Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: THE CLOCK FLOWER by Barbara Casey

iRead Website new logoToday, as part of a tour organized by iRead Book Tours, I am happy have Barbara Casely as my guest as she celebrates the release of  The Clock Flower, the third book in the FIG Mystery Series.  I haven’t read The Clock Flower yet, but I definitely enjoyed the first book in the FIG series – The Cadence of Gypsies.  (You can find my review here.)


It’s a “Just Because”  Guest Post by Barbara Casey

All of my life I have been fascinated by those things for which there is no explanation. As a young child, I was full of questions which my grandmother was more than willing to at least try to answer. Failing that, it was just one of those “just because.” As a writer, that same fascination continues, and I often include things that have no reasonable explanation into my stories. The FIG Mystery Series is a good example.

barbara-casey_1In Book 1, The Cadence of Gypsies, I introduce the Voynich Manuscript, considered to be the most mysterious document in the world. Along with that, I add the mysterious gypsy culture that includes potions and spells that I have researched.

In The Wish Rider, Book 2 in the FIG Mystery Series, I explore the little-known area deep underground of Grand Central Terminal in New York City, a secret society that actually exists there, and the obscure language of hoboglyphs.

My latest book in this series, The Clock Flower, takes my readers to a small province in China where the research into mortality involves the simple dandelion flower, and an ancient archeological dig site reveals some of the same hoboglyph markings that were found in Grand Central Terminal’s secret underground.

Of course, my main characters—Dara, Mackenzie, and Jennifer—defy explanation given the fact that each FIG has an IQ in the genius range, and all three have developed a unique skill that enhances their coping abilities in a world where they are so different.

I truly love the FIGs and their devoted mentor, Carolina. In each book I have tried to tell their unique story and give an explanation of something that really can’t be explained. I will write one more book about them. It will be the most dramatic story of them all, and it will complete the series—just because.


About The Clock Flower

the-clock-flower-front-cover_origDara Roux, abandoned when she was seven years old by her mother. Exceptionally gifted in foreign languages. Orphan. Accepted to Yale University.

Mackenzie Yarborough, no record of her parents or where she was born. Exceptionally gifted in math and problem-solving. Orphan. Accepted to MIT.

Jennifer Torres, both parents killed in an automobile accident when she was sixteen. Exceptionally gifted in music and art. Orphan. Accepted to Juilliard.

The three FIGs—Females of Intellectual Genius—as they are called, have graduated from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women after returning from New York City where Dara learned why her mother abandoned her all those years ago, and they are now attending universities where they can further their special talents. This means they will be separated from each other and from Carolina, their much-loved mentor and teacher who is “one of them,” for the first time in their young lives. They vow to try living apart for one semester, in the so-called real world that doesn’t include the orphanage; but if things don’t work out, they will come up with another plan—a plan where they can be together once again.

​Dara is invited through Yale University to take part in an exciting archeological project in China. Jennifer, once again visualizing black and white images and the unusual sounds of another cadence that seem to be connected to Mackenzie, is engrossed in creating her next symphony at Juilliard. Mackenzie, because of her genius at problem-solving, is personally chosen by a US Senator to get involved in a mysterious, secret research project involving immortality that is being conducted in a small village in China—not too far from where Dara is involved with the archeological site. Once there, however, she finds herself facing a terrifying death from the blood-dripping teeth of an ancient evil dragon. Her best friends, the FIGs and Carolina, rely on their own unique genius and special talents to save her as she discovers the truth of her birth parents.

You can buy The Clock Flower at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a copy of The Clock Flower and a $10 Amazon giftcard from the publisher.

About the Author

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction true crime and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency. Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. Barbara is also a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in cutting-edge adult nonfiction. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband, and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Fitz, a miniature dachshund; and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

Connect with the author: Website

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Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: DEATH BY A WHISKER by T.C. LoTempio

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours to celebrate the release of Death by a Whisker: A Cat Rescue Mystery,  T. C. LoTempio  stopped by to share her thoughts on writing murder mysteries.  Enjoy. 


Channeling Your Inner Jess Fletcher  by  T. C. Lotempio

If you’re a fan of mystery series, and MURDER SHE WROTE in particular, you might have heard of something called “Cabot Cove Syndrome”.  Which is a term for a locale or a person whom death and mystery seems to stalk – ad nauseum!

Toni-LoTempio-Credit-to-Clifton-Animal-ShelterNot a funny thing when you’re a writer of said mysteries! Plotting a mystery, particularly a murder mystery,  is hard enough work!  How many bodies can one stumble on before you get a “body magnet” label attached to you, as Nora Charles in my Nick and Nora series has!  (although sometimes it’s hard to tell whether she or her cat, Nick, is the body magnet). Syd McCall in my Cat Rescue series is also well on her way to getting the same distinction!

