Carol Ann Ross

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction

Author Profile

Carol Ann Ross

Thallasophile - lover of the ocean. That's me. I have a strong affinity for that entity and express those feelings through my writing--my books. They may span many genres but are all connected to the place I call home. Genres published: historical fiction, literary, murder, essays--they all are set on Topsail Island where I grew up. It is my way of perserving this wonderful place and the people with whom I share my life. The first book in the Murder by the Sea series is WATERLOGGED. Don Belkin is a former Marine, now a detective with the Surf City Police Dept. He's a conflicted man, to say the least, as he struggles to accept his past and find solace in the small beach town. Bitterness runs deep between the locals who have populated the area for generations and the "new" folks who think they've found paradise. Oh, Topsail Island may be the perfect tourist attraction, but in the summer it's just plain MURDER. (there are 5 more books in the series)

Books

The Mermaid Did It

Literature & Fiction

This is the 4th book in the Murder by the Sea series by Carol Ann Ross. She's on the run! Estelle has reinvented herself yet again and has brought along a new friend. She seems to make friends easily, but they don't last very long. What a bad mermaid!!

Book Bubbles from The Mermaid Did It

a little truth

As with most authors, my characters are composites of the people I meet. But sometimes an event, though small and insignificant it may seem at the time, is just perfect. The image stays with you until it is ready to be used. This excerpt was written just as I remembered.. While at Weeki Wachiee several years ago, I was walking behind a young couple and I could hear them talking. I thought it was a lovely scene and when writing THE MERMAID DID IT, the scene came back to be. Writers need not be sitting behind a desk when working-the wheels are always turning.

words

We use words for communication. Sometimes we use the wrong ones, sometimes we take things for granted and use none at all. That happens a lot in relationships Evidently in the Weldon family it happened. .

visuals

When I write, I want the reader to SEE the setting or the characters. I've been to places like the one described in the excerpt and so pulling it from my memory was fairly easy.

research

As with all my books, I do a lot of research. In this book, since mermaids were part of the story, I delved into mythology to find names and I also spoke to one of the women who work at Weeki Wachee in Florida where the mermaids live. .There is much to be learned from these daring ladies and I found a new respect for their chosen profession.

Will you marry me?

Just how romantic are men? Poor things really are from Mars, it seems. In this excerpt, Don has asked Carrie to marry him. She hasn't given him an answer yet. Obviously, what he finds romantic, she finds annoying.

Hiding in plain sight

She's everywhere, yet nowhere. Estelle has always been good at disguising herself.

Better late than never

Always a loner, always determined to follow her dreams, Paula finally gets the approval she has craved from her father. It's a turning point.

a brief respite

Things are quiet on Topsail and they have been for a while. All hell is about to burst through, though. And guess who is at the center of it all.

Surprise, surprise!

Sometimes a things can stare you straight in the face and you don't see it. Don and Carrie are in for a surprise of a life time, if they can figure it out.

Bridge Tender

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Book 2 in the Murder by the Sea series by Carol Ann Ross.The quiet North Carolina barrier Island town of Surf City is used to sudden thunderstorms cropping up from time to time but when lightening of a more sinister nature strikes twice in succession, the local police detectives realize it taking a few unexpected twists and turns.Meanwhile, the bridge tender keeps a watchful eye on everything.

Book Bubbles from Bridge Tender

keeping it real

Have you ever had a run-in with someone and only after it was over did you think of what you should have said or did? Well, that's another thing that is fun about being an author-authors get to create scenarios where they say the right thing at the right time.

making it

We all face tough times, no one escapes them. THE COVID THING, as I like to call it, has certainly placed strain and hardship on mostly everyone I know, I have certainly not been immune to this COVID THING. But I have found so much solace in writing and developing story lines, building scenarios and characters-these take me to a different world, to a sort of high-and I believe, just like the characters in my excerpt, that bad things are subjective. As a writer, everything is fodder so I try to see past the negative, to a more positive place. I guess you call that place hope. I've found through writing that HOPE is a real place and that with it, you can make it. .

guilt

Then there's the moment when you wish you hadn't have done a thing, but it is too late and you have to live with the consequences. My character Hank, has had a difficult time living with his guilt. He can't shake it and it has manifested into something all together different from what it was in the beginning. .

