Interview & Spotlight: CAT GOT YOUR SECRETS by Julie Chase

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am happy to have Julie Chase as my guest as she celebrates the release of Cat Got Your Secrets, the latest addition to her Kitty Couture Mystery series.

Interview

Welcome, Julie.  I think the best place to start would be to tell us a little about yourself. 

JulieALindsey2Sure! I’m Julie Anne Lindsey, a writer-mom who stays home with her three busy kids, ages 9, 11 & 14. My children are growing up so fast in every way. My youngest is in 4th grade tomorrow and my oldest started high school last week.

Also, I write the Kitty Couture series as Julie Chase, but it’s a pen name for the project, and I write lots of other things as myself. Beginning April 2018, I will write romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

What sparked the idea to write this novel?

The Kitty Couture series was inspired by a trip to New Orleans in 2015. I fell in love with the city and wanted a reason to go back as often as possible. Once I climbed aboard a street car and got off in the Garden District, I knew that was where my next novel/series belonged. It’s an enchanting place. Since I can’t take the whole world with me physically when I visit, I figured a great novel set on those streets is just as good.

How long did it take you to write?

I wrote Cat Got Your Secrets in about 28 days. Though, the writing only began after 7-10 days of extensive plotting and detailed outlining. Once I understood all the pieces and how they would fit together, I began writing one chapter a day. Twenty-eight days/chapters later, I’d finished. I normally take 2 days at the end to reread my work, then huzzah! A novel. The entire process is more like six weeks, but I have it down to a science which helps me meet deadlines and know with confidence when I can turn something in or begin a new project. For this reason, I’m a huge advocate of outlining.

What book are you reading right now?

Right now I’m reading Protection Detail by Julie Miller, it’s a romantic suspense from Harlequin Intrigue, and I’m also reading the first in the Outlander series for my book club. In addition, my high schooler and I are listening to the YA novel, Smoke & Bone, on audio disk during the hefty 45 minute commute to his new nerd school – I’m super proud of my over-achieving offspring. They talk about math the way I talk about books.

Is there anything you would like to say to your readers that my readers might want to know about you or your series?

Only that this series is near and dear to my heart and has been so much fun to write. I’ve fallen in love with each character, and had plans to see them live on for years, having new and exciting adventures in New Orleans. However, the industry is what it is, and I’m not in control of the series duration. I have my finger crossed that the publisher will ask for more tales of Lacy and her crew, but at the moment, it looks like this will be my final installment. It’s something I haven’t mentioned before because it breaks my heart to share, but unless something changes, Cat Got Your Secrets is the final Kitty Couture Mystery.

About Cat Got Your Secrets

cgys-colored-cover-2017-1-4Lacy Marie Crocker has settled into a comfortable groove back home in New Orleans, and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, she’s busier than ever running a thriving pet boutique, helping her mother organize the upcoming National Pet Pageant, and untangling her complicated love life. But when delivering a king-sized order of dreidel-shaped doggy biscuits for a Saint Berdoodle’s bark-mitzvah, Lacy stumbles into yet another murder scene—and the last person to see the victim alive was her own father.

It’s up to Lacy to clear her dad’s name from the suspect list before Detective Jack Oliver has to cage him for good. But just when she starts pawing at the truth, she receives a threatening letter from a mysterious blackmailer bent on silencing her with her own secrets. And Lacy’s not the only one with bones in her closet.

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a paperback set of books 1 & 2 in the Kitty Couture series and a themed wallet filled with mardi gras beads.

About the Author

Julie Chase is a mystery-loving pet enthusiast who hopes to make readers smile. She lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three spunky children. Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. She is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Julie also writes as Julie Anne Lindsey. Learn more about Julie Anne Lindsey here.

Purchase Links:  Amazon     B&N     BAM!    IndieBound

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Interview & Giveaway: WAVES OF MURDER by C.S. McDonald

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Today’s post showcases “Waves of Murder,” the latest addition to the Fiona Quinn mystery series by C.S. McDonald.  I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but it sounds like a great beach read.  And it is my pleasure to have C.S. McDonald on my blog today to answer a few questions about her recent release.

An interview with C.S. McDonald

C.S. McDonaldThe Fiona Quinn Mysteries are set in Pittsburgh. Have you ever been there?

I sure have! I was born and raised in Pittsburgh—and yes, I bleed black and gold. In fact, Fiona Quinn (our heroine) is a kindergarten teacher at the elementary school that I attended and she lives at 529 Oxford Street—in the very same house I grew up in. When I describe the house, it is exactly as I remember it. Now, let me be clear—my grandmother never lived in the attic, but isn’t having a ghostly grandma fun? Many Pittsburgh venues are mentioned in the books as well. Example: in book #1 Murder on Pointe the story revolves around the Benedum Center—one of Pittsburgh’s premiere theaters.

In Waves of Murder, you move the stories from Pittsburgh to Presque Isle in Erie, Pennsylvania. Why did you take Fiona there?

As a child that is where my family vacationed. It was the only place my parents could afford to take us. I loved the beaches of Presque Isle, and I still visit the area every summer. I knew that Fiona had to visit this terrific beach, but her experiences are less relaxing than mine usually are. Poor Fiona encounters a murder—I’m happy to say this has never happened to me!

If you had to choose an actress to portray Fiona, who would you pick?

Kaley Cuoco hands down! Every time I watch Big Bang Theory I think—Wow! She would make the perfect Fiona!

Do you have another profession besides writing?

No. For twenty-six years I was a professional dancer/choreographer. I retired in 2011 and have not looked back. Whether I am working on my romantic suspense series or the Fiona Quinn books, I love writing! As a child, I used to write stories all the time, and as a child, I danced. Interesting how things come full circle—I was a professional dancer, and now I’m a writer.

Who is your biggest fan?

