Thursday, February 21, 2019

FEATURED AUTHOR: KEN MALOVOS






ABOUT THE BOOK 



This is a legal mystery of murder and vengeance. A retired judge, Robert Tilson, has been murdered in his office at night. At first, the police look for a prior client or someone who had appeared before the judge, who is now a private mediator and arbitrator. They interview some suspects, but the police are stumped and they have no real clues. The judge's daughter, Kathy Lamb, refuses to accept this state of affairs and begins to search for the killer on her own. She meets with several possible suspects. Meanwhile, Judge Robert Hansen has been shunned by the other judges after he was tried for murder and the jury was unable to reach a verdict. The case involved the murder of a woman who had been blackmailing Judge Hansen over an incident that occurred thirty years ago. The police turn their attention to the woman's husband. Mike Zorich is on the job to find who killed Judge Tilson and who killed the woman that Judge Hansen was charged with killing. Mike is at the center of some sensational trials. Along with Kathy Lamb's help, Mike finally gets tot he bottom of things but not before a killer strikes again.



Book Details:

Title: Sweet Justice

Author: Ken Malovos   

Genre: Legal mystery
Series: Mike Zorich, book 4

Publisher: Kindle Direct Publishing, (November 6, 2018)

Print length: 461 pages

On tour with: Pump Up Your Book Tours










LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT WITH KEN MALOVOS


A few of your favorite things: Sports, professional teams such as 49ers and Giants, running, reading, traveling, exploring Northern California, dining out, live theater.
Things you need to throw out: Clothes, for starters. The contents of my garage.


Things you need in order to write: A good idea and some quiet time in consecutive days.
Things that hamper your writing: Interruptions, lack of consecutive free days.

Things you love about writing: Everything. When I write, I feel like I am transported to a different place. Time flies by. Before I know it, the clock says 5 p.m.
Things you hate about writing: Editing and missing mistakes or inconsistencies.


Easiest thing about being a writer: The pure act of writing, when I am on fire.
Hardest thing about being a writer: Keeping all of the facts together when writing in the long form.

Words that describe you: Average, strong work ethic, persistent.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Stubborn, testy at times.

Favorite foods: Petrale Sole, scallops, salmon.
Things that make you want to throw up: Corned beef, oysters.

Favorite music: Rock and Roll.
Music that make your ears bleed: Heavy metal.

Favorite beverage: Wine
.
Something that gives you a pickle face: Most sugary drinks.

People you consider as heroes: Robert F. Kennedy
.
People with a big L on their foreheads: Current occupant of the White House.



Things you always put in your books: Descriptions of local historical places.
Things you never put in your books: Graphic sex.

Things to say to an author: Positive stuff.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: I hate your book.

Favorite places you’ve been: China, most of Europe.

Places you never want to go to again: Florida.

Favorite genre: Legal mysteries.

Books you would ban: Science Fiction does not do a lot for me, but I wouldn’t ban it.

People you’d like to invite to dinner: Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris
.
People you’d cancel dinner on: The current occupant of the White House.

Favorite things to do: Writing and walking.
Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: Going to a party where there are only undesirable people.

Things that make you happy: Dinner with my family.

Things that drive you crazy: Constant arguments in a group setting.

Proudest moment: My own marriage and seeing my children get married to good spouses.
Most embarrassing moment: Forgetting someone’s name that I know very well.


Best thing you’ve ever done: Marrying my wife
.
Biggest mistake: Some investments in apartment houses in Phoenix.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: Walking across a rope bridge over a deep gulf in Northern Ireland.

Something you chickened out from doing: Skydiving.



OTHER BOOKS BY KEN MALOVOS

Contempt of Court
Fatal Reunion
One Night In Amboise



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Ken Malovos has been practicing law in Sacramento for over forty years. He spent twelve years with the Public Defender’s Office and twenty-five years as a business litigator. He now serves full-time as a mediator and arbitrator. He has written three previous Mike Zorich novels and has been recognized by Chanticleer Book Reviews as a First Prize Category winner in the legal genre of the Mystery and Mayhem competition and as a finalist in the Thriller and Suspense competition.




Connect with Ken:
Website Goodreads


Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

FEATURED NOVEL: TRIGGER




ABOUT THE BOOK




Frank Marr was a good cop, until his burgeoning addictions to alcohol and cocaine forced him into retirement from the D.C. Metro police. Now, he’s barely eking out a living as a private investigator for a defense attorney–also Frank’s ex-girlfriend.

Ostracized by his family after a botched case that led to the death of his baby cousin, Jeffrey, Frank was on a collision course with rock bottom. Now clean and clinging hard to sobriety, Frank passes the time–and tests himself–by robbing the houses of local dealers, taking their cash and flushing their drugs down the toilet. When an old friend from his police days needs Frank’s help to prove he didn’t shoot an unarmed civilian, Frank is drawn back into the world of dirty cops and suspicious drug busts, running in the same circles that enabled his addiction those years ago.

Never one to play by the rules, Frank recruits a young man he nearly executed years before. Together–a good man trying not to go bad and a bad man trying to do good–detective and criminal charge headfirst into the D.C. drug wars. Neither may make it out.



Book Details:

Title: Trigger

Author: David Swinson

Genre: Suspense, thriller

Series: A Frank Marr novel, book 3

Publisher: Mulholland Books, (February 12, 2019)

Print length: 352 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours








EXCERPT FROM TRIGGER



One




I never count the days. Why would I want to know how long it’s been since I quit? It’s only a reminder of what it is I’m trying to let go of. I loved the fucking lifestyle. I loved cocaine. Didn’t want to let it go. I still have cravings. Pops in my head like it’s a good thing, visit from an old friend, but all I got to do is remind myself of why it is I quit—because of all the people I hurt, even got killed. And yes, it is something I did for me, too, but not for the reasons you might think.

Sometimes what gets me through the day is doing what I’m best at.

It still gives me a rush, even more so without the cocaine high. You realize how reckless it is. Just how dangerous.

I slip on my tactical gloves, grab my suit jacket from the front seat, step out of the car. I put the suit jacket on, reach back in to take my backpack. I shoulder it and lock the car door. The house I’m going to is up the street, second from the corner, an unattached, paint-peeled, light-blue two-story with a large patio.

I ring the doorbell. Wait. Ring again. Open the storm door and knock on the door a few times.

When enough time passes so I feel comfortable, I take the tactical pry bar out of my backpack, wedge it in between the door and the frame, about half an inch below the dead bolt. I smack the heavy flattop of the handle hard with the palm of my hand, and with one solid push inward, I pry the door open, bending the dead bolt out with the door. I scan the area, slip the pry bar back in my pack, and enter. Once inside I stand and listen, then secure the backpack over my shoulders and quietly shut the door. There’s a fold-up chair leaning against the wall beside a filthy sofa. I take the chair and prop it against the door to keep it closed.

My stun gun is clipped to my belt at the small of my back. My Glock 19 is in a holster on my right side, but I don’t want to have to use it unless I find myself facing another gun. I’d figure out a good story after. That’s why the stun gun is preferable. Saves me having to think up a good story.

I’ve known about the occupants of this house since I was a detective working narcotics. It’s low-level. Detective Al Luna, my former partner at Narcotics Branch, and I hit it a couple of times. Sent a CI in to make a buy, then drafted an affidavit in support of a search warrant and rammed the door in the next day. A good quick hit, and we always got enough to make us look good when other work was slow. Luna’s still on the job. Me? Well, that’s another story.

Nothing has changed with how the boys in this house operate, except a couple of new faces that replaced the two who are doing a bit of time. They’re working the same park area a couple blocks north of here, where some of the local drunks and junkies still hang, but not near as many as back in the day. Gentrification has seen to that, pretty much cleaned everything up. Lot of the dealers had to change up their game. These guys didn’t have enough sense to. From what I’ve been able to learn, they haven’t been hit by the police in a while. That can be good for me.

What has changed is who the boys cater to and all the homes in this neighborhood, once vacant shells, now worth a million bucks. They’re dealing mostly to young clean-cut men and women who drive nice cars with Virginia tags and consider themselves social users, pulling up and making their deals without stepping out of the cars. Times change. Old street junkies die or go to jail for getting caught up in something bad. The boys gotta move up if they wanna make a living.