Becoming a BM could be construed as a problem when writing a cozy series.  How does one avoid boring the reader?  Well, one way is to alternate the murder weapon – this time, a gun; next time, a knife, the time after that, poison—and so on. Alternate the mode of discovery as well.  And even though the Nick and Nora series always starts out with a murder in its prolog, sometimes it’s good to wait a bit to have a murder occur in the body of the story until readers become invested in your characters!  If they build up a rapport with your sleuth, they might be a tad more forgiving as to why so many folks come up dead in his/her balliwick!

Expand your character’s horizons, if at all possible.  If you can send your sleuth on a trip to stumble across dead bodies, all the better!  To quote Wikipedia:

From a statistical perspective, coincidences are inevitable and often less remarkable than they may appear intuitively

In short, where murders occur – and why – are just one of those things you can’t explain, one of life’s little mysteries.  Which is my response when cynical readers remark on Nora’s penchant for coming across a dead body – or two, or three.

Sit back and enjoy the ride, and if you have to, channel your inner Jessica.  You might end up solving the crime right along with our sleuth.


About Death by a Whisker

DEATH-BY-A-WHISKERGetting used to life back home in Deer Park, North Carolina, Sydney McCall and her right-hand tabby, Toby, are helping her sister Kat run the local animal shelter. Syd and Kat are all excited about the prospect of the shelter’s newest fundraiser: shopping channel queen Ulla Townsend. Shelter admin Maggie Shayne vehemently refuses to have anything to do with the woman, but the fundraiser ensues as planned. That is, until Ulla turns up dead in the middle of the event.

The cause of death is determined to be an allergic reaction, but Syd and Toby are sniffing out something fishy. When Syd met Ulla, it was clear she was distasteful and rude. And right before the event, Syd spotted some behind-the-scenes drama between Ulla and her manager. As they begin to investigate, they realize there is no shortage of suspects, and Maggie is at the top of the list.

Now Syd and Toby must claw their way to the truth before everything goes paws up at their animal shelter in Death by a Whisker by national bestselling author T. C. LoTempio.

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

About the Author

While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic.  She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, debuted Dec. 2, 2014. Followed by #2, CLAWS FOR ALARM.   #3, CRIME AND CATNIP, was released in December. She, Rocco and Maxx make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York. Catch up with them at www.tclotempio.net and www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com.

Where to find them:

Purchase Links:  Amazon    B&N    Google Play

Guest Post & Spotlight: DRESSED TO KILL by Vicki Vass

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, the spotlight today shines on Dressed to Kill, An Antique Hunters Mystery by Vicki Vass.  As part of the release celebration, the author is here to tell us a bit about her love of reading.


Guest Post – Vicki Vass

VickiVass2-206x300-206x300Thanks for letting me stop by. I always appreciate spending time with readers. I am often asked what I read and I have to admit that I have found myself in a reading frenzy lately. At the beginning of 2017, I set a goal in Goodreads to read 52 books
this year and finished this week. I am very excited by this accomplishment. This was done while working full time, writing the fifth book in the Antique Hunters mystery series and taking care of four pets – two Australian shepherd puppies and two cats.

When looking over the list of books I read throughout the year,  see it is quite varied. It truly transcends genres. I’ve read everything from biographies to mysteries to romance. It includes books by some of my favorite authors like Sophie Kinsella and John Grisham. And, books by new to me authors like Shari Lapena and Ruth Ware. It include biographies of the grandchildren of Commodore Vanderbilt and Alexander Hamilton. And then there is the re-imagining of my favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. I read several prize winners.

There is only one book I picked up and was not able to finish. I tried to read a fictionalized account of Thomas Cromwell and after slogging through 100 pages, I had to give it up. I may try it again or perhaps watch the series based on it. Reading for me is relaxation. I love to kick back with a book and while away the hours. And now that I am writing my own books I often rely on books for research. For Dressed to Kill, the fifth book in the Antique Hunters Mystery series, I read several books about Mary Todd Lincoln. The book involves a dress sewn by Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd’s dressmaker during the White House years.

Even though I’ve accomplished my reading goal for the year, I am still reading. There is nothing more pleasant on a cold winter’s night than to sit by the fire reading a book. I have several books on my shelf that I have put to the side so I can complete my goal. These include a history of the Romanovs and an accounting of the Attica prison riot in the 1970s. These heavyweight tomes had to take a backseat so I could accomplish my goal.

