that there is still work to be done before the manuscript goes to print.
A Disguise to Die For by Diane Vallere is the first book in the Costume Shop Mystery series. I always get so excited reading the first book in a series. Anyhow…Margo Tamblyn lives in Las Vegas, not too far from her hometown of Prosper City, Nevada. She works as a magician’s assistant. She is called back home to help with her dad’s costume shop, Disguise DeLimit (see what she did there?!), after his heart attack.
Her first day back has her and her father, Jerry, putting together 40 costumes for a detective themed party. Blitz Manners, the spoiled rich man who commissioned the costumes, winds up dead at his own detective birthday party. Margo’s friend, Ebony, is suspected of murdering Blitz. Ebony is like a mother to Margo, and Margo sets out to prove her innocence. She has a little help from Tak Hoshiyama (and I’m so hoping there’s a romance there!).
This was a fun cozy mystery. I loved all the little nuances throughout that were costume related. Margo really dresses the part, in a different costume every day, and it’s a lot of fun to read about her different outfits. Even Ebony dresses in a ’70s theme every day, and the author makes sure to describe Ebony’s outfit of the day as well. This cozy was easy to read and fast-paced. Though I figured out the killer a little before Margo did, I still enjoyed the mystery. The setting was awesome, and I am anxious to see what develops between Margo and Tak. If you’re looking for a new cozy series, pick this one up.
Special giveaway for Brooke Blogs readers! Enter below for your chance to win a paperback copy of A Disguise to Die For by Diane Vallere. This contest is open to US residents and will end at 11:59PM EST on 02/18/16. Winner will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be selected. Thank you to the publisher for an awesome giveaway ~ and thank you for entering. Good luck!