Manuscript for Murder by Chautona Havig

About The Book

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Alexa Hartfield. Author, local celebrity, fashion connoisseur. She chose Fairbury for its close proximity to Rockland, its small town atmosphere, and its low crime rate.

Then someone made her life a literary cliché. A mysterious accident with a light bulb sparked an interesting idea for her latest novel—and for Fairbury’s new serial killer. The first replication infuriated her. The second left an even worse taste in her mouth. The third blasted more than her self-confidence, and the fourth beat her down so far she’s considering giving up writing completely.

Who is killing Fairbury’s citizens, and furthermore, why and how are they using her novels to do it?

About the Author


Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert with her husband and five of her nine children. Through her novels, she hopes to encourage Christians in their walk with Jesus.

My Review

My favorite thing about Chautona Havig's books is the unique themes and characters. As always, her characters are strong, likable, and a little bit quirky. As a writer, I connected with Alexa on a deeper level. Although, I'd never be able to wear the types of clothes she wears. I'm not normally a mystery lover because I have no patience to wait until the end, but I loved the way she designed this book. 

I struggled to put it down and didn't want it to end. I would've liked to spend more time immersed in Alexa's fictional world. A small amount of romance made my swoony heart happy without taking away from the plot. 

I loved the book, but I did struggle with small amounts of head hopping. If I wasn't a writer, I wouldn't have noticed it. I didn't feel it detracted from the book. 

I highly recommend this book and give it 5/5 stars.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Guest Post from Chautona Havig

How Arrows & My Obsession with Vintage Clothes Inspired Murder


A swath of fabric cut across my bedroom at an odd angle but that angle ensured that I could stretch it all out. With painstaking precision, I pinned every last piece to the fabric, disgusted at the enormous waste stretching out before me.

The pattern called for three and a half yards. I’d crammed it into two at most.

Just as I picked up the scissors for the first cut, Mom popped her head in the door to see how I was doing. I pointed out the waste. “Grandma said patterns always told you to buy way too much, but I’ve got enough to make another dress!”

Mom stepped closer. I want to say a cigarette hung from her lips, but let’s face it. No way would Mom ever allow the ashes to drop on the carpet. But it felt like one was there, nonetheless. Mom pointed. “Chautona, I don’t know anything about sewing, but I think those arrows are there for a reason.”

And with that, she turned away.

I stared down at the pattern. My arrows zig-zagged all over the place. A glance at the directions showed all arrows going exactly the same direction. Straight up and down the fabric.

You know, if I’d been doing this for the first time in 2017, I could have just zipped on over to “the Google,” as Mom calls it, and looked up why. Instead, I grabbed a thick sewing manual I’d bought for a buck at Pick-N-Save and flipped through it until I found a section on laying out patterns.

A couple of minutes later, I flew down the stairs. “The book says that the long, smooth edges are called selvages. The arrows are supposed to run parallel or the dress might hang wonky.”

Here, I can guarantee Mom took a puff of that cigarette. Man, I hated those things. “Well, like I said. I don’t know anything about sewing, but they looked important.” She blew a puff of smoke.

That’s when I suspected that Mom knew more about sewing than she’d let on.


What does this little sewing lesson have to do with mysteries and murder?


Well, see. This was a test dress. I’d only decided to learn to sew because I’d also decided that I wanted Nancy Drew’s wardrobe. In 1982, you couldn’t buy trim, neat clothing from the 50’s. I had Gunne Sax skirts and preppy tops with ruffles that my parents hated. When they found out I wanted a sewing machine to make clothes like that, they got me one.

Yep. I cut my reading teeth on Nancy Drew and didn’t stop there. I read all the youth mysteries—Bobsey Twins, Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, Meg Duncan (she was a fave, too), and when I got a little older, Phyllis Whitney.

I loved the challenge of seeing events play out—and figuring out why. Why told me who. You get to where you can figure out things rather easily. But if you make me doubt my ideas, that’s good enough. I love that.


Is it any wonder that one of the first books I conceived was a mystery? I’d never put the ideas together until I began working on this post, but really… is it any wonder that I gave that author a love of vintage fashion? Too funny. But those arrows on that pattern? They taught me pretty cool lessons as a kid. Like Mom said:


“Those arrows are there for a reason.”


Isn’t that what God’s directional arrows in His Word are like? They’re there for a reason. They keep us from getting all wonky. It’s why Alexa writes the kind of books she does. I never could, but as she says when she describes telling someone why she writes horror/suspense,


“I tried to describe a world where we never see justice—where sin surrounds us, but the only response we see is a sweet romance or a heartwarming tale of doing good to our neighbors… And God is a God of more than love and mercy. [He’s also a God of] justice.”


Alexa writes what she does to help people sort out those crossed arrows and see that there is a point to it all—that eventually justice and mercy converge paths into one rather than criss-crossing all over the place, trampling each other. She doesn’t write Christian fiction, but I don’t know how a Christian can write fiction without some part of faith shining through. In Alexa’s, and I hope in mine as well, there’s an overarching theme that illustrates that the Lord hasn’t forgotten the people He created.


In honor of her Manuscript for Murder Celebration Tour, Chautona is giving away a mystery prize package worth over $100. Enter here:

Would you like to know what’s in it? Find the first clue within the giveaway image below, then hop on over to Chautona’s website to begin the search for more clues and you might find a special giveaway just for clue hunters! Can you find all the clues before Augusta Septemus does?


  1. Laurel

    I find the “head-hopping” as you put it to be a quirk of Chautona’s writing – it took me a while to get used to it, but now I kind of like it!

    1. momentsdippedinink

      Yes, I think quirk sounds right. I felt like it worked. 🙂

  2. Chautona Havig

    Can you tell it was one of the first books I wrote? I happen to love head hopping, but it’s frowned on, of course, so I don’t.

    More’s the pity. But I did try to remove it all. I’ll have to tease Barbara that she missed some.

    1. momentsdippedinink

      Even so, I think you did a great job. 🙂 It was one of those…man, I wish I wasn’t a writer because I wouldn’t have picked up on it. So subtle and well written. 🙂

  3. Cathe Swanson

    I thought the amount and style of the romance was just right, too. I’ve read the rest of the series, too, and I won’t share spoilers, but the next book is the best. Great villain.

    1. momentsdippedinink

      Oh, I’ll have to read the next one. 🙂

    2. Chautona Havig

      Snort. Christina, make sure you talk to me after you read it so I can explain Cathe’s comment.

  4. Caryl Kane

    Great review! Sounds like a wonderful series!

    1. momentsdippedinink

      I haven’t read the others, but I don’t doubt it!

  5. Emma

    I enjoyed this book, but think it’s best as part of the series. The entire series works together to round out the story.

  6. darla

    That’s good to know about the characters 🙂

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