My husband, Bill, has been such a great supporter of my work for years—both in the dance studio and at the laptop. Unfortunately, I feel the person who would’ve been most proud of my success as a writer would have been my dad. He loved to read, and as proud as he was of my dance career, the man would have burst at the seams with pride when I published my first book in 2011. He would’ve been showing my books to anyone who would look, no doubt. My father passed away very unexpectedly in 2005 so he never got to see my writing career, but I know he is watching from above with a big toothy grin on his face!

About Waves of Murder

Waves of MurderSchool’s out for the summer!
Kindergarten teacher, Fiona Quinn is looking forward to spending some quality time in her yard and with her boyfriend, Detective Nathan Landry. However, Fiona’s plans get squelched when her mother volunteers her to edit a manuscript for famous romance author, Wyla Parkes.

What’s so bad about that? The author insists Fiona must work on the manuscript at her beach cottage on Presque Isle–three hours away from her yard and Nathan. Spending six weeks in an adorable cottage on a private beach doesn’t really seem all that bad until people start turning up dead—beginning with the author! Fiona’s summer of sun and sand is instantly transformed into a murder investigation. Can Fiona and Nathan crack the case or will the murderer get away on a wave of deceit?

Join Fiona and the gang for a hot whodunit on the sandy beaches of Presque Isle, Pennsylvania!

Giveaway

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of Waves of Murder: A Fiona Quinn Mystery by C.S. McDonald (open to USA only – 2 winners).

About the Author

For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. She was a professional dancer and choreographer. During that time she choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, she writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. Now she adds the Fiona Quinn Mysteries to that expansion. She decided to write the cozy mystery series for her young granddaughters, and has found that so many adults love them too.

Ms. McDonald resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook 

Release Spotlight & Interview: SWIM SEASON by Marianne Sciucco

Even if your swimming skills aren’t a match for the swim team, you might enjoy reading Swim Team – a recent release  that focuses on girls who compete on their high school’s team.  The author, Marianne Sciucco, is here to tell us a bit about how and why she wrote the story.

Book Description

swimseasoncoverSometimes winning is everything.

Champion swimmer Aerin Keane is ready to give up her dreams of college swimming and a shot at the Olympics. As she starts senior year in her third high school, Aerin’s determined to leave her family troubles behind and be like all the other girls at Two Rivers. She’s got a new image and a new attitude. She doesn’t want to win anymore. She’s swimming for fun, no longer the freak who wins every race, every title, only to find herself alone.

But when her desire to be just one of the girls collides with her desire to be the best Two Rivers has ever seen, will Aerin sacrifice her new friendships to break a longstanding school record that comes with a $50,000 scholarship?

An Interview with Marianne Sciucco

Why did you write a novel about girls’ varsity swimming?

Like so many writers, I wear many hats, one of which is called “Swim Mom.” I’ve shuttled my daughter to swim meets and swim practice for years, and now follow her across state lines during her college swimming career. All those hours sitting on cold, metal bleachers waiting to watch her swim for a minute or two gave me more than a sore you-know- what: It inspired me to write a novel about girls’ varsity swimming.

My goal was to write a story about the whole high school swimming experience, to show others who may not be as familiar with the sport how much fun it is and how hard these kids work. But this story is about more than swimming as my young heroine, Aerin, deals with the aftermath of her parents’ divorce, a stepmother and two stepsisters she doesn’t want, her mother’s PTSD and drug addiction after two tours of duty in the Middle East as an Army nurse, and her best friend’s cute twin brother. And she’s just started senior year in her third high school. Aerin is a girl you will definitely cheer for.

What has swimming taught you?

Swimming is such a great sport with lifelong benefits. Swimming competitively, especially in high school, can be a positive experience that builds character, self-esteem, and friendships. In New York State, girls can join the varsity team in seventh grade, when they’re 12, and compete against girls who are much older and bigger. When my daughter joined the high school team as a seventh grader, I was unsure whether or not she’d be able to meet its demands: practice after school every day and on Saturday mornings, and swim meets at least twice a week. She looked so small compared to the other girls. Could she really compete against them? Would she be crushed? How would this affect her self-esteem? Would she quit? Our kids often surprise us, and my daughter surprised me. She loved being on the team, loved her teammates, and never complained about going to practice or asked if she could skip.

swim-season-launch-blog-headerSure, there were times when the older girls pushed her to work harder, swim faster, but that only made her a better swimmer. As the years went on, her skills improved and she quickly became a team leader, one of their top swimmers, and a contender in the division. She grew up a lot in her six years on this team and learned many valuable lessons: keeping a commitment to a sport and a team that spanned a third of her life; setting and making personal goals; the grace of winning; the humility of defeat; confidence in her athleticism; pride in her body and what it can do; and the rewards earned through hard work and dedication. She has  gone on to swim in college where she continues to exhibit the same skills and attitudes she cultivated in high school. These are lifelong lessons that will benefit her in whatever she chooses to do, in sports, work, and more. All girls should have the opportunity to learn about themselves through sports, any sport.

What did you learn from writing Swim Season?

Swim Season is my second novel, and was five years in the making. During that time, I learned that writing a book is an arduous, grueling, laborious, painstaking task that requires diligence, dedication, time, tenacity, and talent. Much like being a competitive swimmer.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?

I love Devon, Aerin’s mom. Like me, she is a nurse, but brought her nursing skills to the battlefield to attend to our soldiers at war. She is brave and selfless, a patriot. I spent a lot of time researching women in the military and Army nurses. They are incredibly inspiring. I also researched the wounded warrior, PTSD, opiate addiction, and depression. These are real issues for our returning soldiers that must be addressed. Devon’s story was my attempt to shed light on this. I have plans to write a sequel to Swim Season, tentatively called Swim Mom, which will be Devon’s story after she is released from her incarceration. No promises as to when this will be completed. I hope it doesn’t take five years.

