Spotlight & Guest Post: DEATH BY INTERMISSION by Alexis Morgan

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


PLAYING FAVORITES, by Alexis Morgan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About the Book

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

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

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

About the Author

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

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

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

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

Review & Guest Post: MYSTERY BONES MURDER by Karen Randau

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


Introducing Frankie Shep, by Karen Randau

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About The Book

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

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

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

And now her retired father is missing.

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

And now he’s watching her.

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

My Review

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

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

About the Author

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

Author Links

Purchase Links – Amazon 

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

Guest Post & Release Spotlight: ANONYMOUS

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to have as my guest, Elizabeth Breck, author of the recently released ANONYMOUS, a Madison Kelly Mystery. While she’s here to visit, she’s going to tell us a bit about her inspiration in creating Madison Kelly.


Will the Real Kinsey Millhone Please Stand Up?
Elizabeth Breck

Kinsey Millhone is a fictional private investigator who stars in twenty-five novels penned by the late great Sue Grafton, spanning thirty-six years and the alphabet from A to Y. I was already a state of California licensed Private Investigator when I read my first Sue Grafton novel, and I gobbled them up.

What I liked best about the books was the accuracy of the investigative details. Kinsey investigated insurance fraud, and so did I. Kinsey had to travel to courthouses and halls of administration to get public records about her subjects, and so did I. Kinsey sat for hours in a dark car, bored and hungry, until her subject moved—at which point it was an adrenaline rush of fear and suspense as she tailed without being seen. This was my life. We were both young, female, unlikely private investigators, and I reveled in our similarities. Sue Grafton wrote what it was really like to be a PI.

Until she didn’t. Sue Grafton made the choice to leave Kinsey in the 1980’s so that she wouldn’t age; Grafton was a very successful author so it is hard to argue with any of her choices. But how we investigated changed greatly in the 1990’s and 2000’s. With the advent of the internet, a real-life private investigator went from visiting court buildings to searching for records on computer. And for me, as the accuracy of investigations in Grafton’s writing faded with the passing years, so with it went my interest (it is a testament to her writing that I stuck with her as long as I did, even as I argued with the books). My love of mysteries took me from Agatha Christie to Janet Evanovich to Thomas Perry, but I still had a soft spot in my heart for Kinsey, who had been left in the past by her creator.

In 2015 I returned to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in Writing. I began writing about my alter-ego, Madison Kelly, during my writing workshops, and I discovered I was able to write a mystery series that I’d always wanted to read: one where the details of being a female PI were accurate. Madison Kelly lives in a small apartment by the beach in the Windansea section of La Jolla, California, just like I did in my thirties. In Anonymous, Madison races to figure out who left a threatening note on her door warning her to stop investigating him. Since she hadn’t been investigating anyone—she’d been taking time off to figure out what to do with her life— she has to do exactly what the note is telling her not to do: investigate. Finding the Anonymous note-leaver takes her straight into the middle of an investigation of two missing women. Throughout this thrilling mystery, Madison is involved in real-life events that have actually happened to me: high speed tails, night surveillance where one is left with only one’s thoughts and the music on the radio, and the never ending challenge of proving yourself as a woman in a predominantly male field. The accuracy of what it is to be a female P.I. is back, along with what might happen if she began investigating a killer who had made her his target: she uses her experience and determination to figure out who he is before it’s too late.

So I guess the answer to the question I posed with the title is: I am the real Kinsey Millhone. I’m starting a journey with my alter-ego, Madison Kelly, but I walk in the footsteps of the greats who came before me.


About ANONYMOUS

The note was threatening enough–but its link to two cold cases and a sinister unseen presence sends P.I. Madison Kelly on a frantic search for the truth.

Madison Kelly, a San Diego private investigator, arrives home to a note stabbed to her front door: Stop investigating me, or I will hunt you down and kill you. The only problem? Madison hasn’t been investigating anyone–she’s been taking time off to figure out what to do with her life. But how does she prove a negative? The only way to remove the threat is to do exactly what “Anonymous”, the note writer, is telling her not to do: investigate to see who left it. Could this have something to do with the true crime podcast she’s been tweeting about, and the missing girls?

The girls went missing, two years apart, after a night at the clubs in San Diego’s famed Gaslamp Quarter, and Madison had been probing the internet for clues. She discovers that someone has been one step ahead of her, monitoring her tweets to prevent her from getting too close. Soon Madison’s investigation brings up more questions than answers: are the disappearances connected? Are the girls dead or did they just walk away from their lives? And who is Anonymous, the person who will stop at nothing to keep Madison from learning the truth?

