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   


Monday, December 12, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: CARRIE DOYLE


ABOUT THE BOOK


Springtime in the Hamptons comes late, but it’s worth it! Brisk walks on the bright chilly beach, cinnamon buns at tea time, blooming forsythia and . . . murder?

Innkeeper Antonia Bingham has hit her stride as the proprietor of East Hampton’s Windmill Inn. After solving a series of murders, Antonia has taken on more work as an estate manager, giving her entree her into some of the area’s most glamorous homes. Once inside, Antonia checks the heat, looks for leaks or damage, and finds the occasional dead body. As the police can’t be trusted, it’s up to Antonia—a modern day Miss Marple, with an overly enthusiastic adoration of carbs and a kamikaze love-life—to put her skills of deduction to use. Nestle in with a steaming mug of your favorite tea and get ready to peek behind the gates of the mansions of the Hamptons, as Antonia Bingham solves another shocking and devastating murder.

In the second book of the “Hamptons Murder Mystery” series, bestselling author Carrie Doyle Karasyov (The Right Address; Wolves in Chic Clothing) has brought to life a lovable character with whom readers of all ages will be dying to spend time.





INTERVIEW WITH CARRIE DOYLE


Carrie, how did you get started writing?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write. As a child, I always kept thin blue spiral notebooks where I wrote (depressing and dramatic) poetry. I also remember reading a short story my older sister wrote and stealing the first line for a book I wrote in second grade called "Me and the Lucky Rusty Roller Skates." I still have it. The line was: “I decided to go out roller skating. I could because our road is so deserted you could skate on it for practically an hour and no cars will come.”)
In addition, my aunt was in publishing and in charge of Doubleday Book Clubs, and she paid my sister and me to write reviews of kids’ books.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?

I really enjoy writing when I’m "on a roll." There are certain characters that just flow out of me and don’t require any work, so when I am working on them that is the most fun. In the Hamptons Murder Mystery Series, that is Larry Lipper. I feel like he is a (short) person living in my head, and I just channel him; he totally writes himself. But that is so in character for him anyway, to boss people around.

Do you have a writing routine?
I work at the New York Society Library on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It’s steps from Central Park. I work on the fifth floor quiet room where everyone is pretty serious and wants to be a writer.

Do you write every day?
I wish, but no. Never weekends.

What do you wish you’d done differently when you first started the publishing process?
I wrote my first five books with a friend, Jill Kargman, which was a blast and hilarious. But at the time, there was an editor who asked me to write an account of the time I lived in Russia, and I wasn’t yet confident to write on my own. I wish I had, because I think it would have been a good book.

Also, I really regret a missed opportunity I had in college. I went to Barnard at Columbia University, and the well-known writer Mary Gordon was my professor spring of my junior year. I did well in her class. She always asked her best students to babysit for her kids and then she would mentor them. At the end of the year, she asked me to reach out to her in the fall of my senior year to babysit for her kids. I never did because right after I returned to school my father became very sick and he died in October of my senior year. I was too distracted to follow up. But I think it would have been great for me to have been mentored.

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
I hate starting books, but love the middle and find endings satisfying. When I wrote with Jill Kargman she always wrote the first chapter.

What’s more important – characters or plot?
I think the plot is more important because that’s what keeps you turning the page. In general readers are usually on the side of the protagonist and even when it’s an unreliable narrator it takes the reader some time to realize that. So you can keep a reader with you longer if the plot is good.

How often do you read?

I go through reading binges. It all depends if I have read a good book or not. When I read a good book then I keep going and going until I read a boring one. I am currently reading two books at the same time, which is working because one is boring and the other is riveting. So I would say all the time.

What is your writing style?
Contemporary with humor.


What do you think makes a good story?

A good story is one that keeps you guessing.

What books do you currently have published?

I have eight books published. Three are teen books that I wrote with Jill Kargman, two are women’s fiction that I wrote with Jill Kargman. And three on my own (two mysteries.)


What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

I wish I knew that publishing would be hit hard in 2008 or I would have written way more before then to take advantage of the bigger advances!

Do you have any secret talents?
I speak fluent Russian. I took it in high school after I was sick of taking French, and then I majored in it at college. I spent a semester and summer in Russia in college, and then I lived and worked there for three years. My husband is Russian.

I am pretty good at tennis, golf and paddle tennis.
I love 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles.
I think I am a pretty good cook. I worked at the Barefoot Contessa for Ina Garten in college.

