Guest Post & Giveaway: A SMALL TOWN CAN BE #MURDER by Julie Seedorf

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book tours, I am pleased to have Julie Seedorf as my guest today as she celebrates the recent release of A Small Town Can be #Murder.  Julie’s post shares insights into the motivations that shaped her writing over the years.


Thoughts on Writing, Julie Seedorf

I am not an award-winning writer. I don’t know if I could be an award-winning writer. The fact is, I have never applied for any awards and my publishing companies are small publishers that do not have the bank accounts that big publishers have to pay for entry fees. To be honest, neither do I.

jseedorfBut also to be honest, awards are not the reason I write. I write for a variety of reasons. It started with a diary when I was young. I recorded all my hopes, my dreams and my crushes and my first kiss. I was lucky enough that creative writing was part of the curriculum my junior year in high school. Thank you Jim Colletti. It was a class where I got my first A+ and I loved it. I might mention I wasn’t a straight-A student unless I liked a subject. Don’t tell my grandkids.

As I entered my young adult years, I turned to poetry and recorded my feelings that way. Here is an example.

Confusion

Confusion! 
A massive blur of jumbled thoughts
All swirling around in the tiny area of my brain
Until I think I can stand it no more.
Surely I will burst with such confusion.
Round and round and round
Thoughts that don’t make sense.
Words and more words
Twisted and jumbled until the truth is lost.
Was the truth there in the first place?
Questions without answers.
Memories and emotions drowning all reason.
Logic and common sense – unbelievable.
You don’t want to believe them.
Faith and trust lost?
How? Why? Because?
Swirling, turning thoughts
Until finally there is no way to turn.
No one to go to.
Just you
And doubts
And hurt
But still love,
Love ruling the mass of confusion
Until the hurt grows
And the tears fall
And
You pray.

© Julie Seedorf  2020

I left it as is from my notebook written fifty years ago by me, a young woman churning out her feelings at the time.

I can say I dreamed of being an author because my love of books started when I was young thanks to my mother. She loved books too although she was so busy taking care of me, my dad, her mother, plus her brothers and two households. My mother also worked in their shoe store taking care of the bools and the ordering and because of her schedule I never saw her reading anything except the paper, but she always made sure I had books. There were only school libraries in my youth so any books were ones that were purchased for me from the drugstore which carried books.

Again, to be honest I never considered a career in writing seriously  because of fear that I wasn’t good enough, and it was very hard to get a publishing company to accept your work.

Fast forward to my almost senior citizen years. It was possible to self publish with Amazon. It was possible to find small publishing companies that would offer you a contract if they liked your work. On a wing and a prayer I sent my manuscript in and my new career in writing began. I might mention that by that time I had been a newspaper columnist for years because I found I have an opinion and occasionally people wanted to hear it.

I also must admit there are times I am envious of seeing those awards when others post, such as a New York Times best-selling author. I absolutely don’t know how to achieve that and that takes me back to my opening paragraph. I don’t write for awards. I write to make people laugh and take them away from the world. I write because I have wacky ideas and wacky mysteries in my head and they fuel my creativity that helps me get out a depression or sad times. I write because I am passionate about something and I want to touch other people’s lives and make them feel better. I write because I have to still the constant whirling of words in my brain.

Along the way I read and discover award-winning authors that have no awards posted on their books, but they should. It is a sea of books out there and to be found is like looking for a certain grain of sand on the beach with the author hoping when the waves clear the sand, their special grain will sparkle and be noticed.

Don’t feel bad for me. I am where the grace of God has placed me and if I touch one heart or make one person feel better for a short time than that is my award and reward.


About A Small Town Can Be #Murder

image1You have all heard the story: big-city girl moves to small town and lives happily ever after. That’s not the forever-after Angel Delaight found when she moved to Whistle Stop, Minnesota. First her realtor is found dead in her new house, which is also rumored to be haunted. Then homeless animals began showing up at her door, along with a bevy of townspeople who seem to know what she is doing at all times. Not to mention a secret journal turning up during renovation, revealing more secrets hidden in this small community.

Will those secrets from the past put Angel’s life and those of her friends and family in danger? When the big-city girl meets a small town, it can be murder.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a print copy of A Small Town Can Be #Murder.

About the Author

A Bit About Me As An Impassioned Writer

As human beings, we are always a work in progress. From birth to death we live, hurt, laugh, cry, feel, and with all of those emotions we grow as people, as family members, and as friends. I am a dreamer and feel blessed to have the opportunity in my writing to pass those dreams on to others. I believe you are never too old to dream and to turn those dreams into a creative endeavor. I live in rural Minnesota and I am a wife, mother, and grandmother.

I have worn many hats throughout my life such as working as a waitress, nursing home activities person, office manager and finally a computer repair person eventually owning my own computer sales and repair business. I never forgot my love of writing and quit my computer business in 2012 after signing a contract with Cozy Cat Press for Granny Hooks A Crook, the first book in my Fuchsia, Minnesota Series.

