Saturday, February 28, 2015

Featured Author: Jeanne Bannon

Beautiful Monster, The Exchange (book 1)

Lev Baronovsky, a soulless creature of the night, has a problem. Carly, the love of his life has just died in an accident and in three days will pass to the other side. Without a soul, he cannot cross over with her and the thought of spending eternity without his beloved is unbearable. Is seventy-two hours enough time to find a way?

With the help of his brother, Alexei, they must face the vilest creature of all, Boris, an ancient one with selfish motivations of his own.


 Lev moved swiftly through the hallways, darting in and out and around what, to him, were slowly moving nurses and orderlies—those unfortunates working the midnight shift. Faster than any human eye was capable of detecting, he made it to Carly’s room in a flash. In fact, he made it there just in time, nostrils plucking the acrid scents from the air better than any dog’s.

He sat on the bed beside her in the dimly lit room and noticed, thankfully, she had no roommate. The bed beside Carly was recently vacated. The scent of death still lingered heavily and sadly.

Taking her delicate hand in his, Lev noticed a monitor clipped on an index finger. It seemed it measured her pulse and heartbeat. He noticed too that her heart was beating slowly, though he didn’t need a monitor for that. He heard its throb, and it made him think of a dying battery.

However, relief settled on him as he realized he was the first to arrive after the accident that had left her comatose. Carly’s family was nowhere near yet. It would take hours for them to get here from the other coast. He had time, plenty of it. Stealthily, Lev glanced into the hallway from his perch in the darkened hospital room. The occasional nurse strode past, but it was late, or perhaps the better term was early. In the wee hours of the morning, there would be fewer staff than during the day.

With a sigh, he took Carly in. Her blonde hair was matted and dirty, even though it looked as if someone had tried to clean her up, perhaps finger combing her thick mane and tucking it behind her head. Her face was still perfect. Not a single scratch had sullied her beauty.

A knot twisted in his belly. Why hadn’t he known? He could have saved her if only he’d known. But even Lev couldn’t know everything. It was his brother, Alexei, who’d given him the news moments ago.

“Brother,” he’d said, “there’s been an accident. Go now to the hospital or you’ll never see your precious Carly again.”

He hadn’t asked the how, the why, the when. Alexei had dropped his mental barriers. Lev felt them fall like a drawbridge. His brother had let him in. It was easier than speaking—Lev was able to glean whatever information he needed in an instant. But with the simple facts of Carly’s accident came the realization his brother was happy for the turmoil. A hint of a smile had curled Alexei’s full lips, and his eyes were bright. Lev was not surprised.

He pulled his thoughts from Alexei and looked down at his beloved’s hand in his. The pallor of it matched his own. He listened to the slow rush of blood through her veins, willing it to grow stronger.

Moving close, he whispered, “I can save you.” He brought her dainty wrist to his lips. She smelled like death already—like the musk of freshly turned earth. It was now or never. His fangs pricked at her delicate skin, drawing a bead of crimson. It tasted of iron and copper and of her. Carly’s very essence was in that droplet.

He stopped himself, knowing she wouldn’t want him to go through with it. They’d talked about it many times, about the possibility of him turning her, so they could be together, not for just the blink of an eye that was a human lifetime but for eternity. She would be furious if he turned her, and he wouldn’t blame her. Lev knew the pain and sorrow of being changed into a monster against one’s will.

But at least she would still exist. We could still be together. He shook off that small, but oh so inviting thought. No, he would not make a monster of her.

With a flick of his tongue, he licked the droplet away. A shudder of pleasure shot through him, and as he pushed her wrist to his mouth, like a child ready to bite into a ripe peach, the monitor blared a warning. He dropped her arm. Panic filled him. Carly’s pulse rose and fell suddenly. The stagnant tone of a heart that was no longer beating blared from the machine, stabbing sharply in his ears, but the growing silence of blood no longer pulsing through veins and arteries seemed louder. Hesitation had cost him. His compassion, as his brother would say, was his one true downfall.

Two nurses and a doctor were in the room now, buzzing frantically around Carly. Lev had disappeared through the pane of the window unseen and watched from outside where the moonless sky hid him. His jacket flapped in a breeze that also tousled his long black hair. It whipped and slapped against his cheeks.

It was said creatures like him could feel no pain. That they existed only as predators—takers of life—but Lev’s world had just crumbled. If he had a beating heart, it would be broken in two. Tears welled in his eyes, and he longed to let them fall. No, more than that, he wanted to scream, wanted to rip his cold dead heart from his chest and stomp on it.

Lev gathered himself as best he could, pinching the tears from his eyes and staring up to the heavens, but there would be no help for him there. For Lev Baranovsky, there was no God, only this perpetual hell he lived in. Love may come for him again in time, though he wasn’t sure he wanted it to. Would he ever get over losing his precious Carly? The vicious cycle of love and heartbreak was enough to drive him mad.

He should go now. Carly was gone. There was nothing he could do. Even though his brother would be at home, he needed the comfort of his own space to grieve.

He looked down at the ground two stories below, and when he peered back up for one last glimpse of his beloved, his brows lifted and his dark eyes grew to the size of poker chips.

Carly was dead, but she wasn’t gone.

About the author

Jeanne Bannon has worked in the publishing industry for over twenty years, first as a freelance journalist, then as an in-house editor for LexisNexis Canada. She currently works as a freelance editor and writer and is represented by Karen Thomas of the Serendipity Literary Agency.

Jeanne's debut novel, Invisible, a young adult paranormal romance, has recently been optioned for film. Invisible is an Amazon bestseller both domestically and internationally and continues to receive wonderful reviews.

Another of her novels, Nowhere to Run, tells the story of Lily Valier, a woman of substance and beauty, and her dilemma when she falls in love with a man whose mission it is to bring her down.

