Thursday, December 28, 2017



Here killer, killer, killer . . .

For the first time in sixteen years, Lara Caphart has returned to her hometown of Whisker Jog, New Hampshire. She wants to reconnect with her estranged Aunt Fran, who’s having some difficulty looking after herself—and her eleven cats. Taking care of a clowder of kitties is easy, but keeping Fran from being harassed by local bully Theo Barnes is hard. The wealthy builder has his sights set on Fran’s property, and is determined to make her an offer she doesn’t dare refuse.

Then Lara spots a blue-eyed ragdoll cat that she swears is the reincarnation of her beloved Blue, her childhood pet. Pursuing the feline to the edge of Fran’s yard, she stumbles upon the body of Theo Barnes, clearly a victim of foul play. To get her and Fran off the suspect list, Lara finds herself following the cat’s clues in search of a killer. Is Blue’s ghost really trying to help her solve a murder, or has Lara inhaled too much catnip?  

Escape Claws
A Cat Lady Mystery
by Linda Reilly
Genre: Cozy Mystery
204 pages


From Escape Claws Page 24:

Her aunt pointed a finger at her, her green eyes blazing. “Yes, Lara, you nailed it. He is the devil in disguise. The problem is, his disguise has slipped away and now he’s just the devil.”

From Escape Claws Page 32:

A paw batting at her nose awakened Lara. She squinted at the clock—only six fifteen. Half asleep, she grinned at the perpetrator—Izzy. The calico cat balanced on her chest while Pickles chewed on a strand of her tangled hair.

From Escape Claws Page 43:

Over the low clamor sifting through the coffee shop, a feminine voice suddenly rang out from the doorway. “Cheer up, everyone—don’t look so glum. Theo Barnes is dead!”

From Escape Claws Page 85:

Blue sat very straight, her dark tail curled around her fluffy form. Her coloring was stunning—like a cream-colored cookie whose edges had been dipped in a dark, exotic chocolate.

From Escape Claws Page 140:

A thread of unease wound through Lara. She wasn’t sure why, but she couldn’t help thinking that the driver of the black car had been watching her before he took off. Unfortunately, through the car’s tinted windows, Lara hadn’t been able to get a glimpse of his face.

From Escape Claws Page 142:

Lara slid the slender knife out of the fleshy face and set it down on a newspaper. Messy job, she thought, wiping her hands on a paper towel. But it had to be done.

From Escape Claws Page 146:

“I wish I could see that confession note,” Lara said without thinking. “Something about the whole thing reeks like a dead fish to me.”

Praise for Linda Reilly’s Deep Fried Mysteries

“I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzler of a mystery. Reilly cooks up a perfect recipe of murder and mayhem in this charming cozy.” —Jenn McKinlay, New York Times bestselling author of the Hat Shop Mysteries

“Smart, sassy, and a little bit scary. Everything a good cozy should be!” —Laura Childs, New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries

“Everything I want in a cozy mystery: endearing characters, an enchanting setting, tantalizing food descriptions and a top-notch mystery plot!” —Susan Furlong, author of the Georgia Peach Mysteries


Armed with a degree in Criminal Justice, Linda Reilly once contemplated a career in law enforcement. But life took a twist, and instead she found her niche in real estate closings and title examinations, where the dusty tomes in the Registry of Deeds enticed her into solving mysteries of a different sort. A dyed-in-the-wool New Englander, Linda lives in New Hampshire with her husband, who affectionately calls her "Nose-in-a-Book." A member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, she loves solving mysteries of the cozy type. When she's not pounding away at her keyboard, she can usually be found prowling the shelves of a local bookstore or library.

Connect with Linda:

Website  |  Facebook Author  |  Facebook CLM  | Twitter  |  Pinterest Bookbub  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo 

2 cat lady mysteries tote, oversized cat mug, $20 Amazon

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017



It is 1942 in Oslo, two years into the German occupation of World War II. Maria and her three daughters are used to coping with the hardships of war, but when Maria’s husband leaves her for another woman and a German officer is billeted to their home, their troubles are only just beginning. Maria and her daughters must stop fighting with each other and find a way to survive through grief, dread and fear.


A few of your favorite things: 

Photos, my mother’s art, iPad and iPhone.
Things you need to throw out: 

Dresses from ten years ago, old photos, iPad and iPhone.

Things you need in order to write:

Reference books, my ancient lap-top - off line since lightning struck when it was plugged in, peace and quiet.
Things that hamper your writing: 

Getting distracted checking my emails and Facebook, interruptions, appointments, fatigue, procrastination, lack of confidence.

Things you love about writing: 

Getting lost in the world of my imagination, feeling the emotions of my characters, bringing them to life, storytelling.
Things you hate about writing: 

Self-starting, dread at reading what I wrote the day before, overcoming anxiety and inertia, no-one cares what you have written, no-one has asked you to do it, what if it is no good?

Things you love about where you live:

Living on the outskirts of Bristol with advantage of city and access to fields and woods nearby.
Things that make you want to move: 

To be nearer my daughter and grandson.

Words that describe you:

Lively, amusing, driven, honest, loving, quick witted.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: 

Talks too much, ‘not as funny as she thinks she is,’ disorganized, untidy, does everything in a last minute rush, could go on, but -

Favorite foods: 

King prawns, salmon, mangos.
Things that make you want to throw up: 
Fermented herrings 

Favorite music: 

Besame Mucho, "Dance Me to the End of Love."
Music that make your ears bleed:

Irish country music (sorry, I love everything else about the Irish, I’m married to one).

Favorite beverage: 

Sparkling wine.

Something that gives you a pickle face: 

Fermented herrings, see above.

Favorite smell: 

Chanelle No 5, creosote, lemon. 

Something that makes you hold your nose:
Those fermented herrings.

Something you’re really good at:
Making people laugh.

Something you’re really bad at:

Something you wish you could do:

Something you wish you’d never learned to do: 

Killer Sudoku, it’s so addictive.

Something you like to do: 

Travel, watch movies, listen to podcasts while walking my dog.

Something you wish you’d never done: 

‘Non, Je regrette rien.’ (Edith Piaf)

People you consider as heroes:

Emmeline Pankhurst, Martin Luther King, Rosa Marks.

People with a big L on their heads:

Donald Trump, Donald Trump Junior, Ivanka Trump, need I go on?

Last best thing you ate: 

Grilled mackerel with beetroot and buttery new potatoes.  

Last thing you regret eating:

Huge slab millionaire’s shortbread in my car driving back from London, chocolate everywhere, waist expanded by several inches.

Things to say to an author:

'Wow, what a page turner!’ ‘I was so moved when . . .’  ‘It was so real.’

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book:
‘I fell asleep on page 2.’ ‘Of course, if you were a real writer….’ ‘Stick to your day job.’

Favorite places you’ve been: 

Darjeeling, Beijing, Lagos, St Petersburg.

