Thursday, November 23, 2017

GUEST POST WITH CHERYL HOLLON

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!






ABOUT THE BOOK:

Etched in Tears releases on November 28, 2017. When a famous glass artist is murdered at his own exhibit, deadly secrets are put on display, and it’s up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb to see through a killer’s cover.



Celebrated glass artist Dennis Lansing is returning to St. Petersburg, Florida, for an exhibit at the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum. His unique style of embedding document images in his art is at the vanguard of contemporary glasswork. But as Savannah’s first boyfriend and a former apprentice to her father, Dennis’s return home has her reflecting on the past—a trip down memory lane that takes a dark turn when Dennis is found murdered at the museum with an old reference letter from her father in his pocket. A search through her father’s records sheds new light on Dennis’s history, but it seems his present life wasn’t so transparent either. Now, with a gallery of suspects to consider, it’s up to Savannah to figure out who fits the mold of a murderer.






GUEST POST WITH CHERYL HOLLON


Art Inspires Art – Filling the Well


Writing for me is exhilarating and at the same time exhausting. I tend to push very hard for several weeks near the deadline for turning a book over to my publisher. That means up to sixteen-hours a day living and breathing in my book world. I call this phase – book jail. As a result, I’m an exhausted mass of nervous energy and completely empty of words. At this point, I have trouble writing the simplest e-mail.

I’ve found a solution. I walk into a museum. I wander with no set plan or no set time limit. I just let the art wash over me and it begins to recharge my creative energy. For the artist, this is cross training at its most enjoyable.

I’m lucky enough to live near downtown in St. Petersburg, Florida. There are four museums within the space of a dozen blocks. In the 700 block of Central Avenue is the Chihuly Collection with a stunning, permanent collection of world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly’s unique artwork in a magnificent 10,000 square foot setting designed by award-winning architect Albert Alfonso.

When I’m in the mood for the Chihuly, I want to stay longest the gallery with the stunning installation titled “Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier,” whose red-hot swirls dangle from the ceiling. I also adore the multicolored chandelier known as “Milli Fiore.” After I’ve walked through the museum, I spend some time in the gift shop where items for sale are not the typical selection of cups and postcards.

On the north end of Beach Drive is the Museum of Fine Arts with a large permanent collection of French Impressionist paintings. They also host the Hot Gatherings/Cool Conversations/Wine lecture series that feature a touring glass artist. As part of a 50th Anniversary celebration, the Museum of Fine Arts is organizing Monet to Matisse—On the French Coast. Drawn from public and private collections in North America and Europe this project explores and compares for the first time ever Impressionist and Modernist visions of the Atlantic and Mediterranean Coasts of France. I disappeared into those paintings with joy.

Around the corner is the St. Petersburg Museum of History with a permanent interactive exhibition of the chronology of St. Petersburg's history filled with priceless artifacts, documents and photographs. The Benoist Pavilion houses a replica of the world's first commercial airliner which made the first scheduled commercial flight from St. Petersburg to Tampa on January 1, 1914.

Finally, at the south-end of the downtown area is the world-famous Dali Museum with touring exhibits as well as the largest collection of Dali art outside of Spain. Salvador Dalí's art is often as shocking as it is brilliant. The Dali museum in downtown St. Pete offers the largest, most comprehensive collection of the famous Spanish artist's work in America. There are changing and special exhibits throughout the year, including children's activities, film, music series, lectures and more. I enjoy the Spanish themed Cafe and wander the waterside Avant Garden.

This technique for ‘filling the well’ refreshes my creativity and in little more than an afternoon, I’m ready for the next writing challenge. I highly recommend creative cross-training.

See more at http://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/museums



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cheryl Hollon writes full time after she left an engineering career designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind the house, Cheryl and her husband George design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass and painted glass artworks.




Connect with Cheryl:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter   

Buy the book:
Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble 


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: JANE MCCULLOCH



ABOUT THE BOOK

This is a true story of how one boy fought to save his friend from the electric chair.

Set in Massachusetts, it deals with events leading up to the trial in 1920 of two Italian immigrants accused of a hold-up and murder. By a quirk of fate the 13-year-old Trando Brini was with one of the accused -  Bart Vanzetti -  at the time of the crime. This starts a seven year struggle for him to prove Vanzetti’s innocence during which time Trando grows from a boy to being an exceptional young man. It is an inspiring story of courage and bravery where Trando takes on the American Justice System and the Bostonian Establishment in a fight which he never gives up, in spite of putting his music career in jeopardy and losing the girl he loves.


 




INTERVIEW WITH JANE MCCULLOCH


Jane, what’s the story behind the title of your book?

It is a true story based on the Sacco and Vanzetti trials which took place in Massachusetts USA in 1920 – 1927.  I chose one particular aspect of the story in which a 13-year-old boy became involved in the original trial .

Where’s home for you?

I live in Putney, South London -  but, until recently I always had a house in Cornwall as well, as a bolt-hole.  Then I had a houseboat on the River Thames.  Alas, I am no longer able to run two places, but am very happy with Putney!

What’s your favorite memory?

When I was six years old, my mother took me to see The King and I at Drury Lane Theatre London, and afterwards I was taken backstage. It was an experience that inspired in me a love of theatre  - and resulted in being my career for most of my life.

Who would you pick to write your biography?

A man who is both witty and erudite and we seem to be on the same wave-length – Gyles Brandreth.

What do you love about where you live?
It is very peaceful, in spite of being only 20 minutes away from the centre of London – and it has windows opening out onto a beautiful garden.



Have you been in any natural disasters?
Yes – when I worked in Bermuda I was caught up in a hurricane – scary but no real damage done.

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

That things like failing an exam which seemed a disaster then, really don’t matter in the great scheme of things.


What makes you bored?
Chatter about complete trivia – washing machines and technology etc.



What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
Probably relationships – but looking back with hindsight, the advantages probably outweigh the disadvantages!

What makes you nervous?
Flying!


What makes you happy?
Family and friend reunions. I have 4 children and 10 grandchildren.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
Not anymore.

Who are you?
I am a 76-year-old English woman, living on my own now – but with many happy memories and living a good life. I hope for a few years yet.

What brings you sheer delight?

An evening of laughter and sparkling conversation.

Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?
Definitely a lonely genius. I like my own company – but genius is a very over-used word!

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“The wounded deer leaps highest.”  (Chinese Proverb)

What would you like people to say about you after you die?
She was never boring.

How did you create the plot for this book?
I became interested in the true story of Sacco and Vanzetti and started to research it.

Who are your favorite authors?
Anthony Powell, Margaret Atwood, Nancy Mitford, Evelyn Waugh, Jane Austen.



What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
They couldn’t put the book down.