Currently, she's finishing up work on Dark Angel, a paranormal thriller.
Connect with Jeanne: Website   |   Facebook Beautiful MonsterFacebook Author Page  |  Twitter  

Trailer for Beautiful Monster

Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Author: Nancy G. West


About the book: 

Aggie vacations with Sam and Meredith at a Texas Hill Country dude ranch with plans to advise her column readers how to stay young and fresh in summer. Except for wranglers, dudes, heat, snakes and poison ivy, what could go wrong?

When an expert rider is thrown from a horse and lies in a coma, Aggie is convinced somebody caused the fall. Despite Sam’s warnings, Aggie is determined to expose the assailant. She concocts ingenious sleuthing methods that strain their dicey relationship as she probes secrets of the ranch and its inhabitants. After she scatters a hornet’s nest of cowboys, she discovers more than one hombre in the bunch would like to slit her throat.

"Aggie Mundeen, Detective Sam (incognito) and friend Meredith confront mischief and mayhem while on vacation at a ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Except for wranglers, dudes, heat, snakes and poison ivy,  what could go wrong? Murder?
'Must Read'" - Southern Writers Magazine

Interview with Nancy G. West

Nancy, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
Many moons have passed since my mother and I wrote poems to each other on special occasions when I was seven. About a year after college, I started writing non-fiction articles and later wrote an artist's biography. I returned to college to read and study good literature. About ten years ago, I started writing and publishing fiction.
How would you describe your book in five words?
Funny. Serious. Romantic. Idyllic setting.

How did you create the plot for Dang Near Dead? By the way--I love that title!
I wanted to put my main characters, Aggie, Detective Sam, and friend Meredith in a place that would accentuate their personalities, where Aggie could exhibit her outlandish crime-solving techniques, and where I could find a slew of quirky supporting characters. A dude ranch sounded perfect. I decided how a murder could be committed, and who the victim and killer might be. I'd been on several ranches, but I researched the pleasures and problems specific to Texas Hill Country ranching. I thought about people who live there and accentuated their characteristics.

When Aggie confronts them during her quest to oust the killer, the combination of characters and setting produces chaos and humor. What could be more fun?     

What are your ten favorite lines from a book?
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” - Charles Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities

“At some point, the same thought hits everybody over age thirty: I might actually get old. Since I was pushing forty, single, and attracted to a reluctant San Antonio detective, that nasty thought frequently blasted its way to the front of my brain. I wrote the column, “Stay Young with Aggie,” and answered readers’ questions about how to stay youthful. For me, it was the ideal job since my greatest fear was catapulting headlong into middle-age decrepitude.

I made a decision: 1997 was the year I would learn how to avoid aging.” - Nancy G. West. Smart, But Dead  2015

Tell us about books  you’re an evangelist for.  
Ken Follett's Eye of the Needle for suspense;
William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace for crime permeating the cocoon of family dynamics.
Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch for a teenager's reaction to the sudden tragedy of losing a parent.
Malcolm Gladwells' Outliers for new perspectives.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?
Aggie Mundeen. She's winsome because she's trying to get over a past hurt, and she  passionately believes in justice. Her curiosity and determination make her meddlesome. Her outrageous investigative tactics make me chuckle.

What would your main character say about you?
She'd say I should back off. She'll do whatever she wants, anyway.

With what real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?         
Elizabeth George, William Kent Krueger, Ken Follett, Jodie Picoult, Donna Tartt, Harper Lee, Oliver Sacks, Robert Crais.

Can they be revived? William Shakespeare; Winston Churchill.

How big is the store? Can they be in TV, films? (The list would be longer.)

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
While Sam is busy meeting with the sheriff's deputy, Aggie sneaks back to the corral to look for clues, where she has to deal with a horse determined to chomp her backside. She escapes the corral. Then she spots a suspect and follows him. She can't make noise snapping twigs on the ground, so she follows the culprit on all fours. Like a Neanderthal . . .Then . . .

Later, on the trail ride, she spooks the suspects' horses (along with horses ridden by  other dudes and wranglers), and Hell breaks loose.

What song would you pick to go with your book?
“Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.”

Love it! How long is your to-be-read pile?
Book by nominees for Left Coast Crime Awards and for Malice Domestic's Agatha Awards. I guess that's about 15-20 books, plus James Lee Burke's Wayfaring Stranger, Ken Follett's Edge of Eternity, and John Grisham's Gray Mountain

You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?
Sandra Bullock, Tina Fey, or a professional reader with a talent for pacing humor.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I'm reading Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch (hardcover) and loving it. In the daytime, I use an iPad and read faster because of the double columns. At night before bed, I read hard covers or paperbacks. I like to feel the book and savor the words.

Where’s home for you? Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.
San Antonio, Texas. It's friendly and touristy with brutally hot summers and delightfully crisp short winters. The Texas mind set, “I can do anything,” is helpful when you're struggling through a book. 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Hawaii or the Monterey Peninsula in California. Southern France might be okay.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
The Bible. What other book could sustain you no matter the circumstance?

Your last meal would be . . .
Steak. Salad. Wine. Chocolate.

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?
Sit lakeside with family and friends, play or listen to music, nibble, and enjoy the breeze.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

"Exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you and before you realize what's wrong with it." -Author unknown

What are you working on now?
I'm polishing the story of Aggie Mundeen's third fiasco, Smart, But Dead. I'm mulling over scenes from Aggie's next mystery caper that keep popping into my brain.


About the author:

Nancy wrote poems to her mom and later had a poem published in the Library Journal Pegasus. When she was about to attend college, she heard that journalists were underpaid and English majors sold lingerie. So she studied General Business at the University of Texas, Austin and Houston, and earned a BBA.