I still have stacks lining my closet walls and expect to continue to add to my reading collection. Books offer glimpses into a life of what if’s, what could be and what may happen. They really add to the fabric of our lives. I try to do that in my writing, taking readers on a journey of what if’s and what could happen. I also try to balance that with what is believable in the real world. Particularly with my two main characters, Anne Hillstrom and CC Muller. They traverse their antique hunting world, encountering situations and settings that can only be imagined.

What about you? Do you set reading goals? If so, what are you reading? What are your favorite types of books? I’d love to hear from you and I’m always looking to add to my reading list.


About Dressed to Kill

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In 1865, Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker, conspired to change the course of the Civil War. Crossing lines between North and South, the band of conspirators wove a plan that remained undiscovered for more than 150 years until Antique Hunter Anne Hillstrom finds one of Keckley’s gowns. She and fellow Antique Hunter CC Muller unravel the mystery that has left a trail of dead bodies, leading to the doorstep of their antique store, Great-Aunt Sybil’s Attic.

Dressed to Kill is the fifth book in the Antique Hunters Mystery Series. Rooted in history, the series reimagines real-life events blurring the line between fact and fiction.

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win a complete set of the Antique Hunters Mysteries.

About the Author

With a passion for shopping and antiques, Vicki Vass turned in her reporter’s notebook to chronicle the adventures of Anne and CC, two antique hunters who use their skills to solve a murder case.

Vicki has written more than 1,400 stories for the Chicago Tribune as well as other commercial publications including Home & Away, the Lutheran and Woman’s World. Her science fiction novel, The Lexicon, draws on her experience in Sudan while writing about the ongoing civil war for World Relief.

She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, writer and musician Brian Tedeschi, son Tony, Australian shepherd Bandit, kittens Terra and Pixel, seven koi and Gary the turtle.

Author Links – Website – Blog – Facebook 

Purchase Link – Amazon

Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: DANCING IN THE RAIN by Lucy Appadoo

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As part of a tour organized by Italy Book Tours,  I am happy to have Lucy Appadoo as my guest as she celebrates the release of Dancing in the Rain, the third novel in the Italian Family series.


Exploring the Café and Piazza Life in Italy by Lucy Appadoo

At twenty-three years of age, I travelled to Piaggine, Italy and spent three months visiting the cities and villages. I not only visited the villages of Laurino, Batibaglia, and Positano,  I also spent time in Rome, Florence, Salerno (the Amalfi Coast), and Venice. I would’ve loved to have travelled to more of the amazing cities but I didn’t get the opportunity.

I spent time in the piazza in Piaggine with my cousins who would visit with their friends every night. I’d walk in the square with my one or both of my male cousin/s and each night a friend of theirs would buy us an alcoholic shot that was mixed in a glass test-tube like glass. Each night, I’d try a mix of cocktails in a test tube.

On that square, you had a bar and café, a bakery, and a restaurant. I loved staying at my aunt’s house as she lived upstairs in the bakery while her friend worked and lived in the bakery downstairs. Each day, I’d enter her home and the aroma of freshly-baked bread would permeate my senses. It was heavenly, and I would bite into the soft, doughy texture of fresh Italian bread. We’d eat the bread with a glass of wine or with food.   Amazing!

My cousin would also drive me around to the nearby villages, but what I found strange was that he’d never stop for us to explore the sights. Instead, he’d simply drive around for fifteen minutes or so, then return to the main village. I was thinking, “wow, not my idea of exploration, but maybe it was his.”

Piaggine is a beautiful village, mountainous, hilly, and with rough terrain around the farms. The stone houses felt cold inside but the wood fire ovens were great for home cooked meals. I would eat home-made bread, home-made sausages, home- made tomato sauce, fresh pasta, and home-made wine. Many things were made by hand, and the joy the Italians had from making something from scratch was captivating.

Exploring Italy in my 20s was amazing but I would have liked to explore more of the country. The history of the country left me feeling nostalgic when I returned back home to Melbourne. How can you compare the city of Melbourne with the cities in Italy and all its fabulous history. Impossible!!


Dancing in the RainAbout Dancing in the Rain

Fifteen-year old Valeria Allegro works diligently on the family farm in Italy, where she is torn between her duty to her family and her desire to find freedom from her strict, domineering father. She finds solace in Dario, a young student who provides a blissful escape—until a neighbour’s son, Gregorio, decides he wants her for himself.

This raises an alarm for her father, which leads to family conflict and aggression. When Dario is threatened and her family is plagued by a series of suspicious accidents, Valeria is desperate to keep her loved ones safe. Can she end the turmoil and escape the firmly built trap to find the freedom she craves?

Buy the Book

Amazon    B&N

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

Lucy Appadoo is a registered counsellor and wellness coach with a part-time private practice. She also works as a rehabilitation counsellor for the Australian government. In her spare time, she self-publishes or writes nonfiction and fiction texts. She previously worked as a rehabilitation consultant, caseworker, English as a second language teacher, and proofreader.