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

Boston City Library, Massachusetts.  It has a wonderful archive section, and they are so helpful.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I am 76, and I only started writing fiction 4 years ago, and thought I was too old to be searching for publishers and agents.

Are you happy with your decision to self-publish ?
Yes I am, the process was quick and smooth – but I  have found the marketing very difficult!

What steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do? Is there anyone you’d recommend for a particular service?

I employed a great professional editor, Dr. Stephen Carver who I cannot recommend highly enough. I also took great care with the look of the book and for the cover design used the brilliant Green Door company.

What are you working on now?
I am working on a book about a foreign correspondent who returns home after a long time in the war zones – and the affect this has had on him.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Most of Jane's working life has been spent working in theatre and opera for which she wrote plays and librettos and was also a director of both.  This work took her all over the world, and she worked with many famous people including Dame Judi Dench, Sir Derek Jacobi, Jessye Norman, and Sir Thomas Allen. Over a period of 40 years she ran two companies, The English Chamber Theatre and Opera UK. 

Four years ago Jane retired from both and began writing fiction. She has published a trilogy of novels which were a family saga – and this year published The Brini Boy, based on a true story.  She's also published two slim anthologies of verses. 


Connect with Jane:

Website
  |  Blog Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Amazon UK 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: J.D. THOMPSON



ABOUT THE BOOK

Is love enough to repair the pieces of a shattered life?

This is the question plaguing Courtney Cook’s mind as she packs what feels like her whole existence into a 20ft moving van. When she encountered Matt for the first time in a coffee shop ten years prior, she was immediately transfixed. Dark, adventurous and wildly untamed, Matt was everything Courtney didn’t know she wanted. One night of uninhibited abandon is all it took for her to be completely enthralled by the boy without limits. Now with two children, a sky-high mortgage and a marriage crippled by addiction, Courtney finds her world is riddled with cracks that no amount of love can repair.

Powerful and provoking with humor woven throughout the raw sting of heartbreak, Like Broken China offers an honest take on the decisions two people make and the aftermath that can destroy an entire decade because of them.




INTERVIEW WITH J.D. THOMPSON


Where’s home for you?

At the risk of sounding cheesy, home for me is wherever my children are. Geographically speaking though, home is in Campbellton, New-Brunswick. For all of those unfamiliar with this town (and I imagine there are many), Campbellton is on the Atlantic coast of Canada. And yes, our winters are long and cold, but contrary to popular belief we do not live in igloos.


What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?

The dumbest purchase I ever made was probably my Palm Pilot circa 2003. At the time, I thought it would miraculously make me more organized. Of course it didn’t, and I was out a hundred bucks.


What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Not to take life too seriously and chill the f*#k out. I spent the better part of my twenties worrying about everything, from my career to money to how to raise my children to be semi-well-adjusted human beings, that I didn’t enjoy them. I’m determined to make my thirties a tad more zen if that’s possible. haha.

What dumb things did you do during your college years?
I use to steal toilet paper rolls from the Art’s faculty. Literally all. The. Time. I don’t think I bought any bathroom tissue for the whole duration of my stay. I also use to spend all of my weekly food allowance on clothes and would subsequently be stuck eating Zoodles every day.

What do you love about where you live?

I live in a small town and I love that I can be anywhere within a five minute drive. Being as forgetful as I am (can I still blame this on baby brain if my son is 5?), it’s convenient to be able to run back home from work at any given time without worrying about a commute or traffic. 


What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?
That being a brat won’t get you anywhere in life and that kindness can go a long way. I shake my head when I think back to how big of a jerk I was.


What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
All of my late-night visits to McDonald’s. If I could go back and not eat a Big Mac combo at 2am every other night over the span of my student career and save myself an unnecessary 1200 calorie intake that would be great.

What’s your favorite line from a book?
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the lights.” (For the record, I love Harry Potter.)

How did you create the plot for this book?
I knew I wanted to touch the subject of addiction eventually. I have a bunch of ideas for potential books jotted down in a notebook and alcoholism won the luck of the draw this time. It wasn’t particularly hard to draw inspiration since it’s such a prevalent issue. More specifically, I chose to shed light on the people impacted by the addict. Once I knew what direction I wanted to take, characters and situations fell into place pretty easily.

Is your book based on real events?
Although I will admit that I draw inspiration from my life in every book that I write, none of them are based on real events.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I don’t know that I can say I made the decision to self-publish so much as it was decided for me. In other words, I couldn’t secure an agent. I was pretty naïve after completing my first novel and thought the process would be much easier than it actually was. Query after query, I received rejection letters. Some agencies did go as far as requesting the entire manuscript (Writer’s House being the most exciting) however in the end I was left without representation. It was only then that I opted to self-publish. Self-publishing definitely has its challenges, however, it also gives you a certain amount of creative freedom.

What steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do? Is there anyone you’d recommend for a particular service?
For my first two novels, I did everything from the cover art all the way down to the formatting. I realized with time that these steps were keeping me from what I actually enjoy doing; writing. I had sat on publishing Like Broken China for nearly a year simply because I didn’t have the will to edit/format it. So after doing a little bit of research, I found a company that could do all of the above and they were worth every penny. (Shout out to Alyssa Garcia of Uplifting Designs!)

What are you working on now?
At the moment I’m working on a novel that deals with someone returning to her roots only to find that perhaps there was no tree there to begin with. I also have a collection of children’s books that I’ve written over the years that I would like to illustrate (I was an art student before switching to neuroscience – yeah, I know. Very random).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


J.D. Thompson is a young authors and women’s fiction writer. She lives in a small town in the chilly northern peak of New-Brunswick with her family, an array tomato plants that annually fail to thrive and a growing number of incomplete knitting projects. Like Broken China is her third completed novel.

Connect with J.D.:

Blog  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:
Amazon 


Sunday, November 19, 2017

CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH MARY FELIZ'S MAGGIE MCDONALD



ABOUT THE BOOK

 Silicon Valley Professional Organizer Maggie McDonald tackles her toughest case yet when a dear friend is falsely accused of murder. Aside from a depressed mastiff with PDSD, the only witness is an undocumented teen. Should he make a statement and risk deportation or stay mum and let the bad guys run amok? Or can Maggie organize a third solution without putting her friend, her family, and her community at risk?






ABOUT MAGGIE MCDONALD:

Professional Organizer Maggie McDonald has a penchant for order that extends beyond her clients' closets, kitchens, and sock drawers. A newcomer to the Silicon Valley town of Orchard View, she's determined to keep it a great place to live, work, and raise her two teenaged boys. Happily married to a former academic turned engineering manager with a tough workload and unpredictable hours, Maggie juggles her home life with her work and community volunteer efforts. Once she's found her place in the tightly knit community, she'd do everything in her power to protect her family and friends and repair the damage when violence rips a hole in the social fabric.


CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH MARY FELIZ'S MAGGIE MCDONALD


Maggie, how did you first meet Mary?

Mary and I met at a conference for Professional Organizers in San Francisco. She wanted to write a cozy mystery about a character, but she didn't want to include recipes in the books. She was investigating alternative careers and thought that professional organizers might have access to some of their clients' darkest secrets—the ones we all squirrel away in our sock drawers or our attics and hope our friends and family never discover, let alone investigators in the middle of a murder case. I kept hearing the other organizers talk about this crazy author who was looking for stories about our most bizarre clients. Late in the afternoon we'd both had enough of the crowds and wanted a pick-me-up. I found myself standing in line with her at the Starbucks next door to the hotel. (Mary had forgotten to take off her conference badge, which I found out is normal for her.) We sat outside in the courtyard. I loaned her a pen when she couldn't find one in her huge tote bag. I told her stories. She scribbled notes. And we laughed. We talked until we realized we'd both missed the closing events and it was time to drive home. We discovered we live so close to each other we should have carpooled, and now we go to all our conferences together.

Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?
Books and movies about Silicon Valley were all the rage when our first mystery, Address to Die For, came out. But all those novels and films? They were about the big shots—Wozniak, Jobs, and Zuckerberg, or the kids who are all messed up because their parents think money is more important than family.

In the real Silicon Valley rather than the one that Hollywood portrays, there are more ordinary people than there are billionaires. The rest of us--teachers, firefighters, police officers, journalists, civil servants, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, gardeners, janitors, and bus drivers had a story that needed to be told. Silicon Valley is our hometown. We, like everyone else, live in neighborhoods. Our security depends on interconnectedness, rather than on a locked gate or bodyguard. That need for a community is universal, which makes it easy for readers to identify with us. We have our weird quirks. Silicon Valley living isn't like living in other parts of the country. Those idiosyncrasies make us intriguing. But this dramatic uptick in the murder rate in Orchard View? That has thrown us for a loop. Readers like stories about people in crisis, especially when everything turns out okay in the end. We've got the perfect recipe for escapist literature.  

If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
I tried to get Mary to leave out the scene in which Belle and I need to get cleaned up after rescuing Munchkin, the adorable mastiff who was involved in all the horror at the original crime scene. Thank goodness all that happened off-screen!

At that point, we had no idea what had happened, but we knew that Munchkin must have been involved in something dreadful, possibly criminal, and we wanted to preserve any evidence that might have transferred from Munchkin to us. Hot, tired, scared, and odiferous, we stripped down in the shower room at the vet's office, and I borrowed some scrubs to wear home. I felt incredibly vulnerable and exposed. Belle was shaking. We didn't want readers to see any of that. But Mary insisted. She let us keep our modesty, but she said mystery fans would need to understand how terrified we were so that they'd know what was at stake and appreciate what we risked to uncover the truth. I hope she was right. That's the worst part of life as a fictional character. We spend most of our time thinking we're independent actors and then something happens to remind us, usually in the worst possible way, that story is everything, even if it means we and our ordinary lives have to suffer.

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
Max and the kids and I, and maybe some of our friends like Tess, Stephen, Jason, and Elaine, would take the dogs to one of the off-leash beaches and spend the day running in the waves and digging in the sand. We'd eat too many cookies, drink too much coffee, and laugh until we were wheezing and had forgotten what it was that was so funny. But it wouldn't matter because we'd be laughing out of an excess of joy in being together and knowing we all were loved.

Tell us about your best friend.
OMG! My best friend is Tess Olmos. About the only things we agree on are chilled white wine, hot coffee, cookies, and the importance of love, loyalty, and community. The public Tess is way more together than I am. The first time I met her she terrified me and I referred to her as "The Dominatrix." At a PTA meeting (a PTA MEETING!) she showed up in this freshly pressed designer suit, shoes that cost more than a vet exam, perfect makeup, and a gorgeous blowout. Her work wardrobe is stark—all black, red, and white with sharp pleats and no ruffles. It's like armor, and it makes her instantly recognizable, anywhere she goes. She's a Realtor and works with the big Silicon Valley movers and shakers with gazillion-dollar homes. So she needs to be tough when she's at work. But she's also got a hometown touch. Her offices give all her clients the feeling that they're settled in from the moment they decide to work with her. They all receive the same level of care, whether they're buying a studio apartment or some massive horse property with a helicopter pad.

But that's when she's working. At home, she's a mess. Stained sweats, crumbs in her hair, worn Ugg boots, and wet towels on the bathroom floor. At home, it's her husband who keeps things from falling apart and who makes sure they don't have popcorn for dinner two nights in a row.

Me, I'm somewhere in the middle. I showed up at that PTA meeting in jeans and sneakers. I may have a stray smear of mud from a misplaced dog paw, but I'm clean and tidy, mostly. Or I try to be.


What are you most afraid of?
Any threat to my family terrifies me. I don't think there's anything I wouldn't do to protect my two boys, even things way outside my comfort zone. 



What’s the best trait Mary has given you?
So far in the books, I've never been late for anything. That's a tall order in Silicon Valley, where the traffic snarls if a driver sneezes. I like to be on time and often arrive early because of that, but— Being perpetually on time in Silicon Valley? With two kids, a husband, and a dog that wants to go everywhere with me? Impossible. That's a complete fiction. I admire punctuality, but I expect my friends and colleagues to be humans, not superheroes.

What’s the worst?
Mary has this weird tendency to write all the conversations I have with my golden retriever Belle verbatim. Those are conversations I have in my head, not out loud in public on a city street. Yikes! I mean, yeah, Belle is my side-kick, and I kinda pretend to bounce ideas off of her, but if I talked to her in real life the way I do in the books, I'd probably be considered a threat to myself and others. Certainly, none of my clients would trust me to help them resolve the muddles in their garages and attics.

If your story were a movie, who would play you?
I used to think Laura Linney would best be able to handle the more active parts of my life. She's so adept at tackling some of the worst situations imaginable. But I've since learned from other characters about the long lead time for films, even for television. Now I think by the time we all get to the screen, Amy Adams or Jennifer Lawrence will be old enough to portray me. It will be a forty-something actress, I'm sure— a role for actresses who often don't have enough interesting parts from which to choose. But older women have so many more layers and a perspective that serves us well in detecting patterns of behavior and the anomalies that lead us to unmask bad guys where others have failed.

What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?