My cell phone vibrates inside my blazer’s inner pocket. Nearly sends me through the roof. I don’t pull it out. Instead I just let it go to voice mail.



Excerpt from by Trigger.  Copyright © 2018 by David Swinson. Reproduced with permission from . David Swinson. All rights reserved.






ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Swinson is a retired police detective, having served 16 years with the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. He is the author of two previous novels featuring Frank Marr: The Second Girl and Crime Song. Swinson currently lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, daughter, bull mastiff, and bearded dragon.

Connect with David:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  GoodReads 

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble





Sunday, February 17, 2019

COVER REVEAL: STRANGE BLOOD





ABOUT THE BOOK


Strange Blood is an overview of the most offbeat and underrated vampire movies spanning nine decades and 23 countries.

Strange Blood encompasses well-known hits as well as obscurities that differ from your standard fang fare by turning genre conventions on their head. Here, vampires come in the form of cars, pets, aliens, mechanical objects, gorillas, or floating heads. And when they do look like a demonic monster or an aristocratic Count or Countess, they break the mold in terms of imagery, style, or setting.

Leading horror writers, filmmakers, actors, distributors, academics, and programmers present their favorite vampire films through in-depth essays, providing background information, analysis, and trivia regarding the various films. Some of these stories are hilarious, some are terrifying, some are touching, and some are just plain weird. Not all of these movies line up with the critical consensus, yet they have one thing in common: they are unlike anything you've ever seen in the world of vampires.

Just when you thought that the children of the night had become a tired trope, it turns out they have quite a diverse inventory after all.


Book Details:

Title: Strange Blood

Author: Vanessa Morgan

Genre: Horror

Published: Moonlight Creek Publishing (April 2019)





FIVE QUESTIONS WITH VANESSA MORGAN

Vanessa, what will readers love about this book?
More than 30 contributors wrote about their favorite vampire movie(s) for Strange Blood, and readers will love the variety of writing styles associated with this – it's an extremely entertaining and informative mix of essays. They'll also love that several film directors wrote about their own vampire films. Most of all, though, readers will discover many films to add to their to-watch list, and they'll be surprised to see how diverse and original the genre is.


What age group is this book for?
You need teeth to sink into a book about vampire movies. So if you're too young or too old to have teeth, Strange Blood is not for you.


Who is this book targeted to?

Strange Blood is for anyone who wants to discover new horror movies or likes to read about their favorites. And it's especially aimed at those people who think vampires are boring; this book will change that opinion for sure.

Did you do any research for this book?
I did a lot of research for my own film essays, because I wanted readers to learn something, even when they already know the film. This not only included reading every possible article and book written about the film, but also interviewing the filmmakers.


Where did you get your ideas for Strange Blood? Why vampires?
I got the idea for Strange Blood  in the beginning of 2018. I am a programmer for the Offscreen Film Festival in Belgium, and my boss suggested a theme around unusual vampire movies. Vampires were my least favorite monsters, or so I thought, so at first, I wasn't convinced. But as soon as I started looking into it, I realized how offbeat and original the genre was and that some of my favorite horror movies are, in fact, about vampires. It's just that the gems get buried under the large number of cliché stories. Strange Blood is a book about those gems.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Vanessa Morgan is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books in the horror genre. Three of her stories (The Strangers Outside, Next to Her and A Good Man), have become movies. When she's not working on her latest book, you can find her reading, watching horror movies, digging through flea markets, or photographing felines for her blog Traveling Cats.


Connect with Vanessa:
Newsletter  |  Twitter  |  Amazon  | Bookbub











Friday, February 15, 2019

FEATURED AUTHOR: SUSAN HUNTER



ABOUT THE BOOK


True crime writer Leah Nash is stunned when police investigating the murder of a beautiful young college professor focus on her ex-husband Nick. Leah has no illusions about her ex, but despite his flaws, she just can’t see him as a killer. Reluctantly, she agrees to help Nick’s attorney prove that he isn’t.

But Nick’s lies make it hard to find the truth, and when a damning piece of evidence surfaces, Leah plunges into doubt. Is she defending an innocent man or helping a murderer escape? She pushes on to find out, uncovering hidden motives and getting hit by twists she never saw coming. Leah’s own flaws impede her search for the truth. When she finds it, will it be too late to prevent a devastating confrontation?

Dangerous Flaws is the fifth standalone book in the Leah Nash Mysteries series of complex, fast-paced murder mysteries. 





Book Details:


Title: Dangerous Flaws

Author: Susan Hunter   

Genre: Mystery

Series: Leah Nash Mysteries, book 5

Publisher: Himmel River Press (December 11, 2018)

Print length: 347 pages
On tour with: Partners in Crime Book Tours










LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN HUNTER


Things you need in order to write:
A pot of tea, a notebook next to my computer to jot notes on, a 25”x30” pad of sticky post-it paper on the wall to track plot points.
Things that hamper your writing: A sunny day that leads me to stare out the window at the river, instead of focusing on my writing.


Things you love about writing: Creating and populating a world with people I find interesting and that readers enjoy engaging with .
Things you hate about writing: Working out a tricky plot point, looming deadlines.

Things you love about where you live: Watching the river flow by, seeing eagles, egrets, herons and hawks swooping through the sky, storm clouds gathering and the normally placid river roiled up in white-cap waves, the peace and calm of an isolated setting that is actually inside the city limits.
Things that make you want to move: Hundreds and hundreds of migrating geese choosing to spend the night on the river for weeks in the fall and honking loudly and constantly all night long. 


Things you never want to run out of: Chocolate, books to read, music to stream.
Things you wish you’d never bought: A van, a telescope I never figured out how to use, an ebook reader that is very clumsy to use.


Words that describe you: Introvert, funny, soft-hearted.
Words that describe you, but you wish they didn’t: Quick to judge, procrastinator, bossy.

Favorite beverage: Unsweetened iced tea.

Something that gives you a pickle face: Snowshoe shots (peppermint shots w/bourbon).

Favorite smell: Cinnamon.

Something that makes you hold your nose: Cabbage cooking.

Something you’re really good at: Writing.

Something you’re really bad at: Singing.


Something you wish you could do: Sing.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: How to make perfect popcorn, because the task now always falls to me.

Last best thing you ate: Butternut squash bisque.

Last thing you regret eating: Too many Christmas cookies.

Things you always put in your books:
Favorite foods and hometown landmarks.

Things you never put in your books: Explicit sex, graphic violence.

Favorite places you’ve been: North Carolina—the Outer Banks; Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Places you never want to go to again: A cold, dank casita in Boulder City, Nevada.

Favorite genre: Any mysteries, but especially British mysteries and hard-boiled detective stories.

Books you would ban: None—every book isn’t for everybody, but every book should have a chance to find its audience.

People you’d like to invite to dinner: All of my family and friends, plus Sara Paretsky, Ann Cleeves, Michael Connelly, John Grisham . . . though not all on the same night.

People you’d cancel dinner on: Almost anyone—nothing personal, just that a card-carrying introvert like me almost always regrets agreeing to a social event. Even though we usually enjoy it when conscience guilts us into following through on our commitments. 

Favorite things to do: Reading, watching classic movies, spending time with family and friends.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: Sitting in a badly chaired meeting where discussion is meandering, people talk just to hear themselves speak and nothing comes to closure. Also, going shopping for clothes. Or anything, really. Just shopping.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: Hitchhiked to Nova Scotia.

Something you chickened out from doing: Riding a roller coaster on the top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.