What other research did you do for Swim Season?

For a while I was taking Aquasize classes at my local YMCA. One day I got the idea to try to  swim 500 yards, which is the length of the race at the heart of Swim Season. I wanted to see if I could do it, how long it would take, and how I would feel during and afterwards. I have never swum competitively, although I have always loved to swim and am capable of doing the freestyle. My first 500 clocked in at 30 minutes. I stopped after every length to catch my breath and chat with the other ladies in the Aquasize class. I kept at it, though, and after a few weeks managed to complete the 500 in 16 minutes, which was phenomenal for me. Of course, the time to beat in Swim Season is 4:52.50, which was in never never land for me. But, as a middle-aged woman with below-average fitness, I was proud of my achievement. In the end, unfortunately, it exacerbated my repetitive strain injuries and I had to give it up.

Tell us something strange, odd, weird, or random about yourself.

In 2001, I came close to drowning in a rip tide at Race Point Beach in Provincetown, Massachusetts. It was terrifying and life changing. It still scares me, but I continue to swim in the ocean and in those particular waters.

What inspires you to write?

Everything inspires me to write. The world is amazing. People are fascinating. I see stories everywhere and some of them are compelling enough for me to want to tell them. Once an idea or image penetrates my brain I start filling in the details, developing a story line, building characters. If it excites me and takes off far enough, I write an outline so I don’t forget it and put it on my “To Be Written List.” Hopefully, I will live long enough to complete all of these stories.

About the Author

During swim season, you can find Marianne Sciucco, a dedicated Swim Mom for ten years, at one of many Skyline Conference swim meets, cheering for her daughter Allison and the Mount Saint Mary College Knights.

Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues.

Her debut novel Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story, is a Kindle bestseller; IndieReader Approved; a BookWorks featured book; and a Library Journal Self-e Selection. She also has two short stories available on Kindle, Ino’s Love and Collection.

A native Bostonian, Marianne lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, and when not writing works as a campus nurse at a community college.

Purchase Links:

Swim Season is currently available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.

Author Links:

Interview & Release Spotlight: MURDER AT SUNRISE by Kathi Daley

This week Kathi Daley releases another cozy mystery – Murder at Sunrise – the second book in her mystery series set in Hawaii. Kathi is visiting my blog today to tell us about her release and answer my questions about her experiences as a mystery writer.

SunriseKathiAbout Murder at Sunrise

Hilarity ensues when a group of seniors decide to investigate after one of their own ends up dead. Luke and Lani join the effort only to discover that they may have bitten off more than they can chew when the murder mystery becomes a lot more complicated, and a lot more dangerous, than anyone could have anticipated.

Interview

Earlier this year, you launched a new mystery series set in Honolulu.  What made you choose Hawaii?  Have you spent a lot of time there?

My husband and I vacation on Maui on a fairly regular basis and I really love the feel of the islands. I do like to place my series in settings I enjoy visiting physically and mentally, and I do try to mix things up a bit between the mountains and the ocean. Initially I thought about setting the series on Maui, but with its larger population, I felt that Oahu offered a more realistic backdrop for which inevitably will become a community with a lot of murders.

The second book in the Sand and Sea Hawaiian Mystery Book  series – “Murder at Sunrise” will be released this week.  What can you tell us about it?

Murder at Sunrise is a fun book because it involves the participation of a group of hysterically funny seniors who were briefly introduced in Murder at Dolphin Bay. The main character, Kailani Pope, lives in a small condominium complex. Her next door neighbor, Elva Chambers, is a senior citizen who has recently suffered a broken hip. Elva is unable to drive, so on her days off Lani drives her to events at the senior center. It is at one of these events, a sunrise ceremony for the summer solstice, that a murder occurs. Initially Lani isn’t going to get involved in the investigation since she got into a lot of trouble with her detective brother the last time she tried to get in the middle of things, but the investigation is moving slowly so a group of seniors decide to investigate on their own. Lani, along with her boyfriend Luke, don’t want the seniors to put themselves in any danger, so they decide to pitch in and help them out.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on Treasure in Paradise, one of the books from the Paradise Lake series which is published by Henery Press. Once I complete that project I plan to begin working on the Halloween stories which will be published for each of my self-publish series. On tap for Halloween is Murder at The Witching Hour: Sand and Sea Hawaiian Mystery; Costume Catastrophe: Zoe Donovan Mystery; and Count Catula: Whales and Tails Mystery. They will publish in August and September.

Wow, that’s impressive.  Based on the vast number of books you have written – you don’t seem to have a problem with writer’s block. How do you do it?

I work a lot. I know this isn’t the fun and sexy answer but it is true. I log onto my computer while I’m enjoying my first cup of coffee and I usually can be found at my computer until late afternoon. I self-publish a minimum of a book a month as a base. From this base I add books to the mix depending on my time limitations. The past two years I have published 18 books per year but this year I have had to back off a bit in order to expand into trade publishing. I plan to publish 12 – 13 self-publish books, plus I am writing two for Henery Press, and I am working on a new project for another publisher that it is too early to talk about. I also travel quite a bit so I need to carve out free time for this. I just got back from a two week writing trip to Maui where I wrote Murder at Sunrise on location, and I plan to be at Bouchercon (New Orleans) in September; Jackson MO (Mystery Train) in October; Honolulu Hi (Left Coast Crime) in March; and Bethesda MD (Malice) in April.

I am guessing you read a lot of mysteries. Do you enjoy reading (or even writing) other genres as well?