People are interesting

You always hear, write what you know and yes, I agree. But writing is more than sitting in front of a computer all day and spewing your personal knowledge.. I was fortunate enough to grow up on one of the little islands of North Carolina and the scene I wrote for this excerpt is etched in my memory. It is something I have seen every day of my life. But I don't know everything and so I do lots of research. I have many "go to" people who have been there and done that, people who make my life look boring. Picking their brain, learning their terminology and sometimes getting to partake in a bit of their lives is not only exciting but so very fulfilling.. .

Developing characters

One of the most challenging, yet most rewarding things about being a writer is developing characters. I like all of my characters, and have come to know them well over the time I've been writing about them. I understand why they are the way they are and just like you and me, they are not perfect. Personally I like conflicted characters, people who struggle with everyday life just like you and I do. Characters have to be true to themselves, they have to be consistent in their behavior. Even if that behavior is bad. Because of this, I have found that despite my preconceived storyline, my characters will do what they want. They will carry the story, often times in a totally different direction. It is so cool!

building characters

Creating a character can be a challenge. Every Character is an individual and has traits that make them unique. Staying true to those traits can be difficult but I always found it enjoyable because I came to truly like my characters, even the bad ones. I've known Hanks, Estelles, Carries-we all have. In this excerpt, I was just introducing my character Lev into the series. He's good lucking, confident-maybe a little too confident, and he's a womanizer, but his charm wins him the day.

The "V" girls

We've all known people like this, blinded by their own light. They'd be a comedy act if Don wasn't looking for a killer.

Memories

Hank's memory is somewhat blurred. Was he responsible for his wife's death or not. Regardless, he will always feel remorse for that day.

Waterlogged

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

The first book in the Murder by the Sea series by Carol Ann Ross There are three communities on Topsail Island - Surf City, Topsail Beach, North Topsail Beach. Residents of all three enjoy a low key, laid back lifestyle most months of the year. Folks stop and chat for a few minutes at the grocery store romantic souls stroll leisurely along the beach, searching for sand dollars and shark's teeth. Many relax by fishing and boating in the calm coastal waters. Yes, life is easy. But when summer arrives and vacationers flock to the Island, things change. The pace quickens as the population quadruples. Smells of suntan lotion and outdoor barbeques permeate the air. A constant ripple of wakes made by boaters fills the waterways and beaches become crowded with sunbathers and surfers frolicking in the Atlantic. There is no doubt that tourist season is a far cry from the easygoing off-season months. To most, it is a time for fun in the sun on Topsail Island. But for a few, it's just plain old murder.

Book Bubbles from Waterlogged

the calm before the storm

I have spent most of my life living on a Southern barrier island. Of course, the summers are much different than the rest of the year, after all, it is tourist season and the town bustles like crazy.-the population quadruples.as the locals take refuge from the blast of "oh, the beach!" mentality. .. It's a different world for three months. There are always new faces, always new attitudes, new ideas, plus crazy drivers who think they are the ones driving correctly-litterbugs, rude people, and the list goes on. So Memorial Day, the gateway to Summertime, has always offered me, as a writer, a whole world of DIFFERENT and a plethora of characters..

It's alive! It's alive!

Ye gads! Sakes alive, and oh my goodness! The fishing pier is alive and it's caught something! I've been around fishing piers my whole life and yes, sometimes they do seem to have a life of their own. Just check out all the lines, nets, sinkers, dead sea critters and assorted paraphernalia attached to the pilings and boards. They tell a story. I guess it depends on what mood one is in as to which way the story goes..

