Sunday, May 28, 2017



In this irresistible cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of The Book Club Murders, amateur sleuth Charley Carpenter fights to avenge a crime that hits far too close to home.

Mulbridge House stood, silent and decaying, deep in the woods at the heart of Oakwood, Ohio, long before the passing of Augusta Mulbridge. Yet suddenly everyone in town seems to have a stake in its fate: the greedy heirs, eager to tear it down for a tidy profit; the local preservationists, determined to maintain it as an historic site; the angry neighbors, staunchly opposed to the construction of a modern subdivision. Even Charley Carpenter is forced to admit that her beloved shop, Old Hat Vintage Fashions, could use an infusion of the estate’s treasures.

The clock is ticking. The wrecking ball is ready to swing. All that stands between Mulbridge House and oblivion is one final vote. That, and murder . . .

The trouble begins when Charley walks into auctioneer Calvin Prescott’s office to find her cherished family friend crumpled on the floor. Detective Marcus Trenault quickly connects his death to a string of increasingly violent burglaries plaguing Oakwood. But when Charley uncovers a link to a massive land swindle worth millions, not to mention a drug ring operating out of the manor’s abandoned outbuildings, that theory crumbles faster than Mulbridge House. Now Charley’s racing to catch a killer before everything falls apart.


A few of your favorite things:  Books, my sweet old kitty, afghans, pansies, my collection of coffee mugs, friends that don’t judge.
Things you need to throw out:
  Sweaters and bell bottom slacks from the Reagan administration, all those freebie glass vases from every flower arrangement I’ve ever received. Except the square one. That one can stay.

Things you need in order to write:  SILENCE. And Post-it® notes. And coffee.
Things that hamper your writing:   Social Media. Sometimes I lock my phone in my car to keep from checking every five minutes. I’m not proud of it.

Things you never want to run out of:  Post-it® notes. I practically eat them for breakfast. Some women keep lipsticks and tissues in every purse and bag; I have packs of sticky notes for jotting ideas, cool names, whatever comes to mind. I use them for every step of the writing process, particularly revising and editing. When I outline a new story, I have this ridiculous color coding system, and I post at least 50 notes across a mirror in my hall bathroom, moving them and making faces at myself until I get a framework that gets me to the keyboard.
Things you wish you’d never bought:  A Chimenea. That thing was an absolute albatross. Too heavy to move, it scarred my wood deck, and it was impossible to arrange seating without incinerating someone. I had to give it away to get rid of it.

Words that describe you:  Organized, maternal, sympathetic, creative, busy.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Obsessive, restless, talky, impatient.

Favorite foods:  Coffee (technically not a food, deal with it), chocolate, pizza. Anything with gratuitous amounts of cheese, actually.
Things that make you want to throw up:  Escargots, calves’ liver, squid, and okra. With okra it’s a texture issue. Hairy when raw, and gooey when it’s cooked. Even Southerners only eat it battered and fried within an inch of its life.

Favorite music or song:  Absolutely anything by David Bowie or Aerosmith, the earlier the better (barring that heinous song from the asteroid movie. “Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”—I’d happily miss that one.
Music that make your ears bleed:  9-Inch Nails type-stuff, and Jazz. I am simply not hip enough to figure it out.

Favorite beverage:  Coffee (You will already know this if you’ve been paying attention.)

Something that gives you a pickle face:  Moscato. It’s that fizzy white wine everyone keeps pushing at parties. Just, NO.

Something you wish you could do:  Cartwheels.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do:  Smoke. I quit many years ago, but seriously. What on earth was I thinking? Oh. Right. I WASN’T.

Things you’d walk a mile for:  My children and husband. Without shoes, over glass.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room:  “Toppers,” and other people’s travel photos after about 6-8 of them. A few is fine. Any more is delusional. No one cares what you guys had for dinner.

Things to say to an author:  “I paid full price for your last book.”

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “I thought you’d be thinner in person.”

People you’d like to invite to dinner (living):  Michele Obama, Stephen King, Jimmy Kimmel. He is just too cute.

People you’d cancel dinner on:  Brad Pitt. No man-whores.

Favorite things to do:  Write, read anything with a happy ending, sleep late, play tennis, gab on the phone with my daughter about nothing.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing:  Ironing. Absolutely the most pointless task of all time. Also, I’d be fine without ever taking a standardized test again. Or running a school fundraiser.

Best thing you’ve ever done:  Marrying my high school sweetheart. He is an absolute champ.

Biggest mistake:  Not pursuing a career in teaching, because my father told me there was no money in it. Fortunately, the champ from the previous entry encouraged me to return to school in my forties, get my MS in Education, and switch careers to teaching college English.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: Quarter mile zipline over the New River in West Virginia. My screams echo to this day.

Something you chickened out from doing: Asking Rod Stewart for his autograph. On a trip to Paris in 1983, we spotted him at a nearby table. He looked kind of contemplative but approachable, and all I had to do was walk over there and say hello. But . . . Rod Stewart, you know? By the time I got up the nerve, he’d paid his check and left. Brush with greatness: denied.


Leslie Nagel is the USA Today bestselling author of The Book Club Murders, the first novel in the Oakwood Mystery series. She lives in the real city of Oakwood, Ohio, where she teaches writing at a local community college. After the written word, her passions include her husband, her son and daughter, hiking, tennis, and strong black coffee, not necessarily in that order.