I actually read very little now that I am a writer (lack of time). Prior to writing a cozy mystery I had never even read one. A friend of mine knew I was thinking about getting into writing and suggested cozy mysteries as an option. He gave me a list of authors to read. I read them and thought to myself that I could do that and I did. Prior to writing cozy mysteries I tended to read romance. I guess that now I pick my reading material based on which of my author friends has a new book out that I want to support. I have written one stand alone romance: Road to Christmas Past, and I am currently working on another romance series. I also have 5 books in a YA mystery series – Seacliff High. Seacliff High is basically a cozy mystery with teenage characters. It is popular amongst teens and adults alike since it contains many of the same characteristics of my adult series.

What are you currently reading??

Sand Dollar Cove by Nancy Naigle.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? 
This is a hard one because if I really wanted to go somewhere I would go. I’ve been to all 50 states and have really enjoyed spending time getting to know this beautiful country. My son lives in Ireland at the moment and I haven’t seen my grandchildren since they came to visit at Christmas so I guess I would want to go there if I had the time but it is much too long of a flight to go for a short visit.

That’s all for now. Hope you get to see your grandkids and the Emerald Isle sometime soon.  It’s been a pleasure having you as my guest. And, of course, congrats on your new release!

About Kathi Daley

Kathi Daley lives with her husband, kids, grandkids, and Bernese mountain dogs in beautiful Lake Tahoe. When she isn’t writing, she likes to read (preferably at the beach or by the fire), cook (preferably something with chocolate or cheese), and garden (planting and planning, not weeding). She also enjoys spending time on the water when she’s not hiking, biking, or snowshoeing the miles of desolate trails surrounding her home.

Kathi uses the mountain setting in which she lives, along with the animals (wild and domestic) that share her home, as inspiration for her cozy mysteries.

Kathi is a top 100 mystery writer for Amazon and she won the 2014 award for both Best Cozy Mystery Author and Best Cozy Mystery Series.

She currently writes five series: Zoe Donovan Cozy Mysteries, Whales and Tails Island Mysteries, Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Mysteries, Sand and Sea Hawaiian Mysteries, and Seacliff High Teen Mysteries.

Connect with Kathi:

Interview & Release Spotlight: ROGUES & RASCALS IN GOOSE PIMPLE JUNCTION by Amy Metz

Amy Metz is at again. She has just released another book – Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction – the third book in her Goose Pimple Junction Mysteries series.  Amy is visiting my blog today to tell us about her release and answer my questions about her experiences as a cozy mystery writer.

About Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction

GPJ4CoverLike any good Southern belle, Caledonia Culpepper was raised by her mama to be gracious, charming, witty, and above all, a devoted mother and loving wife, so she’s baffled when her marriage falls apart.

Wynona Baxter is a master of disguise but is often a ditzy airhead. A hit woman wannabe, when she’s hired for her first job in Goose Pimple Junction and things don’t go as planned, she’s forced to resort to Plan B. She’ll also need Plan C and D.

Crooked lawyers, restless husbands, a teenaged hoodlum – it seems there are rogues and rascals everywhere you look in Goose Pimple Junction.

When Caledonia and Wynona’s paths cross, they prove there isn’t a rogue or a rascal who can keep a good woman down. Mama always said there would be days like this . . .

Interview

What’s your favorite thing about the writing process?
After the first draft is done, I like to go back and add the layers. More dialogue, more description . . . if a draft is the bones of a story, I love adding the clothing.

Where did you get the idea for this book?
Real life. I went through a divorce last year, and my ex-husband’s attorney was so horrible I wanted to kill her. Since I didn’t want to go to jail, I put her in a book.

What books do you currently have published?
Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction is book 1 in the series. Book 2 is Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction. Short & Tall Tales in Goose Pimple Junction is book 3 (but falls chronologically between books 1 and 2). And Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction is book 4.

Is writing your dream job? Yes, at the moment, it is. My first dream job was being a mom. Now that my boys are grown, writing is my dream job. The only other job I’d love to have would be to have someone pay me to travel and take pictures of the places I visit. That would be awesome.

What five things would you never want to live without? Trees, flowers, sweet tea, makeup, and my computer.

What’s the biggest lie you ever told?
That would probably be when I was trying to convince my mother—who had dementia at the time—that she needed to move to an assisted living facility. I told her she was just going there for rehab when in fact it was for good.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
I love, love, love the Stockbridge, Massachusetts library. Besides the beauty of the building (it was built in 1864), it has a wonderful room upstairs that is usually vacant. You can go up there and work or read among all those books and all that history. Beauty, solitude, and books. What could be better?

Who is your favorite fictional character? (Not your own.)
Probably Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice. She’s so smart and quick-witted, and in the end she gets a man who loves her madly.

What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
It’s Calvin & Hobbs making faces. It reminds me not to be too serious about things.

What’s your favorite treat for movie night?
Junior Mints or chocolate covered raisins. Popcorn is always a good choice too.

Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?
Of course! Tess is a klutz like I am. I’m sure there are other subconscious ones as well.

How did you get the amazing cover art for this book?
I was trolling through the Internet, just looking for something that jumped out at me. I can’t remember the search word I used, but as soon as I saw “Emerico” Imre Tóth’s “Bowler Hat on a Rainy Day” painting, I fell in love and I knew it was the cover for my fourth book. I contacted him, and he was kind enough to sell me the rights to use it.

AmyMetzpicAbout the Author

Amy Metz is the author of the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. She is a former first grade teacher and the mother of two sons. When not actively engaged in writing, enjoying her family, or surfing Facebook or Pinterest, Amy can usually be found with a mixing spoon, camera, or book in one hand and a glass of sweet tea in the other. Amy lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Interview & Giveaway: SUSAN SANTANGELO, Mystery Author

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  I am pleased to have Susan Santangelo as my guest. She is here today to share her thoughts on mystery  writing and tell us about Sleuthing Women, a boxed set of  10 mysteries that includes one of her books, Retirement Can Be Murder.

Interview

I love mysteries.  Susan, what made you decide to write mysteries?