Places you never want to go to again: 

Luton, Tierra del Fuego (aka ‘End of the World’).

People you’d like to invite to dinner:

Michelle Obama, Alvin Hall, Terry Gross (Fresh Air Podcast).

People you’d cancel dinner on: 

Jeremy Clarkson, Stephen Bannon.

Things that make you happy:

My family, my dog, my friends.

Things that drive you crazy: 

Noisy eaters, crinkly paper, loud music in cafés or restaurants.

Most embarrassing moment:

In a pub and pedophilia is being discussed and I say ‘Who is Peter Filiac?'

Proudest moment:

Becoming an adoptive mum.

Biggest lie you’ve ever told:

I never tell lies.

A lie you wish you’d told:

‘I did not report you to the DVLA.’

Best thing you’ve ever done: 

Adopt my 2 children, both babies when they came to us.

Biggest mistake: 

Reporting my mother to the DVLA. (Although I really had no choice.)

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: 

Traveled around China on my own.

Something you chickened out from doing: 

Walking up Ayer’s Rock, (Uluru) had to stop after 10 metres at ‘Chicken Rock.’

The last thing you did for the first time: 

Arranged a retrospective art exhibition for my mother’s work.

Something you’ll never do again: 

Run a half marathon: could hardly walk for days afterwards and now my knees will only do five kilometers. 


Rica, tell us about Reluctant Courage.

It is 1942 in Oslo, two years into the German occupation of World War II. Maria and her three daughters are used to coping with the hardships of war, but when Maria’s husband leaves her for another woman and a German officer is billeted to their home, their troubles are only just beginning. Maria and her daughters must stop fighting with each other and find a way to survive.

Why did you decide to write this book?

My mother, Brit Maja Holmsen was eight years old when the Nazis marched into Oslo, her home town. She grew up to become an artist and a very powerful and magnetic character. Like most of us she had her flaws, and I wanted to understand her, to imagine the hardships she endured, and how this must have shaped her as a person. I also wanted to feel closer to my Norwegian roots.

Reluctant Courage is fiction but based on real life. What research did you do for this book?
I did a great deal of research for this book, including visits to the Resistance Museum in Oslo and Falstad Museum in Ekne, near Levanger in the North of Norway. The courage of the Norwegian people recorded here is an inspiration. My aim is to bring the war years in Oslo, as experienced by Maria and her three daughters, to life. The characters in my book are fictional, however, and are not true to any real people.

Who are you?
I am a retired psychiatrist living in Bristol with my husband and Elkhound. After being totally immersed in work and bringing up two children, I finally came up for air when I retired. I enlisted for a Creative Writing course with the Open University and knew then that I was going to write a novel inspired by my mother’s life.

I hope you enjoy my book. If you do, I am sure you will feel the same admiration for the survivors of the war that I do.


Rica Newbery is a retired psychiatrist, living with her husband in Bristol. After completing an Open University course in creative writing, she wrote her first novel Reluctant Courage. Although her novel is fictional, it is based on much research and inspired by haunting stories from her mother’s childhood in Nazi-occupied Oslo.

Buy the book:
Amazon UK  |  Amazon US  |  Book Venture Online Book Store (USA)

Saturday, December 23, 2017



A joyous and deeply emotional collection of three unforgettable Christmas novellas. With a series of #1 bestsellers like Twelve Months, The Rockin' Chair and Pressed Pennies, Steven Manchester has established himself as one of the premier voices of moving and heartfelt fiction. Now, he collects his three unforgettable Christmas novellas in one volume.

The Thursday Night Club: Five college friends, three men and two women, have been getting together every Thursday night to share humble meals and an abundance of laughter. But when tragedy takes one of them, leaving the others to question the fairness of life, the Thursday Night Club decides to embark on a contest in the memory of the generous spirit of their fallen brother. The objective of the contest is simple: whoever performs the kindest deed by Christmas night wins the pot – four quarters. And there are only two conditions: the benevolent deed must be anonymous, and it cannot cost a single penny to pull off. As the four friends undertake the contest, the healing begins and they become inspired beyond their expectations. There might be a winner in this competition, but it is very clear there will be no losers.

A Christmas Wish: Steph is on a search for truth in her heart as she faces the prospect of real love for the first time. Brian is out to enjoy his favorite season in a way that doctors never thought he could. And at the center of it all is their grandmother, affectionately known as Mama, a woman of remarkable commitment and charity who knows something very important about making Christmas wishes come true.

The Tin-Foil Manger: Published in this volume for the first time, this is the story of Nancy, an elderly woman with little to live for and Jeanne, the caretaker who wants to believe that Nancy has more to live for. Together, they embark on a journey to the past – a past of modest Christmases, tin-foil mangers, and abundant love – to rediscover the time when Nancy felt truly alive. Nancy's memories and how they touch Jeanne, will turn this Christmas into one for the ages. Rich with emotion and profound with meaning, these three stories of Christmas spirit that will strike a chord in your heart any time of year and make you look at the holiday season in new ways.



Small white lights illuminated the trees that retained a hint of green. Cars—with pine trees secured to their roofs with rope—slipped down the slushy street. Children were bundled against the bitter cold, scarves concealing everything but wide eyes peering out. Without fail, one of the kids would always hit Papa’s car with a snowball. And he’d always stop and pretend to give chase, balling up snow and throwing it back at the kids. He laughed so hard doing that, Nancy recalled. They’d stop for cups of hot chocolate, while the festive music of Nat King Cole swooned in the background. If Papa had his way, though, we’d be listening to Elvis Presley’s Blue Christmas album.

The air was cold, and little Nancy got a kick out the steam that escaped her mouth when she talked. It looks like I’m smoking just like Papa. The sky was dark, but a pretty dark—gray mixed with splashes of pink and purple. “Feels like more snow’s coming,” Papa would say before turning up the collar on his woolen coat. He was like a fortuneteller because, not two minutes later, Nancy watched as the first snowflake fluttered to the ground—and then another. A minute later, there were thousands dancing around in the air, tickling her red button nose and blanketing the filthy ground.

After stopping at Jack and Harry’s—an old five and dime department store—to buy Mama’s Christmas gift, they returned home to the distinct smell of cinnamon filling the house. “Mama’s making her magic in the kitchen,” Papa said before taking a knee in front of the fireplace. Within minutes, small orange flames began licking the cold out of the living room.

Mama came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her faded red and green-striped apron, leaving behind two white-flour handprints. “So where did you two go?” she asked, looking directly at Nancy.
Nancy half-opened her mouth before looking toward her father for help.

“It’s our secret, Louise,” Papa said, “and you’ll have to wait until Christmas to find out.” He added a few more sticks of wood onto the growing flames before taking a seat in his worn armchair. He looked at Nancy. “What time is it?” he asked, grinning.

“Story time, right, Papa?” she answered, hopefully.