Adding five more books to the Fuchsia Series, adding a Brilliant, Minnesota Series and writing a column for local newspapers feeds my writing creativity. This year the Whistle Stop series was born. Small towns have my heart and I hoped to convey that in my new series.

I also dabble a bit in watercolor painting and hope to eventually add pictures to my children’s book series, Granny’s In Trouble.

Oh, and did I tell you I like to be a little bit silly.

Author Links

Purchase Links – Amazon – KoboBarnesandNoble.comSmashwordsApple – Skype Bridge Publishing

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Book Blast & Giveaway: FEED YOUR READER

Is the news getting you down? Are you staying away from people to try to stay healthy? Are you looking for things to help you beat cabin fever?   I don’t know about you but I have been devouring books – my idea of a perfect escape during these stressful times.

KeepCalm_red_3If you are at all like me, you’ll want to stock up on books to weather the storms ahead. So here’s a great way to fill up your eReader and save money, too!

Visit http://www.goddessfish.com/promo/feed-your-reader-bargain-books/ to discover a wide range of books in your favorite genres that are currently only $0.99 or maybe even FREE.  Check them out to see if you find something that tickles your fancy!

There’s also a chance for you to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC – check out the Rafflecopter at the end of the post.

Review: A CONSPIRACY OF BONES by Kathy Reichs

I confess. I am a long time fan of Kathy Reichs’s writing and the Temperance Brennan series.  I haven’t read all the books in the series but I have read a fair number of them, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to read an ARC of A Conspiracy of Bones when it became available on Net Galley.  I wasn’t disappointed.

51gx80rymrlAbout the Book*

It’s sweltering in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Temperance Brennan, still recovering from neurosurgery following an aneurysm, is battling nightmares, migraines, and what she thinks might be hallucinations when she receives a series of mysterious text messages, each containing a new picture of a corpse that is missing its face and hands. Immediately, she’s anxious to know who the dead man is, and why the images were sent to her.

An identified corpse soon turns up, only partly answering her questions.

To win answers to the others, including the man’s identity, she must go rogue, working mostly outside the system. That’s because Tempe’s new boss holds a fierce grudge against her and is determined to keep her out of the case. Tempe bulls forward anyway, even as she begins questioning her instincts. But the clues she discovers are disturbing and confusing. Was the faceless man a spy? A trafficker? A target for assassination by the government? And why was he carrying the name of a child missing for almost a decade?

With help from a number of law enforcement associates including her Montreal beau Andrew Ryan and the always-ready-with-a-smart-quip, ex-homicide investigator Skinny Slidell, and utilizing new cutting-edge forensic methods, Tempe draws closer to the astonishing truth.

But the more she uncovers, the darker and more twisted the picture becomes…

*from Amazon webpage

My Review

This well written thriller features Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist, who is drawn into a puzzling case by external forces, despite being effectively shut out by the woman in charge of the Charlotte ME’s office. Although coping with some major health issues, her sense of determination remains strong and she works the case on the sly, with help from her friends.  The fast-paced plot  is complex and integrated a fair number of twists and surprises before the mystery is resolved.

In this book, the author shows us a more vulnerable side of Temperance, while highlighting just enough of her past experiences to help us understand how her character was shaped.  I think it’s amazing how Reichs has managed to create a character that continues to develop and evolve, even 19 books into the series. Kudos to an exceptional author.

FTC disclosure:  I received an advanced review copy of this book prior to its publication.  This has not affected the content of my review.

Spotlight: BLUEBERRY COBBLER BLACKMAIL by Judi Rath

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As part of a book tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to shine the spotlight on a new release from Judi Rath –  Blueberry Cobbler Blackmail (A Cast Iron Skillet Mystery).

About the Book

BLUEBERRY-COBBLER-BLACKMAIL coverWelcome to Leaven—oh wait—Santo Domingo, where DEATH takes a DELICIOUS turn!
Family bombshells, sibling rivalries, blackmail, and a trip that could be deadly…and the new year has only just begun! After a disastrous Thanksgiving, Jolie Tucker is beside herself and feeling the walls closing in around her. She feels like she needs to escape Leavensport before she loses her mind. She unexpectedly gets her wish when her best friend and co-owner of Cast Iron Creations, Ava Martinez, gets a terrifying email revealing that her papa, Thiago, is in danger in Santo Domingo. The girls are off on a dangerous adventure in new territory. Will they be able to save the day before danger finds them?

About the Author

Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her seven cats.

Jodi_RathAuthor Links:

Purchase Links: Amazon    B&N    Kobo 

Click here to check out additional posts on the tour for reviews, guest posts, and more.

Release Spotlight, Review & Giveaway: PAWS FOR MURDER by Scarlett English

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As part of a book tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual  Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading Paws for Murder, the first book in the new Barking Mad cozy mystery series by Scarlett English.

About the Book

Welcome to Adlebury where village life can be downright deadly.

