Posts Tagged ‘great teen mystery books’

I have included the interior illustrations for The Mystery of the Lost Avenger. I think my illustrator Marianne Savage did a great job on book cover and illustrations. Here they are.


bookcoverMyster of the Lost Avenger -R2

Searching the Attic for Charlotte

Searching the Attic for Charlotte Wheeler, Annie’s great grandmother and test pilot.

Charlotte in Hangar - reduced

Searching the Attic for Charlotte Wheeler, Annie’s great grandmother and test pilot.


Annie, Ty and Trouble search for clues in treasures from the attic.





Here are some cool posters and photos I found when I researched the role of women in WWII, especially those who were involved with the manufacture, testing and flying of milItary aircraft.

An American Icon

An American Icon

An American Icon

An American Icon

The Avenger

The Avenger

images (2)

Dreaming about the Pilot who will fly this plane?


Proud, Confident and Competent.
























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I have truly enjoyed the Twitter feeds on the various candidates in the run-up to the presidential primaries. They have given me chuckles and a window into some of the most outrageous political comments ever. However, as a writer, I use Twitter as a research tool. Use your Twitter account to find book stores, publishers, book reviewers, other authors in your genre. Just enter the term of the subject you desire into the search bar. The accounts that come up are for those companies and individuals who are active on social media and looking to meet up with you, offer you services, or do business with you. Clicking on these accounts will bring you to their website and contact information. It is really easier than doing a Google search. Just another way to hone your marketing skills.

Use Twitter to help in your marketing research.

Use Twitter to help in your marketing research.

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An American Icon

An American Icon

If you want to cure your writers’ block, get into the research for your book. If you hadn’t planned on doing research because you are writing a romance in your home town, think again.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s the history of the town?
  • Did, or does the town have any mysteries you could weave into your story?
  • Where do your characters come from, if they didn’t live in the town forever?
  • How do they interact with the town? For example, do your characters hold views that are contrary to what the town supports?
  • If it’s a small town, put an ad in the local newspaper asking to see old letters and photos.

The facts you unearth can give your character multi-dimentionality, and your plot more complexity.

The book I am working on now has my heroine receiving a letter from Naval Intelligence (better known as NCIS) about a WWII plane that crashed in a remote area of the U.S. in 1943. The investigators found a note in the plane they traced to her great grandmother who worked in a defense plant manufacturing fighter planes. I needed to do a lot of research about women’s roles in WWII, the plane grandma worked on, its role in the war, her pilot fiance, creating a secret code, and how to go about taking flying lessons.

I went to a local aviation museum where the curator and the archivist piled file upon file, and several books on a dusty table in a hangar they use as their office and exhibit workshop. The hangar is located near where Charles Lindbergh took off for Paris. The hangar itself was an inspiration. Except for the computer on the curator’s desk, and the copy machine, everything was old, as if someone had locked it up in 1945 and I was just discovering it. I had already done quite a bit of research on the Web, but this experience with yellowed pages, original blueprints and factory reports, and pictures of beautiful eager young faces (now in their 90’s) transported me. I was there feeling the tension of that production line that, at one point, produced a plane an hour. I could imagine those Rosie the Riveter gals kissing the plane off to some brave pilot, and I could feel the incredible energy that saved the world.

Getting back to the writing process, it clarified some plot elements I was having trouble with and gave me some sensory impressions that will energize my characters like hair styles, pilot’s uniforms, and the real “Rosies” in their coveralls and bandannas.

The enormity of what America and her allies did in WWII inspired me to tell my story, not just as a mystery, but as a “little lesson” in history for my young readers. I walked out into the hot summer afternoon with a folder full of photocopied material, humming Glen Miller’s In the Mood.

                                                                READ TO WRITE


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Recently I was privileged to  do a Mystery Writers Workshop for a fifth grade class on Long Island. The students read my three Annie Tillery Mysteries, and  wrote me letters I will always cherish. The students are lucky enough to have a teacher who has developed a Literature Circle in her classroom. The school hosted an Author/Illustrator Night through Long Island Children’s Writers and Illustrators, and the students got to meet me. Later I visited the class and we did a mystery writeing workshop. See my previous blog. Here are some of the questions and comments from the students. What fun!

Reading and Writing

Reading and Writing

1. What does Annie, your main character look like. “I was wondering how you pictured Annie looking like and was it like the illustrations?”

2.”I love all these books because they have a lot of action.”

3.”I was wondering how you got the idea for mysteries.”