Is writing your dream job?
Yes, but I would love to write on the staff of a television show.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
I worked in the sandwich section of Mad Martha’s ice cream parlor on Martha’s Vineyard for two weeks, and I was fired. There were so many college students who wanted summer jobs that the owner was on an ego trip and would fire people every two weeks, just because he could. I also insisted on chopping the vegetables for the sandwiches, and I wasn’t supposed to do that, they said it was too time consuming. But it looked weird to have these giant chunks of vegetables in tiny pita pockets! After that jerk fired me I went to East Hampton and worked at the Barefoot Contessa. Ina Garten was a class act. If you watch her show or read her cookbooks and wonder if she is really that amazing the answer is yes! She really respected her staff.

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?

Amazon! I am loving Bosch and The Americans, and they have Downton Abbey and every movie.

How often do you tweet?
Never.

How do you feel about Facebook?
I love Facebook. I am on it multiple times a day, mostly because I am addicted to Lexulous and play it every time I need a break.

For what would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as a good mother and the world’s best selling author.

What scares you the most?
Something bad happening to my children.

Would you make a good character in a book?
I think my years in Moscow would make a pretty good story. I moved over there when I was 23 to help launch the Russian edition of Harper’s Bazaar Magazine. Sharon Stone was on our first cover, and I said "Hey, it would be a great idea to have Sharon come to the launch party!” Be careful what you wish for. I organized her tour, and she behaved very, very badly. Her demands were endless (at the time she was nominated for an Academy Award for Casino), and I had to secure landing rights for her private jet in the center of Moscow and a police escort to the hotel (actually all it took was a bottle of vodka at the time). The two owners of the hotel where the launch party was taking place were battling each other and vying for her attention. One was American and one was the leader of the Chechnyan Mafia. I had to be the intermediary for that, which was very dramatic. They both had bodyguards because they were trying to kill one another (six weeks after the party the American was gunned down by one of his own bodyguards). Needless to say it was high drama. I was rewarded by my boss, though, and became the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Russian edition of Marie Claire Magazine. I was twenty-four, and I was being jetted around first class to Milan and Paris to all the fashion shows and having dinner at the palace in Monaco and meeting Prince Albert. It all feels like a dream now. But it was super fun.

What five things would you never want to live without?
Well, I hate to admit it, but a TV! I’d also have to say a super long jigsaw puzzle to keep me occupied.

What’s one thing you never leave the house without?
Clothes.

What do you love about where you live?
Well, I live in both NYC and East Hampton, New York. I much prefer East Hampton. I prefer living in a house where I can spread out. It is quiet, I have a yard. I can cook or do puzzles or write. The town is beautiful, there are great beaches and farm stands. I have a lot of friends there. I can hear the ocean from my bedroom.


What’s your favorite thing to do on date night?

I like to go out to dinner on a date night. Italian preferably.

What's your favorite treat for movie night?
Popcorn.

What’s your favorite fast food?
I love pizza. I could eat pizza all day long. Every day. But if you mean fast food from a chain, I love the veggie burger from Burger Fi. I have never had one like it. It’s delicious.



What’s your favorite beverage?
Red wine. Then seltzer, coffee, tea, beer, and water. I don’t like soda. Oh, I like the occasional margarita.

What drives you crazy?
I absolutely cannot stand it when people cut lines. I freak out. I could wait on the longest line as long as it is done with organization, but I cannot handle cutters.


Name one thing you’re really good at and one thing you’re really bad at.
I am really bad at singing and have a terrible voice. I am also really bad at dieting. I am good at eating carbs! I am very good at writing speeches and college/business school essays. I love writing them! I could start a business doing it, I guess.


What do you wish you could do?

I wish I could travel more often.

What is one of your happiest moments?

I really loved living in Moscow, it was so fun. I met my husband there, and I had a great job, and I felt like I was really in the middle of things as history was happening. I loved having my kids when I lived in LA. It was a happy time living there when they were little.

What do you like to do when there’s nothing to do?
I like to do my jigsaw puzzle or read a Sue Grafton book. I like to watch TV. And I love playing tennis or paddle tennis.

Where is your favorite place to visit?
I love the Dominican Republic and have gone there every year for the past ten years.

What’s your least favorite chore?
I hate walking my dogs. One, Scruff, does not like to walk. He just wants to sit there and feel the breeze in his hair. And Boo is very nervous and hates to walk and is always dragging me home. So I have one who won’t move and the other who won’t stop moving. It’s tedious. Plus, Boo often embarrasses the family by barking at other dogs, which we (my husband, kids, and I) all find so tacky.