Connect with Leslie:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter 
Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  iBook 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017



The magic barrier protecting the Taakwa from their enemies, the Maddion, is gone. Malia, who led the Taakwa against the Maddion in the Dragon War, must convince the magical being, the changer, to repair the barrier before the Maddion invade to take revenge on her people and the winged Jeguduns who also call the valley home, even if it means reversing the healing the changer wrought for her.

Chanwa, the wife of the Maddion leader, uses the disorder created by the changer to lead a coup against her husband in a desperate attempt to ensure she and the other Maddion women are treated as equals. Her life, and the future of every Maddion woman, depends on her success.

Both women know the only way to succeed is to come together in an unlikely alliance.


Love it or hate it, take it or leave it, yes, please or no thank you . . . Rebecca gets first crack at my new interview. I hope you love it!

Favorite things to do: Writing, reading, drinking coffee, exploring the outdoors, running, crocheting, skiing, ice skating, going to the beach.
Things you'd run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: Making phone calls, going to a party or a function where I know nobody (or only one person).

Things to say to an author:
I bought copies of your books for everybody I know! Would you sign them please?
Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: If you're an author, why don't you quit your day job? Aren't you rich from your books?

Favorite places you've been: Vancouver, British Columbia; Cancun, Mexico; Key West, Florida; South Padre Island, TX; Disneyland.
Places you never want to go to again: The DMV in Florida. That place is the hellmouth.

Things you love about writing: Discovering new characters and stories and cool ideas. The sheer fun and thrill that comes along when a story or a character really surprises me. Making stuff up.
Things you hate about writing: There's never enough time for it. Sometimes it goes poorly and I feel like the biggest fraud and a talentless hack and like I should quit. Then I get over it and keep on writing.

Things you love about where you live: We recently moved to Portland, Oregon. It's green and beautiful, and there are so many places to explore outdoors. There's a lot of good coffee and chocolate and food here.
Things that make you want to move: A ton of other people are moving here, too, and the traffic and sheer number of humans is sometimes overwhelming. Then I go sit outside under a tree, and I feel much better.

Words that describe you: Driven, weird (I think this describes all writers), caring, enthusiastic.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn't: Short-tempered, impulsive, shy, and prone to extreme expletives while driving.

Favorite beverage: Other than water, coffee.
Something that gives you a pickle face: Ginger ale. I can't stand it. It's supposed to settle your stomach when it's upset, but it just makes me feel worse.

Something you're really good at: I'd like to think I'm good at writing!
Something you're really bad at: Speaking in front of crowds, making small talk.

Things you need in order to write: My laptop, coffee, and sometimes snacks. Also quiet or steady white noise. I usually get up before anyone else so I can write, or I go to coffee shops where nobody will demand anything of me (other than to pay for what I eat and drink) and write.
Things that hamper your writing: Obligations like the day job or school, or stressing about something going on in my life, or intrusive noises. The other day I was trying to write from home and somebody was using a jackhammer nearby. That didn't last long, fortunately.

Things you never want to run out of: Time! And also toilet paper. I have toilet paper tucked away in all sorts of places. I also make sure I never run out of coffee or coffee filters because I would be such a bear without my morning coffee.
Things you wish you'd never bought: Sometimes I buy clothes that I enjoyed in the store, but then when I try wearing them around the house while doing my usual routine, they aren't so great. Those end up getting donated.


Rebecca Roland is the author of the Shards of History series, The Necromancer's Inheritance series, and The King of Ash and Bones, and Other Stories. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as Nature, Flash Fiction Online, Fantasy Scroll Magazine, New Myths, and Every Day Fiction, and she is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop.

Connect with Rebecca:

Website  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  

Buy the book:
Publisher website  |  Amazon   |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo   |  iTunes

Monday, May 22, 2017



In the aftermath of the latest battle, the stakes are higher than ever before. Time’s hardly an ally to Nicholai’s army of paranormal soldiers. The Tomes remain hidden, and the clock is ticking for the Essenced poisoned with the demon’s incurable toxin.

Beyond those worries, magic might be vanishing—a twist that could insurmountably cripple the army’s capabilities prior to the war’s conclusion.

Never has the conflict felt so desperate, with danger escalating and hope disappearing with the slow drain of the hourglass.

Will the answers surface in time, or will the band of warriors fail to prevent the ruin of the world?


From her spot among her own pack, AJ watched the ailing warriors struggle to perform the most basic of operations, like stand. Her compassion for their plight gained an empathetic quality when her gaze locked on Johnny and McKenna to note that the strong Kapre-Essenced alpha was leaning heavily on his girlfriend while they both propped against the wall closest to the medical ward. Sweat coated his unnaturally pale face, and his chest heaved in obvious exertion from the small distance he’d traveled to make it to the recreation room.

But Johnny’s stance didn’t cause AJ’s empathy. That compassion was brought on by the mannerisms of the Wood Nymph-Essenced who was clinging to him. One of McKenna’s arms was wrapped around his back with her other hand lingering on his stomach, and her distress was as visible in her expression as Johnny’s exhaustion was in his. She never distanced from him, continually supporting him in obvious love and worry...

From her right, AJ felt Julius approach, and she immediately reached for his left hand with her right one.

He accepted the offered hand with a tight squeeze. “We’re not them, sweetheart.”

AJ nodded without glancing away from McKenna and Johnny. “I know that, but how easily could we have been?”