A few years later, married, with two daughters, she realized she had to study English literature and write. She wrote articles, poetry, and the biography of artist Jose Vives-Atsara. Her poem, "Time to Lie," was featured by "Theme and Variations” and broadcast on NPR.

Back at school, studying English literature, she wrote Nine Days to Evil, Meredith Laughlin's story of psychological suspense, Shakespeare, and nonstop-action---winner of the Blether Gold Award. As Nancy finished the book, a funny thing happened. Meredith's graduate school friend, Aggie Mundeen, with her wry sense of humor, demanded that Nancy write a book about her. Or maybe a series.

In Fit to be Dead,  #1, Aggie Mundeen, single, way past thirty and afraid of nothing but middle-age decrepitude, joins a health club to shape up before anybody discovers she writes an anti-aging column. She irritates male club members and stumbles into murder. When the killer comes after her, Detective Sam struggles to solve the crime despite Aggie’s interference, while he simultaneously tries to save her derriere.
Lefty Award Finalist for Best Humorous Mystery.

In Dang Near Dead, #2, Aggie, Sam and Meredith confront mischief and mayhem on vacation at a ranch in the Texas Hill Country.

In Smart, But Dead, #3, Aggie, still single, pushing forty and getting desperate, returns to the university to study how genes affect aging. Can scientists change her genes to keep her young? She gets a professor who dislikes her, stumbles on a campus corpse and lands in jail. Detective Sam is not pleased. 2015 release.

Anyone who has tried to start over, get in shape, stumbled into trouble or loved the wrong man will appreciate Aggie Mundeen.

Connect with Nancy:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Henery Press  |  Goodreads  |  LinkedIn  

Buy the book:
Barnes & Noble 


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Featured Author: Connie Archer

About the book: 

When a local woman is poisoned at a pagan ritual in the woods, Lucky Jamieson’s grandfather, Jack, who provided the herbs for the gathering, is suspected of making a terrible mistake. The following day, a dead man is found floating in a creek just outside of town, his face unrecognizable. Is he a stranger or Lucky’s best friend’s estranged brother? Lucky is certain both deaths are murder but can she find the connection and clear her grandfather’s name before more victims fall prey to a killer? 

Other books by Connie Archer:

Interview with Connie Archer

Connie, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I actually haven’t been writing all that long, at least not compared to others who have been writing all their lives. I’ve always been a mystery and thriller lover, and for several years I toyed with the idea of writing a mystery, not at all sure if I would or could ever do it, but I did think about it. My first (as yet unpublished) book took a long time, a few years I think. Of course, I wasn’t in any hurry and was under no pressure, so I could take my time. Then I was very fortunate to find an agent who had faith in me.  That was about eight years ago. I wrote two more books in that series because I still felt very strongly about it. I still do and hope those will find a good home in the near future. When I first started writing, my goal was to finish and publish one mystery book.  Little did I ever think it would lead to writing a series. I started this series, the Soup Lover’s Mysteries, at the end of 2011. The first book, A Spoonful of Murder, was released in August, 2012. Since then I’ve written four more in this series, the fifth, A Clue in the Stew, will be released next spring, March 2016. I still pinch myself!

How did you come up with the title Ladle to the Grave?
Choosing titles has been a collaborative effort with my publisher, and I think they’ve come up with some amazing titles. They chose the first one – A Spoonful of Murder, and, following the same format, I chose the next two: A Broth of Betrayal and A Roux of Revenge. My working title for this fourth book was actually A Corpse in the Cauldron, but my publisher opted for Ladle to the Grave which everyone seems to love, and I think it’s probably a much better choice. 

How would you describe your book in five words?
A suspenseful village mystery. Oops, that’s four. 

How did you create the plot for this book?
The basis of this plot came from a news article I had read several weeks before I started working on Ladle. I like to peruse crime stories and look for the ones with a weird twist, the type of story that leaves you wanting more, although often there’s no way to find out more. This was a cold case about a missing child with a very unusual ending.  That really piqued my interest and started the wheels turning. It wasn’t possible to use the actual story, but it gave me a jumping off spot that helped form the plot. I can’t really say much more because I don’t want to give away any spoilers. 

How do you get to know your characters?
They seem to just pop into my head when needed. And this series has been a wonderful arena for introducing quirky residents of the village, some nice, some not so nice. They have sometimes arrived fully formed without my having to struggle to create them. Once they’re on the page, they have a mind of their own and I’m not really sure I’m in control of their thoughts and words.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?
Well, I’m very partial to all of them, but one of my favorites is my protagonist Lucky’s grandfather, Jack. Jack is elderly and a World War II veteran and struggles with PTSD. He spent most of his life in the Navy and always tells time by the bells. Only Lucky can translate. Jack calls the walls the bulkhead and the floors the deck. He’s a bit eccentric but a very loving grandfather. He’s an amalgam of my dad who had Jack’s disposition and my father-in-law who really was in the Navy and did tell time by the bells. 

What would your main character say about you?
First of all, I think she’d be upset and very hurt to learn she doesn’t exist in the real world. I can just imagine her shock now. I don’t know what she’d say or think about me.  Probably ask me why I gave her so many problems to deal with.

Speaking of characters, there was a television show several years ago in which a cartoonist, a writer of a very popular comic strip, feels his bed and house shaking. He’s terrified and wakes thinking it’s an earthquake. It isn’t, it’s the shock wave of his character breaking through to his world. Unfortunately his super hero character can’t quite understand that he has no super powers in our universe and constantly gets hurt when he’s chasing bad guys. I thought it was a brilliant comment on the reality of characters that come alive and leap off the page.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
In Ladle to the Grave, Lucky is very busy helping her best friend Sophie plan her wedding to the chef of the By the Spoonful Soup Shop. Partly because of the circumstances of the crime and mostly because Sophie is going through a major life change she discovers some aspects of her family history that she never suspected. There is a scene that I felt was essential to exploring Sophie’s past and was very much tied in to the larger crimes, but I was afraid my editor would think it was inappropriate for a cozy mystery. As it turned out, she was very happy with that scene. I was relieved because I wouldn’t have wanted to go back and delete all references to it because it has so much to offer in developing the character of Sophie. 