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

Movie star, because I think it’s the easiest of the three. Although having been on a lot of movie sets, it is super boring, and there is a lot of sitting around. The perks are incredible. But it also would have been fun to be a professional golfer or tennis player.


Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?

Like me, Antonia can’t diet. And she is super nosy like me.

What’s your favorite Internet site?
Facebook and Dailymail.co.uk—also nypost.com and ehstar.com

What’s in your refrigerator right now?
I always have Parmesan cheese, it goes with everything! And lemons and limes, hoping that someone will make me a margarita. But really, lemons go with everything. I also stock almond milk, whole milk, and vegetables at all times.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
I think it was bold to quit a good job in magazines in Manhattan and leave an amazing apartment to move to Moscow to start over when I knew not one person there.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?

I guess see above?

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
I would have thought out my writing career a bit better. I wish I had a good agent. My first book agent was fired by my agency and left the biz, and I had quite liked her. Then I had two who were very nice people but not right for me. I finally found one who was perfect for me and it was very exciting but, tragically, she died. I wish I could have had one agent that I just stuck with and who would have helped to shape my career.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
"To whom much has been given, much will be expected." From the Book of Luke in the Bible. I say that to my boys all the time.


Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
I love the East Hampton Library! I am actually a Committee Co-Chair for Author’s Night, which is their biggest fundraiser. Every year we invite between 90-100 authors to come and sign their books, then many of them go to people’s houses for fund-raising dinners. Anyone can buy tickets to the dinners and meet the authors. I am involved in finding authors to participate and hosts to open their homes for the dinners. The money is spent on outreach programs because the library also acts as a community center.


Who is your favorite fictional character?

Elizabeth Bennett! Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book. I just love Elizabeth. She is so quick-witted and smart, but she also gains self-awareness.


If you had a talk show who would your dream guest be?
Stephen F. Cohen. He is an expert on Russia. I find the American press very biased against Russia, and I think he is very thoughtful and impartial.


What’s one thing that very few people know about you?

Here’s a few, take your pick:
In high school, I went on a class trip to Uzbekistan, which I think is kind of random.
I lived in Europe (Moscow, France, and London) for six years.
Gwyneth Paltrow was a bridesmaid in my wedding. We went to school together as kids and we’re still friends.
In college, I read Crime and Punishment and Anna Karenina in Russian.
I was a comedy writer in Hollywood for years. I only had one movie made—Intern, but I sold several scripts to Paramount, Showtime, Oxygen Network, and Nickelodeon amongst others.
I was interviewed by Ann Curry on the Today Show.


You have a personal chef for the night. What would you ask him to prepare?
I think about this all the time! My favorite show is Top Chef, and I have a fantasy of them showing up at my door asking if they can prepare dinner for me. I would love it!

Okay, first some lightly seared tuna thinly sliced on a wonton or potato. Then I’d love some white truffle pasta as well as butter poached lobster. A really good salad—inventive, one that I could not make myself, followed by panna cotta with berries. Or maybe a butterscotch pudding.


How do you like your pizza?

Plain! I also sometimes like it with mushrooms, green olives, and capers when I am feeling racy.

What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
A photo of my dog Boo. My son set it up. My dog Scruff is on my phone.


What’s your favorite song?
"Lose Yourself" by Eminem.


What’s your biggest pet peeve about writing?
That it is solitary and stationary.


What is your favorite movie?
When Harry Met Sally.


Do you have a favorite book?
Pride and Prejudice but I also love The Secret History by Donna Tartt and most everything I have read by Tolstoy. I also LOVE Michael Connelly and have read every single book he ever wrote. And American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld is another fave. Vladimir Nabokov is my favorite writer. I did my senior thesis on him and his niece was my professor and thesis advisor! I love Sue Grafton and Agatha Christie also.

What are you working on now?
Death on West End Road, the third Hamptons Murder Mystery Series!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carrie Doyle was the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Russian edition of Marie Claire Magazine. She is currently a Contributing Editor of Hamptons Magazine and has written extensively for Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country and has also written for Women’s Health and Avenue on the Beach. With Jill Kargman, Carrie co-wrote the film Intern (which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999), as well as several screenplays sold to Showtime, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Films, and the Oxygen Network. Carrie and Jill co-wrote five books together, including three teen books for HarperCollins and two bestselling women’s fiction books, The Right Address and Wolves in Chic Clothing (Broadway Books). Carrie also penned the popular novel The Infidelity Pact (Broadway Books). Carrie lives in New York City with her husband and two children and is currently at work on an animated series for broadcast as well as her new series, the Hamptons Murder Mysteries.

