Fatal Brushstroke by Sybil Johnson
Fatal Brushstroke (An Aurora Anderson Mystery Book 1)
Publisher: Henery Press (November 18, 2014)
Paperback: 276 pages
E-Book File Size: 485 KB
A dead body in her garden and a homicide detective on her doorstep…
Computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson doesn’t envision finding either when she steps outside to investigate the frenzied yipping coming from her own backyard. After all, she lives in Vista Beach, a quiet California beach community where violent crime is rare and murder even rarer.
Suspicion falls on Rory when the body buried in her flowerbed turns out to be someone she knows—her tole painting teacher, Hester Bouquet. Just two weekends before, Rory attended one of Hester’s weekend painting seminars, an unpleasant experience she vowed never to repeat. As evidence piles up against Rory, she embarks on a quest to identify the killer and clear her name. Can Rory unearth the truth before she encounters her own brush with death?
What would you do if a dead body showed up in your yard? That’s exactly what happens in this cozy mystery. Although it is told in third person, you get the feel that the story is being told by Rory, the main character. Rory does seem to lie a lot, which makes her seem suspicious. Sometimes this annoyed me, but I also think it’s refreshing to see human flaws in the main character. It breathes life to the character. She is not perfect, and her life is not perfect either.
Along with Rory, the author does a great job of leading you to believe that any one of four people could be the murderer. This book had me guessing, though I will say that one character stood out to me about three quarters of the way through the book as the main suspect in my own head. It turned out I was right.
This was a fast moving read. I was compelled to continue turning pages until the end. I also enjoyed how this book was art-related. I was an art minor in college, so I enjoyed the references to the art work and craft projects.
My only complaint is that it is told in fits and starts, meaning sometimes I’m happily reading along, then bam! The story abruptly stops at the end of each chapter and I feel like I’m left hanging, like the chapter wasn’t quite finished and the next chapter moved on to a different subject. But, all in all, I enjoyed the book, and I’d give this one four stars. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book written by Sybil Johnson!
Disclaimer: I was given this book in exchange for an honest interview in conjunction with the book tour for this book.
What Tole Painting Taught Me
by Sybil Johnson
Like Rory Anderson, the main character in my book Fatal Brushstroke, I’m a tole/decorative painter. (Decorative painting seems to be the preferred term these days, though I still often use tole.) I started painting in the early 90s, several years before I started writing. I’ve gone to conventions, taken classes, and worked on projects on my own.
Over the years I’ve learned a lot from painting that I can apply to my writing life. Whenever I get discouraged, the following bits of wisdom keep me moving forward. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.
- You can only paint/write based on your ability at the time. Be patient. Don’t expect to be perfect right off the bat. It takes time and practice to learn a new skill. The more projects you work on, the better you’ll become.
- Don’t constantly compare yourself to others. There will always be someone who paints better or writes better. That doesn’t mean what you’re doing isn’t valid. Just do the best you can. We’re often not the best judges of our own work, anyway.
- You won’t know what a project looks like until it’s finished. Don’t fret over it while it’s in progress. About halfway through every painting project I’ve ever worked on, I look at it and think it’s not turning out as I’d hoped, so why bother? The same is true of every writing project, be it short story or novel. But I keep on plugging away and, at the end, I like the final result and feel it was worth spending time on.
- You can always start over. Wood can be sanded, paint can be removed from most surfaces. In writing, chapters can be rewritten, characters can be changed. Just because you put it down on paper or typed it into a Word document doesn’t mean it’s permanent. We tend to think if something is written down or already painted it can’t be modified. Why? You started the project in the first place. You have control over it, you can change it.
- Periodically look at a project as a whole. One of my painting teachers told me this when I complained about how a project was turning out. She held the project a few feet away from me and told me to look at it again. It looked better than I’d thought. Don’t dwell on every brushstroke, don’t dwell on every word and sentence. Look at the project as a whole. Sure, details are important but, in my eyes at least, the overall effect is more important.
- You don’t have to do everything the way the instructions say. You can change paint colors if you want. You can omit part of a design if it doesn’t suit you. You can ignore writing rules as long as you understand them and know why you’re ignoring them.
- Don’t give up. You never know what’s going to happen or how something is going to turn out until the end. A painting project looks better after it’s varnished. A writing project looks better after it’s polished.
And most important of all
- Be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Take a moment to celebrate your achievement. You finished a painting project! You finished a book or short story! If you’ve never painted or written a book or short story before, wow! you did it! If this is your second, third or nth short story/painting project/book, wow! you did it again! Remember to take time to celebrate your accomplishments. Lots of people say they want to write or paint. How many actually sit down and do it?
Purchase Link: Amazon
About This Author:
Sybil Johnson’s love affair with reading began in kindergarten with “The Three Little Pigs.” Visits to the library introduced her to Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and a host of other characters. Fast forward to college where she continued reading while studying Computer Science. After a rewarding career in the computer industry, Sybil decided to try her hand at writing mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-E and Spinetingler Magazine, among others. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Southern California where she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages and spending time with friends and family.
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