Tuesday, January 17, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: ELLEN MANSOOR COLLIER



ABOUT THE BOOK

Before Las Vegas, Galveston, Texas was called the “Sin City of the Southwest.” Real-life rival gangs fight over booze and bars during Prohibition in this soft-boiled Jazz Age mystery, inspired by actual events. Jasmine Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, feels caught between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette. After a big-shot banker with a hidden past collapses at the Oasis—a speakeasy secretly owned by her black-sheep half-brother, Sammy Cook—Jazz suspects foul play. Was it an accident or a mob hit? Soon handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis, threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn’t cooperate. Suspicious, he pursues Jazz, hoping for information and more, but despite her mixed feelings she refuses to rat on Sammy. As turf wars escalate between the Downtown and Beach gangs, Sammy is accused of murder. To find the killer, Jazz must risk her life and career, exposing the dark side of Galveston’s glittering society.



EXCERPT FROM FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY

Outside, I felt safe among the throng of people and automobiles passing by in a rush.
“How was lunch?” In broad daylight, Prohibition Agent James Burton didn’t seem quite as menacing or intimidating. A group of nosy reporters peered out the newsroom, ogling us like we were a penny arcade peep show.

“Fine.” I crossed my arms, partly to cover my growling stomach.

“Sorry to barge in.” He tugged on his hat. “But I had to get your attention. You wouldn’t give me the time of day the other night.”

“Can you blame me? A raid isn’t exactly the best way to meet new people.”

“I think we got off on the wrong foot.” Burton stuck his hands in his pockets, jingling some change. “Perhaps we can talk over dinner, instead of standing out here on the sidewalk?”

Was he serious? “Dinner? Just like that?” I snapped my fingers. “You waltz in as if you owned the place—like you did at the Oasis—and expect me to dine out with you, a total stranger, because of your badge? You’ve got a lot of nerve, mister.”

“I wouldn’t be a Prohibition agent if I didn’t.” He looked smug. “How about tonight?”

“Tonight? I usually work late.”

“Every night? Don’t they let you off for good behavior?”

“For starters, I hardly know you and what I do know, I don’t like at all.” I squinted in the sun. “And I don’t appreciate the way you bullied us at the Oasis that night. I thought people were innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.”  I wasn’t usually so bold and blunt with strangers, especially lawmen. Maybe it was his youth, or maybe I’d finally found my moxie.

“You must mean Sammy. Fair enough.” He held up his hands. “If it makes you feel any better, my gun wasn’t loaded that night.”

“Small comfort now, after you scared everyone half to death.”




GUEST POST BY ELLEN MANSOOR COLLIER


JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM


I’ll admit, I was never much of a history buff in high school or college. What did Ancient Egypt or the Civil War have to do with my daily life of classes, jobs,  Student Council, football games, parties or dances? Although my mother was a World History teacher, I wasn’t at all interested until I managed an antiques shop after college between journalism jobs.

My bosses were two antiques dealers and decorators who took me on buying trips and taught me about different styles and period design. Antiques gave me a visual peek into the past: I could see the way people lived, touch their clothing, furniture, understand their habits and trends. Suddenly, for me, history came alive.

That glimpse led to a fascination with the Roaring Twenties. I loved almost everything about the 1920s:  the style, the carefree spirit, interior design, the flowing flapper clothes and jewelry, the lingo, the music. Not only did the right to vote in 1920 allow women’s emancipation, the “Dry Decade” became an era of invention and innovation, the “flaming youth’s” rebellion against the stuffy old Victorian mores, leading to the giddy excitement of the Jazz Age.

I tried to convey that sense of freedom and “anything goes” attitude in my soft-boiled Jazz Age mystery series, through the POV of my main character Jasmine (“Jazz”) Cross, a society reporter who longs to cover hard news in a male-dominated world. Her ambition is thwarted by her old-fashioned editors, yet she’s determined to find ways around the newspaper’s rules and restrictions. I created Jazz as a flapper version of real-life Victorian journalist Nellie Bly, and set the novels during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston, Texas, interweaving actual gangsters, events and local landmarks into the plots. 