Connect with Carrie:
Webpage   |   GoodReads   |   Amazon   |   Publisher Page  

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo 

Friday, December 9, 2016

CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH T.C. LOTEMPIO'S NICK CHARLES



ABOUT THE BOOK

Nick and Nora aren’t just pussyfooting around this time as they deal with a missing person’s case and murder.



While catering a gala for the Cruz Museum, Nora Charles agrees to look into the disappearance of director Violet Crenshaw’s niece, a case previously undertaken by her frisky feline friend Nick’s former owner, a private eye whose whereabouts are also currently unknown. 
 


As Nora and her curious cat Nick pull at the string of clues, they begin to unravel a twisted tale of coded messages, theft, false identities, murder, and international espionage. Nora dares to hope that the labyrinth of leads will not only help them locate the missing young woman, but also solve the disappearance of the detective. That’s if Nora can stay alive long enough to find him . . . 





ABOUT THE CHARACTER

Nick Charles is a fat, sassy, tuxedo cat with a flair for detection and a love of Scrabble tiles.  He enjoys helping his current human, Nora Charles, solve puzzling mysteries using his feline wiles to point out clues that the human eye might not cat-ch.


CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH NICK CHARLES


Nick, how did you first meet main character Nora?
I turned up on her doorstep – literally – and just walked right into her sandwich shop. It was love at first meow for me, but Nora was a tough sell at first. Her friend Chantal actually encouraged her to keep me and now we’re quite the investigative team, if I do say so myself. And I do.

Want to dish about her?

Nora’s a bright girl, a former investigative reporter with strong family values.  She gave up her career as a true crime reporter to run her mothers sandwich shop after her death, and just recently she and I helped keep her little sister Lacey out of prison. Someone was framing her for a murder she didn’t commit. The only thing I could say about Nora is she’s a bit wishy-washy in her love life. She has a good thing going with FBI agent Daniel Corleone, but now that her old flame Leroy Samms is back in her life, well . . . who knows. Purr-sonally, I think I’m all the man she needs, meow!

Why do you think that you've ended up being in a book?
Well, how many cats do you know who can spell out clues with Scrabble tiles and sniff out clues no human can find?  It was inevitable that my story would be told.

I take your point. Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
Every scene I’m in is my favorite LOL. I’m a cat, after all!

Did you have a hard time convincing Toni to write any particular scenes for you?
Hmm, it might take a bit of extra meowing and some headbutts and leg rubs, but she’s usually putty in my paws.

What do you like to do when you are not stuck in a mystery?
I enjoy lounging in front of Nora’s refrigerator and in the sandwich shop in general. One never knows when a tasty morsel might drop on the floor!

If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
I’d give myself a hot Persian or a Siamese as my love interest. Even a cat has needs.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
What do cats usually think of humans, LOL.  Nora is the exception, though. And maybe Chantal, when she isn’t trying collars on me!

Do have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?
Other than continuing my series and ruling the world, none to speak of.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?
I find people a bit leery of me when we first meet; after all, I am quite a formidable figure. To know me is to love me, meow!



What are you most afraid of?
My food bowl not getting refilled promptly.


 

How do you feel about your life right now?
Right now my life is pretty darn purr-fect.

What aspect of your Toni’s writing style do you like best?

Everything my author does is wonderful and innovative (she gave me extra catnip to say that).

What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?
How many Scrabble-playing mystery-solving cats do you know?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic.  She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – and in Spring 2017, the new CAT RESCUE mysteries from Crooked Lane!  She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York.




Connect with Toni:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |   Twitter  |  Goodreads


Buy the book:
Amazon   |  Barnes and Noble 



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: JEFFREY MARKS



ABOUT THE BOOK

There’s Murder in River City – Daycare that is.

When Marissa learns that a teacher at the daycare center has been murdered, she comes to the realization that she really didn’t know much about the people who worked there, especially the murdered woman. She’ll now have to manage her son, her mother, her mother’s Scottish terrier, and an ex-boyfriend as she tries to hunt down the people behind a robbery ring and the person who killed a daycare teacher. If she’s not careful, she might meet the same fate.




INTERVIEW WITH JEFFREY MARKS


Jeffrey, how did you get started writing?  
I started small. While I’d always hoped to be a writer, I started mostly writing journal entries and things like that. I progressed to writing articles and features for magazines along with the occasional short story. I won awards for a few of my short stories and from there I broke into writing for anthologies and then editing some anthologies as well. On the non-fiction side, the features included interview pieces and I was fascinated by the process of writing and how the author’s own life became a part of the novel. I wanted to learn more about that process and so I decided to write a full-length biography of a mystery writer. 