Many of the amateur detectives in cozy mysteries are such great cooks and bakers that they share their recipes with readers. I'm so busy that my family's meals are all too often prepared meals from our local grocery or something I've pulled from my freezer, or something my fabulous husband Max has whipped up in my absence. His specialty is fresh bread and hot soup. I'm older than a good number of cozy detectives and never wear stilettos. Those younger women look sharp in their fashion-forward clothing, but my rapid-paced life keeping up with clutter, kids, and pets works better with jeans and sneakers. My friends and I try to act as mentors for some of the younger detectives out there. They worry so much about things we've learned to let go. I'll take family, friends, confidence, intelligence and a loyal community over hot shoes and a trendy drink any day.

If you could be “adopted” by another writer, who would you choose?
My family and I have long been planning a vacation in Three Pines. While that tiny village in Quebec would vanish in the vastness of Silicon Valley, it is similar in many ways to Orchard View, where my neighbors all seem to excel in their areas of expertise despite quirky flaws that sometimes make me wonder how they lurch their way from breakfast to lunch. But that's their charm. Three Pines and its residents seem as beloved of and loyal to their author, Louise Penny, as my cohorts and I are to Mary Feliz. No matter what goes wrong, in the end, they remember that love always wins. And Madame Gamache seems so incredibly organized in her career as an archivist. I'd love to compare notes with her. I sometimes feel like an archivist of modern everyday people, helping them save and store what's important and discard what is not.

Will you encourage Mary to write a sequel?
Yes and no. Life around here is certainly quieter and more predictable when she doesn't write about us. And our sense of safety can seem precarious when she is writing. But there's no end to our adventures, particularly for my golden retriever Belle and the other dogs and cats. They're inveterate hams and scene stealers.

Mary's currently working on the fifth volume of our adventures, which thankfully gives the people of Orchard View a rest from our recent spate of unprecidented murders. My kids and I are on a working vacation on the shores of the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary in an area where California's agricultural industry, touristry, environmentalism, and fishing achieve a tenuous balance. We're not enjoying as much time as I'd hope to spend hiking and enjoying the surroundings though. If I'm not careful, Mary's going to make sure my boys end up in jail. So much for a peaceful vacation. I have to say though, that she's not let us down yet, whenever I'm ready to give up, she's encouraged me to power through the conflicts until we arrive safely in a place where we can relax over good food and conversations with friends.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She's worked for Fortune 500 firms and nonprofits, competed in whaleboat races and done synchronized swimming. She attends organizing conferences in her character's stead, but Maggie's skills leave her in the dust.

Connect with Mary:

Website
  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Friday, November 17, 2017

SPOTLIGHT ON: JAMIE BLAIR






     ABOUT THE BOOK


Cameron Cripps-Hayman is taken aback when she stumbles upon another murdered neighbor, this time behind her sister's shop, Dog Diggity. The timing couldn't be worse, as there's only a week left before the store's grand opening during Canal Days, the biggest festival of the year.

When the police arrest her handyman, Cameron knows they've got the wrong suspect, so the Metamora Action Agency sets their sights on cracking the case. With one solved murder under their belts, how hard could a second be?

With a flood warning and a murderer on the loose threatening the start of Canal Days, can Cameron and her crew save the town's annual dog and pony show from being canceled?

Canal Days Calamity 
(A Dog Days Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
, 2nd in Series

Midnight Ink (November 8, 2017)

Paperback: 240 pages

ISBN-13: 978-0738751221
E-Book 
ASIN: B01N5RVJDY 
  




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Jamie Blair (Ohio) is the award-winning author of young adult and romance books, including Leap of Faith (Simon & Schuster, 2013) and Lost to Me. Visit her online at and on Twitter.


Buy the book:
Amazon    Barnes ∓ Noble 




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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: WENDY TYSON



ABOUT THE BOOK

It may be the holiday season, but the mood in Winsome is anything but jolly.



Megan Sawyer is determined to farm year-round. So much so that she braves a December snowstorm to pitch her fresh greenhouse greens to Philadelphia chefs. 

And then she sees a stranger stranded on the side of the road. 

But this woman is no stranger to Winsome. It’s Becca Fox, a self-proclaimed “love chemist” (you read that right). Becca’s headed to her aunt’s house to sell her love potions at holiday events. 

Or so Becca thinks.



Her sneaky aunt only invited Becca home to reunite her with her estranged father. It sounds noble and kind-hearted, until the man ends up dead. 

Megan soon finds herself in the middle. She realizes Becca’s not the only one getting iced over. Megan’s own aunt, the famous mystery author, is dragged into the drama. Her novels implicate her and she’s in trouble.



Now it’s personal. Megan must follow a cryptic trail of literary clues, all while sifting through the victim’s sordid past. She gets closer to the truth as the murderer gets closer to her.


Seeds of Revenge
A Greenhouse Mystery Book Three
By Wendy Tyson

Henery Press
Publication Date: November 14th, 2017
ISBN: 9781635112757

Original Trade Paperback & E-Book: $15.95 / $4.99
272 pages





LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT INTERVIEW WITH WENDY TYSON

A few of your favorite things:
My photo albums. The chef’s knife my son made for me. The pottery I’ve collected while traveling.
Things you need to throw out:
Clothes that no longer fit. Correspondence—I’m terrible at organizing paperwork. 


Things you need in order to write:
Computer or pen and paper.
Things that hamper your writing:
Bickering children. (My identical twin boys have made a sport of arguing.) A lack of down time—I need free time to let my mind wander.


Things you love about writing:
Starting a new novel. Finishing a short story. Meeting readers.
Things you hate about writing:
The final proofread. By then, I just can’t look at a manuscript anymore.

Things you love about where you live:
The views. The number of outdoor recreational opportunities. The smell of the woods after it rains. The emphasis on local foods. (We recently moved to Vermont.)
Things that make you want to move:
When the temperature dips below zero. Icy roads.


Things you never want to run out of:
Chocolate. Toothpaste.
Things you wish you’d never bought:
That wrinkle cream (doesn’t work!). The wide-legged black pants (not a good look on me).

Favorite foods:
Garden-grown tomatoes. Potatoes. Paneer Tikka Masala. Fresh strawberries.
Things that make you want to throw up: 
Spam. Sausage. Scrapple. Anything gelatinous.

Favorite band:
The Cat Empire.
Music that makes your ears bleed:
Too much electric guitar.

Favorite beverage:
Unsweetened iced tea.

Something that gives you a pickle face:
Tonic water.

Favorite smell:
Smell of wood smoke in the fall.

Something that makes you hold your nose:
Rosemary (I want to like it, but . . . )

Something you’re really good at:
Cooking.

Something you’re really bad at:
Cleaning.


Last best thing you ate: 
Mushroom stew over new potatoes.

Last thing you regret eating:
Peanut M&Ms.

Things you always put in your books:
Dogs.

Things you never put in your books:
Gratuitous graphic violence.