What song would you pick to go with your book?
Vermont has inspired some amazing songs, even Revolutionary War battle songs. The state song is “These Green Mountains” which is lovely, but I think “Moonlight in Vermont,” reprised by many artists over the years would be the one I’d pick.

How long is your to-be-read pile?
Very. Piles of books next to the bed and all over the house, not to mention my Amazon Wish List. I try to be economical and not get carried away ordering more books when I have so many to read. 

You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?
The first name that pops into my head is Maria Bello, an actress I admire. She was never a typical vapid Hollywood starlet, but I see great character in her face and hidden depths.  I’ve always found her both real and intriguing. 

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
Right now, I’m reading Tana French’s The Secret Place. I usually don’t buy hardbound books but this one was a Christmas gift I was thrilled to get. I’ve read all of her books so far and loved them all. She’s an absolutely poetic writer. 

Where’s home for you?
I live in Los Angeles. It’s sort of a long story how that happened, but years have gone by and here I am. It was culture shock at first, but I guess we all adjust. 

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.
Los Angeles has lots of weird! I’m not so sure if this counts as weird because I actually think it’s quite interesting. Hollywood Forever Cemetery is very old (for Los Angeles), and situated on a beautiful parcel of land bordering the north side of Paramount Studios.  It numbers among its residents many famous stars of the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and on, including Tyrone Power, Rudolph Valentino, Darren McGavin and many others. Until it was taken over several years ago by a family in the cemetery business, it had fallen into a sad state of disrepair and neglect. Now, revitalized, with a welcome center, it’s a great place to visit. You can find a festival with food and music on November 1st, the Day of the Dead.  And in August, a Rudolph Valentino celebration offers his silent films and the mysterious “Lady in Black” lays one red rose on Valentino’s crypt. 

One very nice thing about Los Angeles is that we’re not suffering through a brutal winter. I grew up on the east coast and I do remember them! Now I can wax poetic about snow in Vermont because I don’t have to shovel any sidewalks or driveways and chip ice off a windshield. 

One fact: Not sure if this is fact, or maybe it is, but there was a phrase that made the rounds and everyone would have a good laugh. It was: “We have four seasons -- fire, floods, riots and earthquakes. 

You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?
That’s a fun question! After I paid every bill that I, my family and my friends owe, I think I would buy a house on a cliff overlooking the ocean – the Pacific Ocean. 

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?
I’ve been under a tight schedule for a long time.  I think I might clean my house, then go through my file cabinets and do the same. 

What would your dream office look like?
It would be a small, dark and cozy space, perhaps six feet by six feet, a magical Oriental rug on the floor to take me on strange journeys, lined with bookshelves floor to ceiling, filled with mysteries, thrillers and forensic reference books, a desk, a chair, a computer for writing and a locking door so nothing could interrupt me. 

What three books have you read recently and would recommend?
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kreuger
Deep Into Dusk by Laurie Stevens

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I think Venice – there’s the ocean again. In an elegant palazzo with my own gondola.  Perhaps I could sip a cappucino with Commissario Brunetti. Of course, I hear it’s not so lovely when the water’s high. Maybe San Francisco would be a better choice. I lived there for years and still miss it. It’s the most beautiful city in the U.S.

About the author:

Connie Archer is the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. A Spoonful of Murder, A Broth of Betrayal and A Roux of Revenge are set in the imaginary village of Snowflake, Vermont. The fourth book in the series, Ladle to the Grave, will be released on March 3, 2015. 

Connect with Connie:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Killer Characters (on the 15th of every month)  |  Goodreads  

Buy the book:
Barnes & Noble

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Featured Author: Julie Mulhern

About the book:

Swimming into the lifeless body of her husband’s mistress tends to ruin a woman’s day, but becoming a murder suspect can ruin her whole life.

It’s 1974 and Ellison Russell’s life revolves around her daughter and her art. She’s long since stopped caring about her cheating husband, Henry, and the women with whom he entertains himself. That is, until she becomes a suspect in Madeline Harper’s death. The murder forces Ellison to confront her husband’s proclivities and his crimes—kinky sex, petty cruelties and blackmail.

As the body count approaches par on the seventh hole, Ellison knows she has to catch a killer. But with an interfering mother, an adoring father, a teenage daughter, and a cadre of well-meaning friends demanding her attention, can Ellison find the killer before he finds her?

Interview with Julie Mulhern

Julie, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
The Deep End is – hopefully – punny. My heroine swims into a body in the deep end of a pool, or it could have something to do with the end of someone’s life.

Tell us about your series.
The Deep End is the first book in The Country Club Murders. The books revolve around the country club set in 1974 Kansas City. The second book, Guaranteed to Bleed, will release in October of this year.

Where’s home for you?
I am a Kansas Citian, born and raised.

If you had $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?

Books. Or, I might save up for a really nice handbag.

What do you love about where you live?

My roots run deep in Kansas City. Fifth generation. I live within a mile or two of the house my great-great grandfather built in 1858.

I love the art, the food and the friendliness of my city.

What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?

To pick nice boys over naughty ones.

Amen, sister! What makes you happy?
My husband, my children, fresh snow, spring breezes, a good margarita, and a good book.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
I work as a fundraiser for a not-for-profit that helps people who live with serious or chronic illness.

How did you meet your husband? Was it love at first site?
I met my husband at a party, and it was love at first sight. We’ll celebrate our twentieth anniversary this October.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
How about two? Okay!

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." -Albert Camus

If you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best. - Marilyn Monroe

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
Right where I am. That said, world travel sounds delightful.