As she closes in, so does Anonymous. Set against a backdrop of surfer culture and coffee houses of San Diego, Anonymous follows Madison as she confronts the reality of the girls’ disappearance in a terrifying climax where the hunter becomes the hunted–and Madison is running for her life.

Giveaway

Click here to enter the author’s rafflecopter.

About the Author

ELIZABETH BRECK is a state of California licensed private investigator. A native Californian, she had read Harriet the Spy twenty times by the time she was nine, so it was no surprise when she grew up to become a PI. She has worked mainly in the field of insurance investigations, making her the real-life version of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone. In 2013, she decided to go back to school, earning a bachelor’s degree in writing, summa cum laude, from the University of California San Diego. Anonymous is her first novel. She lives with a black Labrador named Hubert who is her best friend.

Author Links

Purchase Links: – Amazon – Penguin Random House – B&N –BookShop

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

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

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


When Besties Co-Write a  Mystery by Jodi Rath

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

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

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


About the Book

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

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

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

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo

Giveaway

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

About the Authors

Jodi Rath

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

Author Links:

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

RgurbbRebecca Grubb

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

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

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

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


Thoughts on Writing, Julie Seedorf

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

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

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

Confusion

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

© Julie Seedorf  2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About A Small Town Can Be #Murder

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

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

Giveaway

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

About the Author

A Bit About Me As An Impassioned Writer

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About Southern Double Cross

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

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

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

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

Giveaway

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

About the Author

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

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

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


TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?  by Connie Berry

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

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

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

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

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

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


About a Legacy of Murder

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

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

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

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

Giveaway

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

About the Author

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

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Spotlight & Guest Post: THE GLASS HOUSE by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

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As part of a virtual book tour organized by Great Escapes, I am happy to have as my guest today, Nancy Lynn Jarvis,  as she celebrates the release of The Glass House, the first book in a new cozy mystery series.


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Guest Post,  Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Let me make one thing clear, Readers: I’m not private investigator Pat Pirard’s on-the-page-buddy, Syda Gonzales. I’m not married to a deputy sheriff. I’ve never tried to fix anyone up. I don’t say embarrassing things to near-strangers. I’m not an artist, marginal or not. And I would never―never―write an opening line for a book like Syda does that reads:  Private detective Rowdy Dick looked down at the body that washed up on shore with crabs clinging to it and chewing the flesh on its face. He turned to his stacked red-haired secretary and said, “Whew, thank God it’s only crabs eating her. If it was lobsters, I don’t know what I’d do, Babe. I could never eat one again.”

But I must admit, I sometimes wish I had the game-for-anything approach to life that Syda has when Pat comes up with some of her investigation tactics and asks for Syda’s help.

Private investigator Pat Pirard is based on a friend of mine also named Pat. Like my protagonist, the real Pat was once Santa Cruz County’s Law Librarian. She’s currently a private investigator, too, just like Pat Pirard, and like her, the real Pat doesn’t plan to become licensed because she sometimes likes to bend the rules when she investigates.

The real Pat is highly intuitive and daring. I overlook a neighbor who recently fenced his acreage and installed a guardhouse at its entry. Vehicles have started coming and going in the dead of night. Pat, who lives in another state, was visiting, and one night in half-an-hour we counted headlights and taillights from twenty-three vehicles.

“What do you think he’s doing?” I asked.

We speculated for a while over a glass of wine, pretty sure we knew the answer to the question. (I’ve even written about him, fictionalized of course, in “A Neighborly Killing,” book six in my Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series.)

“Let’s see what I can find out about him,” Pat said. She clicked away on her iPad like the PI she is, and using her advanced research techniques, discovered his mortgage, which is held by a bank under FBI investigation for money laundering, is over ten-thousand dollars a month. She also turned up a criminal record for him. “Look at this. He spent some time in jail for assault. Seems suspicious, all right. Tomorrow morning, let’s go climb the fence and ask him what he’s up to,” my real Pat suggested.

“Absolutely not! He might be armed and dangerous. Besides, I don’t want him to know that I can see what he’s doing.”

“Don’t worry. I have a concealed carry license and a 357 magnum in my purse,” she informed me.

Like I said, Pat’s daring and her stolen identity will be, too in the PIP Inc. Mysteries I plan to write with Pat’s input, but I think even Syda wouldn’t be up for that kind of caper, although as long as it’s only on paper, you never know.


THE-GLASS-HOUSE-COVERAbout the Book

Law Librarian Pat Pirard got an unexpected thirty-fifth birthday present: a pink slip. Now she has nine weeks to reinvent herself before she runs out of money. Her best friend Syda gives her a glass forming class as a birthday present and distraction where Pat again gets a surprise: a murder.