“Very,” he softly admitted as his grip strengthened on hers another time.

McKenna’s grin turned tender before her head settled on Johnny’s shoulder, though his weight was still angled toward her to keep him balanced.

AJ grunted at the sweetness—and terror—of the scene, then finally looked at Julius. “I don’t know what I’d do.”

“I know.” He let out a heavy breath, then leaned forward to kiss her brow. “I know.”



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

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

Buy the book:

Saturday, May 20, 2017



The antics of seven inheritance recipients during a week-long stay at a Connecticut estate are detailed by protagonist Jill Jocasta Fonne. The will of her aunt stipulates that if anyone leaves early, his or her share will be divided among those remaining. As it happens, one does leave—permanently—when he dies just hours after arrival. Guests and staff alike have secrets to share as Jill and her colleagues, Rey and Linda, discover when they step out of their chosen professions into the roles of amateur sleuths. But are these secrets the reasons that bodies start appearing and disappearing? Others soon join in the sleuthing, and the bumbling and stumbling—and mayhem—begin.


The Aloha Spirit

Many could probably state something similar: “The first time I set foot on [fill in the state or country of preference] I knew it was home.”

My sneakered feet first touched Hawaiian soil in 2010. Despite arriving late at night (which in Toronto time was very early the next day), exhaustion wasn’t enough to deter me from dragging a travel-heavy body over to shop-dense Kalakaua and amble along the tiki-lined boulevard with throngs of other wide-eyed, excited tourists.

Even with gusty trade winds, there are subtle lingering scents—such as sweet plumeria and briny air—that enrobe you like soft bubbles in a warm, cozy bath. There’s an all-encompassing energy; you can sense it on the beaches and hills, in the markets and streets, amid the tourist attractions and local haunts. The vast and vibrant colors of flora can seem surreal when you hail from the cold, winter-gray North.

Negative bank dealings aside—LOL—I fly over regularly with enthusiastic Mom in tow. If I/we could make Hawaii home, we would. Alas, I’m/we’re not American-born. There are no U.S. sponsors, nor do we possess the admissibility criteria to obtain that necessary Green Card.

I have full faith, however, that a door will open and Hawaii will happen. For now, I (and Mom) will settle for visiting. 

As always, I’m/we’re looking forward to the next sojourn—my pre-sunrise jogs along the Ala Wai Canal and the stops by the Healing Stones, our miles-long strolls around Honolulu, the tasty breaks at food kiosks and trucks, wading along the balmy oceanside, nummy Mai-Tais on the beach . . . and the silent acknowledgement that this truly is our nirvana.


Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie? (A Triple Threat Mystery Book 2)
Novice sleuths Jill, Rey and Linda stumbled and bumbled their way through The Connecticut Corpse Caper with winning results. That success prompted the trio to become bona-fide detectives. The first official assignment for the owners of the Triple Threat Investigation Agency: discover the dirty little secret of an elderly millionaire’s pretty, young wife. This sounds easy enough—until the wife is found dead along a Pacific shoreline. One murder evolves into several, with any one of a cornucopia of curious persons being the potential killer. Dealers, informants, and the seedy world of drugs enter the paradisiacal picture. This is a perfect opportunity to hone detecting skills and prove the newfound Hawaiian-based agency is a viable venture. Can the trio unravel the intriguing twists . . . before the twists ravel them?

Coco's Nuts
(A Triple Threat Mystery Book 3)
Rookie private eyes JJ, Rey and Linda stumbled and bumbled through The Connecticut Corpse Caper and Can You Hula like Hilo Hattie? with stellar results. Now the trio, proud owners of the Tripe Threat Investigation Agency, have yet another multi-murder mystery to solve. Who set up their client, socialite-turned-trucker Buddy Feuer, to take the rap? And where is nutty Coco Person, who has been MIA since the murders went down? In their detecting travels, they meet up with former acquaintances, some of who may not be all that they seem. Add bombs and debt collectors (limb breakers) to the list of ingredients, and you have one explosive recipe.


Tyler Colins is primarily a writer of fiction and blog posts, and a sometimes editor and proofreader of books, manuals, and film/television scripts. She’ll also create business plans, synopses, film promotion, and sales documents.

Fact-checking and researching, organizing, and coordinating are skills and joys (she likes playing detective and developing structure).

Her fiction audience: lovers of female-sleuth mysteries. Her genres of preference: mysteries (needless to say), women’s fiction, informative and helpful “affirmative” non-fiction.

She aims to provide readers with smiles and chuckles like the ever-talented Janet Evanovich and the sadly passed and missed Lawrence Sanders, the “coziness” of Jessica Fletcher, and a few diversions and distractions as only long-time pros Jonathan Kellerman and Kathy Reichs can craft.

Connect with Tyler:
Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter 

Buy the book:
The Connecticut Corpse Caper (A Triple Threat Mystery Book 1)
Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? (A Triple Threat Mystery Book 2)
Coco's Nuts (A Triple Threat Mystery Book 3)

Thursday, May 18, 2017



Emily Rhodes came to rural Florida for the cowboys, the cattle, and to do a little country two-step, not to fall head first onto a dead body in a dumpster. Ah, the golden years of retirement in the sunshine state. They’re more like pot metal to Emily, who discovers the body of the county’s wealthiest rancher in the Big Lake Country Club dumpster. With her close friend accused of the murder, Emily sets aside her grief at her life partner’s death to find the real killer. She underestimates the obstacles rural Florida can set up for a winter visitor and runs afoul of a local judge with his own version of justice, hires a lawyer who works out of a retirement home, and flees wild fires hand-in-hand with the man she believes to be the killer.

