Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: THE FRIDAY NIGHT MYSTERY CLUB

It’s always nice to hear about a promising new cozy mystery series. And even nicer when the author, Joanna Campbell Slan, takes the time to visit my blog as she celebrates the release of The Friday Night Mystery Club and reminisces about life in the1980s.

Remembering the 1980s by Joanna Campbell Slan

The Friday Night Mystery Club (FNMC) is the first book in a new flagship series for me. Unlike my other two cozy mysteries, FNMC is set in 1980s rather than contemporaneous times. Of course, I’ve lived through the 80s, but I have to admit, I’d forgotten a lot about life back then. It feels strange to research a time I should know, but I’ve had to do exactly that. Here are a few of the topics that I’ve remembered/researched:

  • Car phones – Not the slim cell phones we now use, but honking big things bolted to the floor of our cars.
  • Mazda RX-7 – This is my protagonist’s car, and it’s one I owned back then. They no longer sell these in the US.
  • Beepers – Because we didn’t have cell phones, we carried beepers that would display the phone numbers of people who wanted a call-back.
  • Phone answering machines – These typically had a small cassette tape recorder inside. They were not portable. To access your messages, you had to be there, literally.
  • 1-800 lines – Back then, you had to pay extra for long-distance phone calls. An 800 number line allowed people to phone the number free of charge to them…but not to you.
  • ERA – The Equal Rights Amendment was a big deal at the time as women strove to codify their rights to equality under the law.
  • Career women hurdles – Living as we do now in the “Me, Too” era, it’s easy to forget that back in the 1980s, women who worked outside the home were a brave new species.
  • Free love – Helen Gurley Brown had published Sex and the Single Girl, a paean to sex without strings.
  • AIDS – At first considered a problem only for gays, the world quickly learned anyone could die from this disease.

These are only a few topics that I’ve considered as I write my new series, The Friday Night Mystery Club. If you, too, have lived through the 80s, I bet you have all sorts of thoughts about the changes we’ve seen. I’m curious…will you share them with me?

About The Friday Night Mystery Club

Decatur, Illinois/1986 – A nasty divorce leaves Cragan Collins with a mountain of bills and her grandmother to support. She takes a job as an ad salesperson for The Gazette. The market is tough, but Cragan finds a mentor in business reporter, Robert Smithson. One icy January day, Robert is found dead in a city park. His murder is dismissed as gay-on-gay crime. Cragan asks The Friday Night Mystery Club to find justice for Robert. Will Cragan’s quest for the truth land her on the obituary page?

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card from the author.

About the Joanna Campbell Slan

Joanna is a New York Times Bestselling, USA Today Bestselling, and Amazon Bestselling author as well as a woman prone to frequent bursts of crafting frenzy, leaving her with burns from her hot glue gun and paint on her clothes. And the mess? Let’s not even go there.

Otherwise, Joanna’s a productive author with more than 80 written projects to her credit. Her non-fiction work includes how to books, a college textbook for public speakers, and books of personal essays (think Chicken Soup for the Soul). Currently, she writes six fiction series: The Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series (Agatha Award Finalist, contemporary, St. Louis setting, crafting), the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series (contemporary, Florida setting, DIY, and recycling), the Jane Eyre Chronicles (Daphne du Maurier Award Winner, 1830s England, based on Charlotte Brontë’s classic), the Sherlock Holmes Fantasy Thrillers (late 1800s, based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s books), the Tai Chi Mystery Series (featuring a mature female amateur sleuth!) and the Friday Night Mystery Series (set in Decatur, IL in 1986 with a spunky female heroine.)

A former TV talk show host, college teacher, and public relations specialist, Joanna was one of the early Chicken Soup for the Soul contributors. She won a Silver Anvil for her work on the original FarmAid concert to benefit farmers.

In her ongoing quest never to see snow again, Joanna lives with her husband and their Havanese puppy, Jax, on an island off the coast of Florida. You can email her at jcslan@joannaslan.com or visit her website at https://linktr.ee/jcslan

Author Links

Purchase Link – Amazon 

Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR by Amy Pershing

Today it is my pleasure to have as my guest, Samantha Barnes (aka the Cape Cod Foodie), best known for her role in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series by Amie Pershing.

How I became the Cape Cod Foodie by Samantha Barnes

My name is Samantha Barnes (Sam to my friends) and I am, for better or worse (often worse, I have to warn you) the Cape Cod Foodie, the restaurant reviewer for the Cape Cod Clarion. Although I’m not sure this gig is going to last, as it depends on anonymity. And, since I stand well over six feet tall, I’m kind of hard to miss. Also, I have an awkward history of going viral online.

Through no fault of my own, I might add. Was it my fault that someone posted a very unfortunate video they’d taken with their cell phone of me, Samantha Barnes, up-and-coming New York chef, mixing it up with my rather volatile chef husband in a kind of chefs’ fencing match? Let me tell you, once that video hit YouTube, I almost instantaneously became Samantha Barnes ex-chef.

So when I found I’d inherited my Aunt Ida’s falling down house on the Cape, I reluctantly retreated home to Fair Harbor, where my old friend and now publisher of the Clarion, Krista Baker, gave me a job writing restaurant reviews. And, much against my better judgment, I allowed Krista to talk me into a series of Cape Cod Foodie video food features for the Clarion’s online edition.