“The only way I can snap out of it (reading a good book) is if somebody takes the book, does something physical to me, or I simply look up to see what is going on.”

4. “I like the book because it reminds me of Indiana Jones and I also like how Annie has a lot of adventure.”

5. “Why do you have the same format for your book covers?’

6. “Why do you have the same characters in your books?”

7. “Why did you pick the name, Annie, for your main character?”

8. “Why did you choose the series to be mystery books?”

Whoops! I got an idea.

Whoops! I got an idea.

9. “Why did Annie not like her father?”

10, “I am reading your book, Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys, and I absolutely love it. The setting is fantastic, the plot is out of this world, and I can’t even tell you how good the characters are. I think the book has excitement, mystery, friendship, and romance all throughout the book. Where in the world did you think of such a good story?”

11. “I must ask you how you came up with he characters’ names? I myself am writing a story, and I am struggling with finding names for my characters. Are they based off of real people? Or did you just randomly pick names. My second question is did you include real facts about ghosts in the book? Or did you make them up? For example, in the story it said, ‘Don’t ghosts run on some sort of energy?’. When I read that, I felt more interested about ghosts. Also,k besides the questions I really admired how you put many advanced words. It helped me with my vocabulary, and it helps me become more of an advanced writer.”

12. “What inspired you to be an author?”

13. “Why do you write about ghosts?”

14.”I was wondering if you have any children, and what part do you live in?”

15. “When did you start being an author?”

Waiting for inspiration.

Waiting for inspiration.

16. How do you come up with your ideas for books?”
17. “What is your feeling about writing?”

18. “Is writing a story hard?”

Some of the questions were about specific plot choices I made.

I loved this comment too. “I think you chose the right job to be an author.” For those of you who write, it sometimes takes a long time to get that validation.

teen mystery, girl detective, ghost story, summer read

Annie and her boyfriend, Ty, uncover the secrets hidden by Fire Island and The Madonna Ghost.

New Annie Tillery Mystery

Take the magic carpet ride of your imagination to Turkey. Join Annie and Ty in the caves of mysterious Cappadocia for another thrilling adventure.

An exciting YA mystery

The Brooklyn Bridge leads to the mysterious brownstone in Brooklyn where Annie and friends must find the clues to solve the murder of John DiCristiani.

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You never know, when you write a book, what the reviews will be. I’d like to share these reviews with you. First, because I am grateful that my work is appreciated, and second because the reviewers got what I hoped that you, the reader, would also get. Thanks for reading Annie Tillery Mysteries, great teen mystery books.

Raymond Klesc at New Book Journal has included “Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys” in the collection. See it at:

at Pinterest at…

Simon Barrett at bloggernews.net gives all three books a lovely review.

For “The Madonna Ghost”


I first encountered author Linda Frank when I read her third book in the Annie Tillery series The Secrets In The Fairy Chimneys. Linda Frank assured me in an interview that while the books were indeed a series, each one was a stand alone work with Annie and her boyfriend Ty as the central characters.
I rather like the book, so I am not prepared to take the plot discussion any further. I will leave that for readers to discover by themselves. But I will make some observations, Linda Frank knows her stuff. She is a retired science teacher at both High School and College level. One popular class was ‘forensics’.

The Madonna Ghost is a great way to introduce Young Adult readers to the often convoluted world of science. It is easy to confuse a fictional TV show such as CSI with reality. Linda Frank does use an element of science to tell the story, but much prefers good old common sense.

For “Girl with Pencil Drawing”


Girl With Pencil, Drawing was the second in the series. In some ways it is also my favorite. Possibly it is because of the subject matter, stolen and forged art work. This is an area that I have spent countless hours researching. The book is fiction, but in true Linda Frank fashion, there is a huge amount of factual content. This is learning without realizing you are learning!
What jumped out at me while reading Girl With Pencil, Drawing was the close attention paid to detail. No art forger with his or her salt forges a well known work, Trying to sell a copy of the Mona Lisa, would likely not get very far in the art world. Forgers tend to go for lesser known artists. A good forger does not copy, he creates a new as yet undiscovered work by an artist. The master forger will even go so far as to weave a fictitious provenance for the work.

Linda Frank touches on all of these subjects and much more. Although billed as a YA (Young Adult) book I think it has much broader appeal.

For “Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys”


This is third book that Linda Maria Frank has published in her Annie Tillery series. People love to put books in genres and the publisher has deemed that Secrets In The Fairy Chimneys is Juvenile Fiction. I personally would have labeled it YA (Young Adult), but that is of no matter. It is the story that matters, not the filing cabinet it is put in.