EXCERPT FROM DANGEROUS FLAWS


How did everything go so wrong? But then again, why did she ever think that this could come to anything but disaster? She knows now there are only a few ways this can end and none of them are good.
She sighs, then bends down to put the leash on Tenny, her crazy little mixed-breed dog, looking up at her with big brown eyes. He’s so happy and so oblivious. Despite her sense of coming catastrophe, she can’t help smiling at him. He begins wagging his tail, then dancing around eagerly in anticipation of his nightly run. She can barely get the leash hooked.
“Come on, then, you heartless beast. I’m in the worst situation of my life, and all you can think about is getting out and having fun. Tell me again why I bother with you?”
They leave and walk down the road—no sidewalks here—toward the county fairgrounds, an expanse of 80 acres just a short distance away. She loves the odd mix of town on one side of her home and country on the other.
She shivers a little. Her exhaled breath leaves a small trace of vapor in the air. Under the silvery light of the full moon, everything stands out in crystalline splendor: the piles of snow left by the plow, untouched yet by the dirt and grime of passing cars; bare branches of trees shimmering with frost; the stars themselves, flashing and glittering like sparkling beads sewn on the black night sky. It is incredibly beautiful. But she barely notices. She is too lost in thought.
Should she do as she threatened, confess and bring everything to a head? If she does, there’s no going back. And she isn’t the only one who will suffer—or be saved. Because isn’t it possible that freedom, not tragedy, will be the outcome? Things do, sometimes, turn out better than we expect. She feels a momentary spark of optimism, but it fades. This is too important for wishful thinking. She must be realistic. Once the truth is out, the consequences will be devastating. But this—the way she’s living now, lying, denying, pretending that everything is fine—is crushing her. So intent is she on her thoughts that she doesn’t hear the crunch of footsteps behind her.
Doesn’t notice the increasing agitation of her little dog. Doesn’t recognize the impending danger.
“I finally caught up with you.”
Startled, but not alarmed—she recognizes the voice—she turns.
“What are you doing here?”
“We didn’t finish. I need to know you understand.”
She doesn’t want to have this conversation. Not tonight. Not when her mind is so filled with jumbled and conflicting thoughts. Her reluctance shows on her face.
“You said you want to do the right thing. I do too, but you’re wrong about what it is. Please, let’s talk.”
“Tomorrow would be better. I—”
“No! It wouldn’t be!”
The words are said with such force that she takes an involuntary step backward. Tenny growls softly at her side.
“I’m sorry. But we’re talking about my life! Don’t I deserve a few minutes at least? I’ll walk with you. Please?”
She sighs. But now Tenny is pulling at his leash, eager to run free on the frozen surface of the pond.
“All right.” She slips off her gloves and bends down to release the dog. Her cold fingers fumble and his eager jumping makes it hard work. He spies something on the ice and springs forward with excitement. Both the collar and the leash come loose in her hands, and he dashes away.
She tucks them into her pocket as she stands. It’s then that she notices the barricades around a large hole in the frozen pond.
“I forgot about the Polar Plunge tomorrow. Let’s go that way, in case Tenny gets too close. The barriers should keep him out, but he’s a wily little devil.”
They walk around the edge of the pond. She is silent; she doesn’t interrupt. But she isn’t persuaded. Her focus turns inward, as she searches for the right words to explain. All the while she knows they will be unwelcome. As she struggles for a way to be both truthful and kind, she misses the rising tension in her companion’s voice. She doesn’t register the transition from desperation to danger.
A loud series of barks causes her to look up. Tenny is chasing a muskrat across the ice. Both of them are heading toward the barrier-shielded hole in the frozen pond. For the muskrat, it will mean escape. For Tenny, it will mean calamity.
“Tenny, no! Come here!” She runs out on the ice, calling him, moving as fast as she can on the slippery surface, trying to distract the dog. But intent on his prey, he ignores her. He dashes under the barricade just as the muskrat slips into the water to safety. Tenny slides to a stop, gives a few frustrated yips, then turns toward her. His expression clearly says, “Thanks a lot. I almost had him.”
She reaches the edge of the barricade and pushes it aside, holding out the leash and collar.
“Tennyson, come here right now.”
He makes as if to obey, but when she leans to get him, he scampers away. She calls him again.
He comes tantalizingly close, then eludes her grasp and retreats with a cocky grin on his face.
He likes this game.
She sets the collar and leash down on the ice. She gets on one knee and reaches in her pocket.
When her hand emerges, it’s holding a dog treat. In a honeyed, coaxing voice, she says, “Hey, Tenny. Look, sweetie! Your favorite, cheesy bacon.”
She stays very still as he approaches. When he gets within range, she intends to scoop him up, scold him, and never let him off the leash again. He moves slowly, maintaining eye contact with the treat, not her. She stretches her hand out ever so slightly. He streaks forward, snatches it from her open palm, and runs away across the pond. Then his attention is caught by a deer just reaching the middle of the ice. He gives chase.
She sighs with relief. At least he’s away from the open water. She starts to rise. Without warning, a strong shove from behind sends her sprawling. Her head hits the ice. She’s dazed for a second. Then terrified as another shove pushes her forward and into the hole cut in the pond.
The shock of hitting the water takes her breath away. The weight of her clothes pulls her down.
She struggles back to the surface, disoriented and confused. Her breathing is shallow and quick—too quick.
She swallows a mouthful of water and starts to choke. Panic rises. Her arms flail.
One hits something hard. The edge of the ice. Her fright lessens as she can see a way out.
She works her body around so she can grab the icy lip of the opening in the pond. She begins to move her legs, stretching out as though she were floating on her stomach. As she transitions from vertical to horizontal, she’s able to get one forearm on the ice. She tries to lift her knee. If she can get it on the ice—she’s too weak. The weight of her water-logged clothes pulls her back into the water. She feels the panic rising again. She pushes back against it with her desperate determination to survive.
She tries again, kicks her legs again, stretches out again, gets her forearms on the ice again.
But this time, she doesn’t try to lift herself. Instead, she begins to inch forward with a writhing motion, like a very slow snake crawling on the ground. She fights for every awkward, painful inch of progress. How long has it been? Five minutes? Ten? Twenty? It feels like forever.
Her arms are numb. Tiny icicles in her hair slap gently against her face as she twists and turns her body out of the water. Tenny is nearby. He’s barking, and then he’s by her left arm, tugging at her sleeve.
“No, no, Tenny, get back.” She thinks she is shouting, but the words are a whisper. She has to rest, just for a minute. She stops. She closes her eyes. But as her cheek touches the ice, Tenny’s bark calls her back to life. She will not give up. She will not die this way, this night.
Again, she begins her hesitating progress forward. She can do this. She will do this. Almost her entire upper body is on the ice now. Just a little longer, just a few more inches, just another—hands grab her shoulders. Someone has come. Someone is pulling her to safety. As she turns her head to look up, she realizes the hands aren’t pulling, they’re pushing, pushing, pushing her back.
No, no, no, no! She tries to fight, but she has nothing left. She’s in the water.
The hands lock onto her shoulders like talons. They push her down, down, down. Water enters her mouth; her throat closes over. She can’t breathe. The last sound she hears from far, far away is Tenny’s mournful bark. Then darkness closes in.
*** Excerpt from Dangerous Flaws by Susan Hunter. Copyright © 2018 by Susan Hunter. Reproduced with permission from Susan Hunter. All rights reserved.


OTHER BOOKS BY SUSAN HUNTER

Dangerous Habits – Leah Nash Mysteries, Book 1
Dangerous Mistakes – Leah Nash Mysteries, Book 2
Dangerous Places – Leah Nash Mysteries, Book 3
Dangerous Secrets – Leah Nash Mysteries, Book 4




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan Hunter is a charter member of Introverts International (which meets the 12th of Never at an undisclosed location). She spent five years as an award-winning journalist, earning first place recognition for investigative reporting and enterprise/feature reporting. 

Susan has also taught composition at the university level, written advertising copy, newsletters, press releases, speeches, web copy, academic papers, and memos. Lots and lots of memos. She lives in rural Michigan with her husband Gary, who is a man of action, not words. 

During certain times of the day, she can be found wandering the mean streets of small-town Himmel, Wisconsin, looking for clues, stopping for a meal at the Elite Cafe, dropping off a story lead at the Himmel Times Weekly, or meeting friends for a drink at McClain's Bar and Grill.

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

Buy the book:
Amazon




Wednesday, February 13, 2019

FEATURED AUTHOR: VICTORIA GILBERT




ABOUT THE BOOK


Has a curse fallen on the small town of Taylorsford, Virginia? After a young woman goes missing during a spring bonfire, library director Amy Webber must wade through the web of lies only to find a truth that she may not want to untangle.