I’ve loved reading mysteries ever since I was a little girl. And I’ve been lucky enough to eke out a “meager” living as a writer for newspapers and magazines ever since the 1970s. When my husband of umpteen years announced that he was retiring from his 9-5 office job (he’s a writer, too), I suddenly realized that I needed to figure out something for us to do together, so we didn’t drive each other crazy. I’d been toying with writing a mystery about Baby Boomers. So many potential readers! I proposed that we write one together. But it didn’t work out that way.

Tell me a little bit more about Retirement Can Be Murder.

I’d always heard the phrase, “Write what you know.” What I knew was that my husband and I were part of a tsunami of Baby Boomers facing retirement, with all its financial and emotional adjustments. I came up with the book’s title first, and it made me laugh. Then I thought of a sub-head, “Every wife has a story,” so readers would know instantly that the story is being told from the wife’s point of view. Here’s the back cover blurb: “Baby Boomer Carol Andrews dreads her upcoming husband Jim’s retirement more than a root canal without Novocain. She can’t imagine anything worse than an at-home husband with time on his hands and nothing to fill it, except interfering in the day-to-day activities of the household and driving her crazy. Until her plans to stall Jim’s retirement result in her husband being suspected of murdering his retirement coach.”

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

Well, let’s just say that we’ve never found a dead body. As far as the rest of the story goes, I write what I’m living every day.

What else have you written?

The first book turned out to be the beginning of the Baby Boomer mystery series when readers wanted to know what happens to Carol and Jim after he retired. Book 2 is Moving Can Be Murder about the couple’s decision to sell the family home and downsize. Book 3, Marriage Can Be Murder, involves the destination wedding of one of the couple’s children. Class Reunions Can Be Murder takes place at Carol’s 40th high school reunion, and in Funerals Can Be Murder, a hunky handyman who works for Carol and Jim dies under mysterious circumstances. In Second Honeymoons Can Be Murder, the couple travel to Florida for a very unusual anniversary celebration.

What are you working on right now?

Carol celebrated just a little too much while she was in Florida and gained some excess pounds, so I decided she needed to start counting her calories. I’m writing Dieting Can Be Murder now, and learning a lot about healthy food choices. And, I love this title, since I realized that the first three letters of the word “dieting” are “die.” What a natural title for a mystery!

How do you conquer writer’s block? (Please let me know your secret.)

I’m a terrible eavesdropper. And I love to shop. When I’m having trouble with some dialogue or a particular scene in my w.i.p., I order myself to take a break for some retail therapy. I always choose the longest line at the supermarket, too. It’s amazing what people talk about on their phones in a public place these days. I get lots of ideas. But, alas, our accountant says we can’t call my credit card purchases “research” and deduct them.

I am guessing you read a lot of mysteries. Do you enjoy reading (or even writing) other genres as well? What are you currently reading?

I’m lucky enough to get to review mysteries for Suspense magazine. Right now, I’m reading And Then There Were Nuns by Kylie Logan. It makes me laugh out loud, especially since I went to Catholic school.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I’d like to go back to Italy. I love the people. And I love the food!

What advice do you have for other Baby Boomers?

It’s never too late in life to try something new. If you can dream it, do it! If not now, when?

COVER SLEUTHING WOMAN2Sleuthing Women:
10 First-in-Series Mysteries

Sleuthing Women is a collection of full-length mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by ten critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novel in the set is the first book in an established multi-book series—a total of over 3,000 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, and cozy mysteries, with a combined total of over 1700 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4 stars. Titles include:

  • Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, an Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery by Lois Winston—Working mom Anastasia is clueless about her husband’s gambling addiction until he permanently cashes in his chips and her comfortable middle-class life craps out. He leaves her with staggering debt, his communist mother, and a loan shark demanding $50,000. Then she’s accused of murder…
  • Murder Among Neighbors, a Kate Austen Suburban Mystery by Jonnie Jacobs — When Kate Austen’s socialite neighbor, Pepper Livingston, is murdered, Kate becomes involved in a sea of steamy secrets that bring her face to face with shocking truths—and handsome detective Michael Stone.
  • Skeleton in a Dead Space, a Kelly O’Connell Mystery by Judy Alter—Real estate isn’t a dangerous profession until Kelly O’Connell stumbles over a skeleton and runs into serial killers and cold-blooded murderers in a home being renovated in Fort Worth. Kelly barges through life trying to keep from angering her policeman boyfriend Mike and protect her two young daughters.
  • In for a Penny, a Cleopatra Jones Mystery by Maggie Toussaint—Accountant Cleo faces an unwanted hazard when her golf ball lands on a dead banker. The cops think her BFF shot him, so Cleo sets out to prove them wrong. She ventures into the dating world, wrangles her teens, adopts the victim’s dog, and tries to rein in her mom…until the killer puts a target on Cleo’s back.
  • The Hydrogen Murder, a Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino—A retired physicist returns to her hometown of Revere, Massachusetts and moves into an apartment above her friends’ funeral home. When she signs on to help the Police Department with a science-related homicide, she doesn’t realize she may have hundreds of cases ahead of her.
  • Retirement Can Be Murder, A Baby Boomer Mystery by Susan Santangelo—Carol Andrews dreads her husband Jim’s upcoming retirement more than a root canal without Novocain. She can’t imagine anything worse than having an at-home husband with time on his hands and nothing to fill it—until Jim is suspected of murdering his retirement coach.
  • Dead Air, A Talk Radio Mystery by Mary Kennedy—Psychologist Maggie Walsh moves from NY to Florida to become the host of WYME’s On the Couch with Maggie Walsh. When her guest, New Age prophet Guru Sanjay Gingii, turns up dead, her new roommate Lark becomes the prime suspect. Maggie must prove Lark innocent while dealing with a killer who needs more than just therapy.
  • A Dead Red Cadillac, A Dead Red Mystery by RP Dahlke—When her vintage Cadillac is found tail-fins up in a nearby lake, the police ask aero-ag pilot Lalla Bains why an elderly widowed piano teacher is found strapped in the driver’s seat. Lalla confronts suspects, informants, cross-dressers, drug-running crop dusters, and a crazy Chihuahua on her quest to find the killer.
  • Murder is a Family Business, an Alvarez Family Murder Mystery by Heather Haven—Just because a man cheats on his wife and makes Danny DeVito look tall, dark and handsome, is that any reason to kill him? The reluctant and quirky PI, Lee Alvarez, has her work cut out for her when the man is murdered on her watch. Of all the nerve.
  •  Murder, Honey, a Carol Sabala Mystery by Vinnie Hansen—When the head chef collapses into baker Carol Sabala’s cookie dough, she is thrust into her first murder investigation. Suspects abound at Archibald’s, the swanky Santa Cruz restaurant where Carol works. The head chef cut a swath of people who wanted him dead from ex-lovers to bitter rivals to greedy relatives.