The calm before the storm

If you've ever lived in a tourist town you understand the love/hate relationship locals have with those visiting their area. In the south, most of our year is calm and peaceful-spring is delicious so we southerners savor that time, aware that shortly all hell will break loose. In the case of my little books, all murder breaks out.

bravado

This excerpt is from the intro to Waterlogged. Most of my novels begin with an introduction that sets the tone of the story. In that beginning part, I introduce the protagonist or antagonist and the "deed." As I think back and wonder why I use this format, I've come to realize that this was what the television show Columbo used. What a great influence. Creating the first character, Phil, was not too difficult as I reached back into my own teenage years to find young teens who were pretty self absorbed and full of themselves. On the brink of adulthood, they're interested in two things, sex and and how to impress others. They're also hell bent on defying their parents-in short, they are coming into their own. Often, when reality hits them in the face, all that bravado disappears.

What happens in Scotland...

I've meet some real characters in my life time and getting to use my experiences with them is beyond fun. Sarah, as you can read, is no fool or at least she isn't one for very long. Don, on the other hand, is young, dumb and full of you know what. His youth sort of gives him a pass, however. The rest of Waterlogged will reveal just how conflicted our characters are and why. .

Justification

As you see, Reggie is not the nicest guy in the world. He's intimidating and has justified his illegal actions by stating that he believes drugs should be legalized. But that's what most bad guys do. They sleep just fine at night because they don't believe they are doing anything wrong. Maybe that is why it's so hard to catch the bastards, you have to think like them.

Friend or foe

Paula is aloof, some might say too cool. Maybe she is simply so insecure that she is compelled to keep her distance.

What a catch!

A teenager, more interested in the scenary of the beach than the fishing pole in his hand, is about to have the catch of a lifetime.

The day's catch

Fishing isn't just about catching fish. It's about respite from a hard day, about checking out the scenery, about relaxing. Phil isn't doing any of this, his catch is of a more sinister nature.

sometimes things aren't what we'd hoped for.

Too eager for love and romance, Carrie had rushed into something she wasn't ready for. Surprise, surprise!

the second body

Topsail is normally a peaceful town. Then suddenly a body shows up---then another. Detective Belkin, new on the police force, suspects everybody, even the local duffus.

Sometimes people are sooo annoying.....

Topsail Island is a tourist destination-slow and easy going in the off season. Locals settle into that laid back way of life-they become family. But in the summer, the tourist season, things change. The pace is faster, that ease of familiarity changes and things are simply MURDER.

The Tower

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Third Book in the Murder by the Sea series. .A rose sunrise, an azure sea at twilight, a lazy day fishing. It sounds like paradise. But just because Carrie lives on an island where life's pace is a little slower, doesn't mean that the age old struggles between right and wrong or good an bad don't exist. Sometimes the lines are blurred. Sometimes things are justified. But sometimes the evil is so blatant it can't be ignored

Book Bubbles from The Tower

what I want

One of the great things about being an author, is getting to design your characters however you please. My character Don is a composite of several people I have known, and though it has been years since I've seen or spoken to those people, I get to keep them alive through print. I like to think I have written them a little better in some places and with just enough rough edges to make them more interesting.

I met a man like this

Yes sir, my characters are composites of the people I meet. There are all kinds of people out there and listening to them, watching th, learning from then is one of the highlights of my life. Getting to put them down on paper is the best.

drawn to the dark side

No character is all good or all bad. Characters are people who act and react as people do, they are, on occasion, going to make the wrong choices. I loved writing Don, he is so conflicted and so often does the wrong thing. How he contends with those choices define him. He wants good things in his life, but is drawn by basic urges that lead him to the dark side.

A Visceral urge

He's conflicted, doesn't know which way to go. But one thing is for certain, Don has her on his mind. Her fingers have grasped onto his soul and won't let go. Damn his weakness, He knows as soon as he has her, and he will, that he will hate himself.

More! I want more!