What's your favorite thing about the writing process
Creating the first draft. I love meeting new people, creating new settings and learning about the plot that I’ve structured. It’s so much fun to see something that has been in my mind for weeks or months to finally come to the printed page. 

Do you have a writing routine?  
I write in the same place when I write. I converted one of the spare bedrooms in our house to an office. I write from here. I prefer morning to afternoons just because by the end of the day, I may be burdened with the things that happened. In the morning, I’m usually fresh and ready to go. 

Do you write every day
No, not every day. I try to write 3-4 times per week, sometimes more and sometimes less depending on what I’m working on. There are just some days that it won’t happen. I had pneumonia in October, and there were several days where I did nothing. I didn’t try to push myself, because I knew the work to fix what I wrote would be more than writing it from scratch when I felt better. 

What do you wish you’d done differently when you first started the publishing process
I wish I’d had more of a plan. I started out in short stories, then moved to biography and then to mystery fiction. I wish I’d put more time into thinking about what I wanted to do long-term in my writing career and spend less time going down blind alleys. 

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
I would definitely say editing. The minute changes that can be made at that level are wonderful, but at the same time, it’s difficult to go over the same page repeatedly. 

How often do you read? 
Daily. It’s my obsession. 

What books do you currently have published? 
Four short story anthologies, six novels, and five non-fiction books (biography and a how-to.) So 15. My math students would be proud of me. 

We don't talk about math around here! Is writing your dream job
Yes, it’s my dream job, but I don’t want it to be my only job. The inputs from the outside world are what give me ideas, characters, plot twists, and more for the books. Staying at home and writing all day removes me from those situations. I could go write at a coffee shop, but at most you’re still a spectator rather than an actor. I enjoy interacting with people and places in order to learn more. 

What is the worst job you’ve ever had? 
I actually worked as at a roller disco back in the 1970s, which will always be my worst job ever. It taught me the lyrics to about a dozen disco songs that I can still sing from memory today. But seriously, it was only a part-time after school job, and so it was more to make money to feed my book addiction than anything else. 

Do you have any marketing tips you could pass on to indie authors? 
The best marketing is organic. Go out, be yourself, and you’ll find that the readers will come to you. 

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be? 
The ACORN station on the Roku app. It’s my go-to station for finding something to watch. 

How often do you tweet
I try to tweet daily. Normally it’s just information on what’s going on in my life or funny things I see. And of course, the obligatory requests for people to buy my books. 

For what would you like to be remembered
I would like to be remembered for my writings, both the biographies and the novels. 

Would you make a good character in a book?
Probably not. I’m a bit neurotic, and the character would probably get on everyone else’s nerves. 

What’s one THING you never leave the house without?
Something to read. I also have something with me, in case I get stuck in traffic or at the doctor’s, etc. 

What do you love about where you live
I was born in a small town near the foothills of the Appalachians. I grew up in an area with lots of green space and rolling hills, and when we bought out a house, we ended up with a home that has many of the same aspects. It just feels like home. 

What's your favorite treat for movie night? 
Chocolate, any type of chocolate. 

What’s your favorite fast food? 
Cincinnati chili. It’s spaghetti, beans, meat sauce with some spices and it’s delicious (an acquired taste but delicious.) 

What’s your favorite beverage?
Iced tea, unsweetened. I can drink by the gallon. 

What is one of your happiest moments? 
Traveling always makes me happy. As much as I enjoy my life, I like to get away from time to time and see other parts of the country – and the world. So when I think of standing on the Pyramids, floating down the Nile, looking up at the Empire State Building, those things give me joy. 

What’s your least favorite chore? 

Without a doubt, it’s washing dishes. I’m not sure why that is. I don’t have a story or any deep insight into why I don’t like it, but it is by far the least popular chore at my house. 

Do you give your characters any of your bad traits
Sometimes I do. They say that you are most annoyed by the things in other people that you do not like about yourself. So adding these characteristics to others gives me a chance to work out my own feelings on the issue and why it annoys me. 

Do you procrastinate? 
All the time. I seem to be motivated by the fear of not getting things done. I’m sitting here with a list of nine things to do today. It’s 12:30, and I’ve done three of them. That means I’ll be doing the rest up until about 8pm tonight. 

What is your most embarrassing moment? 
While it’s entirely self-imposed, I am embarrassed beyond belief at reading my own works in public. I can read works by other people. I can read my own works to myself, but put an audience in front of me, and I turn red and stammer. I’m not sure why that is, but I’ve done it since I was young. 