It seems as if Emily is destined to discover dead bodies. This time she finds one of the contestants at the local barbecue cook-off dead and covered in barbecue sauce in a beer cooler. She should be used to stumbling onto corpses by now and the question of who killed the guy should pique her curiosity, but Emily decides to let Detective Lewis handle this one, at least until she figures his theory of who did the deed is wrong, wrong, wrong. Lewis’ denigration of Emily’s speculations is condescending enough to stimulate her dormant snooping skills. As the two of them go on their separate paths to find the killer, Lewis’ old partner, Toby the dirty, tobacco-spitting cop interferes in the investigation leaving Lewis with the wrong man in jail. Killers, bootleggers, barbecue and feral pigs—it’s a lethal game of hide and seek in the Florida swamp.


Challenging Your Protagonist

It’s clear that the most obvious way mystery writers reveal and test their protagonists’ character is to disrupt their world by presenting the heroine (or hero) with a murder. Aside from this obvious way to challenge the protagonist, there are many other disruptions  a writer uses to reveal the protagonist’s character.

Some challenges come from within the character and are related to the person’s emotional, psychological and social make-up. For example, is the main character shy and laid back? If so, how will she handle an aggressive male? Emily Rhodes in Dumpster Dying is a retired school teacher used to handling children not big, bad cowboys who come into her bar drunk. Her best friend, Clara, assumes Emily does not have the chops for unpleasant interactions, but Emily insists that handing unruly preschoolers is not easy and is preparation for the adult world. Emily may not be able to physically confront an aggressive man, but she uses her wit to find a way around the bass fisherman when he asks her to move a truck he thinks she cannot drive. She proves him wrong, but pays a price for her sass when she must count on him to rescue her from an alligator. So Emily is right about being able to cantankerous men, but she must also learn she might not have the last word.

Then there is the matter of romance, another emotional issue that Emily must come to terms with. She has reason to mistrust men, having committed to one who died without changing his will to include Emily and forcing her to find work in what she assumed would be her retirement years. Confronting Emily with two romantic possibilities, a detective and a bass fisherman, brings out Emily’s misgivings and adds tension to the story. Will Emily be able to overcome her misgivings about romance? Both of the men vying for Emily’s affection are difficult fellows, one a serious police detective who Emily seems to always disagree with. Emily must eventually be able to tell the difference between his dislike of her interference in his police work and his developing feelings for her masquerading as irritation (he also must come to the same understanding about himself). As for the bass fisherman who vassilates between like for Emily and his feelings of aggravation at what he calls “uppity, Yankee gals,” Emily finds him hard to read and is always surprised when he treats her with affection and respect. The reader roots for Emily to sort out these romance issues. 

A roadblock to Emily’s ability to adjust to life in rural Florida is her living situation. Fred’s will leaves everything he and Emily have shared—house, car, bank account—to his ex-wife. Emily must find it in her to challenge the will and to find the means to hire a lawyer to represent her. Again, Emily’s sweet, laid-back nature is tested by these demands. There is nothing like a financial crisis to generate problems for the protagonist to solve and create uncertainty as to whether she will be able to be successful. In this case, the reader finds that financial exigency and her personality interact to create problems for Emily. While she correctly fires her crooked lawyer, she has no back-up plan for legal representation.

There are other issues to make the story exciting. While these challenges are external to the person, they tell the reader about the character. In Emily’s case, drought conditions near her house result in a fire in which she loses contact with a family member and finds an unlikely partner to help her find the way across an alligator infested slough. The fire and Emily’s response to it provides tension and excitement as well as an occasion for Emily and her unlikely rescuer to interact in a way that wouldn’t have happened under normal circumstances.

It is important for the writer to challenge the character in ways other than presenting a murder to be solved. Issues generated by the environment or by the character herself enhance the plot, create subplots and move the protagonist toward self-growth.  A mystery is more than solving a crime. It’s all about telling a story.


Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in Upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks, frequents yard sales and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work. She is the author of a number of mystery series and mysteries as well as short stories. The third book in the Eve Appel murders (from Camel Press) A Sporting Murder was awarded a Readers’ Favorite Five Star Award and her short story "Gator Aid" a Sleuthfest (2009) short story first place. She has fired the alligator that served as her literary muse when she is in Florida and is interviewing applicants for the position.

Connect with Lesley:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook Twitter 

Buy the book:


Monday, May 15, 2017



Veterinary technician Carrie Kennersly, owner of the Barkery & Biscuits bakery for dogs, is reluctant to sell her recipes to pet food manufacturer VimPets. Jack Loroco, a VimPets representative, assures Carrie that it would be a great opportunity to grow her business. His promising new relationship with Carrie’s friend, Billi Matlock, doesn’t hurt his cause. But the budding romance takes a bad turn when Wanda Addler, another VimPets employee, sets her sights on Jack.
After threatening to ruin Jack’s career if he doesn’t give her what she wants, Wanda is found dead. Jack and Billi are put at the top of the suspect list, and Carrie is doggone determined to rescue them from a life behind bars.


More Barkery, Please

Hard to believe it, but my Barkery & Biscuits Mystery Series is now in its third year.  The third book in the series, Bad to the Bone, is a May 2017 release.  