Add to this: 1) finding out that my first, disastrous, high school crush is now the town’s harbormaster; 2) a posse of just-slightly-odd friends; 3) the afore-mentioned falling-down house; 4) a ginormous puppy; and 5) ( here’s the kicker) a propensity for falling over dead bodies. I kid you not. I’ve been falling over dead bodies right and left.

On my first assignment (in A SIDE OF MURDER), I managed to find a body floating in a pond outside the very first restaurant I reviewed. (Sigh.) And since nobody but me seemed to think this was murder, I appointed myself sleuth-in-chief. And now I’m at it again in AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR. You’d think it being the holidays and all, the sleuthing could be put on hold but nooooo….

I had a simple Christmas list: a quiet holiday at home with Diogi (prounounced dee-OH-gee, as in D O G – get it?) and a certain handsome harbormaster; no embarrassing viral videos; and no finding dead bodies. Instead, my parents have descended on me, I am finding myself spending a lot of time in front of the camera, and I just happen to stumble over the lifeless body of the town’s Santa Claus.

Thus engendering the viral “Santa Clause is dead” YouTube video. (Sigh)

Plus, just to complicate things, my plans for Christmas Eve are definitely getting just a little out of my control. There’s the Great Eggnog Debate among my very opinionated friends and family. There’s the “all edible” Christmas tree to decorate. And there’s my Feast of the Five Fishes prepare.

Well, catching murderers is a nasty job, but somebody’s got to do it. So I’m determined to find out who slayed this Santa. Which brings us to the real mystery in AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR – can I pull off a perfect feast and nab a killer?

About the Book

Professional foodie Samantha Barnes has a simple Christmas list: a quiet holiday at home with her dog and a certain handsome harbormaster; no embarrassing viral videos; and no finding dead bodies. Unfortunately, she’s got family visiting, she’s spending a lot of time in front of the camera, and she’s just stumbled over the lifeless body of the town’s Santa Claus.

Plus, Sam’s plans for Christmas Eve are getting complicated. There’s the great eggnog debate among her very opinionated guests. There’s the “all edible” Christmas tree to decorate. And there’s her Feast of the Five Fishes prepare. Nonetheless, Sam finds herself once again in the role of sleuth. She needs to find out who slayed this Santa—but can she pull off a perfect feast and nab a killer?

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a print copy – A Side of Murder and An Eggnog to Die For (U.S. Only)

About the Author

Amy Pershing, who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod, was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before leading employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago she waved goodbye to Wall Street to write full time. An Eggnog to Die For is the second of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries featuring Samantha Barnes, a disgraced but resilient ex-chef who retreats home to Cape Cod where she finds herself juggling a new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie,” a complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends, a falling-down house, a ginormous puppy and a propensity for falling over dead bodies. Kirkus Reviews gave An Eggnog to Die For a starred review, saying, “A delightful sleuth, a complex mystery, and lovingly described cuisine: a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens.” A Side of Murder, the first of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, which Elizabeth Gilbert called “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read,” was the first book in the series.  The third, Murder Is No Picnic, will be published in May 2022.

·      Pre-order An Eggnog to Die For Here

·     Order A Side of Murder Here

·      Website: AmyPershingAuthor.com

·      Follow amypershingauthor on Facebook

·      Follow amypershingauthor on Instagram

·      Sign up for News from the Cape Cod Foodie!

Purchase Links

Amazon – B&N   – Kobo – Google Play – IndieBound 

Check out additional stops on the tour for reviews, interviews and more.

Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO by Debra Sennefelder

As part of a virtual tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, Debra Sennefelder has stopped by to talk about her latest release – The Corpse in the Gazebo – and where she gets her the ideas for her cozy mysteries.


WHERE I GET MY IDEAS by Debra Sennefelder

One of the most asked questions I get is – where do your ideas come from. Every writer’s answer will be different. In fact, a group of writers could be shown a photograph as a writing prompt, and each writer would have a different story idea. I know because I was a part of that group. And even if two writers had the same story idea, their story would be unique to her and her genre. As you can tell by now, this isn’t an easy question to answer. But I think (I hope) that you’ll enjoy the explanation of my process.

The idea for THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO came from thin air. Seriously. I was at my computer with a Word document open because I had to write summaries for the books I pitched to my editor. The other book I was writing a summary for was last year’s release, THE CORPSE WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. I’d wanted to write a story about a true-crime podcast and a cold case. With that summary completed, I needed another idea. I sat back and thought…for a long time. Finally a thought popped into my mind about one of Hope’s neighbors being killed. Then I considered Hope becoming a suspect. Yes!

The thing about ideas is that they are a dime a dozen. Ideas come to authors all the time. The trick is to identify which ones can actually carry a 300-page book.

A few years ago I took my Shih Tzu shopping. First, we went to the local pet shop to buy food and birdseed. Our next stop was what used to be a state-run psychiatric hospital for a walk. The property, over 180 acres, was purchased by the town I live in and is being re-purposed. But the project isn’t complete, and there are still abandoned buildings on the property.

 Let me just say now that there is a creepy history to the property. The stories are endless since the buildings that housed and cared for hundreds of patients were connected by underground tunnels. Let that sink into your mind for a bit. Get the picture? Creepy. Anyway, the property is slowly being turned into a space where residents can walk, run, bike, ride horseback, and open fields for sports. It’s also the place for concerts and art shows. But for a writer, like me, it’s also a place for ideas.