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on? 
Actually, nothing. I’m thinking of the butterfly effect here. I’m pretty happy with where I’m at in my life now. So the thought of going back and changing one thing, or two things, or 17 things would likely make me a different person and in a different place than I am now. I’m not sure I’d like that. 

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“Do or do not. There is no try."

What would your main character say about you? 
Stop goofing around and write the next book already. 

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
Grandmother’s obituary, for obvious reasons. One of the bad things about being the writer in the family is that I get tasked with writing for the family. Not all of the assignments are fun. 

Who is your favorite fictional character? 
Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. You have to love anyone who can hold a grudge like that. Plus she is the poster child for lost opportunities. 

If you had a talk show who would your dream guest(s) be
Agatha Christie.

How do you like your pizza? 
With lots of meat and sauce and cheese. I like it messy. 

What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop? 
My dogs. I vary them from time to time. Currently at home, it’s Ellery, my first Scottish terrier, and at school, it’s Archie who is the latest addition to the house. 

Describe yourself in 5 words. 
Generous, eclectic, scholarly, humorous, romantic.

Do you have a favorite book? 
East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I come back to that again and again to remind myself that I ultimately have the power t choose who I am going to be. 

What are you working on now? 
I am currently writing a biography of mystery author Ellery Queen, who was actually two cousins who collaborated for 40 years. It’s a bigger project than I had anticipated, mainly because I’m telling the stories of two people rather than the typical one person. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeffrey Marks is a long-time mystery fan and freelancer.  After numerous mystery author profiles, he chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer Craig Rice.
That biography (Who Was That Lady?) encouraged him to write mystery fiction. His works include Atomic Renaissance: Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s/1950s, and a biography of mystery author and critic Anthony Boucher entitled Anthony Boucher. It was nominated for an Agatha and fittingly, won an Anthony. He won a Malice Domestic Grant for The Scent of Murder, which has spurred the Marissa Scott series. What Fresh Smell is the third novel in the series.
His work has won a number of awards including the Barnes and Noble Prize and he was nominated for a Maxwell award (DWAA), an Edgar (MWA), three Agathas (Malice Domestic), two Macavity awards, and three Anthony awards (Bouchercon). Today, he writes from his home in Cincinnati, which he shares with his spouse and three dogs.
Connect with Jeffrey:  Website  |  Blog  |   Facebook  |  Twitter  |  GoodReads 
Buy the  book:  Amazon

Monday, December 5, 2016

SPOTLIGHT: ROSIE GENOVA





Rosie Genova, author of the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, serves up a new dish this week with the release of her e-book holiday novella, The Seven Course Christmas Killer: A Holiday Novella from the Italian Kitchen. Priced at .99, the e-book will be available on Amazon and most other retailers.

The story takes place on Christmas Eve, as Vic and the gang prepare the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes for their annual holiday party. But before you can say “shrimp scampi,” Mayor Anne McCrae takes a nasty fall that may not be an accident. Add a nosy reporter, guests with grudges, and a missing kitchen knife—and Vic suddenly has all the ingredients for murder!

ABOUT THE  BOOK

On Christmas Eve, someone might be sleeping with the fishes . . .

It’s December at the Casa Lido, which means only one thing: the Rienzi family’s traditional Christmas Eve celebration, including wine, song, and seven Italian seafood courses. As Victoria and Tim prep scungilli and calamari, Nonna directs the cooking until all is in readiness for the big night.

But the holiday cheer is interrupted by the attempted murder of Mayor Anne McCrae, who asks Vic to investigate. Trouble is, there are as many suspects as there are fishes on the Christmas Eve menu . . .

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A Jersey girl born and bred, national bestselling author Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for her cozy series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries. Her debut, Murder and Marinara, was voted a Best Cozy of 2013 by Suspense Magazine and was a finalist for a 2014 Daphne Award. Her books have been described as blending “mystery with comedy, romance, family drama, a vivid and affectionate portrayal of the Jersey shore and…oh yes, cooking.” 

The proud mama of three grown sons, Rosie still lives in her home state with her husband and a charming mutt named Lucy. She also writes women's fiction as Rosemary DiBattista.

Connect with Rosie:

Website  |   Facebook   |   Goodreads  
Buy the book:
Amazon 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

COVER REVEAL: WITHIN THE ESSENCE





ABOUT THE BOOK

As the demons near, the Essences rise . . .