After a firm nod, he grabbed his thick Christmas book from the end table on his left. “That’s right,” he said, flipping open the front cover. “Now where did we leave off last?”


Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin' Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island, as well as the national bestsellers Ashes and The Changing Season, and the multi-award winning novel, Goodnight, Brian. He has written A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), Wilbur Avenue (novelette), Just in Time (novelette) and The Thursday Night Club (novella), while his work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series and he is the produced playwright of Three Shoeboxes. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing. 

Connect with Steven:

Website  | Facebook  |  Twitter 

Buy the book:


Tuesday, December 19, 2017



Fleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain town in Virginia. Managing a charming public library that requires all her attention with its severe lack of funds and overabundance of eccentric patrons is difficult enough. The last thing she needs is a new neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.

Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle, Paul Dassin. But town folklore claims the house’s original owner was poisoned by his wife, an outsider. Although acquitted, townsfolk always claimed the wife was guilty, especially when she vanished after her sensational 1925 murder trial. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy is skeptical until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town’s leading families... including her own.

When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest.

Book details:
A Murder for the Books: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series

Crooked Lane Books (December 12, 2017)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683314394
E-Book ASIN: B072396C2L


Amy Webber, 33, has an undergraduate degree in Art History as well as a Master of Library and Information Science degree. She worked as a reference librarian at Clarion University before taking the job as director of the public library in Taylorsford, Virginia about a year ago. Taylorsford is her mother’s hometown, and Amy lives with her mother’s sister, Lydia Talbot, who still owns their family’s historic turn-of-the-century home. Amy loves art, film, gardening, and – of course – reading.


Amy, how did you first meet Victoria?
We first met about a year ago. From what I understand, my writer was at an impasse in her writing career, looking to change genres. Her wonderful agent suggested that she write something she loved to read, which led my writer to mysteries. At that point I stepped into the picture. We had an immediate rapport – partially because my writer is also a librarian whose hometown was a historic town in rural Virginia.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
My favorite scene in the book involves dancing . . . and fishing. Sorry, but you’ll have to read the book to find out how those two things are connected. (I will say that a certain charming neighbor figures into this scene!)

Do have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?
I once dreamed of being an astronomer. (That was before I realized that math was not my strong suit). Of course, I was mainly interested in that field because I loved to read science fiction when I was younger. 

I’d also like to be as great a cook as my Aunt Lydia, but that will be a challenge. I occasionally attempt to make some of her famous dishes and desserts, with mixed results!

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
I would either work in my Aunt Lydia’s gorgeous garden, take a long walk in the woods near Taylorsford, or binge watch my favorite films. Of course, all of this would be more fun if shared with someone I care about – like my best friend, Sunny, my aunt, or my new neighbor, Richard Muir.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they've known you for a while?
I suspect when people first meet me they think I am a lot more quiet and reserved than I actually am.  This is probably because, while I am courteous and casually friendly, I am distrustful of strangers and don’t open up to people right away. Partly this is a defense mechanism, especially when I meet men. I tend to compensate for my rather voluptuous figure by coming across as less sexy than say, my friend Sunny might. I think my coolness turns off many guys, but I can’t help it – I may look like a pin-up, but I want to get to know someone before I get too involved. Now, once people get to know me, they soon see that as well as being intelligent, determined, and thoughtful, I can also be whimsical, funny, and . . . quite romantic under the proper circumstances! 

Tell us about your best friend.
My best friend is Sunshine Fields, who goes by “Sunny.”  She lives with her grandparents – former hippies – who own an organic farm outside of town. They raised her after her mother dropped her off and disappeared when she was just a baby. Sunny and I met at a library teen reading group when I visited my aunt in the summers. We have remained friends ever since, even though we are different in many ways. Unlike me, Sunny is slim, blonde, and blue-eyed – and quite a flirt. But we both love books and having fun, and are both unabashedly loyal to those we love. There’s never been any competition over guys or any of that other “mean girl” nonsense between Sunny and me – we know we only want the best for each other. We are the sisters that neither of us has.

What’s the best trait Victoria has given you?
The best trait is my absolute loyalty to my friends and family, and my compassion for others.
What’s the worst?
The worst is my fretting over my body and weight – I am a curvy girl and worry too much about appearance in that regard.

What’s Victoria’s worst habit?
She uses the word “that” too much. I have to remind her to do a “that-ectomy” on all of her drafts before she sends them to our editor!

Describe the town where you live.
Taylorsford is a historic town that lies at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Virginia. It is small, but quite lovely, with its tree-lined streets, charming older homes, and independent businesses housed in restored buildings. There are a few fieldstone structures built in the eighteenth century, but most of the homes date from the Victorian period. There is only one main street. Many of the few side streets lead up into the mountains, and the surrounding countryside still includes small farms, as well as some estates owned by people who either work in Washington, D.C. or are independently wealthy. The public library is a Carnegie Library, built around 1919 with funds donated by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. 

What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?
I like to think that I am a little less quirky than many of my cozy compatriots, although some of my friends and family might disagree! I also primarily use my intelligence, logic, and library research skills in my sleuthing, eschewing guns or other weapons. I try not to circumvent the work of the sheriff’s department, preferring to aid them in their endeavors rather than work cases on my own.

Will you encourage Victoria to write a sequel?

Actually, I have, and she has already written it.  It is called Shelved Under Murder, and it will be published in July 2018, again by Crooked Lane Books. There will be a third book as well!


Raised in a historic small town in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Victoria turned her early obsession with books into a dual career as an author and librarian. An avid reader who appreciates good writing in all genres, Victoria has been known to read seven books in as many days. When not writing or reading, she likes to watch films, listen to music, garden, or travel. Victoria is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, son, and some very spoiled cats.

Connect with Victoria:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |   Goodreads
Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble 


Sunday, December 17, 2017



Katie LeClair has finally settled down as the new doctor in Baxter, MI. After years of moving, schooling, and training, she wants nothing more than to find a place she can call home.

Katie quickly gets to work building a life for herself in Baxter. That idyllic dream is shattered when one of her patients is found dead. And what’s worse, the death is ruled a suicide: an overdose on medication Katie had prescribed. But she doesn’t remember ordering it.

When police discover the patient was murdered, Katie is catapulted into an off-the-books investigation that leads her down a dark path of past secrets. Someone is willing to kill to keep the town’s history safely shrouded. Katie must race to find out who before someone else ends up dead in national bestselling author Dawn Eastman’s riveting series debut Unnatural Causes.

Book Details:
Unnatural Causes:
A Dr. Katie LeClair Mystery
Mystery/ Amateur Sleuth
New Series
Crooked Lane Books (December 12, 2017)
Hardcover: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683313137
Digital ASIN: B0767G2XLL


A few of your favorite things: 

Tea, chimps, October.
Things you need to throw out: 

Old perfume, old clothing, old expectations.