PawsForMurder - Scarlett EnglishVeterinarian Petronella Knight seems to have it all. A job she loves, good friends, and patients who adore her. But when she gets into an argument with dog breeder Gladys Harrington, and she finds the woman dead, she also finds herself accused of murder.

Ella will need all her friends, including the new and very handsome American policeman, and all her sharpest sleuthing skills to figure out who murdered the dog breeder before another dead body pops up.

Paws for Murder contains one enthusiastic amateur detective with a penchant for rescuing animals, a guard duck called George, a large amount of homemade gooseberry wine, and a very confused American who has never met an English village quite like this one.

You’d be Barking Mad to pass this one by.

My Review

Set in a quaint English village, this mystery has all of the elements of the typical cozy mystery – including a likable amateur sleuth, a charming detective, and a victim that is hard not to dislike.  And animals. Lots of animals.  Petronella is a vet and we are treated to a glimpse into all that goes with that job alongside her efforts to prove her innocence and identify the killer.  The main characters are well developed and the plot moved along at a nice pace, with interesting developments as the story unfolded. With a sprinkling of humor and a  healthy dose of romantic suspense, Paws for Murder makes a delightful start to a new cozy mystery series.

FTC disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

giveawayEnter the rafflecopter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

Scarlett English is a crazy cat lady who likes solving mysteries. Or actually, make that a dog lady. Much to her chagrin, the police have never sought to consult her, which is why there seems to be so much unsolved crime. Especially—surprisingly enough—in the small English village where she lives. So, armed with curiosity, a penchant for taking in strays, a love of homemade wine and a good gossip, she puts her detecting talents to good use murdering her imaginary friends and neighbors and solving the cases one story at a time.

Purchase Link – Amazon

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Review & Excerpt: DANGEROUS GROUND by Susan Hunter

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As part of a book tour organized by Partners in Crime, I recently had the pleasure of reading Dangerous Ground by Susan Hunter, the sixth book in this talented author’s Leah Nash Mystery series.

About the Book

dangerous-ground-susan-hunter-NEWA Murder Among Friends …

Everyone is anxious to connect with actor Ryan Malloy when he returns to town for his 15-year high school reunion. Everyone except crime writer Leah Nash. She doesn’t have many fond memories of Himmel High’s golden boy. But it turns out she’s not the only one who isn’t a fan. Before the weekend is over, Ryan Malloy is murdered.

The hard-headed but soft-hearted Leah is unwillingly drawn into investigating his death by the pleading of Ryan’s terminally ill mother. She soon discovers that Ryan’s self-absorbed journey through life trampled on the dreams of a number of people. His old girlfriend, his best friend, his own brother, a local businessman—there’s no shortage of suspects—or secrets. But the solution eludes Leah, until the past and the present collide in a dangerous confrontation that threatens one life and ends another.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post to read an excerpt from Dangerous Grounds.

My Review

Leah Nash is a no-nonsense woman with a strong drive to make sure the actual culprit is charged with murder instead of the most obvious fall guy.  Her background in journalism makes her a skilled investigator and she’s not shy about asking questions. As she learns more about Ryan, a surprisingly wide range of persons with a motive for murder emerge.

Leah’s personality shines through in this first-person narrative – including her doubts about herself.    The plot twists kept me wondering, and the final resolution was pretty much a surprised.   A well-written, fast-paced, and enjoyable read.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance reader copy of this book as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review. 

About the Author

dangerous-ground-susan-hunter-authorSusan Hunter is a charter member of Introverts International (which meets the 12th of Never at an undisclosed location). She has worked as a reporter and managing editor, during which time she received a first place UPI award for investigative reporting and a Michigan Press Association first place award for enterprise/feature reporting.
Susan has also taught composition at the college level, written advertising copy, newsletters, press releases, speeches, web copy, academic papers, and memos. Lots and lots of memos. She lives in rural Michigan with her husband Gary, who is a man of action, not words.

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

Catch Up With Susan Hunter On:

LeahNashMysteries.comGoodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

I parked my bike just inside the cemetery gates. It took only a few steps down the tree-lined path for the heat and humidity of a mid-summer Wisconsin day to slide away into the cool dark shade. Overhead, the soft murmur of thousands of leaves stirring in the light breeze accompanied me as I walked slowly toward my sister’s grave. Both of my sisters are buried in the cemetery just a few miles outside of Himmel, Wisconsin. My father is as well. But today it was Annie I’d come to visit.

My heart beat a little faster as I neared the gravesite. I’m not afraid of the dead. It’s the memories they leave behind that haunt me. Quiet Annie with her soft voice and big blue eyes, too shy to join the other laughing, shouting kindergarteners at recess—but the first to run over to comfort a little boy struggling not to cry on the first day. Imaginative Annie, commandeering our wide front porch as a sailing ship for her and her cat, Mr. Peoples, to travel around the world. Kind-hearted Annie, sharing her Halloween candy with me when I’m forced to surrender my own treats as penalty for talking back. Sweet, brave, compassionate, eight-year-old Annie, who ran into a burning house to save Mr. Peoples twenty-two years ago, and never came back.