Spring has sprung in quaint Taylorsford, Virginia, and the mayor has revived the town’s long-defunct May Day celebration to boost tourism. As part of the festivities, library director Amy Webber is helping to organize a research project and presentation by a local folklore expert. All seems well at first—but spring takes on a sudden chill when a university student inexplicably vanishes during a bonfire. 


The local police cast a wide net to find the missing woman, but in a shocking turn of events, Amy’s swoon-worthy neighbor Richard Muir becomes a person of interest in the case. Not only is Richard the woman’s dance instructor, he also doesn’t have an alibi for the night the student vanished—or at least not one he’ll divulge, even to Amy. 


When the missing student is finally discovered lost in the mountains, with no memory of recent events—and a dead body lying nearby—an already disturbing mystery takes on a sinister new hue. Blessed with her innate curiosity and a librarian’s gift for research, Amy may be the only one who can learn the truth in Past Due for Murder, Victoria Gilbert’s third charming Blue Ridge Library mystery.


Book Details:


Title: Past Due for Murder

Author: Victoria Gilbert

Genre: Mystery


Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (February 12, 2019)

Print length: 296 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours














LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT WITH VICTORIA GILBERT


A few of your favorite things: Cats, books, chocolate, horses, music, film, theatre, nature.
Things you need to throw out: Tchotchkes, kitchen gadgets, clothes no longer worn.


Easiest thing about being a writer: Coming up with ideas.

Hardest thing about being a writer: Translating my ideas to paper (as I truly wish to express them).


Things you love about where you live: The beauty of nature in my area, my house, the ability to travel to the mountains or the ocean in less than a day, the people.
Things that make you want to move: Lack of ethnic restaurants and grocery stores, limited number of cinemas showing anything other than the blockbusters, humidity in the summer, red clay soil that hampers gardening.

Things you never want to run out of: Coffee, chocolate, fresh veggies and fruit, friends.
Things you wish you’d never bought: Any outfit that’s too sparkly to wear in the daytime.


Words that describe you: Creative, funny, logical, open-minded, inquisitive, driven.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Stubborn, anxious, self-doubting, easily depressed.

Favorite beverage: Wine (tied with coffee for fave).

Something that gives you a pickle face: Beer.

Favorite smell: The ocean breeze.

Something that makes you hold your nose: Liver being cooked.

Something you’re really good at: Being creative in several fields.

Something you’re really bad at: Dancing
.

Something you like to do: Travel, explore new places and cultures.
Something you wish you’d never done: Stopped drawing and painting (it will be difficult to get back to where I was if I want to do it again).

People you consider as heroes: Anyone who is kind, and ordinary people who have the courage to be extraordinary when necessary.

People with a big L on their foreheads: Judgmental and intolerant people, and anyone who refuses to learn new things or ever change their opinions.


Things you’d walk a mile for: A great book, kittens, new music I love.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: Karaoke, greasy fried food, intolerant people.

Things you always put in your books: Friendships (esp. between female characters!), deeper themes, love, ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Things you never put in your books: Toxic alpha male characters (unless they are villains), graphic sex or violence, a lot of swear words, “mean girl” female relationships or female protagonists who trash other women.

Things to say to an author: “I enjoyed how you handled issue X in your book,” “I loved your writing style,” “Your characters are so interesting and human.”

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “So, how come you aren’t a bestseller like author A, B, or C?” “When’s the movie or TV show coming out?”

Favorite places you’ve been: Italy, NYC, St. Johns, Colorado, the Virginia mountains, New England.

Places you never want to go to again: Any place where most of the people are intolerant of cultural differences.

Favorite things to do: Read, write, listen to music, watch films and theatre productions, draw & paint, garden, sing.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: Cleaning house (I do it anyway), managing personnel (did it, done with it), attending meetings (same!).

The last thing you did for the first time: Published my first novel (at age 58!)

Something you’ll never do again: Go camping (did it a lot as a kid, now over it).



OTHER BOOKS BY VICTORIA GILBERT

A Murder For The Books
Shelved Under Murder



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raised in a historic small town in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Victoria Gilbert turned her early obsession with books into a dual career as an author and librarian.

Victoria’s first cozy mystery series, the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, garnered her a three-book deal with Crooked Lane Books, which has since been expanded to five books. The first two books in the series have been optioned by Sony Pictures Television, and the first three were or will be produced in audiobook by Tantor Media.

Victoria also just inked a 2-book deal with Crooked Lane for a new cozy series, the Booklovers B & B series, set in historic Beaufort, North Carolina.

A member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime, Victoria is represented by Frances Black at Literary Counsel.


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

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Crooked Lane Books




Monday, February 11, 2019

FEATURED AUTHOR: LISA DE NIKOLITS





ABOUT THE BOOK

Rotten Peaches is a gripping epic filled with disturbing and unforgettable insights into the human condition. Love, lust, race, and greed. How far will you go? Two women. Two men. One happy ending. It takes place in Canada, the U.S. and South Africa. Nature or nurture. South Africa, racism and old prejudices — these are hardly old topics, but what happens when biological half-siblings meet with insidious intentions? Can their moral corruption be blamed on genetics — were they born rotten to begin with? And what happens when they meet up with more of their ilk? What further havoc can be wreaked, with devastating familial consequences?


Book Details:


Title: Rotten Peaches

Author’s name: Lisa de Nikolits

Genre: Noir Suspense Thriller

Publisher: Inanna Poetry & Fiction Series (September 20th 2018)

Print length: 300 pages
On tour with: Partners In Crime Book Tours






INTERVIEW WITH LISA DE NIKOLITS


Q: Lisa, what’s the story behind the title of your book? 

A: Rotten Peaches is about four very nasty people–two men and two women. Their lives intersect, and their heinous crimes and raging passions have dire consequences for one another. I was worried that the nastiness of the characters would turn people off the book, but it’s being hailed as a real page turner, with readers emailing and messaging me almost daily to say how much they’re enjoying it! I read Gone Girl many years ago, and I wanted to write a nasty book, as it seemed like a really fun thing to do!

Q: Where’s home for you? 

A:
Home is Toronto, Ontario, Canada. We live in the Beach. (Some call it the Beaches, and there’s actually a massive divide between who calls it what! I go for Beach!)

Q: Where did you grow up? 

A:
I grew up on a patch of land a few hours north of Johannesburg, in a place called Honeydew. Then we moved down the road to Harveston! We had six acres and horses, and it was a lovely way to grow up.

Q: What’s your favorite memory?

A:
Swimming with my horse in a lake. Or just riding around on my horse, singing very badly! My horse was a beautiful dappled grey, called Jamaican Melody. Well, that’s my childhood favourite memory. My more recent favourite memory (eight years ago) was when my husband and I got married in Las Vegas and we went up the tower for lunch afterwards. My husband and his brother were convinced the tower was turning, but my husband’s sister and I knew it wasn’t! It was such a lovely day!


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

A:
Wow, that’s a tough one! Right now I feel so stiff and out of shape I’d get a personal trainer to help me ease out all the kinks!

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

A:
Gosh, I’ve made so many, it’s hard to count. I always feel so dreadful when I’ve wasted money although usually the sums are $20 here and there so they aren’t huge amounts. But still, I hate wasting money! I buy knockoff purses, and they sometimes smell of that awful chemical plastic. Oh, and I should never buy on sale, I never make the right choices! I bought a pair of Frye’s boots once (they were way more than $20!), and trying to break them in nearly broke my feet! But I still wear them to readings and book events where I don’t have to walk a lot, so I guess they’re okay!


Q: What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned? 

A:
I feel like I’ve learned so many valuable things along the way. I was a very career-driven high-profile art director for some twenty years, and I thought that would stand me in good stead, all that time I invested in my career. I’ve subsequently learned that time invested in working is like playing a moody stock market; it doesn’t usually pay the dividends you hoped for. But that said, would I do anything differently? Probably not, because I loved working on magazines, and so while they didn’t prove the safety net I had hoped, in later years, they were still such a joy to be a part of.

Q: Who would you pick to write your biography?

A:
J.R. Moehringer, the author of The Tender Bar. Such a wonderful book!

Q: What do you love about where you live? 