Things you need in order to write: 

Tea, my computer.
Things that hamper your writing: 

The dog and his many needs.

Things you love about writing: 

Becoming lost in the story and its characters.
Things you hate about writing: 

How hard it is to become lost in the story.

Things you love about where you live:

Trees, wildlife, no commute.
Things that make you want to move: 

My neighbor’s love for his high-powered power-washer.

Things you never want to run out of:

Things you wish you’d never bought: 

Everything that is now cluttering my basement.

Favorite foods: 

Chocolate chip cookies, Haagen Daz coffee ice cream.
Things that make you want to throw up: 


Favorite beverage:


Something that gives you a pickle face: 


Something you’re really good at: 


Something you’re really bad at: 


Something you wish you could do:
Something you wish you’d never learned to do:

Favorite places you’ve been: 

Scotland, Ireland, England.

Places you never want to go to again:
Middle school.

Favorite genre: 

Mysteries, historical fiction.

Books you would ban: 


People you’d like to invite to dinner:

JK Rowling.
People you’d cancel dinner on: 

Certain politicians.


Dawn Eastman lived in Michigan for many years, in a house full of animals, unusual people, and laughter. After attending medical school in New York City, she returned to Michigan to complete her training in Family Medicine. Much of that time was spent in a small town practice. She now lives in Iowa with her family and one extremely bossy small dog. She is the national bestselling author of The Family Fortune Mystery Series, which features psychics, quirky characters and murders. This is her first Dr. Katie LeClair mystery.

Connect with Dawn:

Website  |  Facebook

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Indiebound Powells  |  Books-A-Million


Friday, December 15, 2017


Book details:
Series: Caitlin Strong Novels (Volume 9)
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0765384647 (ISBN13: 9780765384645) 


1944:  Texas Ranger Earl Strong investigates a triple murder inside a Nazi POW camp based in Texas.

The Present:  His granddaughter, Fifth Generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, finds herself following a deadly trail of her own that links back to the killer her grandfather never caught.  But the case takes an intensely personal turn for Caitlin when she learns the man who sexually assaulted her years before has struck another woman. 

Against that painful backdrop, Caitlin is about to face the greatest challenge and the most ruthless villain of her storied career, as well as a plot whose roots date all the way back to that Nazi POW camp in 1944.  Furthermore, the rebellious son of her outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters, has run afoul of a neo-Nazi movement threatening America’s very way of life. That movement’s shadowy leader, Armand Fisker, has an army his disposal and a bioweapon with the ability to change the course of history.

To prevent an unspeakable cataclysm, and stop a demon from her own past from striking again, Caitlin must win a war the world thought was over in a struggle that will test her strength all the way to the bone.


A few of your favorite things:
Movies, books, working out, Brown University football, writing.
Things you need to throw out:
Books (as much as I hate to say it!).

Things you need in order to write:
Privacy and quiet.
Things that hamper your writing:
Distractions and interruptions.

Things you love about writing:
The process, the freedom, seeing my name on book covers.
Things you hate about writing:
Always fighting to make a living.

Hardest thing about being a writer: 
Making a living.
Easiest thing about being a writer: 

Things you love about where you live:
Location, convenience, townhouse-style.
Things that make you want to move: 
Mortgage payments.

Things you never want to run out of: 
Creativity and imagination.
Things you wish you’d never bought:
Book marketing and promotions that didn’t work.

Words that describe you:
Loyal, organized, dedicated, disciplined, obsessed, goal-oriented.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t:
Sexy and cool.

Something you’re really good at: 
Something you’re really bad at: 
Getting more people to realize that.

People you consider as heroes:
Barak Obama.
People with a big L on their foreheads: 
Donald Trump.

Things you’d walk a mile for:
To help a friend.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room:  Assholes.

Things you always put in your books: 
Things you never put in your books: 
Anything that doesn’t further the story.

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

Favorite genre: 
Books you would ban: 
Absolutely none.

People you’d like to invite to dinner:
Barak Obama, Stephen King.
People you’d cancel dinner on:

Biggest lie you’ve ever told: 
I’m rich.
A lie you wish you’d told: 
I’m the sexiest man alive.

The last thing you did for the first time:
Flew on a private jet.
Something you’ll (probably) never do again:
Fly on a private jet.



Austin, Texas
What the hell?
Caitlin Strong and Cort Wesley Masters had just emerged from Esther’s Follie’s on East 6th Steet, when they saw the stream of people hurrying down the road, gazes universally cocked back behind them. Sirens blared off in the distance and a steady chorus of honking horns seemed to be coming from an adjoining block just past the street affectionately known as “Dirty Sixth,” Austin’s version of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
“Couldn’t tell you,” Cort Wesley said, even as he sized up the scene. “But I got a feeling we’re gonna know before much longer.”
* * *
Caitlin was in town to speak at a national law enforcement conference focusing on homegrown terrorism, and both her sessions at the Convention Center had been jam-packed. She felt kind of guilty her presentations had lacked the audio-visual touches many of the others had featured. But the audiences hadn’t seem to mind, filling a sectioned-off ballroom to the gills to hear of her direct experiences, in contrast to theoretical dissertations by experts. Audiences comprised of cops a lot like her, looking to bring something back home they could actually use. She’d focused to a great extent on her most recent battle with ISIS right here in Texas, and an al-Qaeda cell a few years before that, stressing how much things had changed in the interim and how much more they were likely to.
Cort Wesley had driven up from San Antonio to meet her for a rare night out that had begun with dinner at Ancho’s inside the Omni Hotel and then a stop at Antone’s nightclub to see the Rats, a band headed by a Texas Ranger tech expert known as Young Roger. From there, they’d walked to Esther’s Follies to take in the famed Texas-centric improve show there, a first for both of them that was every bit as funny and entertaining as advertised, even with a gun-toting woman both Caitlin and Cort Wesley realized was based on her.
Fortunately, no one else in the audience made that connection and they managed to slip out ahead of the rest of the crowd. Once outside, though, they were greeted by a flood of pedestrians pouring up the street from an area of congestion a few blocks down, just past 8th Street.
“What you figure, Ranger?”
“That maybe we better go have ourselves a look.”