Back to the walk. We reached a building and my pup wanted to get closer. I tried to distract her. After all, we had a walk to continue on with. She wasn’t budging. She wanted to get closer to the building. Now my imagination is kicking in. Did she hear something? Smell something? Sense something? I allowed her to continue forward. She sniffed her way up the steps and around the side of the building. I let her continue on while my mind started turning over a story question – what if….and that led me to begin asking whatif. What if a protagonist is out walking her dog at a similar location, and the dog leads her to a dead body, and it’s the first of several as a serial killer emerges. Boom! Story idea!

That is how writers get ideas. From innocent walks with dogs, ordinary trips to the grocery store and even the nightly news. There’s a story idea practically in everything a writer sees, hears, or experiences. 

Thank you for visiting with me today as I celebrate the release of THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO.


About The Corpse in the Gazebo

Food blogging is turning Hope Early into a household name. But the dead body down the block makes her a #1 suspect . . .

It seems everyone loves Hope’s blog these days, and she’s busier than ever volunteering to help other women create their own paths to success. So she’s shocked when a neighbor petitions to run Hope right out of her small Connecticut town! Set in her ways, apparently Birdie Donovan doesn’t like the chaos Hope’s sleuthing creates, the police activity and crime scenes, and it’s happening way too often lately. Eager to make amends, Hope bakes Birdie a batch of her best muffins. The delicious treats might have smoothed things over—until Hope discovers Birdie dead in her gazebo the very next day . . .

Now instead of worrying about holding on to her beloved home, Hope is trying to stay out of jail. Because suddenly she’s the lead suspect in the case. Not even her boyfriend, Police Chief Ethan Cahill, is promising he can clear her name, much less discuss the investigation with her. It’s up to Hope to get to bake new ground on the case before the lifestyle brand she’s created—and her whole life—crumbles . . .

Includes recipes from Hope’s Kitchen!

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of The Corpse in the Gazebo.

About the Author

Debra Sennefelder is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery.

Her first novel, THE UNINVITED CORPSE (A Food Blogger mystery) was published in 2018.In addition to writing the Food Blogger mystery series, she writes the Resale Boutique Mystery series. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person.

Born and raised in New York City, where she majored in her hobby of fashion buying, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in retail and publishing before becoming a full-time author. Her writing companion is her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih Tzu, Connie.

Author Links

Purchase Links – AMAZON – BARNES & NOBLE – KENSINGTON – KOBO – GOOGLE – INDIEBOUND – 

Visit other stops on this tour for reviews, author interviews, and more.

Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: ASBURY HIGH AND THE KIDNAPPER’S DRIVE by Kelly Brady Channick

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am thrilled to have Kelly Brady Channick as my guest today. The author of the Asbury High cozy mystery series for young adults, she is here to tell us about her love of writing and introduce her latest release, Asbury High and the Kidnapper’s Drive.

How a love of reading grew into a love of writing

by Kelly Brady Channick

I have always been a reader. Back when Borders still existed (ahh to still live in such a world!), all I wanted for Christmas and birthdays was Borders gift cards. To make things sweeter, my parents ever made my sister or myself go to school on our birthdays! Thus, we got to send the day as we pleased. This meant having my mom drive me to Borders, and we’d spend the day perusing the shelves, finding my new and next favorite reads!

After reading truckloads of stories, I quickly realized that I had many stories brewing in my own mind. More often than not, I would finish a book and realize I already had a whole different ending planned. Sometimes, I would pull out some paper and write down how I thought it should’ve ended!

The more I wrote, the more I fell in love. Many times I would wake up from a deep sleep, or seemingly zone out when bored, and realize I had been crafting an awesome story in my head—at least they always seemed awesome to me.

As time went on, I realized I had notebooks and random papers filled with various characters and plots. By the time I was a senior in high school, I thought, why not try to write out the story that kept coming back to me—Asbury High. Clearly, I listened to myself and have now published over half of the series.

While I continue to write, I also continue to be a voracious reader. I believe that reading both spurs the imaginative juices, but also helps authors learn to master their craft. And though not every book I have read has been good or well-written, it is those books which have taught me how not to write, and guided me away from making similar mistakes.

About Asbury High and the Kidnapper’s Drive

On a quiet summer night, in the peaceful seaside town of Asbury, a local girl is kidnapped from her home.

That very same day, a car thief is chased through an empty car lot, narrowly escaping from their teenage pursuer.

Can the two be connected?

Once again, it’s up to Asbury’s favorite, fearless foursome to find out.

Carly, Maddie, Pilot and Cornelious enter the summer before their junior year ready for normalcy. After a few weeks of calm, it seems that Carly may finally have the drama-free summer of her dreams—other than her boyfriend returning from his two-week vacation hotter than ever, drawing interest from her peers.

Just as Asbury is lulled into a sense of serenity, tragedy strikes when a local six-year-old is kidnapped from her home…with no sign of a break-in, no ransom, and no reason. While the town is desperate to find the missing girl, car parts from Maddie’s father’s shop suddenly go missing, and the gang begins to wonder if the two are connected. With little faith in law enforcement, and prodding from Maddie’s younger siblings, the gang finds themselves at the center of the investigation.