Over all the years since, people—my mother, my aunt, my therapist (yes, I went that route once), my best friend—have reassured me that her death wasn’t my fault, that I was just a child. But, I was older. I should have been watching over her. I should have seen her slipping back to the house after we’d all escaped. In my deep heart’s core, I can’t ever forget that.

Now and then, and always on her birthday, I go to the cemetery to see her. I know that she isn’t really there. But her grave is an anchoring spot for me. I catch her up on the good, the bad, and the ugly happenings in my life. She knows what hurts me, and she knows what frightens me—secrets I don’t share with anyone else. I tell her what our mother is up to, and how others she knew in life are doing. I say all the things to her that I would if she were still here. I try to make up for the fact that I’m alive, and she isn’t. But, of course, I never can.

When I’m talking to her at the cemetery, it feels as though she can really hear me. And I know that she answers. Not right there, at the grave, but later, in unexpected ways. Sometimes, I hear Annie speak to me through a chance remark a stranger makes, or a phrase that leaps out at me from a book, or a sudden flash of insight on a problem I’m wrestling with. I don’t share that belief with very many people. If I did, I might be forced to resign my membership in the Doubting Thomas Society, to which all good journalists should belong. But I can’t accept that those occurrences are just coincidental. I really can’t.

So, on the anniversary of her birth, once again I sat down on the bench in front of her grave and told her how sorry I was that she had died. That I hadn’t saved her. That I still missed her. And then I told her what was really going on in the seemingly successful life of Leah Nash, former small-town reporter, current true crime author, and soon-to-be business failure.

***

When I say I talk to Annie, I mean that literally. I have a one-sided, out-loud conversation with her, though only when I’m sure I’m alone. Some people already think I’m crazy. No need to give them additional proof. On this particular day, I had a serious problem weighing on my mind.

Not long before, I had made what seemed, at the time, like a brilliant decision. The Himmel Times Weekly, the paper where I’d started out in journalism, and where I’d found a home again after a self-inflicted career injury, was closing. I decided to buy it. I asked a wealthy, community-minded, local attorney, Miller Caldwell, to invest with me. And then I asked a lot of other people—reporters, an editor, stringers, office and sales staff—to work very hard, for very little money, in the hope that together we could keep the Himmel Times alive.

It was exhilarating at first. But it had become an increasing source of anxiety for me. Just as we were getting off the ground, Grantland County Online, a digital-only news site (and I use the term “news” loosely), had gotten a major infusion of capital and a new publisher. Now GO News, as it’s more commonly known, was kicking our butt.
“The scariest thing, Annie,” I said, “is that we’re barely keeping our heads above water, while GO News keeps getting bigger. They don’t have the expenses we do—no print edition, no delivery costs, and they don’t spend a lot of staff time fact-checking. Plus, they started Tea to GO. Did you know that the cool kids say, ‘spill the tea,’ when they mean ‘what’s the gossip?’

“Tea to GO is full of ‘What married school official was seen in Milwaukee with a very attractive staff member last Thursday night? Did we say late, last Thursday night?’ That kind of garbage. It’s almost all blind items—the better to avoid lawsuits, my dear. But people are eating it up. Every time you go into the Elite Café, someone is trying to figure out who the latest gossip is about.”

I paused for a bit of a wallow in self-pity. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t tried to shake things up at the Times, to get us moving ahead, but so far nothing I’d done had made much difference.

“We have a good team. Miguel is much happier since he gave up the managing editor job. He really didn’t like bossing people. And Maggie McConnell is doing great in that spot. She’s got the instincts, the skills, and forty-five years in the news business behind her. If she could only spin straw out of gold, she’d be perfect. But since she can’t, we’re making do with a budget so lean it might as well be made out of turkey burger.

“I gave Allie Ross—you remember, I told you about her. She’s the high school kid we’ve been using as a stringer. Anyway, I gave her a part-time job for the summer in the office. She’s doing the routine stuff, obits and inside pages copy—weddings, anniversaries, club news. She’s got promise, but she’s only fifteen. Troy, the other reporter besides Miguel, is a little bit of a suck-up—and his news judgment isn’t quite there yet. Still, he’s a hard worker. The stringers are a pretty mixed bag.

“Now, here’s a twist I bet you didn’t see coming. I hired Mom to take April Nelson’s place as office manager. I know, I know, it’s a dicey move. But she’s smart, and efficient, and she gets the job done. Plus, she comes cheap. It’s been a little challenging, I admit. Remember when I used to get mad at her and say, ‘You’re not the boss of me!’ and she’d send me to my room?

“Well, now I’m the boss of her, only I don’t get to send her to her room. Yes, OK, I’m not supposed to be doing the day-to-day. That’s Maggie’s job. I understand that. But I can’t just hide away in my office and write my next book if the paper is falling apart two floors below me, can I?

“Everybody took a leap of faith when we reopened the Times, and everyone is putting everything they have into it. I can’t let them down. I have to find a way to keep us afloat. I just didn’t know it would be so hard, Annie.”