About the Author

Nancy Lynn Jarvis was a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor® for more than twenty years before she fell in love with writing and let her license lapse.

After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC.

Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years, a philosophy she applies to her writing, as well. She has written seven Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries; a stand-alone novel “Mags and the AARP Gang” about a group of octogenarian bank robbers; edited “Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes” and a short story anthology, “Santa Cruz Weird;” and even done a little insider’s book, “The Truth About Hosting Airbnb” about her first year as a host.

“The Glass House” is the first book in a planned series of PIP Inc. Mysteries. Now she’s trying to figure out when to work on another series she’d love to do called “Geezers with Tools” about two older handymen who will solve mysteries in the course of doing their work, and setting up writer retreats at her house.

Author Links

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Guest Post: GRANNY BRICKS A BANDIT by Julie Seedorf

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Today, as part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am happy to host Julie Seedorf as she celebrates the recent release of  Granny Bricks a Bandit and share her thoughts on the power of words.


Words are Powerful by Julie Seedorf

I am happy to be a guest on this blog. Thank you for having me.

Words are powerful. How we use them is powerful. We also need to be mindful that what we write might influence another’s life whether it be on a blog or in a book.

Do you remember the hurtful things said to you in your life? Or do you remember the positive affirmations more?

IMG_1793.JPGWould you read a book dedicated to making a reader feel worse about themselves, or would you read a book that makes you feel better about yourself?

I would guess you remember the hurtful things more than the positive. I would guess you read a book that makes you feel better not worse. Those are a little at the opposite ends of reason. We read books that make us feel good but we read over in our mind the words from others which make us feel bad.

As a writer, I have to gauge what I want my readers to take away from what I write. Do I want them to walk away feeling as if they have escaped reality for a short time, or do I want to bring them deep into reality?

I choose silliness, making people laugh and writing about fictional communities and characters that are so far off our radar, we can’t imagine we could ever live in the community or be that character. Yet, there are some of my characters I would love to step inside of their bodies and be them for a day, a week or forever.

When my Fuchsia Series first started my readers saw a forgetful, over-the-top Granny whose friends were off-the-wall. That was what I wanted to portray so over the series I could add characteristics we could all identify with. What made Granny the way she is? What makes her hurt? What make her mad? What and who shaped her life?

There is a theme besides the mystery and the silliness I want my readers to get, and that is the theme of friendship. No matter what, no matter why someone acts out, Granny’s group of friends is there for each other. They might not always understand each other or why they do what they do, but their friendship lasts through the trials. It is a given in these books that the trials might be wacky, but there is fun in friendship unconditionally.

If you choose to read this series or my Brilliant, MN Series, take time to find the underlying tone. It is there. I may choose to make light of memory loss but it is out of experience with people in my family that have had Alzheimer’s, and humor was the only way to cope.  I address that in Granny Pins A Pilferer. In Granny Bricks A Bandit, there is a bond of family and friendship.

Words matter and my characters words and banter may not always seem kind, but there is a love speak we don’t always understand. I used to know a couple who were in their 70s and they were constantly harping at one another, but I loved to visit them because you could see the love in those exchanges. To an outsider they might have seemed rough, but the words were never hurtful and that is the way Silas and Granny are. Old woman and old man to them are not derogatory but words of love.

Words matter and beneath the words are emotion which might not match the words. Look for it and it might change your perspective when you interact with another person. Things might not always be fine when you ask. Look underneath the words to find the true emotion and it might change your life.

GrannyforkindleAbout the Book

Granny and her cohorts are at it again! When Granny and her neighbor Mavis, go water-skiing and discover a dead body, Granny’s sleuthing instincts take over! She is determined to identify the corpse and find the killer. But wait! No sooner are Granny and her cohorts on the murderer’s trail, then Mavis’ husband George suddenly disappears! Could he be the killer’s next victim? Or could he be the killer? When the gals take a side trip to the Mall of America, they find a man fell to his death on a climbing wall––and Mavis is certain she spots George nearby! What does it all mean? Will Granny get to the bottom of it, with the help of her entourage of buddies and pets?

About the Author

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

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

I also dabble a bit in watercolor painting and hope to eventually add pictures to my children’s book series, Granny’s In Trouble. Oh, and did I tell you I like to be a little bit silly.

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Guest Post: ACCEPTING CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM by Beth Rodgers

Mistletoe & Magic coverIt’s a pleasure to invite Beth Rodgers to take over my blog today as she shares her  thoughts on accepting constructive criticism – an issue that all authors have to face up to at some time in their careers.