A:
It’s extremely beautiful for seven months of the year; the people are wonderful; there’s a lot of cultural diversity and shared creativity.

Q: What choices in life would you like to have a redo on? 

A:
I’m not sure we have as much choice in life as we’d like! For example, in my day job, I’m an art director, and as soon as I saw that the industry was dying, I tried my darndest to make a change and was foiled at every turn. They say when one door closes another one opens, but I’m not sure that’s the case! Sometimes it feels like life has a plan for you and you have to ride it out, hoping you won’t get dumped by the next big wave!

Q: What makes you nervous? 

A:
LOL, pretty much everything!


Q: What makes you happy? 

A:
Typing "The End" on the first draft of a manuscript! Holding the first published copy of a book fresh out of the box. Meeting a reader who enjoyed my book.

Q: What makes you scared? 

A:
Being home alone at night. And our basement. I won’t go down to our basement at night, even when my husband is home. I’m convinced it’s haunted.

Q: What makes you excited? 

A:
The prospect of a new novel in the works!

Q: Do you have another job outside of writing? 

A:
Yes, I’m an art director and a graphic designer. In my heyday, I worked on fantastic magazines like marie claire, Vogue Australia, Vogue Living, Canadian Living, Cosmopolitan, and a few other highflyers! It was crazy and exhausting and harrowing, but it was also fantastic! Now I’m a freelance designer, and I hate the uncertainty of it all!

Q: How did you meet your spouse? 
Was it love at first sight?
A:
Oh yes! I saw him walking down the hallway, and I immediately asked my colleague who he was. We were both working on the Sears catalogue, and Brad is a photographer. It took me six months to get him to go out with me! Six months! And now we’ve been together for twelve years, married for eight.

Q: What are your most cherished mementoes? 

A: I have a room full of them! They are stacked three deep! Everything is extremely neatly ordered and in its place, and there must be hundreds of items! I truly believe that mementoes carry a marvelous energy, and while some people would call my stuff junk, each tiny souvenir or saved gift or photograph makes me happy. The happy energy you had when you found or bought or were given the thing stays with you.

Q: If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be? 

A:
You mean apart from my spouse, my cat, my laptop, my phone, my desktop computer, and the family crest ring my father gave me on my 21st birthday?! I guess my books! 

Q: What brings you sheer delight? 

A:
Being in the sunshine, and watching soap bubbles float against a blue sky!

Q: Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot? 

A:
Lonely genius!

Q: What is the most daring thing you've done? 

A:
Climb Huayna Picchu, and take the chair lift to the Great Wall of China!


Q: What is the stupidest thing you've ever done? 

A:
I suffer from claustrophobia when I fly, and once on a long haul trip, I was feeling no pain (or comprehension for that matter), and I bought a Mont Blanc pencil on a stopover at the Frankfurt airport for $250! A pencil!! You can imagine my horror when I was going through my receipts! What madness was that! I still have the pencil, and I do love it, using it very occasionally.

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

A:
I was a very happy teenager, and I had no idea how hard life could be! So I’d leave my teenage self as she was, happily reading, riding her horse, and writing poetry!

Q: What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew? 

A:
Learn the craft! Writing isn’t just writing! Learn about plot arcs and the structure of a novel, how to make characters sing and really come alive, how to make dialogue zip along, and how to make the plot really intersect and work and end with a bang!


Q: What makes you bored? 

A:
Small talk. 


Q: What is your most embarrassing moment? 

A:
Forgetting people’s names. Particularly when it comes to book signing. I will blank out at the worst possible moments. I’ve tried all the memory tricks mentioned, but nothing works. So that is hugely embarrassing. One time I even inscribed a book with the wrong name, and the person was too polite to say anything. I woke up in a hostel in Shanghai, months later, in absolute horror! I emailed him to apologize, and I sent him a new book with the correct inscription!


Q: If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
A:
Somewhere where it’s summer all year around! The winters in Canada are very long and very brown and very grey!

Q: What’s your favorite line from a book? 

A:
“You see, boxing and writing are very similar. You get in the guard position, you decided to throw yourself into battle, you lift your fists, and you hurl yourself at your opponent. A book is more or less the same. A book is a battle.” From The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker.

Q: What would your main character say about you? 

A:
I think all my characters would find me really boring! In fact, I know they would!

Q: How did you create the plot for this book? 

A:
Plotting this book took all the tenacity I had! I had a firm idea of how I wanted the story to go, but then (as always!) the characters up and did things that totally upset the apple cart! I always find writing to be a wild ride, you think you’re headed in one direction and then it turns around and swings on you! I had to keep up with what all my characters were doing! And I find that as you go, gaps appear that you didn’t know were there, and then you have to fill them in.

Q: Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

A:
I once had an Afrikaans boyfriend who wouldn’t go all the way because of his religion! So that’s where I got the idea for Dirk. And I met a lot of married men when I was young, in South Africa and they thought it was perfectly fine for them to hit on me as long as we didn’t actually have sex! I thought that was extremely hypocritical, and I’ve wanted to write about it for a long time. Rotten Peaches was the perfect vehicle for it!

Q: Is your book based on real events? 

A:
Nope! I’m not even sure it’s possible to blow up the Voortrekker Monument! Actually, I tried to turn one event into reality and that was Bake Your Way to Happiness. In Rotten Peaches, Bernice is the author of self-help cookbooks, and I thought this would be a hit in real life! So I got together with a wonderful therapist, Marilyn Riesz, and an extremely talented food editor, Gilean Watts, and we came up with Bake Your Way to Happiness. You can still find it on Amazon. Unfortunately this book did not fly in the way that I truly believed it would, but you never know – it really is a wonderful book and got great reviews. (Please forgive the shameless plug for Bake Your Way to Happiness!)

Q: Are you like any of your characters? 

A:
I think every character I have ever written has tiny aspects of someone I could have possibly been in a different life. That’s what makes them so real to me. But that tiny seed of my potential self grows into a forest that’s entirely different to my life or anyone I could or would want to be. I’m not like anyone in Rotten Peaches, but I am quite a lot like Amelia in The Nearly Girl.

Q: One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you? 

A:
I’d probably die of a headache! I get very bad migraines, and so my character could easily switch my meds with a poisonous version thereof, and I’d be dead before you know it!

Q: With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?
A:
Linwood Barclay (he is SO funny!), Stephen King, D.J. McIntosh, J.R. Moehringer, and J.K. Rowling. 

Q: Who are your favorite authors? 

A:
Graham Greene, Annie Proulx, Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), John Steinbeck, Harry Crews.


Q: What book are you currently reading? 

A:
The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer, Insomniac City by Bill Hayes, The Outsider by Stephen King, Skyjack by K.J. Howe, Steel Animals by SK Diment, How Your Brain Works by the New Scientist Instant Expert, Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig.

Q: What’s one pet peeve you have when you read? 

A:
When authors pad their work by repetition.

Q: Do you have a routine for writing?

A:
Nope! Just get it done! And I get very stressed if I don’t get it done! I often have to write at night which is fine by me. And I write a lot on weekends.

Q: Where and when do you prefer to do your writing? 

A:
I like writing at home for the simple convenience of it. I can write anywhere, and I do mean anywhere! People have often commented how I can write at a party, or at an airport while waiting in line, or on holiday, or while traveling. I use every possible moment I can to write.

Q: What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing? 

A:
Two things. That the reader couldn’t put the book down. And that they loved the writing.

Q: If you could be a ghostwriter for any famous author, whom would you pick? 

A:
J.K. Rowling!

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

A:
I’m working on a sci fi time travel book now, and it’s being SO tough! Sci if thrillers are not my forté, but for some reason I wanted to write this book, and so I am forging through it! I have a pretty good rough draft, and I’m going to keep polishing it.

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

A:
The Toronto Reference Library. It’s marvelous, marvelous place! I love the architecture and everything about it. They have wonderful talks there too. It’s one of my favourite places really.

Q: You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be? 

A:
I’m not sure! I’d be someone rich, and I’d go shopping! (Nothing superficial there!)

Q: What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it? 

A:
A reviewer called my prose “naïve.” Wow, that really hurt! I haven’t really gotten over it!

Q: What would your dream office look like? 