Estelle had come from less than nothing and now her chance to be something more had come. She liked the feeling, reveled in it. Yes, she deserved everything she got.

mind games

Is she really a bad seed or is there a reason. If there is, does it justify her actions.

Bridge Tender is number 2 in the series

In BRIDGE TENDER we find Estelle Bottoms on a rampage to get what she deems is hers. If you have not seen bubbles from Bridge Tender, please check it out. It is an integral part of the continuing Murder by the Sea series. In book 3, Estelle continues that rampage and the reader gets a better insight into what has shaped her life.

Instant dislike

Emily didn't stand a chance, not a chance in this world. Too loving, too caring, too innocent to understand that it doesn't matter how good you are, there are those who will endeavor to destroy that goodness.

Evil has no remorse

The character Estelle is one sick puppy. She is going to have what she wants regardless of the consequences Does it matter that she had an abusive childhood?.

Shark's Breath

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

This is the 5th book in the Murder by the Sea series by Carol Ann Ross. The crew is vacationing at E.J.'s cottage near New Bern, It's supposed to be a respite from the hell Estelle has been putting them through for the past few years, But bad "juju" is in the air , a new love interest is there also, he's very good looking very charming, and very selfish. .

Book Bubbles from Shark's Breath

my favorite character

My favorite character from the Murder by the Sea series is none other than Morgan Simpers. He's a nobody, a loser who rarely works and who loves fishing more than life. He smokes too much pot, he day dreams constantly, and he wouldn't hurt a fly-even if the fly was crawling all over his food. I know, I know, these are not great reasons for liking a character. But Morgan is pliable, he can be there for anything-be the scapegoat, the intruder, the patsy, a suspect, just about anything I need him to be. We all know someone like Morgan, a ne'er do well, but hard to dislike and that's what makes him a joy to write.

The real thing

Every time I write a book, I get to relive the time spent on the ocean when I worked on my father's fishing boat. It was the best and I wouldn't trade it for the world. But I don't know everything and so when I need expertise, I hunt down the real thing-the guy who goes out into the ocean and busts his buns. I am in awe of people who make a living on the ocean. It is dangerous, scary, exciting, awe inspiring and Godly-not to mention physically demanding. Because I used to 'go down to the sea in ships,' I carry all those experiences with me, and it makes me glad I'm a writer.

Spring Fever?

It is Spring. I love Spring. All the pretty little flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing and I think I see more smiles on the faces of strangers. It is a time of sowing-planting seeds for the future. However, as a writer I find it more of a time for harvesting, gathering all the wonders the season offers. These images will come in handy later... I wrote about yucca plants, in this excerpt, in the dead of winter. They were crisp, nestled in the dunes-the ocean just beyond them. I could hear their rustle as I wrote. Seasons come and go for writers.I anticipate a wonder Spring Fever in January..

The real thing

My goal is to have my readers feel what they read, to be there in the moment. Writing is simply not about imagining what something is like, you need the real thing. I draw from my own life experience, but also observe others constantly and pay attention to body language and to reactions. Using these tools, I endeavor to make my character more real. Saying someone is happy is not good enough, the reader has to see that the character is happy. so, what does a happy face look like,? What does an angry face look like? These are things I think about when writing. I also have "go to " people, a detective, an FBI guy and a U.S. Marshal who help me find out what is legal and if a certain scene is plausible. Writing is work, very fulfilling work. What makes it so fulfilling is that I am always learning something new..

Love as deep as the ocean

Imagine you are in a terrible marriage. Your wife ridicules you constantly and no matter what you do, it's the wrong thing. You find solace and worth on the water, either fishing or just enjoying the peace it offers. The ocean becomes your home away from home and you find that the comfort it offers is the closest thing to love that you know. I was raised by the ocean and worked on it for many years, Thus, I use allegory and metaphors (sea inspired) for most of my stories. The ocean can be an escape, it can be a destination. It can offer hope and adventure and give meaning. And if you listen it answers questions.