I paused for a breath before I wrapped things up.

“And then there’s Gabe. I don’t know. I like him as well—no, probably better than—anyone I’ve gone out with in a long time. He makes me laugh, and he’s really smart. And he likes strong women who speak their minds. In my experience, a lot of men don’t. So what’s the problem, right? Well, it’s not exactly a problem. It’s more that I’m afraid a problem might be coming. Lately, it feels like he’s pushing me a little, like for a commitment or something. Can’t we just enjoy each other? Can’t we just be without getting all serious, and defining things, and making plans? I don’t want to change things. That’s when things go bad, when you try to change them.”

I slumped back against the bench with a sigh. Usually, when I lay everything out to Annie, it makes the issues seem a little more manageable. This time it all still felt overwhelming.

Then, a voice spoke.

***

Fortunately for my mental health, it wasn’t Annie’s. I turned and looked behind me.

“Coop! How long have you been standing there?” I asked, trying to remember exactly what I’d said out loud. It’s not that Coop and I have major secrets. He’s my best friend, after all. Still, I don’t tell him everything I tell Annie.

“Long enough,” he said with a grin that didn’t offer me much comfort. I tried to move the conversation away from my chat with Annie, particularly the Gabe part.

“What are you doing here?”

“Your mom said you were here. I called your cell, but it didn’t go through.”

“Yeah. It’s a dead zone—pun totally intended—in the cemetery, except for the hill. What did you want?”

“Nothing. I brought something for Annie.”

I looked down at his right hand and saw that he carried a small pot of pink flowers. Pink was Annie’s favorite color. Tears sprang to my eyes. I quickly blinked them away.

“That’s so nice. Why?”

He shrugged. “I know what today is.”

I’m all about keeping my tough outer shell polished, but I was so touched, I couldn’t keep up the facade. “You’re a pretty great friend, you know that?”

He smiled, but he looked embarrassed, and tried to cover it by moving to put the flowers next to Annie’s headstone.

“Did you really come just to put flowers on Annie’s grave?”

“No, not just for Annie. I took some to Rebecca, too.” He was kneeling, positioning the flowers, with his back to me. I couldn’t see his expression.

“Oh.”

Rebecca had been Coop’s wife and my nemesis until she was killed last year. I wasn’t happy that Coop had lost someone he loved, but I couldn’t pretend I was sorry she was gone. She’d done everything she could to break up our twenty-year friendship and came close to succeeding. I couldn’t think of anything nice to say about her. So, I employed the Thumper rule, and didn’t say anything.

Coop apparently didn’t want to get into the subject of Rebecca either, because as he stood and turned to me, he said, “I’ll walk out with you. I’ve got my truck. We can throw your bike in the back and you can ride home with me.”

“Yes, please. I didn’t realize it was so hot. I just about sweated to death pedaling out here.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” he said, taking in my damp, bedraggled hair, slipping from its hair clip, and the beads of moisture coalescing into a river of sweat running down the side of my forehead. “You kind of look like you just took a shower.” He sniffed the air, “Except you don’t have that shower-fresh scent.”

“Shut up,” I said. “I’m a head-sweater from way back. Deal with it.” I smiled though, because there’s something very nice and very easy being with a person who really doesn’t care how you look—or in the present situation—smell.

We walked together in companionable silence, until I’d decided he hadn’t heard any of my one-sided conversation with Annie. That dream died in the next minute.

“So, what’s going on with you and Gabe? He’s a nice guy, Leah. You’re not getting ready to toss him overboard, too, are you?”

“No. Why would you say that? And what do you mean by ‘too’?”

“You really want to go there?” He cocked an eyebrow. It’s a not very funny running joke between Coop and my mother that I always find a reason to cut my romances short.

“No, I don’t. I thought you didn’t believe in illegal surveillance, and what do you call lurking around cemeteries where people are having a private conversation? It’s nothing. Really.”

He looked at me for a second, but all he said was, “OK.”

Our conversation was cut off as a tall woman in her fifties, her hair pulled back and hanging in a long, gray braid down her back, appeared and abruptly crossed the path in front of us.

“Hello, Marcy,” I said.

She looked up as though surprised we were there.

“Leah. Coop.” She nodded but didn’t stop to talk. We knew where she was going. To the top of the hill on which sat a small granite building that resembled an ancient Greek temple. The family mausoleum held Marcy’s grandparents, her own mother, and Marcy’s baby daughter, Robin. One day, it would hold Marcy, too.

We watched in silence as she reached the building, pulled a key out of her pocket, unlocked the door, and slipped inside, like a ghost gliding through a wall. It had been sixteen years since Marcy White’s baby had died, and she still came every week. People said she brought a different book each time and read it to Robin. They said it like it was something weird, or even crazy. Not me, though. I understood why she did it.

“You know what, Coop?” I asked, as we continued on down the path.

“What?”

“I’m calling bullshit on death.”

***
Excerpt from Dangerous Ground by Susan Hunter. Copyright 2019 by Susan Hunter. Reproduced with permission from Susan Hunter. All rights reserved..