Lucy has postgraduate diplomas in psychology, education, and English as a Second Language teaching, as well as specialised qualifications in grief counselling and hypnosis. She has also completed wellness coaching courses (levels 1-3) at Wellness Coaching Australia.

Lucy enjoys reading romantic suspense, romance, thrillers, crime novels, family/historical drama, and sagas. She writes in the genres of romantic suspense, historical fiction, and romance. She has enjoyed travelling to exotic places such as Madrid, Mauritius, and Italy, and draws on these experiences in her creative writing.

Lucy’s favourite authors include Kendra Elliot, Christiane Heggan, Theresa Ragan, Tara Moss, Nicholas Sparks, Adriana Trigiani, Erica Spindler, and James Patterson (to name a few).

Lucy’s interests include meditation, playing tennis, journal writing, reading fiction and nonfiction texts about writing, coaching, and counselling, ongoing professional development, spending time with her husband and two daughters, and socialising with friends and family.

Connect with the Author:  Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST by Leslie Budewitz

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, Leslie Budewitz is my guest today. She’s here to tell us about her most recent release, Treble at the Jam Fest, and share a few insights into how she creates the characters and stories in her books.


On the Job Training 

Astute readers have noticed that though I’m a lawyer by day, my characters have far more interesting jobs. Why, they ask?

LeslieBBecause part of the fun of writing fiction is to explore lives I haven’t lived. That may mean living in a one-room log cabin, on a houseboat, or in a million-dollar lakeside dream home, none of which I’ve done. Yet. It may mean imagining a thirty-year career as a chef or a banker, a life on stage playing the guitar or singing opera, or the trials and tribulations of a police officer or sheriff’s deputy. Or it may mean being a 33-year-old woman running a specialty local foods grocery in her family’s hundred-year-old grocery, as Erin Murphy, the main character in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, does.

As a former teenage bookseller, I know just enough about retail to be dangerous. Or more accurately, to observe, and to get people to tell me their stories. Mr. Right and I live in a lakeside resort community in northwestern Montana on the road to Glacier National Park—oh, gosh, that could also describe Jewel Bay, the Food Lovers’ Village! It’s a tourist town, and we’re friends with the folks who run the restaurants and art galleries, the children’s shop, the kitchen store, the bar, even the Playhouse. The liquor store and jam shop owners are pals, and we quite enjoy the man who runs the community foundation, as well as the hoteliers. And the man who runs the gas station—well, you can’t like them all, can you?

Everywhere I go, I listen and learn—and some of those conversations and characters wriggle their way onto my pages.

It’s all about keeping your eyes and ears open. Thinking about what a gallery owner does all day. Watching the barista’s movements, and how she handles the customer who can’t make up her mind. Figuring out who does what in the restaurant, and what conflicts might arise. Picturing what might go wrong when you host a food lovers’ film festival, or run a summer arts fair that takes over the village streets. (Hint: those screens are fragile, and when the signs say no vehicle traffic after 7:30 a.m., yes, that means you, too, Mr. Beer Truck Driver!)

And imagining all the pressures on the board of directors of a music festival as the final details come together—and when the star performer dies.

For my characters who slave over hot stoves, I read a lot of “chef lit”—kitchen memoirs and exposes. I’ve pored over blogs and online magazines for the trendy new foods, and the newest business terminology—because Erin would know it. I’ve even dabbled in spreadsheets and timeline software, because she adores that sort of thing, and finds it most useful in investigating.

I’ve had the same fun with my Spice Shop series, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. I fell in love with the Market as a college student, and ate my way through it both then and a few years later, when I was a young downtown lawyer. And while the real spice shop was my entrée into flavors and big enticement to learn to cook, I’d never worked in one. So I went in and asked questions: What’s the best part of working here? The hardest part? Your favorite spice? And when I met Amanda Bevill, owner of World Spice Merchants on Western Ave, just below the Market, all my prayers and questions were answered!

But about those lawyers. They love mystery and crime fiction, and it wouldn’t be fair to leave them out entirely. In the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, Bill Schmidt is a lawyer turned herbalist and acupuncturist and—well, no spoilers, right? But he always answers Erin’s questions, even when he doesn’t like what she does with the info!

Pepper Reece loved her job as staff HR manager for a massive Seattle law firm that imploded in scandal. When her job evaporated, she bought a spice shop in the Pike Place Market. (Wouldn’t you?) Traumatic as such things are, I knew the lawyers would land on their feet. But what about the staff? I was far more interested in the choices they might make. Pepper keeps in touch with them, and they often give her leads or critical information. One even runs a mystery bookshop.