Unfortunately, solving both cases isn’t so easy, as the gang must work around the continually growing criminal enterprise of the Pitbulls, the constant construction occurring around town from Governor Gibbz’s Grant, as well as their changing feelings towards each other. When Maddie and Cornelious begin to sense their friendship might be more than what they realize, jealousies arise as the teens garner attention from others.

With all these distractions, can the foursome save the missing girl and figure out who is stealing from Petrozza Auto?

Asbury High and the Kidnapper’s Drive is the fourth book in a thrilling young adult cozy mystery series, that fans of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and Scooby Doo will love.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win one of two $10 Amazon gift cards from the author.

About the Author

For as long as she could remember, Kelly Brady Channick loved making up stories and leaving her listeners/readers on the edge of their seats.

Perhaps that’s why she always managed to talk herself out of trouble…

After graduating from NJ’s own Ocean City High School, Kelly accepted a basketball scholarship to Holy Family University, in Philadelphia. As a lifelong athlete, Kelly understands the importance of teamwork and overcoming adversity, something she hopes translates into her books.

Before writing page-turners, she taught first, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade — like a dessert menu, she simply had to test them all out. But her favorite job is the one she’s now doing full time: writing. Kelly loves to craft whodunit mysteries, leading readers through various twists and turns filled with red-herrings, hidden clues, and more peculiar characters than a reality show.

Kelly lives in South Jersey with her handsome husband, energetic baby boy, two cookie-stealing dogs, and an awfully smart cat.

Author links:

For additional reviews, guest posts, and more, visit the tour page.

Spotlight & Guest Post: DEATH BY INTERMISSION by Alexis Morgan

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours to celebrate the release Death by Intermission, Alexis Morgan has stopped to tell us exactly how she feels about the characters in the Abby McCree Mystery series. Who do you think is her favorite character? Read on to find out.


PLAYING FAVORITES, by Alexis Morgan

Psst! I want to let you in on a secret, one I would never admit to Abby McCree, my amateur sleuth, or any of her friends. But the simple truth is that of all the characters in my Abby McCree Mysteries, Zeke is my absolute favorite. On the plus side, he is tall, handsome, and courageous. Sadly, he also drools, sheds like crazy, and has an unfortunate habit of mooching. Be that as it may, everything about him tugs at my heartstrings.

If you haven’t yet guessed, Zeke is Abby’s furry roommate, the ninety-five pound mastiff-mix that came with the house that Abby inherited from her favorite aunt. He’s a rescue dog with an unhappy past. However, things have vastly improved for him because he and Abby are kindred spirits in many ways. She recently went through a bit of a rough patch in her own life and was looking for a fresh start when she arrived in Snowberry Creek.

When Abby first moved into the house, she had vague intentions of staying only long enough to get the house ready to put on the market. But that was before she met Zeke. He was the first to welcome her, offering her doggy kisses and companionship. Their friendship quickly developed into something special, an unbreakable bond that now means everything to them both.

But Abby isn’t Zeke’s only friend. He is also best buddies with Tripp Blackston, the former soldier who rents the mother-in-law house on the back of Abby’s property. Tripp recently left the army after twenty years and is currently finishing his college degree. Just as Zeke helps Abby find her way in Snowberry Creek, he helps Tripp transition from the military to civilian life. The two of them patrol their territory together and take that duty seriously and with good reason. Trouble has a bad habit of showing up on their doorstep all too often. Abby is fiercely loyal to those she cares about and will stop at nothing to help them, even if it means putting herself in a killer’s crosshairs. Abby would be the first to admit that Zeke has saved her life more than once.

Zeke has also touched the lives of so many other people over the course of the series: a homeless veteran, a grief-stricken young woman, the police chief’s daughter, not to mention the police chief himself. Gage Logan often finds himself in Abby’s kitchen discussing a case as he slips treats to Zeke.

I love this dog for all of those reasons, but the real reason I love him is that he is loosely based on the two bulldogs in my real life. Remus is an English bulldog while Walter is an Olde English Bulldogge. They each weigh 45-50 pounds, so you could say I added them both together to come up with Zeke. Like them, he has jowls where he stores extra water to drip on some unsuspecting person’s slacks. Walter, in particular, is a world champion snorer. Seriously, you can hear him rumbling away through solid walls! Zeke also shares their love of doggy snacks of all kinds.

Walter and Remus don’t live with me (they’re my grand-dogs.) However, every time Zeke appears on the page, it’s like I get to spend a little time with them, and I smile. If you have a special furry (or feathery) companion in your life, I’d love to hear about them.


About the Book

Abby McCree spends a summer showing family films under the stars—only to end the season with an unexpected slasher flick . . .

Ushered once again onto another committee by the mayor of Snowberry Creek, Washington, Abby is tasked with keeping the box office receipts of the town’s Movies in the Park nights. Cut to the director’s chair from where she’s suddenly organizing the summer’s last feature. From the opening scene through the final credits, Abby feels she’s earned nominations for best volunteer, best movie date with her tenant Tripp Blackston—and best daughter for ignoring her mother Phoebe’s own movie date with Owen Quinn.