Buy Links

Giveaway

As part of this blog tour, enter for a chance to win one of five e-copies of the Sleuthing Women boxed set in a Rafflecopter giveaway.

About Susan Santangelo

SusanSantangeloSusan Santangelo pens the bestselling Baby Boomer mysteries, a series of humorous cozies which follow the adventures of a typical boomer couple as they navigate their way along life’s rocky highway toward their twilight years. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Cape Cod Writers Center, and also reviews mysteries for Suspense magazine. She shares her life with her husband Joe and two very spoiled English cocker spaniels, Boomer and Lilly. Boomer also serves as the model for the books’ covers.

Author Spotlight & Interview: S. A. Molteni

I am pleased to host S.A. Molteni on my blog today. She is here today to tell us a bit about her writing and her recently released cozy mystery,  Double Hearts.

Interview

I  love mysteries. What made you decide to write a cozy mystery after writing in other genres?

I have always been a fan of mysteries and have read quite a lot of them in my lifetime. After writing non-fiction for the last two years, I wanted to write something fictional and fun. So, I decided to try my hand at the mystery genre.

Tell me a little bit about your cozy mystery,  Double Hearts.

AMZDHDouble Hearts – A Shelly Martin Cozy Mystery (included in the Sleuthing Women – Mystery Collection) is my first foray into writing cozy mysteries and is one I wanted to have a strong female detective as the protagonist. In Double Hearts, the first book in the series, Shelly Martin has just opened her detective agency and her newest case is one she will not soon forget. As she delves deeper into it, she discovers that it just might shatter her dreams of a happily-ever-after life and a second chance with her high-school sweetheart, Jake McCord.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

Absolutely nothing in the book is from a my own personal life experience. The book is entirely a work of fiction, but centers around my interest in detective work as well as my love of solving mysteries.

I know this isn’t your first book, only your first cozy. What else have you written?

I have written mostly non-fiction up until this point. My non-fiction series is entitled, I.T. Geek to Farm Girl Freak and includes two books at the moment. The third book and final in the series will be out at the end of 2016.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on the second book in the Shelly Martin Cozy Mystery series as well as the third book in the I.T. Geek to Farm Girl Freak series.

How do you conquer writer’s block? (Please let me know your secret.)

The best way I have found to overcome writer’s block is to perform some type of manual labor, like cleaning out the barn or gardening and mowing the lawn. Once I step away from my writing cave for a few hours and get all gross and sweaty from farm chores, I am eager to start writing again. There is no shortage of story material here on my hobby farm and I get many ideas when shoveling manure. 🙂

I am guessing you read a lot of mysteries. Do you enjoy reading other genres as well? What are you currently reading?

I love to read mysteries as well as a few other genres – paranormal fantasy, non-fiction essays, science fiction and clean romance – to name a few. I am currently reading A Chance to Get it Right (Copperhead Creek – Australian Romance Book 2) by SM Spencer.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I have always wanted to go to Australia to see the unique sights and sounds of the Land Down Under. I adore koala bears and kangaroos, so that would be a thrill for me to see them in the wild. I would also love to go to Lake Como, Italy and meet some of the members of my distant family tree.

Double Hearts – A Shelly Martin Cozy Mystery

Shelly Martin recently opened her detective agency after working in the Austin Police Department as a criminologist. In her newest case, she is determined to solve the mystery of who hit Vernon Sykes and left him for dead on a desolate road in the middle of the night.

Jake McCord was Shelly’s high school sweetheart until he left town without a word to her about his whereabouts. When he returns to Austin after fifteen years away, he hopes for a second chance with Shelly. Little does he know that he will be involved in a criminal investigation led by her.

Will their reunion be tarnished by his supposed negligence or will the facts present him as the victim of a cunning crime?

About S.A. Molteni

samolteniS.A. Molteni is a retired systems engineer. She is also currently a hobby farmer, avid traveler and an author of several award-winning short stories. She lives on a small homestead with her husband and a menagerie of very spoiled farm animals.

Guest Post: BRANDY, the Chocolate Lab, Shares His Story

Today, I am happy to have Brandy as my special guest. Brandy is the chocolate labrador retriever from Think Murder. He’s here to tell us a bit about Adina and her friends at the Cutie Pie dog rescue.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

labrador-805856_1280croppedWhen I was just a puppy,  a lady came and took me away from my mother and my sisters and brothers. The lady was really nice and tried to take good care of me.  But her man didn’t seem to like me much.  A couple of weeks later, he took me for a ride in the car, then put me out on the side of busy road and drove away.  The noise from all those cars was scary.  After I’d wandered around a while,  a different man stopped his car and picked me up.  This man took me to Cutie Pie.