A: I’d have a huge desk, mahogany, more like a boardroom table than a desk. It would be shiny, and the surface would be utterly clear of any kind of ornamentation. I’d have a great view of the city from my window, and a fantastically comfortable chair!

Q: Why did you decide to publish with Inanna Publisher?

A:
I’ve been publishing with Inanna since 2010, and every year I thank them for making my most important dreams come true. I’d publish all of my books with them, but I have two new manuscripts that just don’t fit the mandate, so I’ll have to look elsewhere. Inanna are wonderful, so supportive and generous, and I couldn’t be happier or more grateful to them. I actually came by Inanna via a rejection letter–that publisher suggested I try Inanna, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Q: What are you working on now? 

A:
I’ve got a few things on the go! Touring Rotten Peaches, and trying to help it get its moment in the sun. I’m self-editing this year’s book, The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution. I'm working on two manuscripts that I’d like to shop around: Boomerang Beach and The Rage Room.





READ AN EXCERPT

I am not a killer. I just fell in love with the wrong man. I went too far this time, and there’s no going back. There’s no going anywhere, period. I nearly stayed afloat, but my luck ran out. Luck, that mystical mythical glue that holds the shards of despair together and makes life navigable. But fragmented despair, that’s what sinks you.
It’s the middle of the day and the ghost of a cat walks across my bed. I am hidden in the downy softness of bleach-laundered sheets, sheets ironed with starch and cleansed of their filthy sins by scalding Catholic water.
The bed is high and wide and the pillows are like clouds ripped from a summer’s sky. I bury my head in cotton balls, puffy meringues and whipped cream, and try to ignore the ghost of the cat that is walking the length of my back.
The cat settles at my feet but it gets up again and pads along my legs. When it first started its prowl, I sat up and reached for it but, like all ghosts, it immediately vanished and waited for me to turn away before settling in a warm, heavy lump against my side. Its weight is comforting in a way, like being massaged by the hand of God, but it isn’t God. It can’t be,because God, like luck, has left the building of my life.
***
Excerpt from Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits.  Copyright © 2018 by Lisa de Nikolits. Reproduced with permission from Lisa de Nikolits. All rights reserved.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR 



Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has lived in Canada since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain. Her seventh novel, No Fury Like That will be published in Italian, under the title Una furia dell'altro mondo, in 2019. Previous works include The Hungry Mirror, West of Wawa, A Glittering Chaos, Witchdoctor’s Bones, Between The Cracks She Fell and The Nearly Girl. Lisa lives and writes in Toronto, and her very new book, Rotten Peaches is hot off the press to reader and literary acclaim. Lisa a member of the Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter, Sisters in Crime, Mesdames of Mayhem, and The International Thriller Writers.





Connect with Lisa:

Website  |  Facebook  Twitter  |  Goodreads 


Buy the book:

Amazon  | Inanna





Saturday, February 9, 2019

FEATURED AUTHOR: LIZ MUGAVERO





ABOUT THE BOOK


Kristan “Stan” Connor loves concocting tasty organic treats for dogs and cats—and she also loves her fiancé, pub owner Jake McGee. But she’s not so enthusiastic about finding a dead body at her own bachelorette party . . .

Stan and Jake’s wedding will soon take place on the town green in Frog Ledge, Connecticut, followed by a reception at their beloved Irish pub filled with friends, family, and their four favorite canine companions. Stan just has to endure the traditional girls’ night out first. Male strippers jumping out of gigantic cakes aren’t her preferred entertainment. But the hired hottie never gets around to taking it all off . . . because someone takes him out first with one of Stan’s kitchen knives. A heartbroken Stan recognizes the victim as one of the delivery men from the local farm—who must have been moonlighting for some extra cash. Now the guest list has turned into a suspect list—and Stan’s making a vow to find the killer . . .




Book Details:


Title: Murder She Meowed

Author: Liz Mugavero

Genre: Mystery

Publisher: Kensington Books (January 28, 2919)   

Print length: 360 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours









LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT WITH LIZ MUGAVERO


A few of your favorite things: Books, dogs, cats, shoes.
Things you need to throw out: Not throw out, but I should probably donate some books . . . 


Things you need in order to write: Essential oils, coffee, potato chips.
Things that hamper your writing: Netflix.


Things you love about writing: Those moments when the words flow.
Things you hate about writing: First drafts.

Things you love about where you live: Being near the water, my sushi restaurant, being near the city.
Things that make you want to move: Winter!

Things you never want to run out of: Coffee.
Things you wish you’d never bought: That pint of almond milk mint chocolate chip ice cream.


Words that describe you: Intense, motivated, creative, loyal, empathetic, spiritual.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Impatient, stubborn.

Favorite foods: Sushi, salad, seafood.
Things that make you want to throw up: Peas.

Something you wish you could do: Dance.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: Accounting.


Last best thing you ate: French fries.

Last thing you regret eating: French fries.

Things you always put in your books: Furry friends.

Things you never put in your books: I don’t put a lot of children in my books, and if I do, they never belong to my main character.

Things to say to an author: Your book really entertained me/helped me through a rough time/gave me a lot of pleasure.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: I have a great story you should write for me . . .

Favorite places you’ve been: London, Key West.

Places you never want to go to again: A cruise ship.

Favorite things to do: Hanging at home snuggling with my fur babies and someone I love
Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing:  Work events . . .

Best thing you’ve ever done: Left behind a life that wasn’t working for me (twice) to follow a new path.

Biggest mistake: Buying real estate.







ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Liz Mugavero writes the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries, the first of which was an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel. The sixth book in the series, Purring Around the Christmas Tree, was released in fall 2017. As Cate Conte, Liz also writes the Cat Cafe Mysteries, which launched in 2017. The second book in the series, Purrder She Wrote, is coming this summer. She lives in Connecticut with her rescue pals.

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


Buy the book:
Amazon 









Thursday, February 7, 2019

GUEST POST BY ALEXIS MORGAN




ABOUT THE BOOK


When Abby McCree suddenly inherits her favorite relative’s property in small town Snowberry Creek, Washington, she soon realizes that the ramshackle home comes with strings attached—one of which is tied to a dead body!

After a rough divorce, Abby McCree only wants to stitch up her life and move on. But other loose ends appear after her elderly Aunt Sybil passes away, leaving Abby to tend to a rundown estate, complete with a slobbery Mastiff of questionable pedigree and a sexy tenant who growls more than the dog. As Abby gets drawn into a tight-knit quilting guild, she makes a twisted discovery—Aunt Sybil’s only known rival is buried in her backyard!

Despite what local detectives say, Abby refuses to accept that her beloved aunt had anything to do with the murder. While navigating a busy social calendar and rediscovering the art of quilting, she launches an investigation of her own to clear Aunt Sybil’s name and catch the true culprit. The incriminating clues roll in, yet Abby can’t help but wonder—can she survive her new responsibilities in Snowberry Creek and still manage to patch together a killer’s deadly pattern without becoming the next victim?


Book Details:

Title: Death By Committee

Author: Alexis Morgan

Genre: Cozy mystery

Series: Abby McCree Mystery, book 1

Print length: 304 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours








GUEST POST BY ALEXIS MORGAN


MAKING IT REAL


I have a sign hanging on my office wall right where I can see it that reads, “COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES.”

As I recall, my first grade teacher was a real stickler about neat and tidy coloring, so I doubt she would appreciate that sentiment. For me, though, it serves as a reminder of a particular concept when it comes to storytelling. It’s important to take everything to another level, to create something new that goes beyond the expected. As an avid reader, I love books where the author has stretched the boundaries to create a world that I want to visit again and again.

To be clear, I’m using the word “world” to mean the setting that serves as the backdrop for the story. It can be a town in the Old West, an estate in Regency England, our contemporary world, or an alien planet. In some books, the entire world is compressed down to a ship, a submarine, or even an airplane. I’ve read and loved stories that have played out in all of those settings.

The best writers make their worlds so enticing that their readers willingly suspend their need for reality. They happily let the words draw them into a new world where, for the length of the book,  fiction becomes truth. Now speaking as a writer, that means I need to put as much effort into creating the right world for my stories as I do the characters who live there.