Beth Rodgers is an accomplished author of YA fiction, who is currently celebrating the release of Mistletoe & Magic, a multi-author anthology that includes  “Hearts & Homes” – a contemporary young adult romance.


Accepting Constructive Criticism by Beth Rodgers

It may seem difficult at times to put your work out there for someone else to critique, whether it’s for editing in the process of publication, grading, or otherwise. The fact of the matter is that without hearing other people’s opinions, you are obviously bent on your own opinion on the writing you have done, and, let’s be honest – you think it’s great. We all do. It’s only natural to have emotional ties to the writing you have done. It is also possible that something you hated writing or hated the outcome of once it was fully written could be completely loved by one or more of your readers.

Criticism gets a bad rap. The word has a negative connotation. When people hear that someone is being critical or is criticizing something, they think negatively. Again, this is only natural and is a part of life. An important idea to remember, however, is that criticism does not have to be bad. Without criticism, think of how many pieces of writing, movies, TV shows, or other works of art would go out to the masses due to the biased opinion of the work’s creator.

Have you ever read a book you didn’t like? Have you ever watched a movie or TV show that you wish you hadn’t bothered with? Have you ever thought how nice it would be to be able to tell the author or creator of whatever it is you read, watched, etc. what you might have done differently? Everyone is a critic. Everyone judges. It’s something that is as normal as a typical daily routine. Yet, criticism and judgment can turn out positively. There are always at least two sides to every idea/topic/issue/etc. Just because you think something is great doesn’t mean the rest of the world does, and just because you think something was awful doesn’t mean the rest of the world didn’t love it. You are entitled to your opinion just like anyone else. Just because someone tells you that they suggest changing something doesn’t mean you have to do it. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. What it does mean is that you have to attempt to see that person’s viewpoint and analyze not only whether you agree with it, but determine whether you feel that others may see things the same way as the original critic. That is why having more than one person read your work and give you feedback is important. Even if the people you choose to read your work do not give the same advice, even if one person tells you how feedbackgreat it was while another says it was good but there was room for improvement, while another tells you they couldn’t stand it, sharing what other people had to say with the group of reviewers you have established for yourself will help you to gauge whether they truly noticed everything in your writing.

Just because you are the writer does not mean you are the only reader that writing will ever have. The definition of constructive criticism is “the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. The purpose of constructive criticism is to improve the outcome.” It is essential that this definition is not only remembered, but taken to heart. No writer has ever penned the perfect piece the first time around. If they say they have, they are lying to you. Read the following quotes from well-known people and authors to further your understanding of the power of constructive criticism:

Winston Churchill, Former British Prime Minister:
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Hillary Clinton, Politician and Former Presidential Candidate:
“Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.”

Neil Gaiman, Author:
“I suspect that most authors don’t really want criticism, not even constructive criticism. They want straight-out, unabashed, unashamed, fulsome, informed, naked praise, arriving by the shipload every fifteen minutes or so.”

user-satisfaction-2800863_1280 Why do you think there are reviews on sites that sell books, appliances, and any other item you can possibly think of? The reason is simple. It is because people want to know what others think. They want to see differing opinions to help them make the most informed decision possible. So should it be with writing. Writers must be able to make informed, intelligent decisions based on suggestions that others have made. When something sounds negative, consider the actual intent behind the suggestion, and then determine whether the person is in any way coming up with something that is a possible revision that can be made. Just as you are entitled to your opinion, so are your readers. This is why only certain books make the New York Times Bestseller list, why certain movies and TV shows win Oscars, Golden Globes, and Emmy Awards, why certain music wins Grammys and American Music Awards, etc. If you have ever thought someone unfairly lost an award, an election, or anything else, you have a different opinion than those who did the voting. You are entitled to this. Remember this when someone reads your work and gives you suggestions. Your emotional and other connections with the Beth Rodgers Author Posterwork you have written is essential to you being motivated to continue writing. This is extremely important. Never forget this. However, don’t forget that others are entitled to their opinions as well, and their opinions may just help you improve your writing and sustain a more solid style from that point forward. Every little bit helps. You just have to see it that way.

About the Author

Beth Rodgers is the author of two contemporary young adult novels, Freshman Fourteen and Sweet Fifteen, as well as “Hearts & Homes,” a short story that follows her second novel, but can be read as a standalone story. It can be found in Mistletoe & Magic: A YA Books Central Holiday Anthology. She also works as an editor and creative writing presenter.

In her free time, Beth loves to watch binge-worthy TV shows, travel with her family, and read plenty of good books that she spends time reviewing for her blog and as a staff reviewer for YA Books Central. She lives in Michigan with her husband and children.

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