Hmm, now there’s a career I might actually consider.


TREBlecoverAbout Treble at the Jam Fest

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident—or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

Purchase Links:   Amazon    B&N     Kobo

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for chance to win a print copy of Treble at the Jam Fest.

About the Author

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Connect with her on her website, http://www.LeslieBudewitz.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Character Guest Post & Giveaway: DUMPSTER DYING & GRILLED, CHILLED AND KILLED by Lesley A. Diehl

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This Blog Tour, organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, introduces readers to the first two books in the Big Lake Murder Mystery series by Lesley A. Diehl.  In this post, Emily Rhodes, the protagonist in the series, tells us a bit about herself.

Guest Post – Emily Rhodes

When I was younger and working as  preschool teacher, I never thought my retirement would be the way it is. I dreamed of retiring to North Carolina where I could still enjoy the change of seasons. Instead here I am in rural Florida, and I can’t say I’ve retired at all because I’m working nearly full-time as a bartender at the Big Lake Country Club. A bartender! Me! I’m as surprised as anyone that I would trade chasing preschoolers around the playground for slinging beers and Crown Royal to golfers. But I needed the money after the love of my life, Fred, died suddenly of a heart attack. There was the shock of his death followed by grief, of course, but what was totally unexpected was that he had never changed his will, and that will left everything to his ex-wife. I had no legal standing. I was only his live in girlfriend in the eyes of the law. So until I could hire a lawyer, I had to pay the bills. Hence, I have become an expert at mixing martinis and handling the drunks who insist they “just need one more drink.”

The first bartending job I got was in one of my favorite bars, the Burnt Biscuit, but when I denied drinks to a drunken rancher, actually the rancher who owned the biggest spread in the area, I got fired. Rancher, you say? Isn’t this Florida, you ask? Yes, but this is rural Florida, inland, away from the beaches and bikini-clad babes. The is the land of cattle, cowboys and alligators. It reminds me of Texas with palm trees. It’s hot, it’s muggy, and there is a huge lake here, but the color of the water is brown and it is inhabited by hundreds of alligators. You don’t take a dip in those waters. In fact, you have to watch where you’re stepping in your back yard. Some alligators like to get close and friendly especially if some idiot has been feeding them.

I’m making the best of living and working here. After I got fired, I was hired at the country club. The pay is so-so, but I get free greens fees and I manage to fit in a round every now and then. I’ve met some nice people here: my boss Clara, my neighbor Vicki and some gals I play golf with. Clara was kind enough to hook me up with her father who is a lawyer, so I have legal representation for contesting Fred’s old will. You wouldn’t think his ex-wife would be interested in his piddly little estate especially since she has remarried and is richer than anyone has a right to be, but she’s also greedy, and just plain mean. She likes to see me squirm as I struggle to pay the mortgage on the park model trailer Fred and I lived in. I’m not convinced Clara’s father, Hap, is the best choice of a lawyer, but he’s the only one I can afford (he asked for scratch-offs for payment).

TDumpster_cover_smallhere are some other folks I’ve met, but I’m not certain how I feel about them. One is Detective Stanton Lewis, a homicide detective with the local police department. I guess I forgot to mention that that drunken rancher ended up in the country club dumpster where I found him one night when I took out the garbage. Actually, I fell into the dumpster onto his body. So of course, I’m the police’s prime suspect for his murder. Detective Lewis is a steely-eyed, no nonsense detective who asks questions that will make you squirm. He does his homework, too. He knows more about a suspect than the suspect knows about himself, in my case, herself. And there’s something else. He’s about the handsomest man I’ve ever met. Aside from the fact that he’d like me to confess to the murder, I also get the feeling he’s more than a little interested in me personally. All of that makes me nervous because I find him just yummy, and I’m supposed to be grieving for Fred.

I had to hire a part-time bartender at the country club, and the only one I could get on such short notice was an bass fisherman named Donald Green. He is the most unpleasant man, seems to hate winter visitors, especially Yankee women who he views as having too much attitude. He means me, of course. He seems to get along with other women just fine. Some even seem to find him kind of attractive with his lean, muscular body and long silver hair that he wears in a ponytail. But I’ve never seen him smile unless he’s talking about fishing. It’s said he has the fastest bass boat on the lake. He took me out in it once fishing, but all I caught was another dead body. I still wonder if he did that on purpose. I’m conflicted in my feelings about him because sometimes he can be kind and generous like when he helped me with my car.

These two men are unlike any men I’ve encountered before. I think living in the Big Lake area of Florida brings out some primitive aspects of everyone’s character. Maybe I like that I’m more assertive and certain of myself now than I was before. And maybe I like my men a little on the wild side.