What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
Being interrupted.

Do you have a routine for writing?
I get up very early every morning, push the button on the coffee maker, and write before I go to work. Like Jessica Fletcher, I write at my kitchen table.

On weekends, I grab my laptop and go to the library or a coffee shop.

What would your dream office look like?
It would have a view of verdant hills and forests and maybe a lake and a mountain or two – which would be odd given that Kansas City is perched on the edge of the plains.

How did you find Henery Press, and how long did your query process take?
I was incredibly lucky in that The Deep End found a home with Henery Press very quickly. It was out on submission for only a few months.

What are you working on now?
I am working on edits for Guaranteed to Bleed as well as edits for a historical romance set in 1902 New Orleans that will release in August from Entangled Select. I’m also writing the second book in the historical series. When that is finished in May, I’ll roll up my sleeves and start the third Country Club murder.

About the author:

Julie Mulhern is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean — and she’s got an active imagination. Truth is — she’s an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions. She is a 2014 Golden Heart® Finalist. The Deep End is her first mystery and is the winner of The Sheila Award.

Connect with Julie:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  

Buy the book:
Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lauren Carr answers The Dirty Dozen

Lauren Carr is the author of the Mac Faraday mystery series and the owner of Acorn Book Services. Her newest book, Three Days to Forever has just been published, and she is here to brave the Dirty Dozen. Give this woman a prize! She answered all twelve questions.

About the book:

With three days left to the year, Deep Creek Lake is hopping with holiday vacationers and wedding guests pouring into the Spencer Inn for Mac Faraday and Archie Monday’s huge wedding ceremony which is being touted as the social event of the year.

But droopy flowers and guests who failed to RSVP are the least of Mac and Archie’s problems when a professional hit squad descends on Spencer Manor to send the groom, Joshua Thornton, the bride’s mother, and Gnarly running for their lives.

In this latest Mac Faraday Mystery from best-selling mystery author Lauren Carr, readers will embark on a rollercoaster adventure with old friends (including the Lovers in Crime team of Prosecutor Joshua Thornton and Homicide Detective Cameron Gates), but also meet new ones as Mac Faraday’s daughter Jessica Faraday and Joshua Thornton’s son Murphy Thornton join the team in the race to get the love birds to the altar!

Best-selling mystery author Lauren Carr takes fans of past Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime mysteries down a different path in her latest whodunit. “Don’t worry,” she says. “We have plenty of dead bodies and lots of mystery—as well as intrigue, suspense, and page turning twists.”

However, Lauren does issue a warning for readers. “The key job of a fiction writer is to look at a situation, make observations about how things are and how they work, and then ask, ‘What if ...’  This is what I have done with Three Days to Forever.”

Lauren Carr’s latest mystery plunges Mac Faraday, Archie, David, Gnarly, and the gang head first into a case that brings the war on terror right into Deep Creek Lake. “Current political issues will be raised and discussed by the characters involved,” Lauren says. “It is unrealistic for them to investigate a case involving terrorism without these discussions.”

With this in mind, Lauren reminds her readers that “Three Days to Forever is fiction. It is not the author’s commentary on politics, the media, the military, or Islam. While actual current events have inspired this adventure in mystery and suspense, this fictional work is not meant to point an accusatory finger at anyone in our nation’s government.”

Fans of Lauren Carr’s mysteries, both the Mac Faraday Mysteries as well as the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, are in for an added treat with Three Days to Forever when they meet new characters, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton. Next year, Lauren will feature Joshua’s son and Mac’s daughter in their own book series, The Thorny Rose Mysteries!

In the meantime, with New Year’s Eve approaching, time running out in Three Days to Forever! Mac Faraday and Spencer’s small police force have to sort through the clues to figure out not only who has been targeted for assassination, but also who is determined to stop everything . . . FOREVER!

Lauren Carr Answers the Dirty Dozen

1. What’s one thing that drives you crazy?
Letting my life get so hectic and out of control that I end up having no time to write. If I don’t have time to write, then I start to get a little nutty . . . and bad tempered. Usually, when I let that happen, it’s my fault because I can’t say no.

2. What is your guiltiest guilty pleasure?
Eating a whole bag of Hershey Kisses or Nuggets in one sitting while watching a really good mystery movie.

3. What is your most embarrassing moment?
Several years ago, when I worked for the federal government, I had an asthma attack at work. I went to the clinic, which was on site, and they gave me medication and told me to rest. Then, they left me alone in the examination room. After a long time of lying there on the gurney, I got bored, which is never a good thing for me. So, I’m looking around and I see a blood pressure monitor with the tube cut. The pump has been cut off, but it has the dial on it. So — remember I’m bored — I ask myself if I could make the dial work if I blew into the tube. No way to know that unless you try, right? So, there I am, with the tube in my mouth, blowing as hard as I can on the tube when the doctor comes in to check on his patient who had come in complaining that she couldn’t breathe because she was having an asthma attack.

Needless to say, I got sent right back to work.

4. What is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?
I’m a do-it-yourselfer. Most of the appliance and computer repairs in our home, I do myself. If I don’t know how to do it, I’ll find out.

Well, last year, my fancy oven needed a new heating element. It was ten years old and I had replaced three elements already. After replacing so many, I had the process down. You turn off the circuit breakers to the oven, unplug it, pull it out from the wall, take off the back, and disconnect the wiring to the element. Then, in the front, you pull out the element, slip in the new element, reconnect the wiring, replace the back, plug it in, and then turn on the circuit breaker.

Well, the only area where I need help is pulling out the oven from the wall. That, I need my husband for. That morning, I decided ten minutes after he had left the house that I wanted to replace the element. So, I decided to take a short cut. I turned off the power, and climbed into the oven and tried to pull out the element from the front, pull out the wires, and disconnect them from inside the oven.