My new cozy mystery, Death By Committee, is set in a fictional town located in the western foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. Admittedly, small towns are not an unusual setting in books these days. That’s okay. It just means I needed to build mine with care to ensure I captured the look and feel of the area. For example, there aren’t many places where a volcano like Mount Rainier serves as the backdrop for the town. I also doubt that having more than ten coffee shops/drive-ups within two miles of your house is as common everywhere as it is in my area.

Once I’d decided on where I located the town, my husband and I spent a day exploring the general area, so I could get the geography clear in my head. I took lots of pictures of the countryside and took notes on things like what kinds of businesses I saw in the various towns we drove through. On a side note, I invited my husband along on the drive in the capacity of my research assistant. By the time we returned home, he’d self-promoted himself to the head of Research and Development. =o)

Back home, I used graph paper to sketch out a map of my fictional town and the businesses along what would become Main Street. I also added a small river that wound through the valley and cut through the city park. Since I live in the area, I already know the kinds of trees, bushes, and flowers are commonly used in landscaping. If I was setting the story in an area that was unfamiliar to me, those were also things I would have had to research.

Now that I had the bare bones in place, it was time to name the town. That took a lot longer than I expected. Every idea I came up with had already been taken. Either there was a town in the or a company in the Pacific Northwest that used that name. I finally resorted to studying lists of plants that are native to the area. That’s were I ran across a picture of a snowberry bush, which has pretty clusters of white berries. Success!

The final step was to populate the town of Snowberry Creek with a cast of believable characters. From the chief of police to everyone’s favorite barista, I tried to give each of them depth with interesting backstories, distinct personalities, and even a few quirks for good measure.

With all that done, it was time to introduce Abby McCree, my amateur sleuth, to her new home in Snowberry Creek. Readers will get to learn about the town and meet Abby’s neighbors at the same time that she does. Hopefully, they’ll be cheering for her to solve the murder and bring the villain for justice. And if I did my job right, they’ll want to come back to visit Abby and Snowberry Creek again and again.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


USA Today
Best-selling author Alexis Morgan has always loved reading and now spends her days imagining worlds filled with strong alpha heroes and gutsy heroines. She is the author of over forty-five novels, novellas, and short stories that span a variety of genres: American West historicals (as Pat Pritchard); paranormal and fantasy romances; and contemporary romances. She is excited to say that next year will also see the release of her first cozy mystery series. Alexis has been nominated for several industry awards, including the RITA, the top award in the romance genre.

Connect with Alexis:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  | 

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble










Tuesday, February 5, 2019

FEATURED AUTHOR: R.J. LEE




ABOUT THE BOOK

After four bridge players are poisoned, newspaper reporter Wendy Winchester sets out to catch a killer who's not playing with a full deck . . .

When the four wealthy widows who make up the venerable Rosalie Bridge Club never get up from their card table, this quiet Mississippi town has its first quadruple homicide. Who put cyanide in their sugar bowl? An aspiring member and kibitzer with the exclusive club, Wendy takes a personal interest in finding justice for the ladies.

She also has a professional motivation. A frustrated society columnist for the Rosalie Citizen, she's ready to deal herself a better hand as an investigative reporter. This could be her big break. Plus, she has a card or two up her sleeve: her sometimes boyfriend is a detective and her dad is the local chief of police.

Partnering up with the men in her life, Wendy starts shuffling through suspects and turning over secrets long held close to the chest by the ladies. But when a wild card tries to take her out of the game, Wendy decides it's time to up the ante before she's the next one to go down . . .




Book Details:


Title: Grand Slam Murders

Author’s name: R.J. Lee

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Kensington Books (January 29th, 2019)

Print length: 304 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours













INTERVIEW WITH R.J. LEE


Q: What’s the story behind the title of your book?  

A:
Grand Slam Murders: A Bridge To Death Mystery is so titled because four wealthy widows in a small, historic Southern river port are all poisoned together at a bridge luncheon before they play a grand slam bridge contract in practice for an upcoming championship.  The series title derives from the fact that all the cozy mysteries will have some connection to the game of bridge.  The reader will not have to have an extensive knowledge of the game to follow the plot, however.

Q: Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order? 

A
: Grand Slam Murders is the debut novel in the series. The second novel in the series—Playing The Devil—will be released in January of 2020. The main characters will continue—the female amateur sleuth and investigative reporter, Wendy Winchester; her police chief father, Bax Winchester; and her detective boyfriend, Ross Rierson.  However, each novel will have a different murder victim(s) and a new cast of suspects.  It will not be necessary to have read Grand Slam Murders to follow Playing The Devil. There may be references to continuing characters as they appeared in the first novel, but they will not confuse the reader in any way. Based on the success of these first two novels, my publisher, Kensington, may choose to offer me another contract to write more in the series. In any case, it will not be necessary to read any of the novels in order, although the hope is that readers will be intrigued enough to go back and catch previous entries in the series if they do not start at the beginning.

Q: Where’s home for you?   

A:
I live in the university town of Oxford, Mississippi, location of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) which William Faulkner called home, of course.  Many current writers live in the Oxford area, and the university, itself, is very supportive of all of us.



Q: What do you love about where you live?  

A:
The fact that it is a university town, and there is respect for diversity. The country in general is about diversity, but we need to live up to that more.

Q: Where did you grow up? 

A:
I was born and grew up in the historic river port of Natchez, Mississippi, which was founded in 1719, two years before New Orleans. I have gotten a lot of my ideas for characters and plots from living in Natchez. It is a very laid-back, party town which can find an excuse most any day of the year for a festival or celebration of some kind. It celebrates Mardi Gras, for instance, and even has a go-cup ordinance allowing people to carry their drinks around town. Bars are also open twenty-four hours. In some cases, I have had to tone down characters and events that occurred in Natchez so that they would be more believable.

Q: Truth is often stranger than fiction! What’s your favorite memory?  

A:
The day I got married to the love of my life in Biddeford Pool, Maine.


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

A:
I would give it to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. I have all I need right now.

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

A:
A food processor. I have never used it, even though it seemed like such a good idea at the time.


Q: What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned? 

A:
How to love unconditionally and put someone else before myself.  I did that during the years of my marriage.

Q: Have you been in any natural disasters?  

A:
Yes. I have lived through several hurricanes growing up in Natchez, Mississippi, and then moving to the New Orleans area later on. 

Q: What is the most daring thing you've done?  

A:
Deciding to switch from humorous fiction to cozy murder mysteries. I had always wanted to write mysteries. Finally, I made the choice to write them, made a proposal to my editor at Kensington, and he was onboard. I think mysteries are my niche, but I was afraid to take them on for a while.


Q: What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?  

A:
Wasting so much time in my twenties NOT writing, even though I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Finally, though, I bore down, started writing fiction, eventually got a New York agent, and then the New York contracts followed. But it didn’t happen overnight.

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

A:
That it is entirely acceptable to be different. That no one has the right to prevent you from living an authentic life. No political party, no church, no school. It is your life. Live it authentically.

Q: What makes you bored? 

A:
Getting caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic anywhere.  


Q: If someone gave you $5,000 and said you must solve a problem, what would you do with the money?  

A:
I would willingly give it to cancer research, especially that involved in genomics and gene editing. Eventually, that will break cancer’s back—replacing faulty genes with working copies. It will likely happen in my lifetime.



Q: What makes you nervous?  

A:
I’m too far along in life to be nervous anymore. I accept graciously what accrues to me and don’t worry about the rest.


Q: What makes you happy?  

A:
Being in love made me happy. My memories still do.

Q: What makes you scared?  

A:
That some very evil forces in this world may prevail. I will not name names or movements. But they are out there.

Q: What makes you excited?  

A:
Getting good reviews for my books.

Q: Do you have another job outside of writing? 

A:
Not anymore. I am a full-time writer now. But for a long time, I had other jobs to help pay the bills. Part of the journey.

Q: Who are you?  

A:
I am a writer who has lived many lives already. I hope I am contributing enough to the world to make further progress in the universe.

Q: How did you meet your spouse? Was it love at first sight? 