 

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Guest Post, Release Spotlight & Giveaway: SOUTHERN DOUBLE CROSS by Caroline Fardig

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours to mark the release of Southern Double Cross (A Southern  B&B Mystery), I am pleased to have Caroline Fardig as my guest today to share her thoughts on how her writing environment affects her writing.


The Writing Environment and Its Effect on Writing – by Caroline Fardig

The more I write, the more I realize that my writing environment can directly influence my writing style, tone, and even the direction my story takes. If I’m looking for inspiration or simply a change-up from the norm, I try changing my view to change my point-of-view.

Home office
caroline-headshots-2015-10-06-0008My home office is my main writing environment. I just redecorated, and before it was a fairly drab space with not a lot going on in the way of girly bling. I think I’ve remedied that now, so it’s a lot cheerier for me, and I think my writing has benefitted from that. I think of the tone of most of my writing as “fun,” so a splashy office space is a must. I have Rodney White’s “Nothing to Dream” on the wall (reminding me to keep dreaming big), and other inspirational art I’ve picked up along the way. My favorite piece, though, is the full-length version of the cover art for Mug Shot by the amazingly talented Niloufer Wadia.

Outside
My second favorite place to write is outside, preferably on my front porch. My home is secluded by trees, and it’s extremely quiet, so if I need calm and serenity for a certain scene I’m writing, this is the place. If I’m writing a scene that takes place outside, it’s helpful as well, because I can better express how the wind or sun feels or what noises are present if I’m actually there. I feel that experiencing my environment as I’m writing about it adds depth and truth to my fictional worlds.

My local coffeehouse (And when I say “my,” I mean the two that I own!)
My dream for a long time has been to own my own coffeehouse, and this year I was lucky enough to make it a reality. I have some great partners, and I’ve learned so much in the last six months I think my head might explode! I have always loved to write in coffeehouses, and now I love to sit down and write in mine…as long as the place doesn’t get so busy I have to abandon my writing and roll up my sleeves and help! Anyway, back to the point—I love to write in the midst of a crowd, sometimes. If the place gets too packed and loud, it’s not always easy to concentrate. But there’s something about peoplewatching that helps me to better describe characters and their quirks. There’s something inherently “writer-y” about squatting at a coffeehouse for hours, sipping your latte in that pseudo-bohemian environment. At least for me, it makes me slightly introspective, which is something that is needed for writing a serious scene.

The Beach
My family has gone to the beach every year for the past decade, and each time I come home with new story plans. There’s something about hours of doing nothing but staring out across the beautiful, rhythmic ocean that inspires the romantic in me. The funny part is that I’ve only set one scene at a beach, but it was inspiring just the same. I definitely don’t take my laptop, because actually writing something down would seem like way too much work on vacation, but I can formulate an entire plot in my head over the course of the week.

My Car
Let’s be clear. I’m not actually writing in my car. That would be a big no-no. However, when I have a novel in the beginning stages (plot formulation, outline, first draft), I find that cranking up the tunes and letting my mind wander while I drive is the perfect way to get into the feel of the plot and also to come up with my characters’ personalities. Basically, while driving—besides paying attention to the road of course—there’s not a whole lot to do, unless you’re in heavy traffic. I live in a rural area, so driving isn’t too worrisome for me, and because of that, I’m able to let my thoughts run free and allow the story to play itself out.

And now, I must get back to writing! Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today!


About Southern Double Cross

SOUTHERN-DOUBLE-CROSScoverA fundraising party goes south in a delightful cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Southern Discomfort and the Java Jive novels

Quinn Bellandini is ready to get back to running her grandfather’s B&B in Savannah, Georgia, with her sister, Delilah—but first, she has to coordinate a fundraising event at the house of local philanthropists, with the help of her boyfriend, Tucker Heyward. Everything is running smoothly until Quinn’s friend, Pepper Fox, frantically calls her with the horrifying news that the lady of the house was found dead. Pepper’s brother, who was working as a caterer, is soon charged with her murder.

Pepper knows her brother didn’t commit the crime and asks Quinn, now a veteran detective with two solved murders under her belt, to prove his innocence. Quinn can’t bear to see her friend upset and enlists Delilah and Tucker to help investigate.

The invite list quickly turns into the suspect list as tensions mount and old feuds are brought to light. Could Quinn have hired the only catering company in Georgia that throws in a murder on the side?

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a digital copy of  Southern Double Cross from the author.

About the Author

CAROLINE FARDIG is the USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR of the Java Jive Mysteries series and the Lizzie Hart Mysteries series. Fardig’s BAD MEDICINE was named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Connect with Caroline:

Purchase Links:  Amazon  B&N   Kobo 

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Review & Giveaway: BITTER ALPINE by Mary Daheim

BITTER-ALPINE-MURDER-2-184

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read Bitter Alpine, a new release by Mary Daheim.

About the Book

New year, new murder . . . Emma Lord is on the case when death finds its way back to the wintry mountain town of Alpine.