Austin, Texas
Caitlin practically collided with a young man holding a wad of napkins against his bleeding nose at the intersection with East 7th Street.
“What’s going on?” she asked him, pulling back her blazer to show her Texas Ranger badge.
The young man looked from it back to her, swallowing some blood and hacking it up onto the street. “University of Texas graduation party took over all of Stubb’s Barbecue,” he said, pointing in the restaurant’s direction. “Guess you could say it got out of hand. Bunch of fraternities going at it.” He looked at the badge pinned to her chest again. “Are you really a Texas Ranger?”
“You need to get to an emergency room,” Caitlin told him, and pressed on with Cort Wesley by her side.
“Kid was no older than Dylan,” he noted, mentioning his oldest son who was still on a yearlong leave from Brown University.
“How many fraternities does the University of Texas at Austin have anyway, Cort Wesley?”
“A whole bunch.”
“Yeah,” she nodded, continuing on toward the swell of bodies and flashing lights, “it sure looks that way.”
Stubb’s was well known for its barbecue offerings and, just as much, its status as a concert venue. The interior was modest in size, as Caitlin recalled, two floors with the bottom level normally reserved for private parties and the upstairs generally packed with patrons both old and new. The rear of the main building, and several adjoining ones, featured a flattened dirt lot fronted by several performance stages where upwards of two thousand people could enjoy live music in the company of three sprawling outdoor bars.
That meant this graduation party gone bad may have featured at least a comparable number of students and probably even more, many of whom remained in the street, milling about as altercations continued to flare, while first responders struggled futilely to disperse the crowd. Young men and women still swigging bottles of beer, while pushing and shoving each other. The sound of glass breaking rose over the loudening din of the approaching sirens, the whole scene glowing amid the colors splashed from the revolving lights of the Austin police cars already on the scene.
A fire engine leading a rescue wagon screeched to a halt just ahead of Cort Wesley and Caitlin, at the intersection with 7th Street, beyond which had become impassable.
“Dylan could even be here, for all I know,” Cort Wesley said, picking up his earlier train of thought.
“He doesn’t go to UT.”
“But there’s girls and trouble, two things he excels at the most.”
This as fights continued breaking out one after another, splinters of violence on the verge of erupting into an all-out brawl going on under the spill of the LED streetlights rising over Stubb’s.
Caitlin pictured swirling lines of already drunk patrons being refused admittance due to capacity issues. Standing in line full of alcohol on a steamy night, expectations of a celebratory evening dashed, was a recipe for just what she was viewing now. In her mind, she saw fights breaking out between rival UT fraternities mostly in the outdoor performance area, before spilling out into the street, fueled by simmering tempers now on high heat.
“You see any good we can be here?” Cort Wesley asked her.
Caitlin was about to say no, when she spotted an anxious Austin patrol cop doing his best to break up fights that had spread as far as 7th Street. She and Cort Wesley sifted through the crowd and made their way toward him, Caitlin advancing alone when they drew close.
“Anything I can do to help,” she said, reading the Austin policeman’s nametag, “Officer Hilton?”
Hilton leaned up against an ornate light pole that looked like gnarled wrought iron for support. He was breathing hard, his face scraped and bruised. He noted the Texas Ranger badge and seemed to match her face to whatever media reports he’d remembered her from.
“Not unless you got enough Moses in you to part the Red Sea out there, Ranger.”
“What brought you boys out here? Detail work?” Caitlin asked, trying to account for his presence on scene so quickly, ahead of the sirens screaming through the night.
Hilton shook his head. “An anonymous nine-one-one call about a sexual assault taking place inside the club, the downstairs lounge.”
“And you didn’t go inside?”
Hilton turned his gaze on the street, his breathing picking up again. “Through that? My partner tried and ended up getting his skull cracked open by a bottle. I damn near got killed fighting to reach him. Managed to get him in the back of our squad car and called for a rescue,” he said, casting his gaze toward the fire engine and ambulance that were going nowhere. “Think maybe I better carry him to the hospital myself.”
“What about the girl?”
“What girl?”
“Sexual assault victim inside the club.”
Hilton frowned. “Most of them turn out to be false alarms anyway.”
“Do they now?”
Caitlin’s tone left him sneering at her. “Look, Ranger, you want to shoot up the street to get inside that shithole, be my guest. I’m not leaving my partner.”
“Thanks for giving me permission,” she said, and steered back for Cort Wesley.
“That looked like it went well,” he noted, pushing a frat boy who’d ventured too close out of the way, after stripping the empty beer bottle he was holding by the neck from his grasp.
“Sexual assault victim might still be inside, Cort Wesley.”
“Got any ideas, Ranger?”
Caitlin eyed the fire engine stranded where East 7th Street met Red River Avenue. “Just one.”