While researching Flappers, I became intrigued when I found out that Al Capone tried to muscle in on Galveston’s rival gangs, the Beach and Downtown gangs. I included this fun fact in the preface to show the powerful reach and reputation of Galveston’s gangsters, little known outside of Texas.

As a journalist, I prefer reality-based stories because I feel like I’m learning something new while I’m reading and researching. I enjoyed watching old silent movies, period dramas and documentaries, especially noir films featuring gangsters and mobsters, noting the settings (furniture, lamps, clothing, music, etc.) and jotted down expressions and bits of conversation.  (True, I’m guilty of overusing Jazz Age sayings so I included a glossary of slang in the back of my novels.)

Since I wrote about real people, politicians (and gangsters), I had to be careful not to include anything too offensive or incriminating since much of the information was based on legend and largely undocumented.

What’s interesting is that the gangsters and bootleggers of yesteryear mirror today’s drug dealers, gangs and cartels. Still, I learned a lot about organized crime, politics and Prohibition, and how often their worlds intermingled.

History may repeat itself, but fiction makes it fresh and new. Enjoy!



NOTE FROM ELLEN

Happy New Year! To celebrate, I've just released a newly-revised version of Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play, the first novel in my Jazz Age series, originally published in 2012. It's only $2.99 this week–regularly $4.99. Enjoy!





ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance writer and editor whose articles, essays and short stories have been published in a variety of national magazines. She's interviewed Suze Orman and Nancy Brinker and several unsung heroines for Biography and Family Circle magazines. In the 1990s, she reviewed mysteries for The Houston Chronicle, which was like a crash course in writing novels. 



A flapper at heart, she's worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). Between journalism jobs, she managed an antiques shop, leading to a fascination with the 1920s and Art Deco design. During college summers, she worked as a reporter for a Houston community newspaper and once served as a cocktail waitress, both jobs providing background experience for her Jazz Age mysteries. 



She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism and was an editor/writer on UTmost, the college magazine. During her senior year, she served as the president of WICI (Women in Communications). 



Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play
is her first novel, published in 2012, followed by the sequel, Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets, released in 2013. Gold Diggers, Gamblers and Guns came out in May 2014, followed by Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville In 2015. 



Collier lives in Houston with her engineer husband and hyperactive Chow/Shepherd mutts, and visits Galveston whenever possible. 
"When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s."

Connect with Ellen:

Website  |  Etsy  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads 

Buy the books: 

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble 



Sunday, January 15, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: CHRISTINE MEUNIER



ABOUT THE BOOK

Savannah Reynier isn’t sure how she should classify her relationship with Craig Pieters.  They’re not dating but she’s keen to spend as much time with him as possible.  As she learns about his beliefs, that desire increases.

November proves to be a busy month at work for Savannah.  The days fly by as she celebrates the Melbourne Cup, deals with a damaging storm and turns a year older.  All the while Savannah is learning more about horses and breeding; more about the South African man who has come into her life.

As Craig helps her to increase her horse knowledge and challenges her to live out her faith, Savannah finds herself wanting more than friendship.  But after Jackson, is she willing to make herself vulnerable again?

INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTINE MEUNIER


Christine, what's your favorite thing about the writing process?

That some characters and scenes just come to life in my mind so quickly, they seem to write themselves!

Do you write every day?
No, I don’t!  But there generally isn’t a day when I am not plotting something for one of my stories!  I just don’t always have the opportunity to get those ideas down in written form.  (But I do go over the scenes and dialogues in my head many times so I don’t forget them.)

What books do you currently have published?
2016 was a big year for me!  I released 6 books including 2 non-fiction.  I now have:


-    Horse Country – A World of Horses
-    B and B  I love that cover!
-    The Free Rein series books 1 – 6
-    The Thoroughbred Breeders series books 1 – 3
-    Equine Passive Income Streams (non-fiction)
-    52 Steps to Kick-Start Your Equine Career (non-fiction)

Wow! Is writing your dream job?
Actually, it is!  But I still desire to have land and set up a horse business so I can get back to hands on work with horses.


How often do you tweet?
Daily!  But I am able to do that because I schedule tweets a month in advance.

Smart. Would you make a good character in a book?
That depends on your idea of good!  I have traveled, survived a kick to the head by a horse, gotten married, have two children, and dream of doing a lot more with my time on earth!