About Dumpster Dying

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

About Grilled, Chilled and Killed

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

Giveaway

Enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win an e-book and have your name used a a character in the next Emily Rhodes book.

About the Author

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

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Spotlight & Guest Post: FAMILY MATTERS by Laurinda Wallace

I am pleased to have Laurinda Wallace as my guest today as she tells us about her journey from avid reader to mystery writer.  She is the author of numerous novels, including the Gracie Anderson Mystery series.


What Makes This Writer Tic … er … Tick by Laurinda Wallace

Laurinda-1.jpgI’m a reader. A voracious reader. More than a one-book-at-a-time reader. It all started with Dick and Jane stories in the first grade. Once I had those under my belt, I couldn’t stop. Adventures in the pages of books seemed much more exciting than my real life, which led me to ruminate about writing my own stories. There were a lot of beginnings, but not much in the way of middles or ends of stories. I went back to reading.

Then I was old enough for a library card. Now that is power. I could make selections from any genre and take more than one book out at a time. A few more attempts at writing a novel came and went. Back to reading and writing compositions for English class. Then writing became part of my work: John Doe, being duly sworn, deposes and says. 1. He resides at 123 ABC Street, etc. etc. In those years as a paralegal, I learned to be succinct and mind the details. There was a beginning, middle, and end to every contract or affidavit.

Then when you manage to age a bit more, and your perseverance improves ever so slightly, youthful dreams can circle back. You’ve experienced some actual strange adventures like sitting on the Thousand Island Bridge in a Chevy Nova at 10pm. Your husband is under the car trying jiggling a wonky transmission, so it’ll shift properly and you can finish a road trip. Plenty of the ordinary like washing off your children in a cold stream in Nova Scotia after one gets carsick all over the backseat, including her unsuspecting sister trapped in a car seat. Then mountain-high joys over goals achieved, daughters’ weddings, grandsons born, and soggy Kleenex sorrows and disappointments—well you know about them. The circumstances that try faith and put callouses on your knees, because you certainly don’t have answers. It’s the stuff of stories and for me it was time to take all of those experiences to see if there was an entire book, including a middle and an end.

Writing mysteries seemed the natural thing to do. Good triumphs over evil. A bit of justice served up. Mysteries also engage the brain—solve the puzzle—look for clues—sort through the suspects. I can’t get enough of them as a reader and wanted to try my hand at weaving tales of small towns and a little murder. Beautiful rural Western New York where I lived most of my life was a place I wanted to share with readers. Where dairy cows outnumber people and neighbors are … well … real neighbors. A dog certainly had to play a role since Labradors have always been part of our family. So, Gracie Andersen, a widow and kennel owner was created, along with her trusty Labrador, Haley. Gracie’s insatiable curiosity and Haley’s predilection for trouble often draw them into danger with a few laughs along the way. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Gracie Andersen Mystery Series

Family Matters is the first book in  Laurinda Wallace’s  Gracy Anderson Mystery series).

Description:

familymattersThink your family’s dysfunctional? Meet Gracie Andersen’s and the peaceful farming community of Deer Creek. Gracie has her hands full–a new business and trying to get her life on track after the loss of her husband and unborn child. When an odd gift from her troubled uncle thrusts her into an investigation of a cousin’s tragic death 20 years ago, Gracie meets with opposition from family and friends. What really happened that rainy, October night when her cousin was killed by a hit-and-run driver? As pieces of the truth are wrenched from the past, her new business, Milky Way Kennels teeters on the edge of disaster. And then death strikes again. Someone is determined Gracie won’t find the truth. With Haley, her black Labrador by her side, Gracie doggedly pursues the trail of clues to unravel the mystery of her cousin Charlotte’s untimely death.

Additional books in the series include:

About the Author

A lifelong bookworm, Laurinda was often in hot water for reading way past her bedtime as a child. Now, armed with a Kindle, she is never without a book and still ignores the time. She readily admits that writing the Gracie Andersen mystery series is more fun than is probably legal, but someone had to do it. Recent retirement from a long career in administration allows more writing time, and she has added two new Gracie mysteries to the series this year. She is also writing a true crime book and a 1930s suspense series is in development. In addition to writing mysteries and inspirational books, she has contributed to numerous print and online magazines. She is a member of Sisters in Crime (national), the Tucson chapter of Sisters in Crime, and is a grateful recipient of multiple Poets and Writers grants.

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Guest Post: POPULATING A SMALL TOWN by Susan C. Daffron

My guest today is Susan C. Daffron, author of the Alpine Grove Romantic Comedy series.  All ten of the books in the series feature pet lovers and their animals. In her guest post, the author talks about creating human and animal characters in a small town setting.