A father's love

Blinded by lust and youth, August Temple had married the wrong person. Now, he's paying the price, and it is a dear one. His only daughter lies in the middle of an ugly and vengeful struggle for control.

fishy fishy fishy fish

For Morgan Simpers there was nothing better than fishing while high. He loved fishing and he loved his weed.

Getting high

What to say about Morgan Simpers? Well, he's certainly a character, vapid as he may be. Having said that, interesting things always seem to find him, especially when he's not looking.

Some mommies are real "mothers."

A child is a parent's deepest love, well, most of the time. Some parents just aren't cut out for the job. But it's the same old thing, greed, that gets in the way of a happy life. So what in the world are the folks from Topsail doing in Beaufort and New Bern? Seems there is no rest for the weary and no deeper love than love for a child.

All These Little Things

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

The sixth book in the Murder by the Sea series by Carol Ann Ross. Have you ever walked into a room and wondered why? We all have experienced that at some time, but what if you're a thug and you can't remember your assignment? Oops! And then, SHE comes back.You thought she was safely locked away, tsk, tsk. Give her an inch, Estelle will take a mile, or a life.

Book Bubbles from All These Little Things

out of despair

The last year or so has been devastating for many and, to say the least, life changing for others. How we adapt to change makes all the difference. I like to think that most people persevere through hard times, finding solace and reward because they believe in such things and do not dwell on the negative. My characters, Zach and Tillie, are such people, they have found purpose in lives that could have spiraled downward.

should I or shouldn't I

Rae's in a tight spot and isn't sure if she should confront a situation or move on. We've all been there, not knowing which way to go, which path to chose. Whatever the decision, it's one that will determine the future.

Bobby Pin curls

The tender moments between mother and child-what are they? They are the most simple of times, the most simple of events. In this excerpt, even the changing of a diaper is tender. Thinking back to my own childhood, there is one thing that closes the gap between all those years and the memory-my mother pinning my hair in bobby pins to make curls. I can still feel her warm body leaning against mine as she patiently and quietly curled my hair around a finger and pinned it against my head with bobby pins. The process took a long time and I cherished that time, since my mother was not a very demonstrative woman, She was quiet and often preferred to be alone. But at these times when I could feel the warmth of her body next to mine, I felt safe and calm and loved. All these little things that we often take for granted can become the most profound in our lives. Happy Mother's Day, Momma. I love you and miss you..

Who is the bad guy?

A good story needs a bad guy, but sometimes the line between good and bad is blurred. Just like in real life, my characters can make the wrong decision. And like in real life, they have to lie a little, or move the truth around to fit an agenda. . Often the bad guy is only bad for a little while. Sometimes the good guy does bad things and sometimes the bad guy does good things. All this dichotomy makes them human and that's what makes writing fun..

Why?

It's impossible for me to write a character without giving some kind of hint as to their "why". Is it nature or nurture that makes my characters who they are? Maybe it is both, either way you'll see their warts and all, flaws and foibles-my characters have a reason for being and I hope they are as believable as I try to make them..

slow hand

Just how does one control the pace of their story? Words, the use of words and sentence structure. These simple things make a story seem real. At least that is the goal. The opening scene in this excerpt is meant to be fast paced. The sentences are choppier, the wording is terse. I wanted to show anxiety, even fear. The following paragraphs are more descriptive, The sentences are longer. I am after all, describing the emotions between two characters who are in love. And like in love, the writer needs a slow hand..

igniting desire

Carrie has been everything from a waitress to a fisherman and neither of the occupations satisfied her. In this excerpt we get a glimpse into what might ignite her desire.

voyeur?

Is it wrong to dream, wrong to remember when life was sweeter than it is now? It's a fine line.

Row, row, row your boat

My daddy always told me that I had to play the hand I was dealt. In other words, I had to use what I had to the best of my ability. What if all you have is an oar?

Real, sweet love

There's love in the air and innocence goes along with it. But you better believe some bastard is going to come along and try to exploit it. Thank God for Karma.

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