What five things would you never want to live without?

My bible, a notepad, pen, a cup of tea, and music.

What do you love about where you live?
Many things!  I am in North East Victoria, Australia.  It’s an area that is surrounded by horses, many touristy areas, it is a small regional town (less than 30,000 people), it’s less than 10 minutes to most places, it’s not an expensive place to live!

What’s your favorite fast food?
KFC is something we regularly have as a family to celebrate birthdays.

As a Kentuckian, I have to say that's an excellent choice! What’s your favorite beverage?
Tea!  In particular Irish Breakfast tea.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christine Meunier considers herself introduced to the wonderful world of horses at the late age of 13 when her parents agreed to lease a horse for her. She started experiencing horses via books from a young age and continues to do so, but recognises that horses cannot be learnt solely from books.
She has been studying horses from age 16, starting with the Certificate II in Horse Studies and she completed the Bachelor of Equine Science in 2016.
Christine has worked at numerous thoroughbred studs in Australia as well as overseas in Ireland for a breeding season.
She then gained experience in a couple of Melbourne based horse riding schools, instructing at a basic level before heading off overseas again, this time to South Africa to spend hours in the saddle of endurance and trail horses on the Wild Coast.
She writes a blog about equine education which you can view at http://equus-blog.com/.

Connect with Christine:

Website  |  
Blog  |  
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  
Goodreads  


Buy the book:
Amazon




Thursday, January 5, 2017

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!

Blogs are a great way to spread the word about a book, and A Blue Million Books is now taking requests for author features. 







Friday, December 30, 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016

READING CHALLENGE: CRAVING FOR COZIES



Craving For Cozies 2017 – Reading Challenge

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Cozy mysteries
, also referred to simply as “cozies,” are a sub-genre of crime fiction mysteries in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. The crime solver is an amateur sleuth, usually but not always a woman, who is thrust into the aftermath of the murder. The protagonist frequently has an occupation or hobby that brings appealing information to the reader.

The challenge runs from January 1, 2017 and ends December 31, 2017

Rules:


1. Choose the level you wish to participate:

  • Peckish – 1 – 10 Cozy Mysteries
  • Famished – 11 – 20 Cozy Mysteries
  • Yearning – 21 – 40 Cozy Mysteries
  • Starving  – 41 – 60 Cozy Mysteries
  • Ravenous – 61 – 80 Cozy Mysteries
  • Voracious – 81 – 100 Cozy Mysteries 
  • Completely Satiated – 101 or more

2. You can Feed Your Need To Read with print, digital or audio books.

3. You do not have to post a review, but the authors would appreciate it if you did. If you need help just let Dollycas or me know.

4. You do not need to have a blog to participate.

Just keep track any way you wish and enter a link below or sign up in the comment section. You can even set up a special shelf on Goodreads.com to help you keep track! Your can also participate via Facebook. You can find the Craving for Cozies Facebook Group here.

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5.
  If you do have a blog, take the button above, put it on your blog and post about the challenge.

6. Follow Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book for cozy giveaways and reviews.

7. There is also Craving for Cozies Facebook Group. Everyone can share and discuss the cozies we are reading. Just click here to join.  Dollycas will also host some pop-up giveaways during the year.

8. Please share with us the books you are reading all year long by leaving comments on this page, on Escape With Dollycas, or on the Event page on Facebook.

9. No matter how you enter or keep track, when you complete this challenge please FILL OUT THIS FORM no later than January 15, 2018.

10. HAVE FUN!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: JOANNE SYDNEY LESSNER



ABOUT THE BOOK

There’s one role you don’t want a callback for: Prime Suspect.

Aspiring actress Isobel Spice lands her first regional theater job, playing a supporting role and understudying the lead in Sousacal: The Life and Times of John Philip Sousa. A series of minor backstage accidents culminates in the suspicious death of the leading lady on opening night. When Isobel takes over the role, her mastery of the material makes her more suspect than savior, and she realizes the only way to clear her name is to discover the identity of the murderer—before he or she strikes again.