I rather like the style that the author uses, she does not talk down to her young readers, rather she treats them as peers on a quest.
I had the opportunity to talk to Linda before reading her latest book. It is amazing how much you can learn about a book before you read it. “CSI meets Nancy Drew” was a comment that I rather liked. Indeed Annie Tillery is much more modern than Nancy Drew. The writing style is also much more modern.

Growing up I was a fan of Enid Blyton and the Famous Five, even the Secret Seven. Those books are now dated. The youth of today are looking for stories that they can relate to. iPhones and computers are the key.

Secrets In The Fairy Chimneys is a great read, what I particularly like is that Linda Maria Frank manages to weave a good deal of factual material into the action and adventure. One could call it ‘sneaky learning’ 🙂 This actually should come as no surprise as the author was a school and college teacher before turning her attention to writing.

There is also a very interesting twist in the end of the book. It is one that I had not foreseen, yet makes perfect sense.

And from My Blog Tour, Enchanted Blog Tours

After all the hard work of writing publishing and promoting the Annie Tillery Mystery series, it is pure joy to get a review that gets what I have been trying so hard for. Thanks Mindy.


I have fallen in love with spunky Annie and her mysteries. This is going to become part of the books I pass down to the children in my life.
I give this book 4.5 out of 5 clouds.

And lastly from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Madonna-Ghost-Linda-Maria-Frank/dp/1491710624/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Linda Frank might as well be the next Carolyn Keene with her new age mystery luring readers from every angle–suspense, romance, and modern forensics. This is a perfect book for all ages, particularly young readers who might find Nancy Drew a bit old-fashioned. Written in a way where every chapter leaves you with a crisp, familiar image of each character and location. A great book to encourage summer reading, or satisfy the urge for a rainy day thriller.


Bravo to Linda Maria Frank! This third book in her Annie Tillery Mystery series is a stunner! Although written for a YA audience, even I as a senior citizen was captured by the mystery and intrigue interwoven throughout this story. And who could resist the element of romance embedded in the two oh-so-appealing main characters, Annie and Ty? But most compelling to me was an introduction to the history and topography of this country with its ancient Fairy Chimneys. Half way through this book, I began researching trips to this wonderland and have placed Turkey at the top of my bucket list for future travels. A beautifully crafted, impeccably edited work. Linda Maria Frank deserves many kudos and an equal number of followers. I know I will be looking out for more of her books to recommend to the young adults in my life, but not before I sneak a peak at them myself.
Lois W. Stern
Creator of the Tales2Inspire book series


With strong characters, flowing dialog and layers of mystery, soon everyone is caught up in a real who-dun-it that involves a long lists of suspects and hidden clues. Twists and turns with all the dangers that come into play when an International Art Fraud has been perpetrated.
Learn the ins and out of the art world that include how scientists tests for authenticity in original paintings by world renown artist like Renoir and the lucrative forgeries that make this underworld as treacherous as any international mob association.

Follow the clues, wait for the DNA evidence and sift through the ashes left by an arsonist. Inspire a young reader to discover the innate detective skills of Annie Tillery who is fast becoming the next Nancy Drew. This series should be placed on our schools’ summer reading list.

Cold Coffee Press endorses ‘Girl with Pencil, Drawing’ and the Annie Tillery Mysteries by Linda Maria Frank. We received a PDF version of this book for review. Review completion date March 24, 2015. For more information please visit Cold Coffee Press.


See an AUTHORS SHOW interview with Linda Maria Frank






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Ideas can come. And then, they can go.

Ideas can come. And then, they can go.

One of the most common questions folks ask authors is where we get our ideas.

Recently I received a packet of letters from a fifth grade class who had read my books as part of their book club/literary circle. The letters were truly a ray of sunshine as was the supportive letter from their teacher.

And, there was that question. Where do you get the ideas for your stories? My books are a mystery series for the young reader, Annie Tillery Mysteries.

Having spent many years in the classroom, I wanted to give the best answer I could, so I gave it more serious thought that the pat answers I could have given. Your motivation to writer might be just to tell a good story. That’s the easy one because you know the details of the story. I make up my stories. It’s pure fiction. How do you explain where that comes from to a ten year old.

Where, for instance, did the ghost come from in The Madonna Ghost? How did I come up with the solution to the scene on the Brooklyn Bridge in Girl with Pencil, Drawing? How did I fit the reality of Istanbul and Cappadocia with the plot in The Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys?