The people at Cutie Pie were nice, especially Adina. Bruce and Stacey were cool, too, but Adina was my favorite. Trust me, she’s good people. We dogs have ways of knowing these things.  She took me on long walks and gave awesome belly rubs.  I could tell she loved me, and I really hoped she’d take me home with her.  I’d have done almost anything for Adina.  Alas, she didn’t take me home (sigh), but she did help me find my forever home.  I was adopted by a wonderful family with two kids, and they take great care of me.

I am one lucky puppy.  Remember, there’s no greater gift a shelter/rescue animal can receive this holiday season than a loving family and a forever home. 

Before you go,  here’s an excerpt from Think Murder:

ThinkMurderfinalHilary had pretty much wound down by the time we reached McSweeney’s. A popular spot among men and women in their 20s and 30s, the pub was standing room only and the scent of Guinness hung in the air. Most of the guys were scoping the scene seeking out potential hookups – but that was nothing new. Petite and pretty, with strawberry blond hair and sparkly blue eyes, Hilary was a magnet for male attention.

We made our way to the bar and each ordered a glass of white wine. I even managed to grab a small dish of chicken wings for us to share. We did our best to eat, drink, and talk, while standing, constantly jostled by the crowd. Just as one guy was on the verge of striking up a conversation with us, we snagged a small table in the back corner.

More often than not I enjoyed watching the flirtations or even flirted a bit myself, but today my attention was on our conversation. Hilary’s mood had changed since our arrival. Seated at our relatively secluded table, she fidgeted in her chair. After we had both ordered a second glass of wine, Hilary took a few rapid sips, then confided, “Something’s going on with Duncan, he’s been acting strange.” She hesitated, then stammered, “Do you think he’s cheating on me?” Continue reading

Interview: ADINA DONATI visits the RRBC Back to School Book & Blog Block Party

Block Party Badge(1)

Welcome to my stop on the amazing month-long RRBC Back-to-School Book & Blog Block Party.  It’s been so much fun visiting fellow RRBC writers’ blogs and learning about their work these past few weeks!

As part of the festivities, leave a comment on this blog today to be entered for a chance to win an e-copy of Think Murder.
But that’s not all, RRBC is offering great grand prizes to visitors on all of the participating blogs. Each time you leave a comment on a blog stop, your name is entered into the Grand Prize drawing at the end of the tour. Winners will be announced by RRBC at the close of the tour.
For the complete tour lineup and prize details, click here.

Today,  I am pleased to give my readers a glimpse into the life of Adina Donati, the main character and narrator in Think Murder.

ThinkMurderfinalWelcome, Adina.  So glad you could make time in your busy schedule to answer a few questions for my readers. Perhaps you could start off by telling us a bit about yourself and your decision to move to Washington, D.C. after college.

I’m originally from a small town outside Worcester, Mass. After attending UMass, I couldn’t see myself moving back home and living with my parents. I wanted to be able to do what I want, when I want I – without an overprotective mother looking over my shoulder.

I studied linguistics and the romance languages in college and had really hoped to find a job that would put my language skills to use.  With its international flavor, D.C. seemed like a good place to start.  I moved here over two years ago,  a month after I graduated. Spent the first few weeks sleeping on the floor at a friend’s place until I found a job and an apartment that I could afford.

Been there, I totally understand.
What can you tell us about your job?

I work as an administrative assistant at the illustrious Drake Institute, or the DIPPeR as we insiders call it. It’s a think tank that focuses on policy trends. Not what I dreamed of doing when I went to college, but the job market is tough. I had to compromise or move back home.

Truth be told, it’s not all that bad. My boss, Matt, heads up research into energy policy, and he’s an amazing person. Great to work for. And, of course, I’m surrounded by lots of really intelligent professionals.

Rumor has it that life in D.C. has been quite an adventure for you. 

I love D.C.  It’s a cool city for the most part, especially for young people. There are lots of interesting people, museums, and cultural events. Not to mention the pubs and restaurants. Plenty to do, if you have the time to do it. But like any large city, it has a flip side – crime and poverty. Of course, where politics are involved, the potential for intrigue and corruption is added to the mix.

It’s been hard at times, for sure.  My friend Hilary’s murder hit close to home. And it was scary when the police couldn’t find her killer.  Did I consider moving back home?  Not really.  I mean what are the odds something like that would happen – pretty low, and even lower chances that I’d ever find myself involved in another murder investigation.  (Then again, maybe lightning does strike twice in the same place.)

What do you do to unwind when you’re not working or helping solve murders?

I love dogs. I can’t have a dog in my apartment, so I get my “warm puppy fix” by volunteering at a local dog rescue center a couple times a week.  The only drawback is that I get really attached to the dogs.  I am always happy to see a four-legged friend find his forever home, but it can be really hard to say goodbye.  Parting with Brandy almost broke my heart. I really loved that puppy. Luckily, he was adopted by someone who lives nearby so I sometimes see him in the park.labrador-805856_1280cropped

And your social life?  Is there a special someone you’d like to tell us about?

I’d have to describe it as a work in progress…
Cassidy, for now, let’s not make my entire life an open book.

Gotcha.  One last question.
Adina Donati – that’s an unusual name. Italian?

Sort of. My dad’s family is Italian. The name Adina is not all that uncommon in Italian or Spanish names. My mom liked it because it means ‘gentle’ or ‘delicate’ in Hebrew, and she wanted me to have a Hebrew name.  Before you ask (lots of people do), Mom’s Jewish. Dad’s not.

That must make for interesting times.

Absolutely. Especially when holidays overlap and mom tries to accommodate everyone’s preferences.  Think “Kosher for Passover” Easter dinners.  But somehow it works.  Probably because we all respect one another’s right to have different beliefs and opinions.

That’s great.  Thanks, Adina, for being with us today. On that positive note, I’d like to remind my readers that  Think Murder is available on Amazon.  

Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy
of Think Murder or one of the great prizes offered by RRBC.