In the series, protagonist Carrie Kennersly is a veterinary technician who dreamed of becoming her own boss. At the beginning of Bite the Biscuit, the first book in the series, her friend Brenda Anesco had to sell her bakery, Icing on the Cake, and move away from Knobcone Heights, California, to care for her ailing mother. Carrie bought it and converted half of Icing into Barkery and Biscuits, a store that sells handmade dog treats made from healthy recipes Carrie developed for patients as a vet tech. She also maintained the other half, Icing on the Cake, to sell fresh baked goods for people.
I realized when I began the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries that I was combining two popular cozy mystery themes: pets and cooking. I even include recipes in the stories--one for a dog treat and one for a people treat. 

I first came up with the hint of an idea for this series quite a few years ago, when I recognized  the emerging industry of small shops that catered to home-cooked meals and treats for pets but it wasn't very popular--then.

By the time
Bite the Biscuit was published, that was already a different story.  In my area of Los Angeles, for example, there are quite a few shops like that. Some are even small chain stores.  

Of course I have to visit them, and I buy samples most places I visit. I have to be a little careful about what I buy, since my older Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Mystie has tummy issues and is on a prescription food diet, although I'm able to give her some new treats if I'm careful. Our other Cavalier, Cari, is a six-month-old puppy so I need to be a bit cautious about what she gets, too--mainly because she likes to eat everything around her. But I'm sure they both consider it fun that I'm doing this kind of research for my Barkery series. 

The books in the Barkery series are cozy mysteries, which means there are murders in them.  In
Bite the Biscuit, Carrie herself was a murder suspect. In the second book in the series, To Catch a Treat, a visitor to Knobcone Heights who becomes Carrie's assistant in her shops--and her brother's main squeeze--is the primary suspect. And in Bad to the Bone, another friend is the top suspect when a visitor to the town gets murdered. Somehow, the murder rate in that small town appears to be increasing. Poor town--and poor Carrie!

In the meantime, Carrie's dog, Biscuit, gets to hang out in the Barkery and sample all the wonderful dog treats.  They both also go to the Knobcone Veterinary Clinic, where Carrie has maintained her part-time job as a veterinary technician.  And, yes, Carrie does keep solving murders.

And it's certainly fun to write these stories.  I hope you enjoy reading them!


Linda O. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the year. Since then, Linda, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, has published more short stories, novellas, and 38 romance and mystery novels, including the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, and Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne. She additionally writes the Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink. Her latest cozy mystery series, the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries are also from Midnight Ink.

Connect with Linda:
Webpage  |  Facebook 

Buy the book:

Amazon  |   B&N 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017



The play’s the thing, but it’s the star-studded after-party that sends sparks flying

Thrilled that their friend’s Broadway debut was a rousing success, Nic and Nigel Martini, along with Nic’s college pal Harper, are trying to enjoy the exclusive after-party. Unfortunately, all the champagne and repartee in the world aren’t enough to overlook the churlish behavior of Harper’s husband, Dan. Nic is shocked the next morning when she learns that Dan’s been murdered. Nigel thinks the world may be a better place without him.

Still, Harper’s their friend and they’re intent on helping her any way they can. The Martinis will stop at nothing—with the possible exception of cocktails and walks with their bull mastiff Skippy—to see that the killer ends up behind bars.


“Come, come, Mr. Bond. You disappoint me. You get as much fulfillment out of killing as I do, so why don't you admit it?” - Scaramanga

I was recently re-watching the movie The Trip and came across the scene in which the two main characters argue over who does the better James Bond imitation. The argument eventually shifts to Bond villains, and the men take turns repeating the above line with varying degrees of silky menace. It’s a great bit, especially when it devolves into the two trying to maintain the quiet evil of the delivery all while drinking from a glass of wine. 

Villains, as we all know, are bad, nasty people. They cheat, steal, lie, and kill with nary a bit of remorse. Many times this reprehensible behavior can be traced back to an abusive upbringing, such as the one experienced by Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil: “My childhood was typical: summers in Rangoon ... luge lessons ... In the spring, we'd make meat helmets ... When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds — pretty standard, really.” In other cases, their evil stems from trying to play God by altering their human form, such as Voldermort, Dorian Gray, or any of the villains from the Marvel Comic Books.

But no matter what their childhood woe or genetic tinkering, all villains seem to share one important trait and that, to paraphrase Martin Blank, is that their psych profile fits “a certain moral flexibility” that lends itself well to killing.

Personally, I think it would be a blast to write over-the-top characters like Dr. Evil. How could you not enjoy writing for a character who says things like, “You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here! What do we have?”

Although my books are humorous, my villains aren’t in the same category as Dr. Evil.  Very few could be. However, I do have fun with my bad guys because I can make them say and do all the sorts of outrageous things that one can’t (or at least shouldn’t) do in real life. And up until the killing part, I think we all have moments when we’d just love to let loose on someone. Another benefit to writing a villain is having my protagonist respond to them in kind. And since most of the time my villains are composites of annoying people that I’ve encountered over the years, it’s somewhat therapeutic to tell them off and have them hauled off the jail.  