AJ had never been particularly athletic or coordinated, so waking up to realize she suddenly has super-human strength is a massive, mind-shaking shock. Finding that she’s gained a stalker overnight is another mark in the unusual category, and when she discovers she’s always had the essence of a werewolf in her blood, her world all but shifts beneath her.

Demons, she’s told, are looming in the world’s future, and the only hope humanity has of surviving their arrival is if she and teenagers like her surrender their humanity to dive into their mythical essences. Fairies, dragons, dwarves, mermaids… The remnants of seventeen different fantasy species must come to life to save the lives of everyone.

Someway, an army of supernatural teenagers must prepare to meet the demons escaping from their dimensional banishment, or everything ends. Can these teens succeed and save the world?


EXCERPT FROM WITHIN THE ESSENCE


Even though she wasn’t searching for a point of focus in her gazing, she soon found one. The insane stranger from the school’s parking lot was less than ten feet away and watching her.

AJ tensed, then twisted to sprint away, but his words kept her in place as he advanced.

“It wasn’t intuition,” he insisted. “Like it wasn’t adrenaline. Why won’t you believe me?”

By now, he was inches from her, and she still wouldn’t make eye contact.

“Look.” She cleared her throat after her voice cracked. “I don’t know who you are, or if you’re stalking me, or what, but you can’t just show up—”

“You’re in no danger. We’re in a hospital, complete with officers and security cameras, not to mention patients, staff, and concerned well-wishers.” His lips quirked into another grin. “No need to create witnesses this time.”

“Just leave me alone.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Why not?” Though she struggled to keep calm, emotion tainted her words.

He sighed tiredly. “The last time I told you why, you ran from me.”

“Because it was crazy talk!”

“As crazy as a girl who can hear whimpers from two floors up? I overheard all of that conversation earlier, and that’s not counting whatever else you experienced today. What will it take to convince you something’s different here?” Reaching out, he took her chin in his hand so he could gently force her to meet his gaze. “What can I say or do that will get you to listen to me?”

Part of her wanted to hear him. She couldn’t deny, regardless of trying, that life had devolved to things impossible over the last twenty-four hours.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Connie L. Smith spends a decent amount of time with her mind wandering in fictional places. She reads too much, likes to bake, and might forever be sad that she doesn’t have fairy wings. And that she can’t swing dance. Much of her preferred music is severely outdated, and as an adult she’s kind of obsessed with Power Rangers. She has her BA from Northern Kentucky University in Speech Communication and History (she doesn’t totally get the connection either), and her MA in English and Creative Writing.

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


Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Kobo

Thursday, December 1, 2016

FEATURED AUTHOR: KATE DYER-SEELEY


ABOUT THE BOOK

When a mud marathon champion bites the dust, Meg Reed has to go the distance to make sure a killer comes clean . . .

Back home in Portland, Oregon, Meg is ready to take her career as an outdoor writer for Extreme magazine to the next level. Lesser journalists sling mud—Meg plans to run through it. To train hard for Mud, Sweat & Beers, an extreme 5K mud run, she’s signed on with the Mind Over Mudder team, run by ten-time mud marathon champ—and former drill sergeant—Billy the Tank. But when Meg finds her tenacious trainer dead in the locker room, she has a sinking feeling someone may have been pushed too far. Digging through the hidden secrets at Mind Over Mudder is a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Meg will have to tread carefully, though—or she may soon be running for her life . . .






INTERVIEW WITH KATE DYER-SEELEY


Kate, do you have a writing routine?

Yes, I have a very strict routine. When I’m working on a new book I write 2,000 words every day. No exceptions. I don’t leave my office until I hit my word count. I think that writing is a bit like exercise. If you want to strengthen your writing muscles you have to work them out every day.

What do you wish you’d done differently when you first started the publishing process?
I wish I would have known how valuable my relationships with other mystery writers have become. I’ve met so many incredible friends through writing. The act of writing is a solitary process which makes having connections with other writers extremely important. My writer friends are fabulous sounding boards when I’m stuck on a plot idea or when we’re brainstorming the best way to reach readers. I’ve found that collaborating with my fellow mystery writers has been really beneficial in growing our readership together, and saving our sanity when we’re pulling out our hair over copy edits. I would have joined Sisters in Crime and other writing organizations long before I got a book contract in hindsight. I think it’s a huge networking tool and it’s never too early to start building relationships.

Do you have any secret talents?
I know American Sign Language. My high school offered it as a foreign language, so I took it all through high school and college. I spent my summers interpreting, and my first job after I graduated from college was working in a deaf education program. These days I don’t use it very often so I’m pretty rusty, but it’s always fun when I bump into a former student and even readers at conferences and get to put it to use again.