I believed that with the power off that I would be safe. I was wrong. There I was with my head in the oven when it blew up, blowing a hole out the back of the oven. I found out from a friend that even though the circuit breaker was off, electricity was still going through the wiring.

But hey, on the bright side — I now have a new big fancy oven!

5. What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

Sticking my head in an oven and blowing it up.

6. On what life choices would you like to have a re-do?
I wish I had ordered that hot fudge brownie delight that I turned down last Spring because I was on a diet. I mean, since I didn’t reach my diet goal, I could have had that mass of calories after all.

7. What makes you nervous?
Releasing a new book. It’s like sending your baby out into the big bad world and praying that everyone will love him as much as you do, which you know is not possible at all because no one can love your baby the way you do.

8. What makes you scared?
Hearing about real murder cases of young people. Being a mother, I can’t help but put myself in the parents’ shoes.

9. What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?
Well, it’s not the biggest lie, but it is one that comes up.

Several years ago, a neighbor who was moving gave us a propane tank from his outdoor grill. Unfortunately, the plug was not the same as we used for our grill and it was useless. My husband tried to leave it with the garbage collectors, but they would not take it. He checked everywhere, but couldn’t get rid of it. Even the dump refused it.

After years of this thing sitting on our deck, he suggested that I take it to the local store and leave it next to the tank bin when I was exchanging our empty tank.

At that time, our son Tristan was six years old. When we arrived at the store, I took out the two tanks, ours and the useless tank, and set them next to the tank bin. When the clerk with the key came out to unlock the bin and take out a filled tank, he pointed at the useless tank and asked, “Is that your tank?”

“No,” I said.

“Yes, it is,” Tristan said loud enough for the man to hear.

“No, it’s not,” I said.

“Mom, don’t you remember taking it out of the car and putting it on the curb?” Tristan looked at me like I had lost my mind.

The man just shook his head and gave us a tank, and I drove home with a very red face. 

10. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?
Did I mention that hot fudge brownie delight that I missed out on last Spring?

11. When was the last time you did something for the first time?
A few years ago, I took up kayaking and kayaked by myself across Deep Creek Lake. It was exhilarating. Would love to do that again.

12. One of your main characters has to die. Which one would you kill off?

Oh, dear. Now that is a hard question. I think if I did have to kill someone, it would have to be Chelsea Adams, Police Chief David O’Callaghan’s girlfriend. She doesn’t play as important of a role on the team as the rest of the characters and I’ve had a few readers complain about David O’Callaghan, a hottie, being tied down with a steady girlfriend.

But I think killing her would be a little extreme. Can’t I just have her move out of Deep Creek Lake?

About the Author

Lauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. Three Days to Forever is the ninth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series.

In addition to her series set on Deep Creek Lake, Lauren Carr has also written the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates, who were introduced in Shades of Murder, the third book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. They also make an appearance in The Lady Who Cried Murder.

Three Days to Forever introduces Lauren Carr’s latest series detectives, Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday in the Thorny Rose Mysteries. Look for the first installment in this series in Spring 2015.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Visit Lauren Carr’s website to learn more about Lauren and her upcoming mysteries.

Connect with Lauren:
Website--Acorn Book Services  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Gnarly’s Facebook Page  |  Lovers in Crime Facebook Page  |  Acorn Book Services Facebook Page  |  Twitter  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

About the book:

Frankie Lou's back, and Poppy's madder than a wet hen.

Create a church choir filled with teenage misfits?

Over Poppy's dead body.

Minister's daughter Frankie Lou McMasters has come back to Ruby Springs, Texas with her daughter, Betsy, eleven years after running off to marry the town bad boy. Her mild notoriety as a bad girl is prime gossip for her childhood enemy, Poppy Fremont, now choir director of Faith Community Church--where Frankie Lou's daddy, now retired to Florida, was the preacher.

When Frankie Lou comes to the deacons with a request to add a youth choir of at-risk teens she's been coaching, Poppy throws a fit. A few hours later, Frankie Lou finds her dead in the baptistery pool. And Poppy's not playing possum.

Frankie Lou sets out to clear her name as the main suspect, and tries to locate the real killer. Could he be sexy Joe Camps, the father of one of her teen singers? In the meantime, her momma shows up from Florida to take charge of Frankie Lou's life. Bless her heart.

Lora Lee also writes as Loralee Lillibridge. Learn more about her contemporary romances and keep in tune with the Joyful Noise at

Interview with Lora Lee

How long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I started writing stories as a child but only became serious about writing novels when I was about fifty years old. I’d been reading romance novels my sister-in-law shared with me and that sparked the desire to try my hand at writing one. I started with a Western historical romance (manuscript still buried in my files) because I loved all the Westerns on television at that time.

How did you come up with the title Bringing in the Thieves?
The title came after I’d written some rough brainstorming passages and had decided what direction I wanted the story to go. Since my amateur sleuth/heroine is a preacher’s daughter, using a spin-off of gospel hymns seemed like an eye-catching hook to use. The Joyful Noise Mysteries will follow using similar titles.

How did you create the plot for this book?
Oh, the plot had a few changes along the way, but the basic idea had been brewing in my head for a very long time. I just needed a clearer road map.

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?
I am not an outliner, but I do write my first ideas in a spiral notebook using a  Bic MatiCgrip pencil with .007 black lead. That’s my seat-of-pants time when I listen for my characters to talk to me.

When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?
I begin with the main character and develop a character sketch. Usually that’s when the secondary characters make their appearances.