BITTER-ALPINEAfter a relatively calm and cozy holiday season, neither Emma Lord, editor and publisher of The Alpine Advocate, nor her husband, Sheriff Milo Dodge, are surprised when their new year gets off to a rocky start. A woman’s body has been found in a squalid motel. Her driver’s license shows that Dawn Purvis was in her late thirties and lived in Weaverville, California—and the only connection between that town and Alpine is their gold-mining and logging origins. When they discover that Dawn’s room reservation was open-ended, Emma, Milo, and the ever-inquisitive Advocate receptionist, Alison Lindahl, are more than mildly curious. And never mind that the youthful Alison is a bit distracted by the new county extension agent’s virile good looks. She can still sleuth while she stalks her newest crush.

But that’s not all the news that’s unfit to print. There’s something strange about the older couple who have moved into the cabin down the road that was once owned by a murder victim. The elderly wife seems anti-social. There’s got to be a reason, which Emma, Milo, and Alison intend to find out—even if it puts them in deadly danger.’

My Review

Emma Lord runs the local newspaper in a quaint resort town in Washington state, giving her a natural instinct for tracking down a story and rooting out the truth about the identity of the deceased and the reasons that led to her demise.  Emma is married to the Sheriff, who sometimes shares info and sometimes doesn’t.  This was the first time I read anything by this author, and perhaps I would have appreciated the characters more if I had read earlier books and they had been “old friends” of mine – despite the sprinkling of references to previous murders/cases in Emma’s past.  Although the pace of the narrative was steady, I’d have liked to see more tension/action. This is a read mostly likely to be enjoyed by fans of the Emma Lord mysteries who will enjoy the trip down memory lane.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Giveaway

Click to enter a rafflecopter giveaway for chance to win a digital copy of Bitter Alpine.

About the Author

MARY-DAHEIMMary Daheim is the author of the Alpine mystery series. A Seattle native with a degree in communication from the University of Washington, she realized at an early age that getting a book published might elude her for years, so she began her writing career working on daily newspapers. The mother of three daughters, she lives in a century-old house in her hometown.

Author Website – https://www.marydaheimauthor.com/
Purchase Links – Amazon  –   B&N   –   Kobo

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Review & Giveaway: LATE FOR DINNER by M.K. Scott

the-way-over-the-hill-gang-banner_orig

As part of a virtual book tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours, today’s post highlights M.K. Scott’s The Way Over the Hill Gang mystery series, and includes my review of the first book in the series – Late for Dinner.

About the Book

latefordinner-lrg-400x600_origMarcy Collins proved her investigative skills in the field time and time again, but after an accident leaves her disabled, she’s forced into early retirement in a senior convalescent center. Although her mind and body may not be what they used to be, her steadfast determination to fight crime and advocate for victims continues.

When her well-meaning former partner is assigned with helping to keep her mind agile, he unknowingly inspires her to search for clues in a long-forgotten cold case. Before he knows what’s happening, Marcy assembles a team of sharp-eyed, witty, and often cantankerous senior sleuths to bring a criminal to justice and help her regain some of what she thought she’d lost for good.

Follow the former detective and her team of unconventional sleuths as they dig through the clues and wind their way down a treacherous path of deception, tomfoolery, and murder!

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My Review

The name of the series is great, it also an accurate description of the ragtag team of amateur sleuths put together by Marcy, a former police detective.  Marcy, on the other hand, is not a senior citizen; she has been sidelined due to injuries and is recuperating in retirement home of sorts.  Trying to solve cold cases is her way of staying in the game.  The seniors are thrilled to have something exciting to do, with each of them making their own contribution to solving the case.  Just goes to show the benefits of pooling the diverse perspectives and experiences that  come with maturity.

The result was an entertaining read, with a somewhat surprising conclusion.  I look forward to following the “gang” as they take on more cold cases in the future.

FTC disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher. This has not affected the content of this review.

About The Way Over the Gang Series

The adventures of The Way Over the Hill Gang continue in the following books:

lateforbingo-lrg-400x600_origLate for Bingo 

The Way over the Hill Gang is back at it again! This time their mission is to find justice for a slain single mother, but this cold case proves to be more complicated than they initially believe.

With little to go on, no resources, and a limited amount of time to search for answers, can they crack this long-forgotten case and bring the murderer to justice?

Late for Shuffleboard

lateforshuffleboard-lrg-400x600_origThe senior sleuths are hot on the trail of a veteran’s murderer and a missing dog in a cold case that’s raising eyebrows and causing a stir in their tightknit community.

The clock is ticking. Only a few short days before the victim’s home is razed and all the potential evidence is wiped clean.  With new complications at every turn, the Senior Sleuths feel the heat as the impossible deadline approaches.

Can they close this case before the truth is buried for good?

Late for Square Dancing

lateforsquaredancing-kindle-1-400x600_origA missing woman. A surprising suspect. A curious conundrum.

