Saturday, June 18, 2016


John M. Daniel’s Blog
June 18, 2016

Greetings, writers and readers, storytellers and avid listeners. This week I’m pleased to have as my guest mystery writer Sally Carpenter, author of the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series.
Sandy Fairfax is an amateur sleuth. That means he’s not a cop or a private investigator, just somebody who has a habit of stumbling over dead bodies (figuratively speaking) and getting caught up the risky business of figuring out whodunit, chasing down the killer, and seeing that the villain is brought to justice.
Sometimes in the amateur sleuth subgenre, this adventure happens entirely against the poor protagonist’s will, but it goes with the territory that the amateur sleuth is nosy enough, and has a conviction about right being better than wrong, to overcome fear and pick up the gauntlet fate has thrown down.
The chase is on, and our hero is one to root for, a sleuth whose final advantages are bravado, honor, and a good set of wits.
Sally Carpenter’s amateur Sandy Fairfax has just what it takes.


Inside the Mind of a Teen Idol
by Sally Carpenter
 Thanks for hosting me today, John. I’m going to illustrate character development by describing my series protagonist Sandy Fairfax, a 28-year-old former teen idol and star of the ’70s TV show “Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth.” This in itself is unique, because I’m not aware of any other mystery protagonist with this job description.
I have four books in the series. In book one, Sandy’s been out of circulation for many years and is attempting to launch a comeback. This is where fiction meets reality. All real-life teen idols experience an explosive but short-lived career in their early twenties and then fall into obscurity. However, when the idol is in his late thirties, nostalgia kicks in for the older fans, and he’s discovered by a younger generation, and his career is renewed.
Sandy is passionate. He admits that he follows his heart instead of his head. If he wants something, he goes full tilt for it. When he gets his teeth into a murder case, he won’t let go.
He loves classic cars and guitars as well as all types of music. He used to love drinking until he realized that was really an addiction; now he’s clean and sober. He loves performing, not just for the acclaim but he truly enjoys making people happy. He couldn’t go into another line of work because he’d rather be on a stage.
Sandy has a strong sense of justice. He’s a “reluctant hero” as he was thrust into amateur sleuthing against his will and better judgment. However, now that he’s solved several crimes he finds it rewarding. He’s determined to bring in the killer, even if he doesn’t like or even know the victim.
Sandy’s a “speed freak.” He drives fast and he craves excitement. He likes the mental challenge of finding the killer and the thrill of the chase. Solving crimes helps him feel worthwhile and needed; he’s more than just a pretty face on a lunchbox.
As for flaws, in book one he’s a mess. He’s just quit drinking cold turkey and as a result he’s cranky and moody. He has a short temper and lashes out when provoked. As a result of having people gush over him, Sandy possesses a monster-size ego.
Like every real idol except for Donny Osmond, Sandy’s divorced. Sandy was an idol during the years when a man’s libido is at its strongest. As a result, he doesn’t have a mature attitude about women or sexuality. He was promiscuous in his youth, although that’s tapered off. Over the years he’s had a number of neurotic girlfriends. Now he’s found a lovely, emotionally secure woman and he wants to remain true to her. But don’t expect any graphic sex, as cozy mysteries are PG.
In the first book Sandy had a bad attitude about Buddy Brave, the character he played on TV. He’s permanently typecast, and even now the character continues to dog him. However, by book four he’s learned to accept Buddy as an important part of his life. By book four Sandy regains a sense of pride about the boy sleuth—and for his own detective work.

Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif. She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays Star Collector and Common Ground were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwriting Competition. Common Ground also earned a college creative writing award, and Star Collector was produced in New York City.
Sally also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do. She’s worked as an actress, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for Paramount Pictures. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.
She writes the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series: The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper (2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel), The Sinister Sitcom Caper, The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper and The Quirky Quiz Show Caper.
She has short stories in two anthologies: “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-In” in Last Exit to Murder and “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” in Plan B: Omnibus. She also wrote chapter three in the Cozy Cat Press group mystery Chasing the Codex.
She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles. Reach her at Facebook or


Calling all published authors—
I feature a guest author the third Saturday (and week following) of each month. If you’re interested in posting an essay on my blog—it’s also a chance to promote a published book—email me directly at


Call for submissions: Your 99-Word Stories

The deadline for July’s 99-word story submissions is July 1. The stories will appear on my blog post for July 9

note: this 99-word story feature is a game, not a contest. Obey the rules and I’ll include your story. I may edit the story to make it stronger, and it’s understood that you will submit to my editing willingly. That’s an unwritten rule.

Rules for the 99-word story feature are as follows:

1. Your story must be 99 words long, exactly.
2. One story per writer, per month.
3. The story must be a story. That means it needs plot (something or somebody has to change), characters, and conflict.
4. The story must be inspired by the prompt I assign.
5. The deadline: the first of the month. Stories will appear on this blog the second Saturday of the month.
6. I will copy edit the story. The author of the story retains all rights.
7. Email me your story (in the body of your email, or as a Word attachment) to:

THIS MONTH’S PROMPT FOR NEXT MONTH’S 99-WORD STORY: Write a story inspired by this sentiment: “Yes, I love you, but you’re going to have to choose between me and that animal.”


 So much for this week. Thank you for stopping by, and thanks especially to Sally Carpenter for introducing us to Sandy Fairfax, a former teen idol with a passion for adventure and justice. Let Sandy be an inspiration to us writers: be brave, take chances, and stay on course when it comes to right and wrong. That’s the way to solve thorny mysteries, and it’s also the way to find the joy of story.
See you next week, I hope!

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