 25/9 – Congrats to Michael King on winning the prize on this stop 🙂

*** NEWS FLASH ***
In honor of this blog party, Think Murder is available this week for just $0.99.  Click here to grab your copy now.

To check out additional stops on the RRBC Back-to-School Book & Blog Block Party, click here.

Before you go,  here’s an excerpt from Think Murder:

Hilary had pretty much wound down by the time we reached McSweeney’s. A popular spot among men and women in their 20s and 30s, the pub was standing room only and the scent of Guinness hung in the air. Most of the guys were scoping the scene seeking out potential hookups – but that was nothing new. Petite and pretty, with strawberry blond hair and sparkly blue eyes, Hilary was a magnet for male attention.

We made our way to the bar and each ordered a glass of white wine. I even managed to grab a small dish of chicken wings for us to share. We did our best to eat, drink, and talk, while standing, constantly jostled by the crowd. Just as one guy was on the verge of striking up a conversation with us, we snagged a small table in the back corner.

More often than not I enjoyed watching the flirtations or even flirted a bit myself, but today my attention was on our conversation. Hilary’s mood had changed since our arrival. Seated at our relatively secluded table, she fidgeted in her chair. After we had both ordered a second glass of wine, Hilary took a few rapid sips, then confided, “Something’s going on with Duncan, he’s been acting strange.” She hesitated, then stammered, “Do you think he’s cheating on me?” Continue reading

Author Spotlight and Interview: TERESA HIRST

TeresaHirstHeadShot2014-250x300I am pleased to spotlight Teresa Hirst on my blog today. Teresa’s latest novel, Flowers of Grace, will be released on February 20th.  Set in an upscale St. Louis boutique amid a fragile economic climate when retail customers are trading brick and mortar stores for online shopping, Flowers of Grace is a story of love and loss, friendship and forgiveness.

Interview

Teresa, I understand that you are about to release your second book, Flowers of Grace.  What inspired this moving story?

I inherited a beautiful hibiscus plant from a woman just before she died from cancer. Despite all of my best efforts to water, feed and care for her plant, it died. The idea for Flowers of Grace developed and her plant gained a new life in this novel.  Grace, the manager of an upscale boutique, also receives a hibiscus from a departing friend and is sure that she will kill it if she is left to care for it on her own. She rallies the women on her staff to help it bloom, and their dynamic personalities fill the clothing store. Grace and the plant blossom through a wedding and a birth, but its unexpected death pushes her to face false assumptions, opening a path for new love to appear.

What challenges did you face in the writing process? 

Because I also write nonfiction and use source material topically, I struggled to write scenes for a novel chronologically. When I discovered that I could write scenes as they came to me and then insert them together, the story unfolded at a good pace.

Do you have any advice to offer other writers?

Pursue a genre that speaks to you. Be cognizant of your audience as you write, because you will need to sell it to someone, but don’t write according to the trends just to ride on those. Also, write in a variety of formats—long and short, fiction and nonfiction, creative and informative. Writing in this way generates good skills but it also helps you practice one of the most challenge tasks —really communicating with a reader.

What genre do you most enjoy reading? What are you currently reading?

I enjoy women’s fiction—both contemporary and historical. I also love biography. Although I don’t generally read young adult fiction, I just finished the first book in the new series, Citizen of Logan Pond: Life by Rebecca Belliston and enjoyed the characters and imagining what survival skills I might use in the event that the Great Recession had become an impetus for unchecked government control.

What writers or books have most inspired you?

My husband introduced me to the short story or novella Babette’s Feast many years ago by author Isak Dinesen. In this quirky remote Scandinavian setting a congregation of devout followers have a famous chef living among them and do not even know what they have. Clever stories like that inspire me to find similar connections and twists that characters work to uncover.

As a contrast, in my young mom days I read a lot of Maeve Binchy novels because I liked getting involved in the family settings she develops. In my own writing I like the themes of family life and working through relationship issues. I read widely from old classics to new indie published authors.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the sequel to Flowers of Grace, which is Open to Joy. I shared a chapter with my writing group last month, which wasn’t a resource I had when I wrote Flowers of Grace. It was fun to workshop with other writers, and I would encourage writers to gather with other writers to do this. It doesn’t need to be a list of best selling authors who meet in a premiere location. Some of the best writing groups simply look like six to eight writers (published and unpublished) who share their work face-to-face and receive feedback from each other.

What role does social media play in your life?

Social media plays a huge role in my life. I studied journalism, worked for a newspaper and worked in public affairs. Social media allows me to stay informed and develop my own channels to communicate with people in a professional but social way as I build relationships and share content.

I’m pretty authentic in what I share about my personal life online. I received a rare cancer diagnosis last year, just after I released Twelve Stones to Remember Him, an inspirational nonfiction book about how individuals and families managed through the financial crisis. That was sort of ironic to receive my own new crisis as I was marketing that book. Cancer brought an unexpected twist to my life and added a new dimension to how I use social media.

What do you do when you’re not busy reading and writing?

I have great conversations, of course! I love to connect with women to talk, talk, talk. I still call old friends on the phone at least once a week. I gain so much from my female friends, my sisters, and my daughters. The women I’ve come to trust have a way of talking through things with me that helps me make decisions and feel connected.

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Books by Teresa Hirst

  • Flowers of Grace – available for preorder (special price) at Amazon and other online retailers.  (Enter the Goodreads giveway to win a free copy of Flowers of Grace and add it to your shelf on Goodreads.)

Twelve Stones to Remember Him (available on Amazon)

About Teresa Hirst

Teresa lives in Minnesota with her husband and teenage children. She is a Mormon choosing faith and gratitude to cope with neuroendocrine cancer. She enjoys cooking, sentimental movies, Sunday afternoon walks and great conversations.

To learn more about Teresa and her books, please visit http://www.teresahirst.com or follow her on social media.

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