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Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries)
by James J. Cudney

About the Book

Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Independently Published (October 14, 2018)
Paperback: 281 pages
ISBN-10: 172877876X
ISBN-13: 978-1728778761

When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement, he finds a dead body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell.

Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father and someone attempts to change students’ grades.

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up.

With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. But who is behind the murder?

Guest Post by the Author

Hey! It’s me, the author. I’ve been given a few minutes of your time, and I’m definitely grateful. Rather than bore you with details that have already been shared somewhere else on this amazing blog tour, I thought I’d tell you all about how I pick first names and surnames for my characters. It’s kind of a fun process. There are two primary methods: (1) people I know and want to thank, and (2) ancestors with cool stories.

The original name for Kellan’s family was Brunswick. As a kid, I was a huge bowler. Brunswick is a big company who makes bowling balls and other products, and it felt like a good way to acknowledge my history as a bowling coach, an avid bowler, and a clerk at a bowling alley. After I decided the college’s name would be Braxton, I realized Brunswick was too similar. I wanted to keep the latter portion of the name, then I remembered many of my ancestors hailed from a shire called Ayr in Scotland. Thus was born Ayrwick… and a little ode to a piece of my own history.

When it came time to name other characters, I thought about the 3 wealthy families who helped build the town of Braxton into the thriving community it is today. The Stanton family, where the Town Councilman whom Nana D absolutely hates comes from, was named for one of my favorite NYC restaurants – Stanton Social. The Paddington family, who we don’t hear much about until the second book in the series, is a reminder of a lovable teddy bear I had as a child. And the Grey family, where a ruthless judge rules the roost, is because the color gray is my favorite color – a mixture of black and white, a balance of equals, and a hue that goes with almost anything. I prefer the British way of spelling things, but since I’m American, I need to stick to American English in the books… except of course in proper names!

Kellan got his name from three places in a rather odd manner. The letter K is the same sound as the beginning of my last name (Cudney). I am fairly fluent in Spanish where my favorite letter is the ‘ll’ sound. My favorite word for the last few months has been ‘no’ because I have a shiba inu puppy named Baxter who seems to test my patience every moment of every day doing all the things he shouldn’t be doing. When I threw the letters / sounds together “K” – “LL” – “No” on paper, what stood out was the word ‘Kellan.’ It sounded smart, sexy, mysterious, and unique. I know there might be 1 or 2 semi-famous people with this name, but for the most part, it’s not well known, so that seemed perfect for my main character.

Lastly, Nana D, the true star of the series. Nana D is the grandmother we all wish we had. Or one of them. The sarcastic, lovable, silly, smart, ingenious, diabolical, revenge-seeking grandmother who protects her young as fierce as a wolf would but tends to their wounds like no one else could. Given she had her children when she was relatively young (18 to 20) as did her daughter Violet (Kellan’s mom), Nana D is on the younger side for having grandchildren in their 30’s. At 74, she’s the spryest woman you’ll ever meet. And at 5-feet tall with red hair braided down to her waist, she’s also the most non-traditional woman you’ll ever meet. She needed a name that hasn’t been used for nearly a century but also sounded regal as well as earthy. Seraphina. And this is why, as pulled from the site BabyNameWizard: “Feminine form of the Late Latin name Seraphinus, derived from the biblical word seraphim which was Hebrew in origin and meant “fiery ones”. The seraphim were an order of angels, described by Isaiah in the Bible as having six wings each. This was the name of a 13th-century Italian saint who made clothes for the poor. As an English name, it has never been common.

You’ll also find other last names like Betscha, which is a family name. There are plenty of these, and if you can find me on Ancestry.com, you’ll quickly see how my family tree is connected in the town of Braxton. I hope you enjoyed a little foray into how I choose character names. Thanks for stopping by! -J


About the Author

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College with a degree in English literature. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries. I frequently blog and publish book reviews on everything I read at ThisIsMyTruthNow via WordPress.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball,, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. Come join in the fun!


List of Books & Blog

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip – #3 (Early 2019)


Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com


Social Media Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/James-J.-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4


Purchase Links


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1 Comment

  1. James Cudney


    Thank you so much for participating on the blog tour and sharing this guest post. I appreciate your support. Have a great day!


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