Things to say to an author:

“I read your book and left a review on Amazon.” We appreciate reviews—they really do matter. “I can tell you put a lot of time into getting the details right.”

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book:
“You’re still writing that novel?”

Favorite things to do:

Writing. Traveling to new places with my family. Trying out new recipes, especially in the summer when the garden is bursting with fresh vegetables.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing:
Cleaning the bathroom.

Things that make you happy: 
Puppies. Autumn in Vermont. A day with no commitments. Walking along the beach. Morning coffee with my husband. Planning a trip. A new book.

Things that drive you crazy:
When people drive slowly in the passing lane of a highway. Rudeness. Hypocrisy. Litter. Paperwork.

The last thing you did for the first time:
I was the keynote speaker at a large legal event.

Something you’ll never do again:
Downhill skiing. Every time I try it, I’m as terrified as I was the first time. Nordic skiing for me!



EXCERPT FROM SEEDS OF REVENGE


Merry Chance’s statuesque four square was alit with white Christmas lights—Colonial candles in the windows, braids of lights outlining the window sills and doorways, blinking lights woven into wreaths, and miniscule bulbs incorporated into a doe and two fawns that adorned the front lawn. As Megan pulled up alongside the road in front of the home, she saw with relief that Merry was home. In fact, she was standing on her porch talking with a man.

Becca gave Megan a quick hug. “Thank you,” she sang. “You saved me quite a trek.”

Megan climbed out of the truck and pulled Becca’s suitcase from the bed while Becca unloaded her boxes of love potions. Merry had noticed them, and she turned her attention toward her niece.

“Aunt Merry!” Becca called. “Hello!”

She hurried toward her aunt and stopped short just feet from the landing, Megan trailing behind. The man had turned to look at them so that his face was visible. He was older, mid- to late-sixties, but his resemblance to Becca was unmistakable. Strong features: a square chin, a broad nose, unnaturally black hair receding ever-so-slightly into his scalp line. He wore a tailored coat and carried an expensive bag. His bearing screamed money and privilege.

The man regarded Becca with an evenness that seemed unnerving, while Becca’s whole body shook with emotion.

No one acknowledged Megan. She watched the scene unfold the way a bystander witnesses a car crash. Helpless and transfixed.

“No! Why is he here? Aunt Merry, why the hell is he here?” To him, “I told you I never want to see you again. Never. Do you know what that means? You brought him here on purpose.”

“Rebecca, calm down,” Merry snapped. “You’re jumping to conclusions.”

“He’s here, I’m here. What conclusions am I jumping to?”

The man said, “Actually, I was just leaving.”

“That might be best, Paul.” Merry glanced at her niece, lips pursed into a frown. “Let’s give Becca some time to calm down.”

Paul nodded curtly. “Very well. Thank you, Merry. You know where I’ll be.” He walked down the steps, past Becca, without so much as another glance in her direction. Becca placed her bags on the ground. With a sudden rush, she darted toward the man in the slippery snow, hands outstretched. She would have pushed him had he not reacted with laser speed. He grabbed her wrists and held them out in front of her. Merry took a step forward. Megan dropped the suitcase, ready to intervene.

But Paul and Becca just stood there, staring at one another. Finally, Becca said, “You’re hurting me.”

He looked down at his hands, wrapped like bindings around her wrists, and let go. “I’m sorry.” He backed away, his eyes unwavering in their focus on Becca’s face.

He climbed into his car—a silver Mercedes—and Becca spat at the ground near his tire. She rubbed her wrists, shoulders hunched.

Becca watched as he pulled away, his rear tires slipping in the deep snow. “Why would you invite him here, Aunt Merry?”

“I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow.”

“He’s staying here. He made that pretty clear.”

“He wanted to see you. He wants to make amends.”

“I will never forgive him. You of all people should understand that.”

Merry regarded her niece with a long, sad stare. Finally she said, “Megan, I assume Becca’s car had some difficulty in the snow?” When Megan nodded, she said, “Thank you for bringing her.”

It was a dismissal, at odds with Merry’s normally saccharine insistence on hospitality. Megan placed Becca’s suitcase on her porch and and returned to her truck. She watched as Becca followed her aunt obediently inside. With the front door shut, the visage of the house returned to its festive façade.

A façade, indeed, Megan thought as she pulled away. That was all it seemed to be. She wondered what conversation was going on inside.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wendy Tyson is a writer, lawyer, and former therapist whose background has inspired her mysteries and thrillers. Wendy writes two mystery series. Killer Image, Wendy’s first novel in her popular Allison Campbell Mystery Series, was named a best mystery for book clubs in 2014 by the Examiner. Additional books in the Allison Campbell series are Deadly Assets (July 2014), Dying Brand (May 2015), and Fatal Façade (June 2017). Wendy’s bestselling Greenhouse Mystery Series includes A Muddied Murder (March 2016), Bitter Harvest (March 2017), which received a starred Publishers Weekly review; and Seeds of Revenge,  (November 2017). Wendy’s short stories have appeared in literary journals, including KARAMU, Concho River Review, and Eclipse, A Literary Journal, and she has short fiction in two fiction anthologies, The Night of the Flood and Betrayed. Wendy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Penn Writers, and International Thriller Writers, and she’s a contributing editor and columnist for International Thriller Writers’ online magazines, The Big Thrill and The Thrill Begins. Wendy splits her time between Pennsylvania and Vermont.

Connect with Wendy:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble iTunes 

Monday, November 13, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: SHARON FARROW





ABOUT THE BOOK

As owner of The Berry Basket, Marlee Jacob has learned a thing or two about surviving summer tourist season in Oriole Point, Michigan. So she gladly agrees to help run the road rally in honor of the local Blackberry Art School's centenary celebration. While alumni arrive from around the country, Marlee hopes the Sanderling farm will make an appropriate starting point for the race - despite rumors that the land is haunted.

But when Marlee surveys the property, she stumbles upon a long-dead body hidden in the bramble. It's a horrifying mystery to everyone except her baker, who's convinced the skeletal remains belong to a former student who went missing twenty years earlier. As the Fourth of July activities heat up, Marlee must rush to catch an elusive murderer before the next "blackberry victim" is ripe for the picking!







LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT INTERVIEW WITH SHARON FARROW


A few of your favorite things:
Books, photography, dogs, coffee frappuccinos, Lake Michigan, Halloween, New York City, rainy days, autumn.
Things you need to throw out:
Stacks of magazines that I will never get around to reading. The numerous copies of all the drafts of all my old manuscripts that I print off. I need to stop doing this. I’m killing far too many trees.

Things you need in order to write:
My laptop, a comfortable chair, a mug of tea or vanilla latte.
Things that hamper your writing:
Phone calls, Facebook, Twitter
.