Unfortunately, Abby and the others are treated to a post-credits scene: the body of local insurance agent Mitchell Anders. This discovery is followed by a plot twist revealing that the murder weapon comes from Owen’s food truck. With her mother’s boyfriend suspected of murder, Abby starts her own investigation determined to shine a spotlight on the real killer . . .

About the Author

Alexis Morgan is the USA Today bestselling author of over forty-five novels, novellas, and short stories that span a variety of genres: American West historicals (as Pat Pritchard); paranormal and fantasy romances; contemporary romances; and cozy mysteries. A RITA® Award-finalist, Alexis Morgan is a member of RWA and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Washington State and can be found online at AlexisMorgan.com.

Author Links:
* Website – http://www.alexismorgan.com/      
* Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AMorganAuthor
* Twitter – https://twitter.com/Alexis_Morgan    
* Blog –  http://www.alexismorgan.com/snowberry/index.html 

Purchase Links: Amazon – B&N –  Kobo – GooglePlay  –  IndieBound 

Visit other stops on the tour for reviews, guest posts and more.

Review & Guest Post: MYSTERY BONES MURDER by Karen Randau

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post introduces Mystery Bones Murders, the first novella in the Frankie Shep Suspense Novella series by Karen Randau. And as a special treat, Frankie Shep has stopped by to introduce herself.


Introducing Frankie Shep, by Karen Randau

Hi! I’m Frankie Shep, a figment of author Karen Randau’s pandemic-addled imagination. A long-ago vacation in Wyoming planted the seed of me in Karen’s thoughts. She wanted to write about the state’s beauty, its sunsets, and the sprawling ranches, but she didn’t know about me yet. 

As author of the Rim Country Mysteries set in her home state of Arizona, Karen put aside her plans to bring Wyoming to life in a book. I think she nearly forgot about it. I was afraid I’d never get to bloom inside her head.

I watched Karen struggle with the isolation caused by COVID-19 shutdowns. It wasn’t that Karen didn’t have a lovely family to keep her company. The problem was the circumstances of her family combined with her tendency to keep quiet about what she was feeling. She worried when her single-parent son became an “essential worker” and her husband was considered to be in the “most vulnerable” group. She felt inadequate when the school closed and she ended up homeschooling her young grandson—teaching math of all things!

But I knew. She wasn’t writing, and writing was how she had always processed life’s challenges. Despite sleeping more than usual, she was constantly tired. And the wine was disappearing faster than normal. 

She was in a pretty bad funk when I sprouted and woke her in the middle of one night. As she dug deep down to help me with my dilemma, it helped her too.

I’m happy with the way I blossomed in Mystery Bones Murders. I’m a strong, self-reliant woman with a learning disability and a terrible secret. My grief after the deaths of my husband and son in a car wreck caused me to self-isolate on my dad’s Wyoming ranch. And Dad isn’t answering my calls. 

My animals are my best friends—a German Shepherd, an American Paint horse, and a cow with her calf, Diesel. My human best friends are the ranch hand I’ve known my whole life and his wonderful Peruvian wife who helps me pick out clothes when I finally decide to deal with my emotions and try out life again. They live across the pasture from me and are concerned that I’m losing too much weight.

When Diesel gets lost one night, I set out to find him. I dig up a bone and am super excited it might be the remains of an ancient Native American village. One icy look from my forensic anthropologist friend tells a totally different story.

And now there’s a serial killer watching me! But this creep is learning I’m not someone he can toy with.

Well…rather than tell you everything, why don’t I let you learn all about me by enjoying the thrill ride that is Mystery Bones Murders

Afterall, the Indie Express called it, “A great story, well written and with an eerie feel about it.” A Goodreads reader suggested, “If you enjoy reading compelling, thrilling books and a story that really makes you guess how it goes next, do yourself a favor and dive into this book.”


About The Book

Frankie Shep is still mourning the deaths of her husband and young son when she finds a bone in the far corner of her Wyoming cattle ranch.

Excited to think she may have discovered an ancient Native American village, she takes the bone to a lifelong friend who is now a forensic anthropologist on contract with her county.

After a cursory inspection, he turns a blood-chilling stare at Frankie. The bone isn’t ancient. Worse, the victim could be the remains of Frankie’s mother. She disappeared from her own bed more than a decade ago.

And now her retired father is missing.

As Frankie digs deeper, she discovers the terrifying truth that a serial killer is using her land to bury his victims, all members of her family and inner circle.

And now he’s watching her.

Mystery Bones Murders is a story of love, heart-wrenching deception, and finding redemption.

My Review

Frankie has known more than her fair share of tragedy, from her mother’s disappearance to her husband and son’s deaths. She has adapted to her losses by isolating herself from others, with few exceptions. And she’s mostly doing okay until the bodies start popping up. Unnerving to say the least. But Frankie is stronger than she seems and she’s determined to unravel the mystery surrounding her mother’s death and the other deaths as well. Although the fast-paced tale does feature an abundance of corpses, it’s (thankfully) not the stuff that nightmares are made of – making for a short, lightweight thriller with many a twist along the way.

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

About the Author

Karen Randau authors fast-paced stories with intricate plots, lots of action, and a dash of romance told from the point of view of a female amateur sleuth. Mystery Bones Murders is her sixth book and the first book in a new series of novellas. She lives in the mountains of Arizona with her multi-generational family.

