Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Interview with Meg Macy

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
Book 2 of the Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear cozy mystery, Bear Witness to Murder, is the
most recent and available now along with Book 1, Bearly Departed. Currently I'm working on Book 3, Have Yourself A Beary Little Murder, which will be released next October 2019.

I am also one-half of the D.E. Ireland team writing the Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins "My Fair Lady" historical mysteries with Sharon Pisacreta. We have four books in that series, (Wouldn't It Be Deadly, Move Your Blooming Corpse, Get Me to the Grave On Time, and With A Little Bit of Blood) -- two were Agatha Award finalists for Best Historical.

Writing as Meg Mims, I've also published some romance Christmas novellas (Santa Paws, Santa Claws, Home For the Holidays, The Key to Love, The Key to Christmas) plus several western historical mysteries -- Double Crossing, Book 1, won the WWA Spur Award for Best First Book in 2012. The sequel, Double or Nothing, won the Laramie Award for Western Mystery. I've written a few western historical romance novellas, Winner Takes All and A Holiday Hoax, and a few short stories. So 8 books plus 7 novellas, and another cozy coming next year.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
The Chelsea Teddy Bear factory was located in Michigan, but moved to Missouri (traitors!) recently.
I did some research about their history and invented my own version of a shop/factory located in Silver Hollow -- using Chelsea, Dexter, Plymouth, Ypsilanti, and Ann Arbor locales for the businesses in my fictional small town. I'd written my Christmas novellas using it (unnamed at the time) and decided to set my Teddy Bear series there as well.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening.
I'm a morning person, so after breakfast plus coffee or tea, a shower, getting dressed, etc., I try to get started by 9 or 10 am. I'll usually write until lunchtime, and depending on my deadline schedule, either keep writing after lunch or meeting with friends for lunch, or I'll run errands, clean house (not as often as I should), and read in the afternoon. Lately I have been writing a little at night, but prefer relaxing in the evening with my husband (we're big fans of NCIS and other shows), or else reading historical and contemporary mysteries, biographies, non-fiction research, etc. Besides writing, there's lots of book and author promotion to do, so it's a juggling act to find time for it all.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I belong to Sisters in Crime, Western Writers of America, Western Fictioneers, and Novelists, Inc. I earned my MA from Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction program -- so I know plenty of authors and keep in touch on social media. It really does help to know you're not alone sitting at home, creating a fictional world! I attend Malice Domestic in the spring to meet other cozy authors and fans, and just met other authors and fans at a Kensington Cozy Mini-Con in Chicago. My writing partner Sharon and I bonded long ago in college. We've supported each other in our separate careers and decided to collaborate on a series, so we always talk about writing. I love reading the Career Authors blog, and have taken a few online classes with Savvy Authors and other groups. Very helpful to keep learning and honing the craft.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
My protagonist, Sasha Silverman, is 31 years old with one trait of mine -- she's a cookie fiend. But I patterned her after my daughter and her friends, and check with them on dialogue and actions.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
I have a Pinterest board for my teddy bear series, and chose Emily Wickersham to be the "face" of Sasha, so I'd love to see her playing the lead. Yes, I'm a big NCIS fan! Somehow I'll have to fit Pauley Perrette into the next book.

Who is your favorite author?
It's hard to choose a favorite, I love so many!! JRR Tolkien, Ursula LeGuin, Sharon Kay Penman, Judith Merkle Riley, Kate Ross, Agatha Christie, Louise Penny, Charles Todd, Will Thomas, even LaVyrle Spencer. If I love an author's books, I'll recommend them to friends and family.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
My Pinterest boards include locales, character photos, fashion, dogs/cats, etc. I also keep a "bible" with maps, a character list, chart of character traits, a timeline for each book as well as a series timeline. It's not easy keeping track.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I would paint and hope to sell my work. I'm a watercolor artist, and I'd love to paint every day, but had to choose between writing and art when I first began my career. I "dabble" whenever I get a chance, though.

Here's some social media links, too.        



Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Deck the Hounds

Andy Carpenter's good intentions lead him into murder and intrigue. When he stops to give a homeless man $20 and a gift card from PetSmart, he assumes that is the end of his encounter with the man. In Deck the Hounds by David Rosenfelt, Andy  learns the man he helped was attacked and his dog bit the attacker.

He decides to help get the dog back to the owner. This leads him to offer the homeless man and his dog the apartment above the garage. Don Carrigan and Zoey move into the garage, but before long the police show up to arrest Don for murder. 