Things you love about writing:

The satisfaction of telling a story the way I originally envisioned.
Things you hate about writing:
Composing a long, detailed synopsis before I’ve written a single word of chapter one.

Hardest thing about being a writer:

Getting a thumbs up from my inner critic
.
Easiest thing about being a writer:
Hearing from readers and becoming friends with other authors
.

Things you love about where you live:
Being only a few minutes drive from Lake Michigan.
Things that make you want to move:
I don’t. I love my lakeshore village. However, I wouldn’t mind a shorter winter.

Favorite foods:
Dark chocolate, pizza, blueberries, most cheeses, roast chicken, ice cream, mashed potatoes, omelettes. And honeydew melon at the perfect stage of ripeness!
Things that make you want to throw up: 
Grapefruit, rice pudding, pea soup.

Favorite music or song:
Movie soundtracks, the Top Hits of the 1980s, Celtic music, Broadway show tunes, “You Got Me” by The Kinks, Prince, Streisand, lots more.
Music that make your ears bleed:
Heavy metal.

Favorite beverage:
Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino with whip
.
Something that gives you a pickle face:
Grapefruit.

Favorite smell:
Lilacs
.
Something that makes you hold your nose:
Barbecue sauce.

Something you’re really good at:
Defending myself in an argument
.
Something you’re really bad at:
Being patient
.

Something you wish you could do:

Dance like a ballerina.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do:
Algebra.

Something you like to do:

Climb the Great Pyramid of Giza
.
Something you wish you’d never done:
Taken an algebra class in high school.

Things you’d walk a mile for:
Tickets for Hamilton and an autographed first edition of any book by Ray Bradbury or Agatha Christie.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room:
Anything to do with football, TV shows about demon possession (ugh!). 

Things you always put in your books:
Descriptions of food
.
Things you never put in your books:
Cruelty to animals.

Favorite books:
Mysteries and historical novels. Current favorites are Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books, and George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga.

Books you would ban:
I’d never ban a book.

People you’d like to invite to dinner:
Tina Fey, The Obamas, Fran Lebowitz, Martin Short, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Meryl Streep, Stephen Sondheim, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Bill and Melinda Gates, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Louise Penny and Prince Harry. I’d love to extend the guest list, but that would turn this dinner party into a state banquet.

People you’d cancel dinner on:
Most politicians.

Things that make you happy:
My family and friends.

Things that drive you crazy:
The current political scene.

Biggest lie you’ve ever told:

I can’t remember offhand, but I’m sure it involved how much I weighed.

A lie you wish you’d told:
I wish I’d told my cousin that I was busy the night she fixed me up on the one and only blind date I’ve ever gone out on.

Best thing you’ve ever done:
Raised my daughter.

Biggest mistake:
Buying a shirt with fringe along the sleeves. In my defense, it looked great on QVC.

The last thing you did for the first time:
Going under general anesthesia.
Something you’ll never do again:
Ride on a roller coaster. My stomach is no longer roller coaster ready.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award winning author Sharon Pisacreta. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Sharon has been a freelance writer since her twenties, with her first novel released in 1998. Published in mystery, fantasy, and romance, Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series, which debuted in 2016 with Dying For Strawberries. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-authored the Agatha-nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.
In her former life, Sharon turned her hand to a variety of endeavors from principal investigator on an archaeological site, college history instructor, caterer’s assistant, and dancing in a giant dog costume for a non-profit company (it’s a long story). Although Sharon has lived in Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, she calls Michigan home, specifically the beautiful coastline of Lake Michigan. She is so enamored of the sand dunes, orchards and beaches of western Michigan, she set The Berry Basket mysteries in a town similar to the one she is lucky to live in.
Connect with Sharon:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter 

Buy the book:
Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble 



Saturday, November 11, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: MARY ELLEN HUGHES




ABOUT THE BOOK


Callie Reed makes a long overdue visit to her aunt Melodie, who lives in a fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, home to a bevy of unique collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Just as they’re beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt’s body on the floor of her music box shop. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can’t accept Melodie’s death being called accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she there in the middle of the night?

As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn’t careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie’s collection.

A Fatal Collection (A Keepsake Cove Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting
Maryland
Midnight Ink (November 8, 2017)

Paperback: 264 pages

ISBN-13: 978-0738752198

E-Book ASIN: B01MR8L4IS








GUEST POST BY MARY ELLEN HUGHES


Can Murder Really Be “Cozy?”


Fans read cozy mysteries for many different reasons, but the one that seems to pop up most often is “for fun and relaxation.” Hmm. People find murder fun and relaxing? Well, I suppose mostly if it happens to someone else. But still. Murder? Let’s think about it.

First of all, murders in a cozy usually takes place off stage. Unlike thrillers or police procedurals, readers can count on their cozy mystery to have no inch-by-inch grisly descriptions of the act. The body will simply be discovered after the fact, and though the cause of death will be mentioned – gunshot wound, stabbing, or blunt force injury, whatever – there will be no gory autopsy to read through.

In A Fatal Collection, the first of my new Keepsake Cove series, the body of Melodie Reed was found by her visiting niece, Callie, early the next morning as she looked for her aunt in the music box shop. Neither Callie nor the reader learns Melodie had been killed until hours after it happened.

The focus of a cozy tends to be the puzzle: who had motive and opportunity? Finding that out, breaking fake alibis or digging up the secret motivations becomes a kind of a game. Was Colonel Mustard really at the party the entire night, or did he manage to slip out without anyone noticing? Had Professor Plum never known Miss Scarlet as he’d claimed, or was he actually being blackmailed by her for something in his past?

In A Fatal Collection, Aunt Mel’s death was ruled an accident. Callie doesn’t buy it and so tries to find out who had a good reason to want her aunt dead. Which illustrates a point of the “fun and relaxing” part of cozy mysteries. The reader can count on the murderer in a cozy never being a serial killer who picks out victims at random to torture and kill. “Cozy” murderers are those every day, ordinary people you might live next door to or run into at the PTA meeting or supermarket. Some things happens to tip them over the edge, whether it’s blackmail over a scandalous secret, jealousy, revenge, or that most petty but prolific reason: money.

In A Fatal Collection, Callie starts to see the darker sides of some people who at first meeting seemed to be all sweetness and light—well, most of them. There’s also a hidden side to her aunt to be investigated. Why did Melodie keep an active, disposable cell phone with no contacts or messages stored on it? And what was in the locked metal box Callie discovers at the bottom of the closet?

And so the mystery slowly unravels, with occasional breaks in the tension for non-murder related things. Cozies have lots of people populating their towns, and it can be fun to get to know them and to learn about the town itself. Aunt Mel lived in Keepsake Cove, a part of town where all the shops specialize in collectible items. The one Callie inherits from her carries unique music boxes. Then there’s the shop that offers toys from past generations, the one with collectible sewing items, and more. Walking through the streets of Keepsake Cove is a collector’s dream.