The senior sleuths have a knack for sniffing out trouble, but when a missing woman cold case falls in their laps, all hands must be on deck to solve it. Unfortunately, this case hits a little too close to home, and quickly becomes an active case with dire consequences if they’re not careful.

To complicate matters, Heloise is planning an authentic barn dance for the residents of Greener Pastures Convalescent Center. She needs the senior sleuths’ help, and that means they must forgo their investigation.

The group will have to employ their best tactics to stay under the radar to root out the true culprit and avoid a barn dance disaster.

About the Author

M. K. Scott is the husband and wife writing team behind The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries. Morgan K Wyatt is the general wordsmith, while her husband, Scott, is the grammar hammer and physics specialist. He uses his engineering skills to explain how fast a body falls when pushed over a cliff and various other felonious activities. The Internet and experts in the field provide forensic information, while the recipes and B and B details require a more hands on approach. Morgan’s daughter, who manages a hotel, provides guest horror stories to fuel the plot lines. The couple’s dog, Chance, is the inspiration behind Jasper, Donna’s dog. Murder Mansion is the first book in The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries. Overall, it is a fun series to create and read.

Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Giveaway

Click here to visit the tour page and enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card and follow other stops on the tour for additional reviews, and more.

Review & Giveaway: THE NUTCRACKER CONSPIRACY by Lauren Carr

Nutcracker Conspiracy Tour Banner New Release

As part of a virtual tour organized by IREAD Book Tours, I was recently offered the opportunity to read and review a pre-release copy of The Nutcracker Conspiracy.  Having read and enjoyed previous books by Lauren Carr, I was happy to sign up for this tour.

Recently released, The Nutcracker Conspiracy is the fourth book  in the Thorny Rose Mystery Series.

About the Book

The-Nutcracker-Conspiracy-AmazonThree years ago, the nation gasped in horror when the President of the United States barely escaped an assassination attempt that left two dead—the vice president’s wife and assassin. Even after numerous investigations proving otherwise, conspiracy theorists still argue that the would-be assassin was acting on orders from the CIA, FBI, and every federal agency within a hundred miles of the capital and the government was involved in a massive cover-up.

An aspiring author, Dean Conway is the last person with whom Lieutenant Commander Murphy Thornton USN wanted to spend his Saturday afternoon when they end up at the same wedding reception table. While their wives tend to bridesmaid duties, Murphy is trapped listening to Dean’s latest unfinished work-in-project—completing the manuscript of an unknown investigative journalist who’d disappeared months earlier.

“She was number twelve you know,” Dean says.

“Twelve?” Murphy asks while looking for someone, anyone, to offer him an escape.

“Twelve witnesses connected to or investigating the assassination have died either in an accident or suicide.”

Two days later, Dean Conway dies suddenly, but not before sending a text message to Murphy. “13.”

About the Thorny Rose Mystery Series

The previous books in the Thorny Rose Series:

  • Kill and Run
    Kill and RunFive women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.The case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, the Lovers in Crime join newlyweds Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday to shift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives of the Thorny Rose uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?
  • A Fine Year for Murder
    Fine Year for MurderAfter ten months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in the darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family while visiting family at the winery near-by, and suppressed the memory.
    Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?
  • Murder by Perfection
    murderperfecBeware: Perfection has a dark side!
    Frustrated with their busy schedules, Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday attempt to find togetherness by scheduling a weekly date night. The last thing Jessica Faraday expected for her date night was to take a couple’s gourmet cooking course at the Stepford Kitchen Studio, owned by Chef Natalie Stepford―the model of perfection in looks, home, and business.When Natalie ends up dead and Murphy goes missing, the Thorny Rose detectives must peel back the layers of Natalie Stepford’s life to discover that the pursuit of perfection can be deadly.

All of the books in the series are available on Amazon.

My Review

Another well written cozy thriller featuring the Thorntons and the Faradays.  Why do I call it a cozy thriller? It has all the elements of page-turning thriller – an intricate plot, tension, action, and such – with the antics of several quirky canines, including a  kleptomaniac and a TV remote hog,  providing a light, humorous touch not typically found in thrillers or hard-boiled mysteries.

Of course, the plot wouldn’t be same without the two-legged characters. Jessica’s loyalty to her friends is admirable and is reflected in her determination to prove her friends’ innocence of wrong doing.  A naval officer,  Murphy is clearly devoted both to his wife and to his job.  He is skeptical about the conspiracy theory put forth by Dean, however as events unfold he realizes that something is up – not everything is what it seems to be.  He has ties within different branches of the intelligence community and leverages those ties in his search for the truth. Both Jessica and Murphy are good, likable people and it was nice to spend time with them again.

The author did a great job of creating an intricate story, with interesting twists and  subplots.  A very enjoyable read.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an Advance Review Copy of this book from the publisher.  This has not affected the content of this review. 

If you’d like to read my review of Kill and Run (the first book in the series), click here.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of Lauren Carr, author of THE NUTCRACKER CONSPIRACY.

About the Author

2018_lauren_carr_picLauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

​A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram 

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