Do you have any marketing tips you could pass on to indie authors?
I’ve found it extremely successful to tie book launch events into the theme of my books. For example in the 4th book in the Pacific Northwest Mysteries the protagonist, Meg Reeds, runs her first mud run. For the launch event we are creating Meg’s race day stops. Readers will get to sample some of Meg’s race day favorites like mochas with extra whipping cream to give her a sugar rush, beer infused cupcakes, and post-race wine tasting. We’re also offering mini massages, a chat with a chiropractor, and book themed prizes and giveaways. It’s a great way to bring the pages to life and offer readers a preview of what’s to come. The same goes for social media giveaways. I share items inspired from the books with readers online.

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
BBC! Or anything on Masterpiece.

How often do you tweet?

Not often enough. I just read that to reach the widest possible audience you should be tweeting at least three times a day. I’m lucky if I tweet three times a week. It’s on my list of things to improve in 2017.

How do you feel about Facebook?
I really enjoy connecting with readers on Facebook. I use it much more frequently than Twitter, in part because it feels like more of a conversation. My reader friends on Facebook have helped picked titles for new books, are amazing about spreading the word when a book releases, and are just fun to hang out with. It’s always stunning when I realize that I’m chatting with someone in New Zealand or London. I try to respond to as many comments as I can because I appreciate that a reader has taken the time to reach out to me.

Would you make a good character in a book?

I’ve always joked that I match my star sign perfectly. I’m a Gemini and most days I feel like I have a split personality. I think having a twin personality would make a compelling character and leave the reader constantly guessing.

What five things would you never want to live without?
Coffee
Books
Fresh air
Wide open spaces
Trees

What’s one thing you never leave the house without?

My epi pen. I’m allergic to bee stings and do a ton of hiking here in the Pacific Northwest. You never know when you might stumble upon a swarm of bees.

What do you love about where you live?
I live in Vancouver, Washington, right across the river from Portland, Oregon and not to be confused with Vancouver, Canada. I love living in and writing about the Pacific Northwest. The landscape is so vast and changing. You can drive any direction for an hour or two and end up at the coast, the Columbia River Gorge, the Cascade Mountains, or the high desert. There’s always somewhere new to explore. I think people tend to have an adventurous spirit out here in the west. Plus there’s a plethora of delicious coffee and microbrew!

What's your favorite treat for movie night?
Peanut butter M&Ms.

What's the biggest lie you ever told?
When I was in 1st grade I used to make my Blue Bird troop march in a line behind me from school to my house for our weekly meetings. They didn’t enjoy marching (go figure) so I told them that my mom (our troop leader) made me line them up. Totally untrue! When they finally revolted and complained to my mom she was mortified and made me apologize and come clean. Apparently I was a bit of a dictator at a young age.


What’s your favorite beverage?

Coffee. I know it’s a cliché not only as a writer but also as NW native, but I love coffee pretty much any time of the day. I love a good rich dark chocolate mocha or a creamy latte, but I’m not picky I’ll drink just about anything coffee related that you put in front of me.


Would you rather be a movie star, sports star, or rock star?
A rock star! I love music, but cannot sing to save my life. I’ve always wanted to be able to sing but can’t stay in key.

What’s in your refrigerator right now?

Salsa, yogurt, an assortment of cheeses, celery, carrots, Brussel sprouts, and tons of La Croix sparkling waters.

What is the most daring thing you've done?

When I was in college I white water rafted over a 20 foot waterfall in New Zealand. Don’t ask why. I would never do that now, but Meg would!

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?

My first book was a memoir about losing my mom to young onset Alzheimer’s while becoming a mom for the first time. It was a gut-wrenching and painful process to dig up memories and piece her story together, but I’m so grateful for that book. It was definitely a huge part of my grief and healing process.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on the 5th book in the Pacific Northwest Mysteries, In Cave Danger. This time Meg is heading to the high desert in Central Oregon for a spelunking adventure deep underground.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Dyer-Seeley writes the Pacific Northwest Mystery Series for Kensington Publishing, featuring a young journalist, Meg Reed, who bills herself as an intrepid adventurer in order to land a gig writing for Northwest Extreme. Only Meg’s idea of sport is climbing onto the couch without spilling her latte. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and son, where you can find her hitting the trail, at an artisan coffee shop, or at her favorite pub. Better yet—at all three.

Connect with Kate:

Website  |  Facebook  |  
Twitter  | 
Goodreads
Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Indiebound