But something needs to shake everyone awake once in a while, and that, in a cozy mystery, will be murder. A nice, tidy, off-stage, very real, but not too upsetting murder. In fact, a fun and relaxing murder. But only between the covers of that cozy mystery. A safe place where readers can go to enjoy a good story. And to sleep well afterwards, knowing that justice has been served and all is well. Until, that is, the next book in the series arrives (A Vintage Death) and a new murder occurs. Off-stage, of course.
   


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries (Penguin), the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. A Fatal Collection is her debut with Midnight Ink. A Wisconsin native, she has lived most of her adult life in Maryland, where she’s set many of her stories.

Connect with Mary Ellen:
Website   |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest 

Buy the book:
Amazon Barnes & Noble  |  kobo




Thursday, November 9, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: RICHARD AUDRY




ABOUT THE BOOK


It’s early December and Andy Skyberg is itching to blow town for a weekend of holiday cheer with old friends—including a date with an attractive divorcée who thinks he’s hot.

But first, Aunt Bev needs a teensy bit of help. She’s managing the Girls’ Weekend Out event at the Beaver Tail Resort and could use some extra muscle. Andy figures he can spare a few hours before hitting the road.

Mother Nature, though, has other plans. A giant blizzard makes an unexpected turn. Andy and his pooch King Harald find themselves snowbound—in a hotel full of hard-partying women, stranded travelers, a hockey team, a man-eating novelist, a belligerent blogger, and one violent, devious jewel thief.

Before you know it, man and mutt are up to their noses in another case. It’s a winter wonderland of fast-paced fun and merry madness, as the sleuthing duo dig out from King Harald’s Snow Job.


King Harald’s Snow Job (King Harald Mysteries)

Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series

Conger Road Press (August 1, 2017)

Paperback: 302 pages

ISBN-13: 978-0985019686
E
Book ASIN: B0747QWYLZ






LOVE OR HATE INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD AUDRY


A few of your favorite things:
My guitars, my cameras, my library of movies and TV shows.
Things you need to throw out:
Old heavy, ugly furniture
.

Things you love about writing:
Being able to play God by creating worlds and characters.
Things you hate about writing:
It’s a sedentary activity that isn’t, on balance, ideal for your health.

Favorite foods: 
Baked salmon with polenta, buttered bread warm out of the oven, brats and potato salad and icy cold beer on a hot summer day.
Things that make you want to throw up:
Rutabagas, radishes, oysters, blanched slivered almonds.

Favorite music or song:
Jazz guitar albums (especially Klugh, Pass, Montgomery, Bickert).
Music that makes your ears bleed:
Rap.

Favorite beverage:
Gin Martini on the rocks with good olives
.
Something that gives you a pickle face:
Flavored, sweet coffee.

Favorite smell:
Lilacs on a springtime walk
.
Something that makes you hold your nose:
Any strong chemical smell.

Something you’re really good at:
Cooking.

Something you’re really bad at:
Overcoming my inertia in making big decisions.

People you consider as heroes:
Politicians who genuinely help their constituents, not their big-buck donors.

People with a big L on their foreheads:
Politicians who are hypocrites. For example, politicians who deny disaster aid to other states, while begging for it for their own.



Last best thing you ate:
A superb grilled cheese sandwich with a wonderful tomato sauce
.
Last thing you regret eating:
A Tim Horton frosted donut.

Things to say to an author:
Writing novels to make money is a poor reason. Write them because you have something you’re eager to say or you simply love the process. If you’re lucky, the money will follow. But don’t count on it.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book:
Sorry, pal, put this one in the drawer and try again.

Things that make you happy:
Dinner out with my wife, long walks in perfect weather, finishing writing a book knowing I told a good tale well.

Things that drive you crazy:
Idiot drivers who tailgate, don’t use turn signals, creep at low speeds, run red lights.

Best thing you’ve ever done:
Spotting my wife at the department store where we worked and (three years later) marrying her.

Biggest mistake:
Not starting sustained literary efforts when I was younger.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done:
About to be caught in my then-girlfriend’s dorm room after hours, I jumped ten feet out her window in the dark onto a grating, miraculously avoiding breaking a leg.

Something you chickened out from doing:
Bungee cord jump.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard Audry is the pen name of D. R. Martin. In addition to his career as a journalist and copywriter, D. R. has written a dozen books, both fiction and non-fiction. His current projects include a fantasy adventure trilogy, a canine cozy mystery series, and historical mysteries set at the turn of the last century.

Connect with Richard:
Webpage  |  Facebook 

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble 







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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: SARAH FOX


ABOUT THE BOOK

With a Hollywood film crew in town to shoot a remake of the horror classic The Perishing, the residents of Wildwood Cove are all abuzz. Even Marley McKinney, owner of The Flip Side Pancake House, can overlook the fact that the lead actress, Alyssa Jayde, happens to be an old flame of her boyfriend. After all, the crew loves Marley’s crêpes—so much so that Christine, the head makeup artist, invites her onset for a behind-the-scenes tour. But when Marley arrives, the special-effects trailer is on fire . . . with Christine inside.

The cops quickly rule Christine’s death a murder, and Alyssa a suspect. Marley’s boyfriend insists that the actress is innocent, but when Marley sticks her nose into the complicated lives of The Perishing’s cast and crew, she discovers more questions than answers. It seems that everyone has a hidden agenda—and a plausible motive. And as the horror spills over from the silver screen, Marley gets a funny feeling that she may be the killer’s next victim.




LOVE OR HATE INTERVIEW WITH SARAH FOX


A few of your favorite things:
My books, my camera, my animals.
Things you need to throw out:
So many things!


Things you need in order to write:
Quiet.
Things that hamper your writing:
Noise, letting myself get distracted by social media.


Hardest thing about being a writer:
Waiting (to hear back from publishers, for book releases, etc).

Easiest thing about being a writer:
Bringing my characters to life on the page.


Things you love about where you live:

It’s peaceful and the neighbors are friendly.
Things that make you want to move:
Most of my close friends don’t live nearby.


Things you never want to run out of:
Books!
Things you wish you’d never bought:
A pair of wedge heels I can’t walk in.


Favorite foods:
Chocolate, rice, quinoa, prawns, pumpkin pie crêpes.
Things that make you want to throw up:
Liver, beef.

Favorite music:
Linkin Park, Florence and the Machine, Sarah McLachlan.
Music that makes your ears bleed:
Anything that sounds like people screaming rather than singing.

Favorite beverage:
Root beer.