INTERVIEW WITH JOANNE SYDNEY LESSNER


Joanne, what's your favorite thing about the writing process?
I’ve learned to lay the groundwork and then let my subconscious take over. When I’m really in the zone, my characters will do things I would never have consciously thought of. Sometimes new characters appear and I’m not even sure where they came from, but they prove within a few minutes why they’re important. My subconscious is a better plotter than I am, and when I give it free rein, it’s very liberating, especially since I have a tendency to be a bit of a control freak!

What’s more important – characters or plot?
I'm going to steal the motto from the youth writing group Writopia: “Plot builds character.” So plot it is. Especially when it comes to mystery fiction.

What is your writing style?

One of my friends described it as breezy/intellectual. The latter is more applicable to my music journalism than my fiction, but it’s a pretty accurate description of my sensibility.

What do you love about where you live?
New York City is big, loud, fast, messy, and inclusive. There’s an energy here that’s not like anywhere else. And of course, it’s the theater capital of the world.


Name one thing you’re really good at and one thing you’re really bad at.
I’m really good with foreign accents. I’ve studied Italian, French, and German, and I’m often mistaken for a native speaker—and believe me, it’s not because of my grammar or vocabulary! On the flip side, I have the world’s worst sense of direction. It’s so reliably wrong that if I’m absolutely positive I should turn left, I’ve learned to turn right.


What do you wish you could do?
Protect the people I love from anything bad happening to them.


Would you rather be a movie star, sports star, or rock star?

Until last summer, I would have said movie star. But I just played Rosie in a production of Mamma Mia! and discovered a secret, untapped desire to be a rock star.


Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?
Isobel is a chatterbox who sometimes talks so much about herself that she doesn’t listen to other people. I may or may not resemble that remark.

Do you procrastinate?
Can I answer that one tomorrow?

What’s one thing that drives you crazy?
People who race onto the subway car and stop right in the doorway as if there weren’t five other people behind them trying to do the same. These are the same people who walk in a phalanx on the sidewalk and wield their dog leashes like tripwires.

What is the most daring thing you've done (besides walking behind someone walking their dog)?

My husband and I swam in the Blue Grotto in Capri after hours, which is totally illegal. That didn’t stop there from being a whole line of people waiting to jump in. We did it at the urging of our B&B owner, and it was a harder swim than I anticipated. As a result, I didn’t really get to enjoy the view inside the grotto, and that late in the day the famous blue was only visible in patches. But it was exhilarating and totally outside my comfort zone.

What’s one thing that very few people know about you?
When I go down a long flight of stairs, I have to silently say “left, right” to myself so I don’t trip over my own feet.


How do you like your pizza?

Folded in half, like any self-respecting New Yorker.

What is your favorite movie?
This is a tie, but it will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about me: A Room With a View and Airplane.


Ah, yes, I see. Do you have a favorite book?
Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men. I’ve read it several times, and it may be time to revisit it.


If you had to choose a cliché about life, what would it be?
I don’t know if it’s a cliché, but it’s my favorite aphorism, courtesy of Erma Bombeck: “Think of all the women on the Titanic who passed up the dessert tray.” The best illustration of carpe diem I’ve ever heard.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Writer, singer, and actor Joanne Sydney Lessner draws on her own experiences pursuing a performing career in New York City for her acclaimed Isobel Spice Mysteries: The Temporary Detective, Bad Publicity, And Justice for Some, and Offed Stage Left. With humor and a bit of romance, Isobel juggles auditions and temp jobs, solving murders along the way, while Joanne’s inside knowledge provides a window into the realities of breaking into show business (as well as a forum to share every humiliating audition experience she and her friends ever had). Joanne’s debut novel, Pandora’s Bottle, was inspired by the true story of the world's most expensive bottle of wine and was named one of the top five books of 2010 by Paperback Dolls. With her husband, composer/conductor Joshua Rosenblum, she has co-authored several musicals, including the cult hit Fermat’s Last Tango and Einstein’s Dreams, based on the celebrated novel by Alan Lightman. Her play, Critical Mass, received its Off Broadway premiere in October 2010. Joanne is also a regular contributor to Opera News and a graduate of Yale University.

Connect with Joanne:
Website  |  
Facebook  |   Twitter  |  
Goodreads  

Buy the book:
Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  iBooks