Populating a Small Town with Human and Animal Characters

By Susan C. Daffron

Many of the reviews of the books in my Alpine Grove series mention how much they enjoy reading about the town itself. One reviewer said that he felt like he could draw a map based on the books and several folks want to move there. Just as in real small towns, in the fictional town of Alpine Grove, you tend to encounter people you know.

Although readers love the fact that new characters meet and interact with established characters, it can make matters more complex for the writer. For example, I included a cameo of Becca and Jack from the fourth novel (Snow Furries) in the tenth novel daydreamretriver(Daydream Retriever). Anyone who has read Snow Furries knows that Becca talks really fast, Jack is a somewhat philosophical forester, and the couple live in a small log cabin owned by yet another character. If Becca doesn’t sound like she did in Snow Furries or I inadvertently change details like where she lives, readers will notice and tell me about it.

Because the characters in my books have pets, I need to keep track of the critter personalities too. My readers are passionate pet lovers, so Swoosie the Samoyed had better continue to try and eat everything in sight whenever she appears on a page. Readers know that Roxy the dachshund owned by Tracy the vet tech likes to get into small spaces and Linus the big hairy brown dog is a mellow sweetheart. All of the animals have to remain in character just as much as the humans do.

Keeping It Real

For me, one key to retaining writerly sanity is to keep notes about all the characters that appear in a book. I use Scrivener, so within the book project, I create a reference page using the built-in character sketch template. The template has sections for the person’s physical description, background, occupation, quirks, and conflicts.

Although I don’t go completely nuts on details, I fill in the basics before I start writing a new novel. I also select a Myers-Brigg type for the main characters. Whether or not you buy into the Myers-Brigg system, it does work as a way to differentiate personalities. For example, Beth Connelly in Bark to the Future is a geeky INTP and her introverted personality has a big effect on how she behaves throughout the novel. In a similar way, I write out the animal personalities. For example, Tessa the golden retriever is a hyperactive nutball and that affects her actions in the story.

A Series Bible Is Your Friend

It may seem like a lot of work to write down so much for each book, but now that I have ten books in my series, I’m even happier that I included such detailed information. Around book 5 or so, I created a separate “Alpine Grove Reference” Scrivener project. Now when I finish a novel, I copy the character sheets and notes into the master project, so I can refer to it later.

Right now, I’m writing a spin-off series, which starts in (you guessed it) Alpine Grove. Thanks to the series bible, I was able to easily remember locations and throw in a few nods to people that regular readers will recognize. When you populate a small town where everyone knows your name, you’d better remember who everybody is.

About the Author

alpinegrove1Susan Daffron is the author of the Alpine Grove Romantic Comedies, a series of novels that feature residents of the small town of Alpine Grove and their various quirky dogs and cats. She is also an award-winning author of many nonfiction books, including several about pets and animal rescue. Find out more about her books at http://www.SusanDaffron.com. You can download the first novel in her Alpine Grove series of romantic comedies, Chez Stinky, for free on sites like Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and the Apple iBookstore.

Spotlight & Guest Post: A WHOLE LATTE MURDER by Caroline Fardig

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Free Virtual Book Tours,  I am pleased to have Caroline Fardig as my guest today as she celebrates her recently released addition to the Java Jive Mystery series – A Whole Latte Murder.  Having read and enjoyed a previous book in her Java Jive series, I look forward to reading this newest addition.


 Writing’s effect on my life, or My life’s effect on my writing by Caroline Fardig

Caroline Fardig.jpegI love how writing has affected my life. I feel much more confident, and I’m much more well-spoken. I find that I notice people, places, and things more than I ever have—I guess it’s the writer in me looking for new ideas and inspiration. Conversely, I enjoy seeing what kind of effect that my life experiences have on my writing. Whenever I learn a life lesson or gain knowledge on a subject, it only makes my writing better.

I’ve had a really odd career path in my adult life. I went to college to be a music teacher, and I was for a while. I finally decided that teaching wasn’t for me, but I had learned some good life skills, such as crowd control and conflict resolution. At that point, I went in a completely different direction and became an insurance agent. It turns out, working with the general public in customer service and sales isn’t much different than working with whiny children. From working in the insurance business, I learned how to switch gears fast and wear many different hats—having to try to wheel and deal to sell someone a new policy right after having to empathize with a person who had been hurt in an accident. After my daughter was born, I took some time off to take care of her, and it was truly a wonderful experience. But, once she got in school, I felt like I needed something to do. I then got a job at a funeral home, being a greeter and helping with day-to-day tasks. It’s amazing how much work goes on behind the scenes of a funeral, and the difficult part is to make sure that everything gets done quickly, yet quietly and with the utmost respect and reverence for the dead as well as grieving family members. You have to be sympathetic, but not allow yourself to become emotional. From that job, I learned how to put my feelings aside to get my work done, and how to stay calm even when you think everything is going wrong.