Author Links

Purchase Links – Amazon 

Click here to visit the tour page for additional reviews, guest posts, and more.

Guest Post & Release Spotlight: DOG-GONE DEAD by Jackie Layton

DOG-GONE-DEAD-BANNER-184

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to have as my guest today, Andi Grace Scott, Low Country Dog Walker – the main character in Jackie Layton’s recently released Dog-Gone Dead mystery.


Caring for Dogs  

I’m Andi Grace Scott, Low Country Dog Walker. If you have a dog, he or she needs to be walked. A few reasons to walk you dog are to keep you and your pet healthy. It’s also a good bonding time. A tired dog is also a less destructive pet. And it’s good to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine.

doggieIf you don’t have time because of work or you’re in bad health, you can look for a good dog walker in your area. If you live in Heyward Beach, South Carolina, look me up.

For those of you who walk your dog yourself, one important thing to do is choose the correct dog harness and leash. Bring creativity into your walk, enjoy the time with your pet, and be a good neighbor by scooping your dog’s poop. Take a break and play fetch. Love on your pet.

I live on the coast of South Carolina and in the hot weather, I carry a water bottle and a bowl to keep my dog hydrated. I’ve been known to discover dead bodies in my job, but this is rare. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to keep your cell phone on you, just in case.

I often bring my German shepherd Sunny to appointments to help socialization of the pets I walk. If you don’t use a dog walker, it’s a good idea to make play dates for your pet. Also when you go for walks and speak to neighbors, allow your dog to greet other pets.

Most people say, “Dog is man’s best friend.” I say, “Dogs are women’s best friends.” I’d take a dog over a diamond any day. If you don’t have a pet, you should visit your local animal shelter. If you’re not sure about pet ownership, see if they have a foster program. It’ll lessen your stress and give you time to relax and get to know your foster pet.


About Dog-Gone Dead

Dog-Gone-Dead-scaledWho’d have thought mulch could cause such a stink?

Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott is happy to score some free mulch from one of her brother’s landscaping jobs—until she discovers the dead body buried beneath the bark.

Worse, her brother’s landscaping tools were used to commit the murder. Once the police arrest her brother and seem happy to have “caught their man,” Andi Grace has no choice but to track down the real killer. She’ll risk everything to prove her brother’s innocence. Even if it means turning over every rock in town.

If you love small-town coastal life, dogs, and strong heroines, you’ll love Dog-Gone Dead.

Giveaway

Click here to enter the author’s rafflecopter.

JLayton_authorphoto2018-About the Author

Former Kentucky pharmacist Jackie Layton loves her new life in the Low Country. When she’s not writing, Jackie enjoys walks on the beach, bike rides and collecting shells. The first two books in Jackie’s Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series are Bite the Dust and Dog-Gone Dead. Jackie always enjoys hearing from readers.

Author Links

Purchase Links – Amazon – Kobo – Barnes & Noble – Google – Apple

Click here visit the tour page for additional posts, with reviews, interviews and more.

Guest Post & Spotlight: FROM ITALY WITH LOVE by Maria Grazia Swan

It’s my pleasure to have Maria Grazia Swan as a guest on my blog today as she celebrates the recent release of From Italy with Love and tells us about how real life events provided inspiration for her one of her mysteries.


Real life events as inspiration for Gemini Moon – Maria Grazia Swan

MariaScanz10192019 - Copy (2)If you are familiar with my books and my sources of inspiration, you know that over 85 percent of my stories are a direct result of real life events. Events that linger in my mind until I surrender and write about them. When it comes to Gemini Moon, I possess real proof. Facts grow more disturbing once you learn the deceased was a close friend of mine.

Yvonne died of a gunshot to the head. Authorities ruled her death accidental. The shooter? Her husband.

This happened in 1990, in Southern California. I knew I needed to write about it. I also knew I wanted to do it right. In my book, the roles are reversed, the wife shoots the husband.CCF07132015

Because of my strong friendship with the woman whose death inspired the story, I described her as she appeared in life, pretty, smart, funny, bubbly and full of love.  Yvonne, the Editor of a monthly magazine, also did freelanced editing. The day her husband shot her, she fell face first on top of somebody’s manuscript. My manuscript. My first mystery, Love Thy Sister.

Both Love Thy Sister and Gemini Moon are included in the From Italy with Love boxset. 

About From Italy with Love

ItalyloveA Recipe for mischief with a serving of laughs
3 books — the first of each of Swan’s three series.
3 Sassy Italian imports chasing bad people while hoping to land a good catch.
2 mischievous cats, maybe 3.
1 rambunctious dog and a spotted Appaloosa.
A few graves…. but a lot more laughter.

The From Italy with Love boxset is currently offered at special price –  only $0.99

Cooks, Crooks and a Corpse (The Baker Girls Cozy Mystery series, Book 1)

Can’t resist lighthearted comedy dressed with a little mystery that never takes you down a dark road?
Good, because that’s what you get when you put two hot Italian imports together. Meet the hot pink Fiat 500 and its owner, real estate agent Monica Baker.
Now stir in a dead body, a caterer about to lose her license, a real estate office coming off the rails, a goofy Great Dane, and a lively heroine who can’t help falling for the brooding bad boy. This is the world of Monica Baker: a high-speed mystery with a serving of mischief and a side of laughs.

