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

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 

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

Guest Post & Giveaway: A LEGACY OF MURDER by Connie Berry

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As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to have Connie Berry as a guest on my blog today, as she celebrates the release of A Legacy of Murder, the second book  in the  Kate Hamilton Mystery series.


TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?  by Connie Berry

make-up-cabinet.jpg

The picture above is an unedited, unexpurgated photograph of the inside of my bathroom cabinet, jam-packed with items I need to start my day—toothbrush and toothpaste, make-up remover, hairspray, creams, serums, brushes, foundation, eye-liner, and lipstick. Lots of lipstick. Fifty-four tubes, to be precise. All of them red.

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? I’m a self-confessed over-purchaser of red lipstick, perpetually in search of that one perfect shade—not too light, not too dark, not too orangey nor too pinky. I probably own every shade of red lipstick ever created. I remember learning in my sophomore year of high school the principle of “diminishing returns:” the more you have a something, the less you want of it. Ice cream was the example back then, and I understood how the principle worked. So why doesn’t it work with red lipstick?

weasel.jpgAs a writer, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing as well. Writers depend upon words, but we can overuse them. Words we love. Words that weasel their way into our writing and lessen the impact. My own particular weasel words include: just, little, almost, nearly, too, about, a bit, seems, actually, like, and that. They scatter themselves so freely into my writing that I have to search for them later and weed them out. I read once that weasel words are used to make a statement seem more convincing or authoritative than it might actually be. [I used three weasel words in the previous sentence—see how insidious they are?] In reality, they accomplish the opposite.

Watson's Dictionary of Weasel WordsIn 2004 Don Watson published Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words, Contemporary Clichés, Cant & Management Jargon (don’t get me started on management jargon). A wonderful tool for writers, but if you’re thinking about purchasing a copy, be warned that Amazon is now selling the hardcover for $124. Used copies go for $50 and up. I’d check your local library.

But it’s not just certain words we overuse. Sometimes writers use too many words, period. We overwrite. One of the most useful things I learned as an aspiring author was to make an outtakes file. For me, revision includes paring down, tightening up—eliminating everything, as Hank Phillippi Ryan says, that “isn’t the book.” That can be hard. Consigning superfluous words, sentences, even whole paragraphs to an outtakes file feels better than deleting them. And, who knows, I might just use those words again.

Do you buy too much of something? Shoes? Jeans? Books?
What about weasel words? Can you name yours?


About a Legacy of Murder

A-Legacy-of-Murder-CoverAmerican antique dealer Kate Hamilton’s Christmastime jaunt to a charming English village leads to an investigation of a missing ruby…and a chain of murders.

It’s Christmastime and antiques dealer Kate Hamilton is off to visit her daughter, Christine, in the quaint English village of Long Barston. Christine and her boyfriend, Tristan, work at stately-but-crumbling Finchley Hall. Touring the Elizabethan house and grounds, Kate is intrigued by the docent’s tales of the Finchley Hoard, and the strange deaths surrounding the renowned treasure trove. But next to a small lake, Kate spies the body of a young woman, killed by a garden spade.

Nearly blind Lady Barbara, who lives at Finchley with her loyal butler, Mugg, persuades Kate to take over the murdered woman’s work. Kate finds that a Burmese ruby has vanished from the legendary Blood-Red Ring, replaced by a lesser garnet. Were the theft and the woman’s death connected?

Kate learns that Lady Barbara’s son fled to Venezuela years before, suspected of murdering another young woman. The murder weapon belonged to an old gardener, who becomes the leading suspect. But is Lady Barbara’s son back to kill again? When another body is found, the clues point toward Christine. It’s up to Kate to clear her daughter’s name in Connie Berry’s second Kate Hamilton mystery, a treasure for fans of traditional British mysteries.

Giveaway

Enter the rafflecopter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card from the author.

About the Author

Author-Photo-By-Tree-Final-DaveLike her protagonist, Connie Berry was raised in the antiques trade. After teaching theology for twenty-five years, she took up writing mysteries featuring high-end antiques and the legacy of the past. Connie loves history, cute animals, travel with a hint of adventure, and all things British. She lives in Ohio with her husband and adorable dog, Millie.

Author Links:

Purchase:    Amazon    Barnes & Noble   Indiebound     Kobo

Click here to follow the tour for reviews, interviews and more.

Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway: MULBERRY MISCHIEF by Sharon Farrow

MULBERRY-MISCHIEF-BANNER-184Today, as part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am happy to host Sharon Farrow as she celebrates the recent release of Mulberry Mischief (A Berry Basket Mystery) and tells us about the similarities between archaeology and mystery writing.

Although I haven’t had a chance to read this one yet, I enjoyed the second book in this series – Blackberry Burial.  To learn more about it and read my review, click here.


How Archaeology and Mystery Writing Are Alike by Sharon Farrow

SharonFARROWCameraIn middle school, I told a teacher about my plans to become an archaeologist. I also announced I wanted to be a novelist. Being an overachiever, I saw no reason why I couldn’t do both. For a few years, I managed to do just that before putting aside my trowel to concentrate all my energies on writing. However, my experiences in these professions revealed the similarities between mystery authors and archaeologists.

1.  Digging up the Past.  

You cannot investigate an archaeological site without digging into the past. For archaeologists, this means literally digging! Somewhere I still have my field kit of trowels, work gloves, and measuring instruments. A mystery author also digs into the past, but not of an historic site. Instead, they explore the histories of their characters, and not simply the murder suspects. The protagonist has a backstory, too; one that explains why she has been drawn into this mystery – and what she has at stake. The past histories of the suspects and victims are especially crucial. How else to discover the motivations behind the crime? To solve the secrets and puzzles hidden in both the mystery novel and an archaeological site always requires uncovering the past.

2.  Plotting in Advance.

Prior to their arrival at an excavation site, archaeologists have done a tremendous amount of research. And before even an inch of soil is removed, the site has been plotted out into a grid. Their earlier research helps them decide how to grid a site. This grid acts as a fixed reference point and a road map, enabling archaeologists to record exactly where an artifact is found. So, too, the mystery author, who often creates a synopsis and/or outline for their upcoming book.

Like archaeologists, writers spend a lot of time in research, looking into everything from a time period to a method of murder. In addition, authors are aided by their own reference maps to help “excavate” their plot. An outline shows where clues are to be planted, when the murder or murders will occur, the inclusion of red herrings, and how and when the climax is to eventually unfold. Archaeologists and authors not only engage in research, they need their own particular GPS to do their jobs effectively. And a site grid is the archaeological equivalent of an author outline.

3.  The Devil is in the Details.

There is no such thing as an unimportant artifact recovered from a dig. Every single item is examined and recorded, followed by theories about how it fits into previous assumptions about the site. Some artifacts may also hold a startling clue which overturns previously held beliefs. The same with a mystery plot.

Once writing is underway, all those clues and red herrings must be kept straight. No loose ends or plot points left unexplained. And sometimes authors surprise themselves. They may have earlier mentioned something trivial about a character or an event, something that seemed little more than filler. Authors often realize later in the book how this insignificant item now serves as a missing key to a major plot point. Every detail matters –  on a site and in a novel.

To work on an archaeological dig or a mystery novel means embarking on an adventure. Along with the research, plotting, and a close examination of details, both endeavors are filled with discovery, fun, and meaning. So grab your Indiana Jones hat and/or a laptop and start digging.


About Mulberry Mischief

MULBERRY-MISCHIEFAutumn has arrived on the shores of Lake Michigan, but Marlee Jacob, proprietor of The Berry Basket, is feeling a chill for other reasons …

With the Harvest Health Fair in full swing, Marlee makes sure to stock up on elderberry products for cold and flu season. But this year there’s also a run on mulberry when an eccentric customer wants to use the dried berries to ward off evil forces. True, it’s almost Halloween, but something else seems to be spooking Leticia the Lake Lady, Oriole Point’s oddest resident. She believes someone plans to kill her—and the ghost. Only mulberries can protect them. Marlee doesn’t take her fears seriously until a man named Felix Bonaventure arrives in the village, asking questions about a mysterious woman.

The next day, Marlee finds Bonaventure dead on Leticia’s property—shot through the heart with an arrow made of mulberry wood. And Leticia has disappeared. Marlee soon learns the Lake Lady has a deadly past that is connected to the famous Sable family who are in town for the health fair. A bunch of clues start to come together—and figuring out what’s going on puts Marlee in a real jam …

Includes Berry Recipes!

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

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for a chance to win one of six print copies of Mulberry Mischief from the author.

About the Author

Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award-winning author Sharon Pisacreta. A freelance writer since her twenties, she has been published in mystery, fantasy, and romance. Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series for Kensington. The series debuted in 2016 and is set along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline where she now lives. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.

Author Links