Over the years, however, I’ve realized that I can only deal with a certain level of evil. While in college, I read Thomas Harris’ The Red Dragon, and I didn’t sleep for at least a week. Harris’ character, serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, had me lying in my bed at night staring at the doorknob in case it began to turn. It took me a week to finish the book, but the unspeakable evil of embodied in the character of Dolarhyde messed with me for months afterwards. I don’t know how long it took Harris to write his book, but I’m certain it was longer than a week. I can’t imagine having to sit down every day, month after month, and put myself in a brain that demented and devoid of humanity.
So, while I enjoy my villains, I can only take them so far down the path of evil. To paraphrase Jane Austen, I’d say of them that, “of some delights a little goes a long way.” 


Tracy Kiely is a self-proclaimed Anglophile (a fact which distresses certain members of her Irish Catholic family). She grew up reading Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and watching Hitchcock movies. She fell in love with Austen’s wit, Christie’s clever plots, and Hitchcock’s recurrent theme of “the average man caught in extraordinary circumstances.”

After spending years of trying to find a proper job that would enable her to use her skills garnered as an English major, she decided to write a book. It would, of course, have to be a mystery; it would have to be funny; and it would have to feature an average person caught up in extraordinary circumstances. She began to wonder how the characters in Pride and Prejudice might fit into a mystery. What, if after years of living with unbearably rude and condescending behavior, old Mrs. Jenkins up and strangled Lady Catherine? What if Charlotte snapped one day and poisoned Mr. Collins’ toast and jam? Skip ahead several years, and several different plot ideas, and you have her first mystery Murder at Longbourn.

While she does not claim to be Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, or Hitchcock (one big reason being that they’re all dead), she has tried to combine the elements of all three in her books.

Connect with Tracy:
Webpage  |   Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Blog 

Buy the book:
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Monday, May 8, 2017



Twenty-something Kailyn Wilde has learned to embrace her unpredictable life as a descendant of small-town New Camel’s most magickal family. She just didn’t expect to inherit her mother and grandmother’s centuries-old shop, Abracadabra, so suddenly. The surprises keep coming when Kailyn goes to finalize the estate at the local attorney’s office—and stumbles over the body of her best friend Elise’s husband . . .

 As a brash detective casts the blame on Elise, Kailyn summons her deepest powers to find answers and start an investigation of her own. What with running a business, perfecting ancient spells, and keeping up with an uninvited guest of fabled origins, Kailyn has her hands full. But with the help of her uncanny black cat Sashkatu and her muumuu-clad Aunt Tilly, she’s closing in on a killer—who will do anything to make sure she never tests her supernatural skills again!


Sharon, how did you get started writing? 
I’m not quite sure. In first grade we were taught to write sentences, so I went home and wrote my first short story, "Wild Horse Valley." I drew a cover for it too. My teacher showed it to the school librarian who put it on display. From that day on, writing has always been a part of my life in one form or another. Even when I’m working on a book, other book ideas are spinning in the back of my mind.

Do you write every day?
Yes, because I suffer from chronic migraines, and I have to write whenever I am able to.
Then again, maybe I would write everyday anyway. When I’m working on a book, it’s always running in my head no matter what else I may be doing. I think my subconscious works on plot points and characters all the time. 

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
As much as I love writing, there are definitely days when the hardest part is putting my butt down in the chair at the computer.

What’s more important – characters or plot?
Can I say it depends? Most literary fiction is character driven.  Most genre books, like mysteries, are plot driven. That’s not to say that characters aren’t important in genre books.
It’s up to them to engage the reader and bring the plot to life.

How often do you read? 
Whenever I can —doctors’ waiting rooms are great places to read. Otherwise it’s wasted time.  Flying is another good time to dive into a book. It makes the time pass more quickly. I’m in a small book club and having a scheduled meeting forces me to make the time to read.

What books do you currently have published?

I’d have to go back to my first book that was published by PocketBooks in the ‘80s. I reissued it a couple of years ago under the title, For Everything a Season. After that I wrote The Godchildren and The Portal; all three were paranormal. In recent years, I've been writing cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist and a dash of humor. The Portrait of Crime series includes: Sketch Me If You Can, To Sketch a Thief, Sketch a Falling Star and Sketcher in the Rye. The Crystal Shop series has just the first book at this time, Alibis and Amethysts.

My new Abracadabra series debuts on May 2 with Magick & Mayhem. The second book, That Olde White Magick, will be released on November 7th. I’m presently working on the third book, entitled Magick Run Amok.

Do you have any secret talents?
Nope, not a one.

Is writing your dream job?

How often do you tweet?
I know I don’t tweet enough, but when I have to choose between writing, reading, and tweeting, tweeting comes in third.

How do you feel about Facebook?
It’s a great way to engage with readers and other writers. My adult kids too. I think that young people probably share too much on Facebook and other social media. I’m from a different generation and have always been a very private person.

For what would you like to be remembered?
For being kind, for being a good wife, mother, daughter, and friend. For being a good listener if someone needs to talk, and for being a strong shoulder when talking is not enough. And, of course, for providing entertainment with my books, because we all need a little escape from reality in our lives!

What scares you the most?
Aside from normal worries about the welfare of my loved ones, there’s an item I read recently that I find truly frightening. Here it is paraphrased—As fast as technology is changing right now, it will never be this slow again.  WHAT???? I can barely keep up now!!!

What do you love about where you live?
The change of seasons, though I could definitely do without winter. I also love the Long Island beaches. I spent every summer of my childhood and teenage years at the beach. It’s even where I met my husband. I don’t get there as often anymore, but I’ve always loved walking on the sand at the ocean’s edge. 