Something that gives you a pickle face:
Sour milk.

Last best thing you ate:
A cookie.

Last thing you regret eating:
The same cookie.

Things you always put in your books:
Murders, red herrings, a touch of romance.

Things you never put in your books:
Graphic violence.

Favorite places you’ve been:
Japan, Maui, and Churchill, Manitoba.
Places you never want to go to again:
A hospital operating room as a patient.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Sarah Fox was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she developed a love for mysteries at a young age. When not writing novels or working as a legal writer, she is often reading her way through a stack of books or spending time outdoors with her English springer spaniel.

Connect with Sarah:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter Instagram  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:
Penguin Random House  |  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble 





Sunday, November 5, 2017

CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH LOIS WINSTON’S ANASTASIA POLLACK



ABOUT THE BOOK

Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but normal deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.

When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.






ABOUT ANASTASIA POLLACK

When magazine craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s husband permanently cashed in his chips in Las Vegas, her life crapped out. Previously clueless about her husband’s gambling addiction, she’s now dealing with debt greater than the GNP of Uzbekistan. She’s also stuck with her semi-invalid Communist mother-in-law as a permanent houseguest, who’s sharing a bedroom with her mother, a self-proclaimed descendant of Russian nobility. Anastasia’s two teenage sons, her mother’s cat, her mother-in-law’s dog, and a Shakespeare-quoting parrot all vie for space and attention in her too-small suburban home.

When Anastasia returns to work, she discovers the body of the magazine’s fashion editor glued to her office chair. The woman collected enemies and ex-lovers like Jimmy Choos. When evidence surfaces of an illicit affair between her and Anastasia's husband, Anastasia becomes the prime suspect. Suddenly she’s thrust into the role of reluctant amateur sleuth to prove her innocence.

As the series progresses (there are currently six books—Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, Death By Killer Mop Doll, Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, Decoupage Can Be Deadly, A Stitch to Die For, and Scrapbook of Murder and three novellas—Crewel Intentions, Mosaic Mayhem, and Patchwork Peril), Anastasia takes on various moonlighting jobs to pay down her debt, only to find herself constantly tripping over dead bodies, forcing her to continue sleuthing. The one bright spot in her life is photojournalist and possible government operative Zack Barnes. Simmering sexual tension between the two eventually leads to romance.





CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH LOIS WINSTON’S ANASTASIA POLLACK


Anastasia, how did you first meet Lois?
I was a typical middle-class suburban working mom when author Lois Winston hijacked my life. Now I’m a penniless widow who’s constantly dealing with murder and mayhem. Why would she do that to me? I’m a magazine crafts editor, not Jane Rizzoli!

Want to dish about her?
I’m no psychiatrist, but personally, I think Lois Winston has some unresolved family issues, especially with her communist mother-in-law. Why else would she foist a nasty communist mother-in-law on me?
 
Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?

I don’t know, but I definitely lost the heroine lottery. Lois used to write romance. Why couldn’t she have chosen me for a heroine in one of her earlier romances? Six books and three novellas into the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, and I’m still looking for my happily-ever-after. Lois isn’t a total sadist, though. She did allow hunky Zack Barnes to rent the apartment over my garage when she could just as easily have rented to a couple of rowdy college kids. So I have to thank her for that. But then, of course, she couldn’t leave it at that. I seriously suspect that along with being a photojournalist, Zack is also a government agent, and the photography gig is merely a cover for his spy work.

Did you have a hard time convincing Lois to write any particular scenes for you?
I’ve begged for some steamy love scenes featuring Zack and me. I know Lois is capable of writing them. I’ve read her romances. But she keeps denying my request. She says it’s all about reader expectations and the differences between the romance genre and the mystery genre. In cozy and amateur sleuth mysteries readers are more interested in the solving of the mystery. They don’t want mushy love scenes getting in the way. So Zack and I are limited to the occasional passionate kiss before Lois slams the bedroom door. And she’s made it clear she’ll continue slamming that door.

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
Let’s see . . . I’m a single mom who’s been forced to take on moonlighting jobs to try to whittle down the debt my dead husband stuck me with. When I’m not working, I’m busy keeping my mother and my mother-in-law from killing each other. And then there are all those dead bodies Lois tosses in my path on a regular basis. I did have one short respite, though. In Mosaic Mayhem, Zack took me to Barcelona on one of his photo assignments, but I wound up getting kidnapped, so the vacation was a bit of a bust.

Bummer! Besides that particular plot, if you could rewrite anything in your books, what would it be?
I’d like my pre-Lois life back, but she rattled off something about the need for plot arcs and character goals, motivation, and conflict and said no one would be interested in reading about a protagonist with a boring, normal life.

Well, she does have a point. Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
I love my sons, and I love Zack. And as much as she tries my patience, I love my mother—most days. But then there’s my mother-in-law Lucille. She would try the patience of a hundred saints. I understand one of Lois’s good friends keeps asking her to kill off Lucille, but Lois claims she’s the character readers love to hate. So I guess I’m stuck with her.

With the exception of our prima donna fashion editor (and what fashion editor isn’t a prima donna?) my coworkers are wonderful, especially food editor Cloris McWerther. Along with keeping my sweet tooth satisfied, she also saved my life once. I owe her big time. So I don’t hesitate to jump in and help when she finds herself in trouble in Scrapbook of Murder.

Do you have any secret aspirations that Lois doesn’t know about?
Not really. I’m not shy about letting her know how I feel and what I want. Unfortunately, she rarely listens to me.

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
What I wouldn’t give for a spa day! Ever since Dead Louse of a Spouse left me in debt up the yin-yang, I can barely afford a haircut once a year, let alone anything else.

What's the worst thing that's happened in your life? What did you learn from it?
That would be discovering my husband had a serious gambling addiction that he kept well hidden from me. When a man says, don’t worry, he’ll take care of everything—especially when it comes to money—don’t believe him. Trust but verify.

What are you most afraid of?
Winding up living in a cardboard box over a subway grate.

What’s Lois’s worst habit?
Given what she’s done to me? She’s obviously a sadist.

What aspect of her writing style do you like best?
Her ability to write humor. As bad as I have it, thanks to Lois imbuing me with a sense of humor, I’ve been able to survive everything she’s thrown at me—at least so far. Can you imagine what my life would be like if she’d decided to write a series of dark mysteries?

Horrors! If your story were a movie, who would play you?
Tina Fey, hands down. Publishers Weekly even compared me quite favorably to her Liz Lemon character from 30 Rock in their starred review of the first book in the series.

What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?
Most cozy and amateur sleuth mysteries feature small-town women from New England or down South. I’m a Jersey girl with a Jersey girl’s attitude.





ABOUT THE AUTHOR


USA Today
bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.




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