I’m constantly on the lookout for new names. How do you name your characters?
I love coming up with names and often try several before I find one that is a perfect fit for my character. In Bringing in the Thieves, Frankie Lou shouted her name to me right from the beginning. Sometimes I get lucky that way.
What would your main character say about you?
Oh, my goodness . . . she would probably say I’m a bit controlling and ask me to give her a little less stressful confrontations with the local police department.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
I really don’t have a favorite scene, but the one I had the most fun writing was the accidental, sweet tea baptism Frankie Lou gave good ol’ Poppy Rose at the deacons’ meeting. I’d love to see that scene in the movies.

What song would you pick to go with your book?
I think "This Little Light of Mine" would be perfect, since Frankie Lou is trying to instill self-confidence in her group of teen singers and in doing that, she builds her own inner strength when she has to prove her innocence in a murder. 

Who are your favorite authors?
It depends on what genre I’m reading. I’m finding new favorites all the time. Keeping within the cozy mystery series, I love all Laura Childs’ series, also Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef series, Sheila Connolly’s (new to me) County Cork series, Peg Cochran’s Lucille mysteries, Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse mysteries . . .and I know there are many more.

Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix me? I mean, him. Or her.
Well, since I’m Texas born and raised, I’d probably fix you some chicken-fried steak with peppered country gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon, sliced tomatoes, hot biscuits, and homemade peach cobbler. How does that sound? Would you come?

What time should I arrive?! That sounds wonderful. What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
Well, I just finished Early Wake by Sheila Connolly and loved reading a cozy set in Ireland. So happy I found her series. For a change of pace, I’ve started reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and am totally involved in this emotional novel of WWII set in occupied France. I’ve also recently finished Eileen Dreyer’s Regency Twice Tempted, one of her Drake’s Rake’s novels with wonderfully unique characters in a story that pulls you in from the first page. So you can see read a wide range of genres.

How do you handle criticism of your work?
If it’s constructive criticism, I try to learn from it and use what works for my story. I hope I can handle negative criticism with grace. 

Do you have a routine for writing? Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning?
Laughing about this! I have to say all of the above, although I do get up quite        early in order to have quiet time. Same goes for late at night, but I can’t do very early and very late in the same day. I need to sleep once in a while.

Where’s home for you?
West Michigan is home now, but I was born in Texas and lived there until I married and moved north.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?
Don’t know if it is writer’s block or just lack of concentration, but it has happened when real life gets complicated. That’s when I lose my focus on my writing project. It does help to acknowledge the problem and set it aside until real life calms down.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Spend time with my family. I have four adult children, nine grandchildren and five (soon to be seven) great-grandchildren. Life is good!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I would love to have a home in Ireland for part of the year and a warm, sunny beach home where my family could visit the rest of the year.

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? (Don’t worry about the money. Your publisher is paying.)

What are you working on now?

Book #2 of the Joyful Noise Mysteries is underway, though not as fast as I’d like. I’m not the fastest writer in the crowd, but I have a wonderfully patient editor and publisher. 

About the author:

You can't be a preacher's kid and raise a little hob without some serious repercussions. Yes, ma'am, that's the gospel truth. Lora Lee's Joyful Noise mystery series for Bell Bridge Books, sheds a little light on just how serious those consequences can be when Frankie Lou Birmingham McMasters returns to her hometown of Ruby Springs, Texas after ten years in hopes of putting some shine on her tarnished reputation, but finds herself in the middle of murder and mayhem instead.

Though author Lora Lee insists the series isn't about her in any way, shape or form, she does admit to being a real-life P.K. (that's preacher's kid, in case you didn't know.) She was born in Texas and her Southern blood runs deep. Her daddy told her any place below the Mason-Dixon line was part of the South, including the Lone Star State.

Since living in West Michigan most of her married life, she's lost some of her Texas twang, but once in awhile, a might could and a y'all or two slips into her conversation with her critique partners. They love her, anyway. So does her husband of fifty-plus years and their children. With a current family count of twenty-three, get-togethers often resemble an old time revival when they all gather for fun and food.

Lora Lee is a member of RWA, Mid-Michigan RWA, Sisters-in-Crime, and is currently published in contemporary romance. She is also a proud graduate of the Grand Rapids Citizens Police Academy.

When not writing or trying to keep up with her ever-growing family, she enjoys reading, music and travel.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Featured Author: Deirdre Verne

Tour Page Here:

About the book:

CeCe Prentice – environmentalist, peace-lover, artist – will stop at nothing to discover the truth behind her twin brother’s untimely death.

Interview with Deirdre Verne

What’s the story behind the title of your book?
My protagonist, CeCe Prentice, is a portrait artist who employs her creative skills to help the police sketch suspects. When the book was in draft form, I described the plot to my mother and she came up with the title. Thanks, Mom!

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
Drawing Conclusions is the first book in a three book series. I definitely recommend that readers read the books in order as characters carry over from the first and second books.

Where’s home for you?
I’m a life-long New Yorker. I currently live in Westchester County, about 30 miles north of Manhattan. I grew up on Long Island.

What dumb things did you do during your college years?
Now, that’s a question that could get me in trouble! Here goes – I hitchhiked along the main drag in Fort Lauderdale during Spring Break.

Tell you mom the statutes of limitations have passed! 

Have you been in any natural disasters?

We survived hurricane Sandy. Two weeks without electricity or heat. Luckily, we had a wood-burning stove that provided some warmth, but most of the time we were roughing it. I read by candlelight each night.

What makes you bored?

I lose interest immediately in repetitive tasks. My current pet peeve? Loading and unloading the dishwasher twice a day.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

In sixth grade, I was wearing a nifty denim wrap-around skirt that unfortunately unwrapped during lunch period.

Yikes! That was also probably one of your most memorable moments. Do you have another job outside of writing?
I’m a college professor.

How did you meet your spouse? Was it love at first site?
I worked a music company in Manhattan and my husband came in for an interview. He said he would have taken the job for minimum wage just to get a chance to ask me out.

Awww . . . sounds like you got a good one. If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?
Assuming my house was up in flames, I’d rescue my kids first and photo albums second.