What’s your favorite thing to do on date night?
I love to go out to dinner with friends — couples we’ve known for a very long time. We’ve supported each other through child-rearing ups and downs, illnesses and joys, empty nests, and the decline and loss of elderly parents. When we go out together we can always count on a lot of laughter, because we know each other so well.

What's the biggest lie you ever told?
When I met my husband he was eighteen and I told him I was sixteen — I was really only fourteen. My mom wouldn’t let me continue to date him unless I told him the truth. I thought I’d probably never see him again. Was I ever wrong.

What’s your favorite fast food?

Pizza—I’m not crazy about most other fast food, unless we’re talking ice cream.

What’s your favorite beverage?
A chocolate ice cream soda, but I would never turn down any flavor.

What is your superpower?

It probably doesn’t qualify as a superpower, but I’m like a weird magnet —strangers will often tell me their troubles whether it’s on line in the grocery store, in a doctor’s office, or other random places. It’s really odd.

What do you like to do when there’s nothing to do?
There’s never nothing to do!!

Where is your favorite place to visit?
Sedona, Arizona—one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  I was first there in the ‘80s and have been back dozens of times since then. I just wish they would stop all the building there. It should have been made into a national park a long time ago.

What’s your least favorite chore?
Cleaning the house, because it just gets dirty again, and ironing because I put more wrinkles in than I take out!

Do you procrastinate?
Who doesn’t? Oh wait—I have a friend who does everything ahead of time.

What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Nothing all that interesting, but in the freezer there are four half gallons of ice cream, an absolute minimum in my house.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” -George Eliot

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
I recently wrote the eulogy for my mother’s funeral. She was such an amazing mom and best friend, it was hard to capture all that she was in a short speech.

What’s your favorite song?

I love a lot of very different songs from early rock to pop to country: "The Song Remembers When" by Trisha Yearwood, "I loved Her First" by Heartland, "Halleluiah" by Jeff Buckley, "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner, almost any ballad by Elvis Presley to mention just a few.

If you had to choose a cliché about life, what would it be?

It’s not a cliché, but I love my grandmother’s words whenever things weren’t going right: “The first hundred years are the hardest.”


Sharon’s first novel, Ghostfire, was published by PocketBooks and went on to be condensed in Redbook magazine (the first paperback original the magazine had ever condensed). Redbook also published her first short story. Two books later, her writing career came to a grinding halt when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Once she was back on her feet, she joined the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery program as a volunteer and went on to run the program for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. In 2000, with the help of her surgical oncologist and two other volunteers, she started Lean On Me, a nonprofit that provides peer support and information to breast cancer patients. She says that the thousands of women whose lives she touched have enriched her own life beyond measure.  When Lean On Me celebrated its tenth anniversary and no longer required as much of her time, she found her way back to her first love— writing. Since then, she’s been writing cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist: the Portrait of Crime series for Berkley Prime Crime, the Crystal Shop series for Berkley Intermix and her new Abracadabra series for Kensington’ Lyrical imprint. Magick & Mayhem is the first book in that series.   

Connect with Sharon:
Website  |  Blog  |   
Facebook  |  Twitter  |   Goodreads
Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Nobel    

Thursday, May 4, 2017



In the latest Southern cozy from the author of The Calamity Café, small-town chef Amy Flowers can’t take her freedom for granted when she’s served up as a murder suspect . . .

It's Independence Day in Winter Garden, Virginia, and the residents are gearing up for their annual celebration. The Down South Café is open and flourishing, and Amy Flowers is busy making pies and cakes for the holiday. The only thorn in her side is Chamber of Commerce director George Lincoln, who is trying to buy the café so he can tear it down and build a B&B on the site.
When George collapses while eating at the Down South, everybody assumes it's a heart attack—until the autopsy declares it to be poisoning. Now, it’s up to Amy to prove her innocence before her liberty is lost.
Includes delicious Southern recipes!


Amy Flowers finishing earning her degree in culinary school when her beloved Nana got sick. She came back to her hometown of Winter Garden, Virginia, to be close and got a job as a waitress at Lou’s Joint, a café owned by Lou Lou Holman. When Lou Lou was killed (see The Calamity Café), her son sold the café to Amy. Amy has since renovated the café and is enjoying a booming business. She’s currently gearing up for the town-wide Independence Day celebration.


Note: this post was supposed to run on April 7, but then strokes happened and I ended up in the hospital. I apologize to Gayle and Amy for the delay.

Amy, how did you first meet Gayle?

I met Gayle at lunch one day. She got to talking to me about her grandmother and how close they were. She said she used to stand at her grandmother’s side and watch her cook. I told her we had that in common, and I started telling her all about Nana. That’s the thing about writers—once you get to talking with them, you never know what will wind up in a story.

Want to dish about her?
Gayle tends to get distracted sometimes. I mean, I realize she’s a mom and a wife, and she has pets, and she’s trying to run a business and everything, but I’m over here demanding her attention and telling her about my life. I mean, that’s what she wants, right? Trust me—when I shut up, she gets nervous. So I tell her, “This is our time together. Put all those other thoughts out of your mind and concentrate on what we’re doing here.” And some days are better than others, you know? Some days, she puts those fingers to the keyboard, and we’re able to get a lot accomplished. But other days, she says, “Amy, I’m sitting here writing about all this delicious food you’re fixing, and I have no idea what I’m going to make for dinner.”

Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?

I think it’s because I came upon my former boss—Lou Lou Holman—slumped over her desk dead. And then I became determined to find out who’d killed her. I mean, for one thing, I was a suspect, and for another, I wanted to buy that café. Would you want to eat food prepared by someone suspected of murder? So, I guess I have a pretty interesting life . . . even though it doesn’t always feel that way to me.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

I really enjoyed going to the Independence Day dance. The dance takes place in a converted barn, and it’s just a fabulous old place. Anyway, Aunt Bess was there, all decked out in her Independence Day finest, and she told me she was waiting for her date.  Come to find out, she’d used my mom’s photo for her profile on an online dating site. That poor man was so confused!

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

I enjoy looking through cookbooks to find new recipes. I also love reading and watching movies.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
I love my mom, Aunt Bess, and cousin Jackie. Jackie works with me at the café, and she’s like my right arm. Aunt Bess is a total hoot. She has discovered the Internet and likes to be on Pinterest. She has boards named People I’ve Outlived; Lord, Have Mercy; and Stuff I’d Like to Eat. The Stuff I’d Like to Eat board is filled with things Aunt Bess wants Jackie and me to cook for her. And we usually do.

That gorgeous deputy Ryan Hall is wonderful. He and I have been on a few dates since the murder case of Lou Lou Holman wrapped up. We couldn’t date before that because I was a suspect in her murder.
The only person in town I really have a problem with is George Lincoln. That man is as pushy as all get out. He wanted the café before I bought it. And now, even though I’ve put all this time, money, and work into it, he asks me just about every day to sell it to him so he can tear it down! He won’t take no for an answer.
If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
I’d love to take that gorgeous deputy I was telling you about, along with a picnic lunch, and go to the lake. We could rent a paddle boat or a canoe, have a picnic, and then sit on our blanket and watch the sunset.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they've known you for a while?
I have to tell you, people must think I’m like a bartender except with food because they typically start to confide in me first thing. And it doesn’t stop when they’ve gotten to know me. I guess I just have one of those faces. Maybe I look trustworthy. I mean, I am trustworthy, but they don’t know that . . . at least, not at first, they don’t.

What's the worst thing that's happened in your life?

The absolute worst thing that ever happened in my life was the death of Nana. And about all I learned from that was that you never quite get over losing someone you love. The next worst thing was finding my former boss dead at her desk in the café office. That was terrible, but it taught me that I’m stronger than I realized.

Tell us about your best friend.
My best friend is my cousin Jackie. She’s just a little older than me, so it sometimes feels like we’re sisters instead of cousins. Aunt Bess is Jackie’s grandmother, and Jackie and I make Sunday lunch for Mom and Aunt Bess every week. Jackie is (finally) dating Roger. Roger has been our friend since we were kids, and there has been a special spark between the two of them for years. I finally talked him into asking her out. So far, so good. But if things go south, I’m afraid they’ll both blame me for it.


Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. She also writes as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, she write the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee,  she writes the Embroidery Mystery series.
Gayle lives in Virginia with her family, which includes her own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff. She's having a blast writing this new series!

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

Buy the book:

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, May 2, 2017



Not everything stays buried. When Betsy, a notorious brown thumb gets roped into a gardening contest sponsored by the Pecan Bayou Gazette, she finds herself digging up more than weeds. She is ridiculed by the garden club ladies, and now her heart breaks for a newly single mom whose world has just collapsed.  The Happy Hinter is back so take some time to revisit the cozy little town of Pecan Bayou, Texas. Grab a glass of sweet tea before you turn the dirt in the garden and sit a spell with all your favorite characters who dole out heartfelt caring and compassion with a side of humor.  Till Dirt Do Us Part includes bonus recipes and helpful hints from Betsy’s column!


Teresa, what books do you currently have published?

Till Dirt Do Us Part is the seventh book in my Pecan Bayou Series. I also have a brand-new series that takes place in Henry Park, Colorado. If you are just starting Pecan Bayou, I suggest you start at A Dash of Murder, although this book can stand alone. We’ve seen Betsy, the Happy Hinter go from being a single mom to a mother of three with a really her handsome meteorologist husband, Leo.

What would your main character say about you?
I think Betsy Livingston would probably get me together with her Aunt Maggie who is also the parent of a Down syndrome child. We’d laugh, we’d cry, and I’d enjoy some of Aunt Maggie’s excellent cooking.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
I have a third series that will be coming out in the future. This book has been edited by my agent and publisher, and I can tell you the entire book was emailed back to me several times with a list of changes. It was a frustrating process, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?  
I love the Harris County Public Library in Houston, Texas. I am home with my son much of the time, but they have such a wonderful section on ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines that I visit their site every single day.

What are you working on now?
I am working on the second book in my Henry Park Series that features a psychic artist who sketches out clues to solving murders. 



Teresa Trent writes cozy mysteries that take place in small towns in Texas. She was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee but with her father in the military, didn't stay for long. She's lived all over but has a special place in her heart for Colorado, Illinois, and of course, Texas. 

Being a fan of the Andy Griffith Show and Murder She Wrote, she loves creating quirky small towns and colorful characters. She decided to feature a character with Down syndrome in the Pecan Bayou series because after giving birth to her son with DS, she discovered there were very few people like him in the world of cozy mysteries. Teresa lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, two of her adult children and a needy dachshund mix named Martin Luther. 

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

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