Austin, Texas
Four firemen were gathered behind the truck in a tight cluster, speaking with the two paramedics from the rescue wagon.
“I’m a Texas Ranger,” Caitlin announced, approaching them with jacket peeled back to reveal her badge, “and I’m commandeering your truck.”
“You’re what?” one of the fireman managed. “No, absolutely not!”
The siren began blaring and lights started flashing, courtesy of Cort Wesley who’d climbed up behind the wheel.
“Sorry,” Caitlin said, raising her voice above the din, “can’t hear you!”
* * *
The crowd that filled the street in front of Stubb’s Barbecue saw and heard the fire truck coming and began pelting it with bottles, as it edged forward through the congested street that smelled of sweat and beer. What looked like steam hung in the stagnant air overhead, either an illusion or the actual product of so many superheated bodies congealed in such tight quarters. The sound of glass braking crackled through Caitlin’s ears, as bottle after bottle smashed against the truck’s frame.
The crowd clustered tighter around the fire engine, cutting off Cort Wesley’s way backward or on toward Stubb’s. The students, their fervor and aggression bred by alcohol, never noticed Caitlin’s presence atop the truck until she finally figured out the workings of the truck’s deck gun and squeezed the nozzle.
The force of the water bursting out of the barrel nearly knocked her backward off the truck. But she managed to right and then repositioned herself, as she doused the tight cluster of students between the truck and the restaurant entrance with the gun’s powerful stream.
A wave of people tried to fight the flow and ended up getting blown off their feet, thrown into other students who then scrambled to avoid the fire engine’s surge forward ahead of its deafening horn. Caitlin continued to clear a path for Cort Wesley, sweeping the deck gun in light motions from side to side, the five hundred gallon tank still plenty full when the club entrance drew within clear view.
She felt the fire engine’s front wheels mount the sidewalk and twist heavily to the right. The front fender grazed the building and took out a plate glass window the rioting had somehow spared. Caitlin saw a gap in the crowd open all the way to the entrance and leaped down from the truck to take advantage of it, before it closed up again.
She purposely didn’t draw her gun and entered Stubb’s to the sight of bloodied bouncers and staff herding the last of the patrons out of the restaurant. Outside, the steady blare of sirens told her the Austin police had arrived in force. Little they could do to disperse a crowd this large and unruly in rapid fashion, though, much less reach the entrance to lend their efforts to Caitlin’s in locating the sexual assault victim.
She threaded her way through the ground floor of Stubb’s to the stairs leading down to the private lounge area. The air felt like it was being blasted out of a steam oven, roiled with coagulated body heat untouched by the restaurant’s air conditioning that left Caitlin with the sense she was descending to hell.
Reaching the windowless sub-level floor, she swept her eyes about and thought she heard a whimpering come from a nest of couches, where a male figure hovered over the frame of a woman, lying half on and half off a sectional couch.
“Sir, put your hands in the air and turn around slowly!” Caitlin ordered, drawing her SIG-Sauer nine-millimeter pistol. “Don’t make me tell you twice!”
He started to turn, without raising his hands, and Caitlin fired when she glimpsed something shiny in his grasp. Impact to the shoulder twisted the man around and spilled him over the sectional couch, Caitlin holding her SIG at the ready as she approached his victim.
She heard the whimpering again, making her think more of the sound a dog makes, and followed it toward a tight cluster of connected couch sections, their cushions all stained wet and smelling thickly of beer. Drawing closer while still keeping a sharp eye on the man she’d shot, Caitlin spotted a big smart phone lying just out of his grasp, recognizing it as the object she’d wrongly taken for a gun. Then Caitlin spied a young woman of college age pinned between a pair of couch sections, covering her exposed breasts with her arms, her torn blouse hanging off her and jeans unbuttoned and unzipped just short of her hips.
Drawing closer, Caitlin saw the young woman’s assailant, the man she’d just shot in all likelihood, must’ve yanked them down so violently that he’d split the zipper and torn off the snap or button.
“Ma’am?” she called softly.
The young woman tightened herself into a ball and retreated deeper into the darkness between the couch sections, not seeming to hear her.
“Ma’am,” Caitlin said louder, hovering over the coed while continuing to check on the man she’d shot, his eyes drifting in and out of consciousness, his shirt wet with blood in the shoulder area from the gunshot wound.
Caitlin only wished it was her own attacker lying there, from all those years before when she’d been a coed herself at the Lone Star College campus in West Houston. Some memories suppressed easily, others were like a toothache that came and went. That one was more like a cavity that had been filled, forgotten until the filling broke off and raw nerve pain flared.
Caitlin pushed the couch sections aside and knelt by the young woman, pistol tucked low by her hip so as not to frighten her further.
“I’m a Texas Ranger, ma’am,” she said, in as soothing a voice as she could manage. “I need to get you out of here, and I need you to help me. I need to know if you can walk.”
The young woman finally looked at her, nodded. Her left cheek was swollen badly and one of her arms hung limply from its socket. Caitlin looked back at the downed form of the man she’d already shot once, half hoping he gave her a reason to shoot him again.
“What’s your name? Mine’s Caitlin.”
“Kelly Ann,” the young woman said, her voice dry and cracking.
Caitlin helped her to her feet. “Well, Kelly Ann, I know things feel real bad right now, but trust me when I tell you this is bad as they’re going to get.”
Kelly Ann’s features perked up slightly, her eyes flashing back to life. She tried to take a deep breath, but stopped halfway though.
Caitlin held her around the shoulders in one arm, SIG clutched in her free hand while her eyes stayed peeled on the downed man’s stirring form. “I’m going to stay with you the whole way until we get you some help,” she promised.
The building suddenly felt like a Fun House Hall of Mirrors. Everything distorted, perspective and sense of place lost. Even the stairs climbing back to the ground floor felt different, only the musty smell of sweat mixed with stale perfume and body spray telling her they were the same.
Caitlin wanted to tell Kelly Ann it would be all right, that it would get better, that it would all go away in time. But that would be a lie, so she said nothing at all. Almost to the door, she gazed toward a loose assemblages of frat boys wearing hoodies displaying their letters as they chugged from liquor bottles stripped from the shelves behind the main bar on the first floor. How different were they from the one who’d hurt her, hurt Kelly Ann?
Caitlin wanted to shoot the bottles out of their hands, but kept leading Kelly Ann on instead, out into the night and the vapor spray from the deck gun now being wielded by Cort Wesley to keep their route clear.
“’Bout time!” he shouted down, scampering across the truck’s top to retake his place behind the wheel.
Caitlin was already inside the cab, Kelly Ann clinging tight to her.
“Where to, Ranger?”
“Seton Medical Center, Cort Wesley.”
Before he got going, Caitlin noticed Officer Hilton and several other Austin cops pushing their way through the crowd toward the entrance to Stubb’s.
“Don’t worry, Officer, I got the victim out safe and sound,” she yelled down to him, only half-sarcastically. “But I left a man with a bullet in his shoulder down there for you to take care of.”
“Come again?”
“I’d hurry, if I were you. He’s losing blood.”
Excerpt from Strong to the Bone by Jon Land.  Copyright © 2017 by Jon Land. Reproduced with permission from Jon Land. All rights reserved.


Jon Land
Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of 43 books, including eight titles in the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense), Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller, and Strong Light of Day which won the 2016 International Book Award for Best Thriller-Adventure, the 2015 Books and Author Award for Best Mystery Thriller, and the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Award for Best Mystery. Strong Cold Dead became the fourth title in the series in a row to win the International Book Award in 2017 and about which Booklist said, “Thrillers don’t get any better than this,” in a starred review. Land has also teamed with multiple New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham on a new sci-fi series, the first of which, The Rising, was published by Forge in January of 2017. He is a 1979 graduate of Brown University and lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Connect with Jon:

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


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Wednesday, December 13, 2017



Lee’s Uncle Tío is smitten with the guest chef at a Silicon Valley culinary arts institute. When the woman is arrested for the murder of a fellow chef, a reluctant Lee agrees to help prove Tío’s lady love innocent. But Lee suspects the ambitious, southern belle of a cook might just be guilty. Undercover work at the institute proves to have more pitfalls than whipping up a chocolate soufflé. The killer isn’t done and tries to get Lee out of the way permanently. But just who is the murderer? The accused? One of her two sons? Another inmate from a cooking school with more to hide than dirty dishes? With secrets as plentiful  as sauces, the nagging question remains, if Lee proves the lady chef guilty, will Tío ever forgive her for sending his new love to jail?


Lee Alvarez grew up wanting to be a ballerina. Unfortunately, fate had other plans. At 5’8” she was considered tall for the profession, but more than that, she was a mediocre dancer, at best. She knew if she pursued a career in ballet, she would be relegated to the back line of the chorus. What she was, however, was a crackerjack ferret. She can find anything or anybody just by putting together the facts, no matter how long ago they took place. As the family-run business is Discretionary Inquiries, Inc. an agency specializing in cybercrimes, it was a natural fit. And she loves her job. But solving cybercrimes isn’t all she does. Lee tends to fall over dead bodies when she’s not looking. She hates that.


Lee, how did you first meet your Heather? 

I was minding my own business, thinking about something or other – probably a shoe sale – when I felt this ‘pull.’ I looked up from my mocha macchiato and this woman, we—know—who,  was staring at me over her latte. You never know who you’re going to see in Starbucks these days.

How true is that. Want to dish about her?
Nah, Heather’s okay. Besides, she’d probably pay me back by putting me on a sinking boat. Even though I can swim, I have this shark thing.

Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?
Just my luck. Actually, I’m pretty lucky. Maybe I ended up in this book because the author wanted to show a family of immigrants who made good, who may not get each other all the time, but work their darndest at it, and love each other no matter what happens. She thinks we’re one of the American success stories. You can’t beat that type of good fortune.

Did you have a hard time convincing Heather to write any particular scenes for you?
I spend a lot of my time trying to convince her NOT to write particular scenes for me. I mean thank you very much, but she’s not the one who has to dance in a lizard lounge act in Vegas or shinny over a sailboat’s boom in the middle of the Pacific or as in this book, disguise herself as a dishwasher in a cooking school for eight-hours a day wearing a stupid wig and buckteeth.

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
I like to play with my cats and my husband, Gurn. Not necessarily in that order.

If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
Honestly? Not a thing. I suspect it has the right amount of humor, drama, plot, suspense, and action. Anyway, that’s what Heather told me.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
As most of the continuing characters are my family, thank gawd I like them. My brother, Richard, is the head of IT. He’s a brainiac, but in that techy, nerdy sort of way. And he’s a good guy. Besides, he married Vicki, who gives the Alvarez family a lot of heart. They recently had a baby, my niece, Stephanie. Then there’s Tío, my uncle, retired executive chef of San Jose’s famed Las Mañanitas Restaurant. Everyone should have a Tío in their lives. He gives unconditional love while serving up the best chimichangas ever. My mother, Lila Hamilton Alvarez, believes what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to accessorize. She’s also the CEO of the family business, Discretionary Inquires. Everyone else calls it D. I. Not Mom. She would rather eat broken glass than use initials or nicknames. And do not even think about wearing navy blue with black at any time. You will live to regret it. Behind her back, I call her She Who Must Be Obeyed. We may be poles apart on nearly everything in the world, but we are quite fond of one another. I guess it’s that mother/daughter thing.

Do you have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?
I would like to play the ukulele. But don’t let that get around the neighborhood.

Understandable. Tell us about your best friend.
My best friend is my husband, Gurn Hanson. Maybe that’s why I married him. Yes, he’s got green-grey eyes, a lop-sided smile that just sends shivers through me, but he’s also an ex-navy SEAL, one of the good guys. And he gets me. He brings out the best in me. I tell him everything. He says I bring out the best in him, too. Pretty win-win.

What are you most afraid of?
Sometimes I’m afraid it all might go away. I work really hard to see that it doesn’t, but there are no guarantees in life. Just do your best and hold on tight.

What’s the best trait of another character in the book?
Best: Lila Hamilton Alvarez, my mother, is probably the most perfect woman in the world. She is smart, beautiful, savvy, and never has a bad hair day.
Least: See above.

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?
I wouldn’t change a thing! Not that I have it all, I don’t. But I do have a great job, except when Heather has me chasing the bad guy over rooftops. I have a wonderful, loving family, and I’ve been married for four months to a guy who thinks I’m about as great as I know he is. I even lost two pounds. I mean it doesn’t get much better than that.

Will you encourage Heather to write a sequel?
Could I stop her? Heather’s got a few things going now,  Curtain Call For A Corpse (working title), Book Seven of the Alvarez Family Mystery Series. Then there’s the spin-off Lee Alvarez Novellas based on just Gurn and me. The one out now is called Honeymoons Can Be Murder. She’s working on Marriage Can Be Murder. Let’s face it, she keeps me hopping!


Multi-award winning author, Heather Haven, writes humorous, noir, historical, and romantic mysteries, short stories, and plays. The San Francisco Book Review writes of her Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries set in today’s Silicon Valley, “I found the strongest part . . . is Lee Alvarez herself: strong, competent, and witty, in a growing tradition of tough female detectives . . . All in all, this is a strong work in the genre of the mystery/thriller.” Heather and her husband of thirty-five years are allowed to live in the foothills of San Jose with their two adorable but demanding cats.

Connect with Heather:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter 

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo 

Monday, December 11, 2017



The only way out is a long way down.

Edmund Mottley, Specialist in Discreet Enquiries, is in a precarious position: his old flame Susan needs his help. Her new fiancé is accused of murder, and she wants Mottley to clear his name.
Mottley would rather jump off a cliff than get involved, but when Susan is threatened by a shadowy crime syndicate, Mottley leaps to her aid.

Mottley and Baker, his intrepid valet, pursue the case to an island of otherworldly beauty. But the island is haunted by secrets, treachery, madness, and . . . something more.

Every clue crumbles under their feet, pushing Mottley's powers of deduction – and Baker's loyalty – to the limit. With his own life on the line, can Mottley save Susan before time runs out?

The Mottley & Baker Mysteries are classic whodunnits set in the Golden Age of 1930's traditional detectives. If you like Miss Marple's pastoral puzzles or Albert Campion's rollicking adventures, you'll fall hard for this cozy historical mystery adventure.

Book Details:
Mister Mottley and the Dying Fall

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Incorrigible Publishing (October 27, 2017)
Print Length: 214 pages


Ellen, what's your favorite thing about the writing process?

Bellringers and Easter eggs.

As a story or character develops, sometimes you suddenly realize that a detail, action, or comment connects back to something earlier in the story – or in another book – and “rings the bell” on a theme or relationship that otherwise would not be apparent.

Easter eggs are small allusions and “in-jokes” for readers who love classic mysteries as much as I do. The art of a good Easter egg is to make it subtle enough that it won’t distract or confuse anyone who doesn’t get it, but will tickle anyone who does. You see these in TV or movies sometimes, where a character’s name or a prop in the background makes a pop-culture reference. Nobody refers to it directly, it’s just there. I often play games like this.

The moment when one of these comes together just fills me with glee, and I usually have to interrupt whatever my husband is doing and gloat about it.

He’s very patient with me.

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
Getting it done, keeping at it. It’s so much fun playing around with ideas, and as long as they remain abstract anything could happen. There are infinite possibilities, and you can see them all at once in their splendor.

But rendering those ideas into actual prose that another human can read requires singularity. People read sequentially, so you have to make one real word, one real sentence, one plot, one point of view happen at a time. It’s existentially painful, so you avoid and resist and procrastinate.
The discipline of it is a constant challenge.

What is your writing style?
I love wordplay! Some of my favorite characters are Albert Campion, Lord Peter Wimsey, and Bertie Wooster – insouciant witty chatterboxes. That’s the style I indulge in with the Mister Mottley tales.
At the same time, I write in several different styles. I’ve done some contemporary pieces on the Web, and I ghostwrite nonfiction and marketing copy. For those, I have to boil things down and be concise, so I try to pack as much meaning into each word as possible.

Do you have any secret talents?
I discovered quite by accident that I’m frighteningly accurate with throwing knives. And you know, that story is better when I don’t explain it, so I won’t.

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

Hm. Does Netflix count? If not, then probably BBC America or PBS.

How often do you tweet?

