Monday, August 7, 2017

Guest Post with Gerry Schmitt

Photo Content from Gerry Schmitt

Gerry Schmitt is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-five mysteries, including the Afton Tangler Thrillers, as well as the Tea Shop, Scrapbooking, and the Cackleberry Club mysteries, written under the pen name Laura Childs. She is the former CEO of her own marketing firm, has won dozens of TV and radio awards, produced two reality TV shows, and invests in small businesses. She and her professor husband enjoy collecting art, traveling, and have two Shar-Peis.

Also writes using the pseudonym Laura Childs


Series: An Afton Tangler Thriller (Book 2)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley (August 1, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425281787
ISBN-13: 978-0425281789


“Out of a swirling Minnesota snowstorm, a new hero trudges triumphantly off the pages of Gerry Schmitt’s new thriller…Little Girl Gone is taut and tense, a great tale to jump-start the Afton Tangler series. A sequel, as surely as Sandford’s Lucas Davenport lives and breathes, is already in the works. Readers of this gripping debut will find themselves hoping it’s a short wait.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Schmitt fills her thriller with numerous twists and builds it to a heart-pounding conclusion…Fans of Midwest noir—think John Sandford—will revel in this nightmarish tale, admire Schmitt for her courageous departure and eagerly await Afton’s next case.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Gerry Schmitt has written a propulsive thriller that will keep you reading late into the night. Do I really have to wait a year for another Afton Tangler book?”—James O. Born, author of Scent of Murder

“It’s always fun to watch a talented author stretch her wings…Schmitt gets everything right.”—St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Taut [and] eerie…Sticks with you long after you’ve finished it.”—Grant Blackwood, author of Tom Clancy Under Fire

“The Afton Tangler mysteries promise to be as tantalizing as any of the current standard police thrillers. I’m thinking Lisa Scottoline meets Lee Childs.”—The Bourne Enterprise

I’ve always been an avid reader. In fact, I started when I was six years old and my Aunt Lolly gave me a birthday subscription to Little Lulu comics. From there, it was a short hop to Superman, Batman, and super-sensational magazines like Monster World and Creepy that made a garish appearance on drugstore news stands in the mid-sixties. These vampire and werewolf stories both scared and intrigued me so much that I started telling ghost stories around the campfire and even snuck into cemeteries at night on a dare.

Then, when I got a little older, I discovered Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, and Trixie Belden mysteries. Here, finally, was nirvana. These were young women I could seriously relate to. They dashed all over town, crept into haunted mansions, visited caves with mysterious tolling bells, and even vacationed at spooky inns. No matter that the screaming woman turned out to be a howling cat, the bell was actually a recording, and the bad guys were only semi-bad. Reading these books, especially Nancy Drew, not only charmed me but planted the germ of an idea in my head that perhaps someday I could be a mystery writer, too. And as I became more and more intrigued, these books began teaching me invaluable lessons about character, plotting, and red herrings (which were liberally sprinkled throughout!) It also eventually dawned on me that a mystery needed more than just fun, exciting writing. These books also delivered a whiz-bang opening, offered a series of exciting events that carried the story through for a couple hundred pages, and ended with an exciting climax where the bad guys (or girls) were brought to justice and all loose ends were wrapped up nice and neat.

Yup, Nancy Drew – and all those marvelous women who ghosted as Caroline Keene – taught me the basic fundamentals of how to write a mystery! 

A few words about Characters, Research, and Sparking Creativity

As strange as it sounds, characters just seem to pop into my head. To me writing is about intuition and gut instinct – you have to sit back and let the characters speak to you. My characters always seem to be buzzing around inside my head like people in a crowded elevator. My job as a writer is to pry open those elevator doors and let them elbow their way out.

As far as research goes, I do very little. I just sort of trust my own instincts. When I come to a part where I need to get technical – guns, rock climbing, or the properties of a certain type of poison – then I jump on Google and do my research. It’s kind of on-the-job research. I think authors need to be careful about putting in too much of their research data. Mitochondrial DNA may fascinate you, but it might be a snooze to your readers who care mostly about characters and story. I think Elmore Leonard was right on when he said, “Leave out the boring parts.”

Probably the number one question I get asked is “Where do you get your ideas?”

And, yes, there does seem to be an elusive intangible known as creativity. So how do you catch that creative spark? Where do you find it? And how do you put that puppy to work for you? Well, here’s the amazing, wonderful thing. Pretty much everyone has the ability to dig deep within themselves and ignite that creative spark. It’s there, simmering away, in all of us. Creativity, believe it or not, is simply a by-product of the imagination. And the imagination is a brain-powered muscle that you flex and stretch to keep in peak working order.

I think what stands in the way of many would-be writers is plain old garden variety fear. You want to write, but you’re afraid the words won’t come. Or you’re afraid you won’t have the skills, or that you won’t be taken seriously. But the truth of the matter is, you really can do it. Step one: start believing in yourself because you’re probably smarter and a lot more talented than you think you are. Step two: sit down with your laptop or tablet and (like the Nike ad says) just do it. Because you can do it!

Shadow Girl is exciting and fast-paced

My protagonist, Afton Tangler, is a character that’s easily relatable. She’s a divorced single mom who struggles in her job as liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department. She aspires to become a detective – but so far it’s pretty tough going.

My antagonist, Mom Chao Cherry, is a coke-sniffing displaced American and international crime boss from southeast Asia. Though advanced in age, she’s pure evil, proving that female baddies can be much more ruthless than men.

Chapter one starts with a bang – literally. A helicopter carrying a heart for a much-needed transplant is shot down just as it reaches the hospital.

The bad guys are really, really bad and will stop at nothing to seek revenge and recover Mom Chao Cherry’s stolen drugs.

Afton has two very precocious kids, Poppy and Tess, who factor into the plot along with their French bulldog Bonaparte. But no kids or animals are ever harmed.

Afton’s boss, Max, gives her enough free rein to get pulled into parts of the investigation – where she absolutely excels.

Just when the bad guys are going for broke, when you think you know what’s going on, there’s a huge twist you won’t see coming.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune called Shadow Girl “a compulsive read.”

Reviewers loved the first in the series, Little Girl Gone. St. Paul Pioneer Press says “Schmitt gets everything right” and the Richmond Times-Dispatch says “Fans of Midwest noir – think John Sandford – will revel in this tale.”

The brutal murder of a business tycoon leaves Afton Tangler and the Twin Cities reeling, but that s just the beginning of a gruesome crime spree...

Leland Odin made his fortune launching a home shopping network, but his millions can t save his life. On the list for a transplant, the ailing businessman sees all hope lost when the helicopter carrying his donor heart is shot out of the sky.

Now with two pilots dead and dozens injured, Afton Tangler, family liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, is drawn into the case. As she and her partner investigate family members and business associates, whoever wants Leland dead strikes again and succeeds in a brazen hospital room attack.

The supposedly squeaky clean millionaire has crossed the wrong person and she's not finished exacting her revenge. The case explodes into an international conspiracy of unbridled greed and violence. And as Afton gets closer to unearthing the mastermind behind it, she gets closer to becoming collateral damage..."

You can purchase Shadow Girl at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE for making this giveaway possible.
2 Winners will receive a Copy of Shadow Girl (An Afton Tangler Thriller #2) by Gerry Schmitt.


  1. "What do you think you will be doing five years from now?" More of the same, only better!

  2. I'll finished the university, founf great job and live with my boyfriend :-)

  3. I hope retired but probably still too young.

  4. Not exactly sure what I will be doing in five years, but enjoying our retirement and maybe some travel.

  5. I will be living in North Carolina with my sweetie in five years!