Annie Tillery Mysteries The Series

Annie Tillery Mysteries
The Series

My explanation involves the obvious. Most authors read a lot, do a fair amount of research, observe people and situations. All of this is stored in the file cabinets of memory. But then what provokes the combination of memories to coalesce into an idea?

This was my answer to the students, “When you write a book, you should write down all your ideas, your research and, pictures that might inspire you. And then all that stuff rattles around in your brain, and eventually something connects that really makes sense.”

Sometimes it’s an odor, or the weather that day, or a song you hear, and in some unexplained mysterious way the right synapses connect nerve cells and an idea is produced. We’ve all experienced it. You’re stuck. You’re stuck! Writer’s Block has taken hold. How to end that chapter? And then, while you’re staring out the window at the guy dragging out the garbage, BAM, it comes to you.

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Fellow authors: Here is an interesting idea for a promotion that spreads like a geometric progression. Check out this website for The Next Best Thing. http://tales2inspire.com/?p=1617



the next best1

A Marketing Opportunity for Us All

I want to thank Lois W. Stern for this neat marketing idea. Here is a way to help market yourself while helping your fellow authors. The basic idea is to respond to ten questions about something you’re currently writing, a book or story you just published or are about to publish.

Would you like your newest book and URL link added to this AUTHORS’ HALL OF FAME?

If so, just follow the directions below ‘My Authors’ Hall of Fame’.

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I hope you’ve been following my blog tour. You can see the entire schedule here.

I am a winner of this contest.

I am a winner of this contest.


After all the hard work of writing publishing and promoting the Annie Tillery Mystery series, it is pure joy to get a review that gets what I have been trying so hard for. Thanks Mindy.



I have fallen in love with spunky Annie and her mysteries.  This is going to become part of the books I pass down to the children in my life.

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 clouds.

Read Full Post »

You never know, when you write a book, what the reviews will be. I’d like  to share these reviews with you. First, because I am grateful that my work is appreciated, and second because the reviewers got what I hoped that you, the reader, would also get. Thanks for reading Annie Tillery Mysteries, great teen mystery books.

Raymond Klesc at New Book Journal writes,


at Pinterest at…


Simon Barrett at bloggernews.net gives all three books a lovely review.




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If you guessed the kidnapping of the infant son of Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly non-stop from Long Island to Paris, you are right! Congratulations! It was called the “Crime of the Century” because of the media frenzy created due to Charles Lindbergh’s notorietyLSLCSP001_06 LSLCSP001_14 Lcharles1. Those “entrepreneurs who capitalize on such tragedies even sold tiny ladders to the crowds of by-standers who showed up daily to observe the entry and exit of the lead characters in the case.

The major evidence that convicted the kidnapper, Bruno Hauptmann, were as follows”

  • A ransom note which was analyzed for both handwriting and fingerprints.
  • The ladder used to abduct the child from the second story bedroom, proven to be made from lumber from Hauptmann’s house.
  • A telephone number belonging to the ransom contact, found on a door jamb in a Hauptmann bedroom.
  • Some of the ransom money found in a box in a closet in Hauptmann’s house.
  • Identification of an auto that was seen by an eye witness in the vicinity of the Lindbergh mansion in Hopewell, N.J.
  • A wood chisel found along with the ladder at the crime scene. It matched Bruno Hauptmann’s chisel set, and was the tool missing from the set.
  • Hauptman was not able to get corroboration of his alibi that he attended a movie the night of the kidnapping.

1. If you like orderly, precise, scientific empirical evidence, read this compelling summary of the analysis of the kidnapper’s ladder found at the crime scene, http://www.lindberghkidnappinghoax.com/koehlerletter.html.

2. Read about the handwriting analysis. http://www.gale.cengage.com/pdf/samples/sp403243.pdf.

3. Here is further supportive material regarding the evidence. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/Hauptmann/incriminevidence.html.



The parallels between Murder on the Orient Express and the Lindbergh case are:

  1. death of an infant son of a famous aviator
  2. the degree of public outrage
  3. the tragic unnecessary death of a maid

A difference is that Hauptmann was convicted and subsequently executed. Cassetti (Ratchett) was not convicted. The beauty of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is that twelve people who all played a part in the lives of the family of the kidnap victim exacted the justice denied by the court trial. They became the “twelve jurors, tried and true”.

If you are a fan of a well drawn mystery plot, read the book, or see the film made in 1974 with great performances by Hollywood’s greatest actors.


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