Gemini Moon (The Lella York Mystery Series, Book 1)

When her eyes were finally opened to the truth, she couldn’t recognize her own life…
Italian-born Lella York is trying to figure out who she is. Her husband has died. Her son is grown and gone to chase fame and fortune in the movie business. And now, her best friend is missing. Upon returning to Southern California, Lella is shocked to learn the mysterious circumstances of Ruby’s disappearance as well as the death of Ruby’s husband. And Lella’s son is the prime suspect. It doesn’t help that he is driving around in the dead man’s Ferrari.

Caught in the middle of it all, Lella stumbles across the perfect topper-namely, a sexy police detective who keeps secrets from her while he’s setting her pants on fire. Nothing like a little romance to distract a girl while she’s trying to locate a missing person, solve a possible homicide, get her son out of jail and stay two steps ahead of the firing line.

Love Thy Sister (The Mina’s Adventure Series, Book 1)

Italian-born Mina Calvi lives in a mansion in idyllic Orange County, California with her protective older sister, Paola. Unemployed again and aimless, Mina can’t seem to find her niche in her adopted country, but confusion and restlessness soon become the least of her problems. Someone is stealing from the software business owned by Paola and her husband, losses so great the business is sinking like the Titanic. And the strange death of a company employee turns out to be murder. Then, while, facing a loss so terrible she can’t bear it, Mina discovers an old family secret that turns her world upside down. There’s some solace in the arms of her blue-eyed lover, amateur sleuth Brian Starr, but danger still stalks her at every turn, edging closer and closer as Mina tries to untangle the web of lies, adultery and treachery, and put her life back together.

About the Author

MariaAward-winning, USA Today Bestselling author Maria Grazia Swan was born in Italy. She’s lived in Belgium, France, Germany, Southern California and Arizona–all juicy places that fuel her stories and characters.

These days, Maria Grazia concentrates on her deepest passions. Writing and being the matchmaker for people and pets who are waiting to find each other.

Maria Grazia loves travel, opera, good books, yoga, and intelligent movies. Her idea of a perfect evening? Stimulating conversation, Northern Italian food, and chilled Prosecco.

She loves to hear from her readers! Feel free to contact her through her website: www.mariagraziaswan.com.

Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway: CAST IRON STAKE THROUGH THE HEART by Jodi Rath & Rebecca Grubb

CAST-IRON-STAKE-THROUGH-THE-HEART-BANNER-184

Today as part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am please to have as my guest, Jodi Rath, co-author of Cast Iron Stake Through the Heart (A Cast Iron Skillet Mystery, Book Four)In her guest post, Jodi relates a bit of her experience collaborating with Rebecca Grubb and their co-authoring experience.


When Besties Co-Write a  Mystery by Jodi Rath

61nOLLFwNtL._US230_Cast Iron Stake Through the Heart is the fourth installment in The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series, although it’s the sixth story with two other holiday stories. As usual, life happens, and I found myself behind on my deadline for the first draft. My BFF and editor, Rebecca Grubb, and I have been in writing groups together, and I’ve seen the stories she has created. Plus, she knows all of the books in the series and has been there to save my tush on many occasions—so, naturally, I called her, put her on the spot, and asked if she’d co-write this book with me. Being true to the wonderful human being she is, she didn’t let me down. 

While Rebecca is an excellent editor and writer, she’s never been published before, so this was all new to her. She was used to me texting, emailing, and calling all hours of the day as I pulled my wild curls out while trying to meet deadlines and to bounce ideas off of her—but, she wasn’t used to being on said deadline to produce the story and come up with ideas. You have to understand our friendship—it looks a lot like Jolie’s and Ava’s friendship in the books, but we aren’t nearly as clean and proper at all times! And let’s face it, that’s a beautiful thing to have in a bestie—one who you know you can show your best and worst parts of yourself and they will still be there after all is said and done. And let me tell you all—I am flawed, baby—seriously flawed! 

So, off we are on our new journey into co-writing. What a beautiful yellow-brick road we saw before us—like Dorothy—many twists and turns followed that path. Yes, there were times we wanted to strangle each other, and times we said to each other, “YOU ARE BRILLIANT MY DEAR!” And in the end, we created a gold nugget of suspense, mystery, and adventure that will surely take you on a wild ride. Enjoy!


About the Book

CAST-IRON-STAKE-THROUGH-THE-HEARTOn again, off again, ON AGAIN–Jolie Tucker and Mick Meiser are giving their relationship another try. Things seem to be working out for them so far, and love is on the menu all over Leavensport! An unexpected pregnancy with a surprising partner, a therapist pairs off with the chief of police, and the mayor of Leavensport falls for Jolie’s Aunt Fern!

Although Leavensport is serving up affairs of the heart, there are a lot of mysterious activities lurking in the air. The townspeople awake to find freshly dug empty holes throughout the fields that were recently up for sale under suspicious circumstances. Jolie and Ava believe they are taking a break from solving murders when they start teaching an online cooking course–until they witness one of their students take a stake through the heart!

Welcome to Leavensport, OH, where DEATH takes a DELICIOUS turn!

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of Cast Iron Stake Through the Heart.

About the Authors

Jodi Rath

Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her 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 nine cats.