What brings you sheer delight?
A day at the beach.

Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?
As long as I’m having fun, I don’t care how I’m labeled.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
"You are your actions." I think this quote goes a long way in describing the mindset of my protagonist.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
Montauk, New York.  The town’s nickname is the “The End” because it’s literally the last town on Long Island. One more foot to the east and you’re in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a nice play on words for an author.

What would you like people to say about you after you die?
She was always on time.

How did you create the plot for this book?
I love to spend time at the public library reading magazines and newspapers. Most of my ideas come from reading about trends. I followed a bunch of articles on green living and the Freegan lifestyle to build the characters for this book.

Are you like any of your characters?
I think CeCe Prentice and I share a similar outlook on life. We’re both straightforward, no nonsense woman with strong personalities.

Who are your favorite authors?

I’m a diehard Nelson DeMille fan. 

He's at the top of my list too! What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
My Kindle doesn’t turn pages fast enough! I much prefer a paper book. I like to leaf through pages both forward and backward.

Do you have a routine for writing?
I have a husband and two boys. There is no room for a writing routine. I’ve trained myself to write through play dates, televised sporting events, and any other major distraction my family can conjure up.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
“This is publishable.”

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
I think most writers would agree that a synopsis is a challenging task. You’ve just completed an entire book and now you need to summarize it in a few pages. It seems easy, but it takes discipline to pull out the key plot components and condense them to a quick and compelling read.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?

I love the Scarsdale library in Scarsdale, New York because they have a separate room for mysteries with four cozy chairs. The room has dark paneling and built-in bookshelves and mimics a library in an upscale home.

What would your dream office look like?
Floor to ceiling windows with lots of light. I’d like a simple desk and no other distractions.

How did you find your publisher, Midnight Ink? How long did your query process take?
It took a year to find an agent, and then only a few months for the agent to find the publisher.

What are you working on now? 
I’m currently working on the third book the Sketch in Crime mystery series.

About the author:

Deirdre Verne is a college professor and an active college blogger. Deirdre’s interest in green living inspired her to create an off-the-grid character who Dumpster dives her way though the A Sketch in Time mystery series. The first book, Drawing Conclusions, is available in February 2015.  A member of Sisters in Crime, Deirdre’s short stories appear in all three New York chapter anthologies – Murder New York Style, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices and Family Matters.

Connect with Dierdre:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Interview with Laura Morelli

Laura, tell us about your Authentic Arts series.
My Authentic Arts series leads you beyond the museums and souvenir shops for an immersive cultural experience that you won't find in any other guidebook. In Venice, you’ll go inside the workshops of the most accomplished makers of Venetian fabrics, Murano glass and millefiori, carnival masks and masquerade costumes, gondolas, Burano lace, mirrors, marbleized paper, hand-carved frames, and other treasures. Other destinations in the series include Florence, Naples & the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany & Umbria, Sicily, Sardinia, Paris, and Provence.

What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
The first time I visited Venice as a wide-eyed teenager, I knew I was supposed to buy Murano glass, but I had no idea why. All I knew was that I was whisked to the famous “glass island” on an overcrowded, stinky boat. I waited behind two dozen American and Japanese tourists to pay an exorbitant price for a little glass fish — what a bewildering experience! Still, it was the artistic traditions of the world that lured me back and inspired me to study the great artists of the past. Living in Europe and Latin America, I realized that in many places, centuries-old craft traditions are still living traditions.

Venice is such a touristy place. How can travelers make sure they don’t get ripped off?
Venice is arguably the most touristy place on earth, and naturally it has its share of scams, mostly in the form of overpriced Venetian-looking souvenirs that were made elsewhere. If you want to make absolutely certain to avoid being scammed, before you buy, ask yourself: Is the item traditional of Venice? Do you know who made it? Did you buy it directly from the person who made it? If you answered yes to these three questions, then chances are you do not need to worry about becoming the victim of a scam, and you can rest assured that you’re likely paying a fair price for the item by Venetian economic standards.

Who are your favorite authors?
I enjoy reading other historical fiction authors, including Barbara Kingsolver, Abraham Verghese, Ken Follett, and Umberto Eco. I appreciate authors who are masters of sensory writing--the art of conveying sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and physical sensations through words. One of the best examples of sensory writing is Perfume by Patrick Suskind. It's one of my all-time favorite stories.

Why did you decide to self-publish?
When I first conceived my novel, The Gondola Maker, self-publishing wasn't where it is now. I started writing in 2007, finished the first draft that same year, and then I put it away for a while to work on other projects. It took seven years. During that time, the market for self-publishing changed so drastically that I was lured by the opportunity. Publishers’ Weekly recently chronicled my self-publishing journey, and you can read about it here.

What are you working on now?
Right now I’m enjoying working on my Authentic Arts series, leading travelers to overlooked treasures in particular cities and regions. I’m looking forward to returning to historical fiction later this year. So many stories behind the world’s works of art—whether true or imagined—remain to be told.

About the author:

Laura Morelli holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, where she was a Bass Writing Fellow and Mellon Doctoral Fellow. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and contributes pieces about authentic travel to national magazines and newspapers. Laura has been featured on CNN Radio, Travel Today with Peter Greenberg, The Frommers Travel Show, and in USA TODAY, Departures, House & Garden Magazine, Traditional Home, the Denver Post, Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, and other media. She has also written and produced art history lessons for TED-Ed. Laura has taught college-level art history at Trinity College in Rome, as well as at several American universities. Laura is the author of the Authentic Arts guidebook series, and is well-known for her travel series that includes Made in Italy and Made in France. The Gondola Maker, a coming-of-age story about the heir to a gondola boatyard in 16th-century Venice, is her award-winning historical novel. Sign up for Laura’s newsletter at