My on-the-job training has become invaluable in my life, as well as in my writing. I can make my characters argue, and with what I’ve learned about dealing with conflict, I can easily maneuver them to a resolution—whether it be a positive or a negative one. In writing humorous books, it’s essential to be able to swiftly change the tone if a scene gets too deep and dark. From learning how to deal with different kinds of people and situations back to back, I can easily divert the characters away from getting too dramatic by shifting the focus of the scene to something lighter. When writing mysteries, you have to deal with death, and I’m often angered at how characters in books and movies lose a friend and just move on with the action like nothing happened. A lot of times, writers don’t allow their characters to take time to grieve. That’s something I wanted to do differently in my writing. My characters actually go to funerals, just like we would in real life, and take time to process what they’re feeling.

I’m grateful for all of the wonderful and unusual jobs I have had. Now, I can add writer to the list, which is another completely different experience. Being able to get your thoughts out on paper is very therapeutic, and I’m thankful that other people actually want to read what I write down.


About A Whole Latte Murder

latteCoffeehouse manager and reluctant sleuth Juliet Langley returns in a gripping novel from the bestselling author of Death Before Decaf and Mug Shot. Just as things are perking up in Nashville, a serial killer sends tensions foaming over.

Juliet’s personal and professional lives have recently received an extra jolt of energy. Her romance with the hunky detective Ryder Hamilton continues to simmer, and business at Java Jive has never been better. But her good mood quickly turns as stale as day-old espresso when she finds out that Ryder has been promoted to his precinct’s homicide division. With him risking his life to catch the worst kind of criminals, Juliet’s growing sense of unease ignites when a local college student goes missing.

Suddenly every Nashville resident is on high alert, especially Juliet’s neighbor Chelsea. Juliet does her best to calm the girl’s nerves, but her worst fears are confirmed when she finds Chelsea dead. Even though she tries her best to stay out of it, Juliet’s involvement puts a strain on Ryder’s first homicide case. The situation soon becomes even more personal for Juliet and her best friend Pete Bennett when one of their employees disappears during her shift. As a killer lurks in the shadows, Juliet, Pete, and Ryder seek out a double shot of justice.

About the Author

Caroline Fardig is the author of Death Before Decaf and the Lizzie Hart series. 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.

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Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: SEND IN THE CLOWNS by Julie Mulhern

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Free Virtual Book Tours,  I am pleased to have USA Today bestselling author Julie Mulhern as my guest today as she celebrates the release of her latest cozy mystery –Send in the Clowns.


On writing by Julie Mulhern

I’ve been writing for what feels like seventy-two hours straight. My eyes itch. My neck hurts. Homophones have banded together and declared me their sworn enemies. You have to watch out for those homophones – there attacks are two sneaky.

Not that I’m complaining—it’s just that when I imagined being a writer, I imagined picking up a pen when the muse struck. And bon-bons. Lots and lots of bon-bons.

The reality is a book release and a deadline on top of each other, cheap chocolate, and two (begone foul homophone!) too much coffee. The reality isn’t a muse, it’s an ever-expanding butt in seat, fingers poised on a keyboard, and words—even crappy words—adding up to a first draft.

Writing is not the glamorous pursuit I imagined. Instead, it’s stumbling out of bed in the dark, pulling on a ratty bathrobe, blindly pushing the button on the coffee maker, and writing—every day.

You know what? I wouldn’t change a thing…well, maybe the bon-bons.


About Send in the Clowns

send-in-the-clownsHaunted houses are scary enough without knife-wielding clowns. Especially murderous knife-wielding clowns. So thinks Ellison Russell, single mother, artist, and reluctant sleuth.

Now death wears a red nose and Ellison is up to the blood-stained collar of her new trench coat in costumes, caffeine, and possible killers. Who stabbed Brooks Harney? And why? Money? Jealousy? Drugs?

With Mother meddling, her father furious, and her date dragged downtown for questioning, turns out Ellison’s only confidante is Mr. Coffee.

Books in the Country Club Murders Humorous Mystery Series:

* THE DEEP END (#1)
* GUARANTEED TO BLEED (#2)
* CLOUDS IN MY COFFEE (#3)
* SEND IN THE CLOWNS (#4)

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win one of five e-copies of Send in the Clowns.

julieAbout Julie Mulhern

Julie Mulhern is the USA Today bestselling author of The Country Club Murders. She is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean–and she’s got an active imagination. Truth is–she’s an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions.

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