I go through spurts. I’ll be on there quite a lot for a while, and then forget about it for weeks at a time. I mostly use Twitter to connect with other authors and artists, and to follow a few celebrities who are charming.

Stephen Fry is a delight to follow. Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling always say something worth hearing. And I’ve “met” David Suchet through an artist who blogs about the visual design and imagery of the Poirot television series. Mr. Suchet is a very gracious gentleman.

How do you feel about Facebook?

I’m a terrible Facebook addict and spend far too much time on it. I keep personal opinions on my personal timeline rather than my author page, and it’s a good thing. I occasionally get my dander up and get into a comment argument that it would probably be better not to.

What do you love about where you live?

Alabama is a beautiful state full of kind, generous, loving people. I grew up here and moved away for about 25 years, then returned with my own children. I like living near Birmingham because you get the best of all worlds. It’s become quite cosmopolitan since I left, but you also have gorgeous country in easy reach.

We live in a 1950’s style suburban neighborhood where my children can walk to school and bike to friends’ houses. We also have hummingbirds, owls, raccoons, crayfish and mink right in the back yard. And the ballet and symphony are just 20 minutes away. You can’t beat it.

Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?

All of them! Mottley has my ADHD, though he’s a bit worse than I am. Baker is vain and self-seeking, and compelled to prove he’s the absolute best at whatever he’s doing. It usually lands him in a ridiculous position, which is true in my life always.

Other characters in the series are motivated by jealousy, resentment, avarice, ruthlessness, pride, lust, the need for approval, and others – all mine. I don’t think you can write believably about people unless you’re willing to look at your faults and understand them.

What is the most daring thing you've done?

Inwardly terrifying? To hit “send” on my first book, with my actual name on it. Horrors!

Outwardly adventuresome? Probably the summer I spent studying drama at the Royal Academy in London, and then solo-ing around England, Scotland, and France until my money ran out. It was a wonderful experience, and I’d love to do something like it again. But now I have a family, I’d want them with me. It wouldn’t be fun without them.

What’s one of your favorite quotes? 

PG Wodehouse: “There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.”

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

The Hoover Public Library is my local, and they are fantastic. The children’s programs are unbelievably creative and fun. For example, they turned the whole place into an interactive Hogwarts with games and skits for Harry Potter’s birthday. They closed early and the whole staff dressed up – it was unbelievable.

The reference librarians get really excited about helping you look up something obscure. I  never would have solved an important plot twist in Dying Fall without them.

There’s a section where you can check out tabletop games to play at home. And the whole staff has an enormous sense of fun. They put up a “departure lounge” sign once, showing scheduled flights to Middle Earth, Westeros, Tatooine, Pern – and all the flight numbers were Easter eggs from the stories. Marvelous.

What are you working on now?

I always have several projects going at once. The next Mottley stories are a Christmas collection and Book Three. The collection is called Happy Bloody Christmas, and it should be out by the time this tour is live. It features the two Christmas short stories I have out now, plus a new release titled “Mister Mottley Pulls a Cracker.” It’s a fun little set that fleshes out different parts of Mottley’s backstory, and each mystery revolves around a different Christmas tradition.

Book Three is also in the works, with the working title Mister Mottley and the Plushbottom Conundrum. It features a crime that’s upside-down and backwards. So right up Mottley’s street, you know?

Meeting other mystery lovers is the best, so I’m happy to answer reader questions anytime on my Facebook page or by email at

Thanks so much for hosting me, Amy! I come through Louisville a couple of times a year, so maybe we can grab a coffee and talk shop next time I’m up that way.

I'd love to!


Ellen Seltz has worked in the entertainment industry for nearly twenty years, from Miami to New York and points in between. Her primary roles were actress and producer, but she also served as a comedy sketch writer, librettist, voice artist, propmaster, costumer, production assistant, camera operator and general dogsbody. She turned to fiction writing in the vain hope that the performers would do as they were told.

Ellen is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, where she lives with her two daughters and her husband. She enjoys vegetable gardening and vintage-style sewing.

Connect with Ellen:

Website  |  
Blog  |  
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  
Instagram  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Kobo


Saturday, December 9, 2017



The owner of a delightful Southern café tastes the sharp sting of suspicion in this delectable comfort food mystery . . .

It’s fall in Winter Garden, Virginia, and business at Amy Flowers’ Down South Café has never been better. So when struggling beekeeper Stuart Landon asks Amy to sell some of his honey, she’s happy to help. The jars of honey are a sweet success, but their partnership is cut short when Amy discovers Landon’s body outside the café early one morning.

As Amy tries to figure out who could possibly have wanted to harm the unassuming beekeeper, she discovers an ever-expanding list of suspects—and they’re all buzzing mad. She’ll have to use all of her skills—and her Southern charm—to find her way out of this sticky situation . . .

Honey-Baked Homicide (A Down South Café Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Virginia
Berkley (December 5, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1101990827


A few of your favorite things:
Stationery, pens, Funko Pop characters, books, shoes, makeup, planners.
Things you need to throw out:
Old shoes, old makeup, old clothes

Things you need in order to write:
Things that hamper your writing:
Noise, having someone else in the room

Things you love about writing:
Telling a story, having readers resonate, meeting new people, seeing my book in bookstores (even used bookstores—it means someone read it…even if they didn’t consider it a “keeper”).
Things you hate about writing:
Sucky, mean-spirited reviews.

Hardest thing about being a writer: 
Getting the story started, ending the story.

Easiest thing about being a writer:
Developing characters, listening to them talk with each other, watching them grow as the book or series progresses

Favorite foods:
Pasta, bread, chocolate
Things that make you want to throw up:
Shellfish, buttermilk, cottage cheese.

Last best thing you ate:
Pumpkin roll
Last thing you regret eating:
Durian fruit.

Things you’d walk a mile for:
My children.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room:
My children.

Things to say to an author:
I love your books! I love reading (even if it’s not author’s books)!

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book:
I have this idea for a book. You write it, and we’ll share the profits.

Favorite places you’ve been:
Hawaii, Savannah, Tybee Island, Jekyll Island
Places you never want to go to again:

People you’d like to invite to dinner:
Dean Koontz, Mary Higgins Clark, Jude Deveraux, Charlaine Harris.

People you’d cancel dinner on:
Robert Durst, any politician.

Favorite things to do:
Read, watch TV and movies, loom knit, needlework
Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing:

Things that make you happy:
My children, my husband, my pets, appreciation from readers, babies (humans and animals)
Things that drive you crazy:
My children, my husband, my pets, grammatical errors, books/movies/shows that don’t end “right,” lack of manners.


Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. She also writes as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, she writes 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 (from the embroidery series). She’s having a blast writing this new series!

Connect with Gayle:
Webpage: Gayle Leeson  |   Webpage: Gayle Trent  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest Instagram

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Books-A-Million  |  Indiebound