Author Links:

  • Webpage: https://www.jodirath.com/
  • FB: https://www.facebook.com/jodirath
  • FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorjodirath
  • Twitter @jodirath
  • Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18363719.Jodi_Rath Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jodi-rath
  • Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jodirath/
  • Monthly Newsletter Link: http://eepurl.com/dIfXdb Get  Short Story “Sweet Retreat” for free by subscribing to my monthly newsletter. Subscribe to my newsletter to receive free flash fiction, A Mystery a Month, serial scenes from series, and deleted scenes).

RgurbbRebecca Grubb

Rebecca Grubb utilizes her experience in the high school English classroom and her decades as a bookworm to coach writers and edit fiction and creative non-fiction. She enjoys reading and writing books, particularly mysteries and science fiction. She lives in a small town in Ohio with her husband and the three mischievous children.

Click here to visit other stops on the tour for reviews, interviews, and more.

Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: KILLER DEADLINE by Lauren Carr

Tour Banner KILLER DEADLINE

As part of a blog tour organized by iRead Book Tours, I am honored to have Lauren Carr as my guest as she celebrates the release of her latest book – Killer Deadline.   Enjoy!


How Editors Are Like Hair Stylists 
by Lauren Carr

When you get too old to learn new things, then you’re old. That’s why I am always open to learning new things. I don’t want to be old.

My most recent discovery: Editors are like hair stylists.

Lauren & Muse AdjustedWhen you find a good one, never let him or her go. If forced to choose—keep your editor and divorce your spouse. My mother used to say men are like buses. Another one will come by in ten minutes. Good hair stylists whose touch makes your hair quiver and give in to their every demand—not so frequent.

It’s the same with editors who know just what to fix in your writing to make it sing to the reader.

I lost the editor I had used for several of my last books to a big publisher, who made her sign an exclusivity agreement. Since then, I’ve been having flashbacks to when I moved from the northern panhandle of West Virginia to Washington—leaving my first hair stylist behind.

Leslie found me wandering aimlessly into her shop after having been used and abused by another hairdresser who thought he could toy with my locks. Up until then, I confess, I played around—roaming from salon to salon—looking for style in all the wrong places. I was so young and naïve. Every time a stylist would whisper sweet nothings in my ear, promising to give me a look that would turn other women green with envy—I’d believe them.

After so many bad haircuts—I became hardened and cynical—believing that I had a head of hair that only a mother could love.

I still remember that last session I had with Leslie. It was raining—just like a scene in the movies—when I told Leslie that I was leaving—I cried bitter tears of heartache and swore that I’d never forget her. Still, to this day, I remember the look in her eyes when she said to me, “Do you want hair spray?”

God got me for leaving Leslie high and dry like that. I’d suffered the shame of bad haircuts for five long miserable years.

When my editor left me, I once again felt that sense of loss. Whatever shall I do? Wherever shall I go?

To which she replied, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. They’re giving me full benefits, including a 401K and healthcare.”

I bit my knuckle and collapsed to the floor.

When the edited manuscript for my latest mystery came back from my new editor, I once again suffered horrible memories of when those cheap stylists had their way with my hair—leaving it dry, with all the life sucked out of it.

Tears came to my eyes as I stroked the screen of my laptop, whispering comforting words to my book. “That’s okay. I still love you. We’ll get this mess sorted out. This horrid experience will be nothing but a distant memory—eventually.”

It’s been a growing experience. Just because someone has lovely hair, that doesn’t mean they’re a hair stylist. Likewise, just because someone reads a lot and picks up mistakes in books, does not make them an editor.

Also, in the same way that not all good hair stylists are a good fit for every client, not all good editors are a good fit for every writer. I have worked with many editors—even some very good ones, who just weren’t a good fit for me—for whatever reason. My previous editor (sob) grew to know my style. Her strengths complemented my weaknesses and she knew exactly how far to go and what to leave.

Once again, I was out there— wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’. Plannin’ and dreamin’—that Santa Claus will bring me an editor for Christmas.

Note: Before everyone sends me names of their neighbor’s nephew who happens to be available for editing, I do have a new one lined up for my next Mac Faraday. But, if this relationship doesn’t pan out, then maybe I can meet him for happy hour.


About the Book

killer deadline eBook coverFolks in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, claim that where Nikki Bryant goes, trouble is not far behind. Her refusal to back down from a challenge has made Nikki Bryant a top investigative journalist.

When an online friend nudges her to join him in a pact to reconnect with their first loves, Nikki and her boxer dog Elmo leave the bright lights of Las Vegas for the charming town of Pine Grove. There, she must face the biggest challenges in her career and life—the first love she had left behind and her father’s unsolved murder.

But before she has time to unpack her car, Nikki stumbles upon the dead body of local news anchor, Ashleigh Addison, her childhood rival. Could Ashleigh’s death be connected to an explosive news story that she had teased about airing live? Did that explosive story have anything to do with the murder of Nikki’s father?With the clues in her father’s cold case hot again, Nikki intends to  chase down the story of her life until she catches his killer—no matter what it takes.

Buy link:  Amazon.com

Add to Goodreads

Giveaway

Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card: a Rafflecopter giveaway.

About the Author

Lauren 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!

Killer Deadline marks Lauren’s first venture into mystery’s purely cozy sub-genre with a female protagonist.

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 ~ Pinterest