A:
I met my husband on an intellectual website online. We had some of the same opinions on a variety of subjects, so we kept corresponding. Then we started calling. Then we visited each other on our own turf. After two years, we knew we wanted to be together the rest of our lives. So, no, it wasn’t love at first sight. But once we fell, we knew it. It is life’s greatest gift, caring about someone more than yourself and being willing to do anything to help them.

Q: What are your most cherished mementoes?  

A:
I have very few. But one is a family artwork—a large silver bird that we called ‘The Magic Bird.’  My grandmother told my mother and her siblings that it could come to life at any time. I inherited it and display it proudly on a sideboard I also inherited. Also, my wedding ring.

Q: What brings you sheer delight?  

A:
Memories and dreams of my spouse.

Q: Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?  

A:
Neither.  I have been a sociable writer in love, and that’s just about the best I can think of to be.

Q: What’s one of your favorite quotes?  

A:
Winston Churchill on ending a sentence with a preposition: “That is something up with which I shall not put.”

Q: That’s one of my father’s favorites! If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?  

A:
Maybe upcountry Maui.

Q: What would you like people to say about you after you die?  

A:
His novels were entertaining and also made me think.

Q: What would your main character say about you? 

A:
R. J. Lee endowed me with brains to offset my strawberry-blonde hair and blue eyes. He made sure I was no bimbo, and he also gave me a flinty, independent streak.

Q: How did you create the plot for this book? 

A:
It just came to me all at once. I wanted to switch from humorous Southern fiction to cozy Southern murder mysteries. I had played bridge in high school and college, and it just came to me that there had never been a mystery series centered around bridge. At least, not one that I knew of. My editor at Kensington told me that he had always wanted to learn bridge but never had. That was after my proposal. He okayed the idea, and then the actual plot just hit me like a bolt of lightning. It hit me backward. First, the idea of the surprise solution came to me, then I plotted the opening and the middle. I think that might be the key to coming up with an original plot. Instead of struggling to find a solution, you already have one in mind and work backward. It certainly worked for me. But as to where the idea of the surprise solution in Grand Slam Murders came from, I cannot truly say. I have this desire to communicate with others, this instrument that I feel I must use. Is it mine and mine alone? Or on loan? I feel that it is imperative that I take advantage of it gratefully.

Q: Are any of your characters inspired by real people? 

A:
All of my characters are blends of people I have known around the South. I am careful to bring out my Literary Brand Mixmaster when I create these people. I change things here and there—gender, age, race, religion, occupation, etc., so that no one can ever say that the particular character HAS to be him or her, or their mother or father, etc. 

Q: Is your book based on real events? 

A
: No. Four wealthy widows who belong to an exclusive bridge club in a small Southern town were never poisoned together. That I know of. It is not my intention to give people ideas. Don’t you dare.

Q: Are you like any of your characters? 

A:
No, I am not like any of my characters. Bits and pieces of me are distributed here and there over several characters. But I have never written ME in a novel.

Q: One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?  

A:
Probably carbon monoxide poisoning in my house.

Q: With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore? 

A:
I would love to be stuck long enough to chat with film legend, Doris Day, Prime Minister Theresa May of the UK, Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada, Broadway star Sutton Foster, and my editor, John Scognamiglio of Kensington Books.

Q: Who are your favorite authors?  

A:
Agatha Christie, Michael Morris, Harper Lee.


Q: What book are you currently reading and in what format? 

A:
Bluebird Flying Backward by Peggy Webb (Anna Michaels) in print.

Q: Do you have a routine for writing?  

A:
I am more of a night person than a morning person. But I don’t structure myself too much when I am in the zone writing a novel on a deadline. I do a lot of self-editing to make my editor’s job easier. So sometimes I will self-edit my previous work at a different time than I do new writing. I have also been known to wake up in the middle of the night after having solved a sequence in my head. I want to get it into the computer as soon as possible.

Q: Where and when do you prefer to do your writing? 

A:
I do my writing either at a table overlooking the woods where I can actually see deer come and go and ducks on a pond, or at my desk in my small office with my white noise and surf-noise machines going. I tend to write more in the evening, but I have done morning sessions from time to time.

Q: What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?  

A:
“I was inspired to get up and start doing things at my age when I read about your feisty widows in Waltzing At The Piggly Wiggly” an elderly reader wrote me. This was an earlier series I did with Putnam under the pen name of Robert Dalby.

Q: If you could be a ghostwriter for any famous author, whom would you pick? 

A:
I would never settle for being a ghostwriter.  Period.

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

A:
It’s my hometown library—George Armstrong Library—in Natchez, Mississippi. I have done a couple of fundraisers for it. I want them to be able to offer state-of-the-art library equipment and materials to their patrons.

Q: You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?  

A:
Maybe I would like being Hercule Poirot for a day. Maybe. He’s a bit too fussy, though.

Q: What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?

A:
I had one of my earlier works published by a small press. It was called O Bed, O Breakfast! and was about a Hollywood actress who comes to the small-town South to do a film and wants to scope out the three B & B’s there for her stay. I was doing a talk and signing at a library in Louisiana when a woman in the audience said to me, “I read your book, and I told my girlfriend in the next cubicle that I thought she would like it because it’s so trashy.” I just smiled at her and said, “Thank you for reading my book.” P.S. The rest of the audience was very sympathetic to me.

Q: What would your dream office look like?  

A:
Oh, maybe a little bigger than this one is. It’s a bit cramped, and I don’t keep it that neat. Maybe with a better view.

Q: Why did you decide to publish with Kensington Books?  

A:
I have had three contracts in succession with Kensington Books in New York and two before that with Putnam. When my agent at Jane Rotrosen presented the manuscript for my first novel (which became a series), there was interest from several publishers. My agent negotiated the contracts for me, and I accepted her advice and counsel.

Q: Are you happy with your decision to work with them? 

A:
I am very happy working with my editor, John Scognamiglio, at Kensington Books; also very pleased working with my agents, Meg Ruley and Christina Hogrebe at the Jane Rotrosen Agency. I was able to be signed by Jane Rotrosen about 16 years ago as a result of being seated next to the President of the Large Print and Audio Division of Random House at a sales conference for Books On Tape Audio, which had just been purchased by Random House. I represented Books On Tape to public libraries in several Southern states at the time. My small press novel—O Bed, O Breakfast!—had been picked up by Books On Tape in audio and done very well. I mentioned that to the Random House exec at my table, and he asked if we were working on anything new. I told him that I had my Waltzing At The Piggly Wiggly manuscript ready to go. As if out of a Hollywood script, he said, “Do you have an agent?” I said, “I just fired one for doing nothing for me.” He said, “Well, I have one.  Would you like to be introduced to her?” Calmly (though I don’t know how I remained so), I said, “Sure.” He then introduced me to Meg Ruley at Jane Rotrosen via e-mail, I sent my manuscript to her, she signed me, and within a year I had my first New York contract.

Q: Do you have any recommendations for someone who is self-published? 

A:
I have no recommendations here. But self-publishing is very expensive. And you are not guaranteed a distribution mechanism or review mechanism nor a publicist nor a marketing strategy. Try your hardest to get a reliable agent who can represent you to editors in New York. And never agree to pay any agent or agency until they have sold a manuscript for you. Many agencies make their money off of ‘reading fees,’ where they will charge you hundreds of dollars just to tell you your manuscript is no good. Don’t waste your time and money.

Q: What are you working on now? 

A:
I have just submitted the second novel in my Bridge To Death Mystery series—Playing The Devil—to my editor at Kensington. I am waiting for his response, which might include any edits he might ask me to make. If he signs off on it, I receive more of my contract advance and the novel goes into production for January 2020. So I would be working on some possible edits, depending upon what my editor says.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR


R. J. Lee follows in the mystery-writing footsteps of his father, R. Keene Lee, who wrote fighter pilot and detective stories for Fiction House, publishers of WINGS Magazine and other 'pulp fiction' periodicals in the late '40's and '50's. Lee was born and grew up in the Mississippi River port of Natchez but also spent thirty years living in the Crescent City of New Orleans. A graduate of the University of the South (Sewanee) where he studied creative writing under Sewanee Review editor, Andrew Lytle, Lee now resides in Oxford, Mississippi.



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