About nine months ago a wealthy business executive named Steven McMaster was murdered in his home and valuables were stolen. A hat at the scene has DNA evidence that links it to Don. A background check on Don finds he was a former Green Beret and veteran of the Iraq invasion. He was specially trained and could very easily have broken McMaster's neck. When a ring stolen from McMaster is found in Don's locker at a homeless shelter, the police think they have a slam dunk case.

Andy knows the interview he gave to the newspaper, mentioning Don by name is what got him arrested, so he and his investigator wife Laurie try to find the real killer. 

The police find themselves occupied with finding a sniper who killed a prominent attorney.  When another sniper murder takes place, Don Carrigan's investigation is relegated to Andy and Laurie.

Piecing together the reason for the first murder, Andy finds some intriguing connections between the McMaster murder and the sniper killings. An elegant puzzle that leads to a killer. Excellent book.

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Scandal in Scarlet

An auction to rebuild the West London, Massachusetts, History Museum leads to murder. In A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany. Gemma and Jayne offer the cafe as a place to hold the auction. There are many moving parts to the auction and through some maneuvering, Kathy Lamb ousts the previous chairperson and has herself appointed. (A Scandal in Scarlet will be released by Crooked Lane on November 13.)

This does not sit well with some of the volunteers, but Kathy is a whirlwind of planning and she gathers all the pieces together and the auction is being organized without a glitch. That is until the day of the event. Organizer Kathy Lamb is found dead minutes before the fundraising auction is about to occur with a series of miniature teacups on a pink rope.

Gemma wants to investigate, but her relationship with Detective Ryan Ashburton and her adversarial relationship with Detective Louise Estrada holds her back a bit. When all the auction items are confiscated by the police, including a priceless book owned
by her uncle, Gemma decides to quietly investigate. Of course nothing is done quietly in a small town and Ryan catches wind of her efforts. He is not pleased, but his partner Det. Estrada is enraged. She warns Gemma off the case.

There are plenty of suspects including all the back stabbing members of the committee, Kathy's ex-husband and his new wife. An excellent mystery.

Preorder purchase link

Friday, October 12, 2018

Premeditated Peppermint

Leaving New York and returning to Amish Country in Ohio has been a huge adjustment for Bailey King, but she has managed to slow herself down and discover the joys of a quieter life. In Premeditated Peppermint by Amanda Flower, Bailey is busy making peppermint cakes, fudge and other goodies for the annual Christmas Market.

A word of caution, if you are a peppermint fanatic, such as myself, do not read this without a stash of peppermint patties or candy canes nearby. 

Bailey and Deputy Aidan Brody have been tiptoeing around each other even since she arrived, though his mother Juliet practically has them engaged. Trouble in the form of Bailey's obnoxious ex-boyfriend strolls into her grandmother's shop, Swissmen Sweets.

It seems celebrity chef Eric Sharp needs to rehabilitate his edgy reputation by softening his image and he thinks filming in an Amish Christmas candy shop is the answer. Bailey wants no part of it, but is pressured by the high-powered executive producer of the show Rocky Rivers into at least asking her grandmother if they can use the candy shop.

Bailey knows her Amish grandmother would not want to be in any of the filming, but she also knows
the bishop and the deacon of the church need to make the final decision. Suddenly a spin-off series featuring Bailey and the shop takes form and before she knows it, Bailey is thinking of the money she can make for her grandmother.

One gigantic problem rears its head - Rocky is found strangled in the gazebo and a local farmer is thought to be the killer. Something doesn't seem right to Bailey and she sets out to find the real killer.

Life in an Amish community is so different than anything I have ever experienced and I enjoy this series immensely, especially the candy aspect of it.

Purchase link 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Bells, Spells and Murders

Fresh from her stint as TV psychic, Lee Barrett finds herself as a field reporter for her hometown television station WICH-TV in Salem, Massachusetts. In Bells, Spells and Murders by Carol J. Perry, Lee is set to interview Albert Eldridge, the popular chairman of the Historical Charities of Salem.

When Lee and her camerawoman arrive for their appointment, they find Mr. Eldridge slumped over his desk. As Lee taps him, he sinks to the floor. She knows he is either unconscious or dead and immediately calls 911. Two police officers quickly arrive on the scene and determine Mr. Eldridge is dead, but refuse to say if he was murdered.

With some many holiday events being planned by the Historical Society, it's a difficult time to be leaderless. Nevertheless the efficient Ms. Jeffry leaps into action (think Miss Lemon from Poirot mysteries) and second in command Conrad Gillette steps in quickly.

Lee's boyfriend is Detective Pete Mondello and as he is charge of the investigation, she hopes to get
some information she can use on her live report for TV. Pete is tightlipped and refers her to the press conference being held by the Chief. Although the Chief declares it murder, he refuses to say more.

This sends Lee into reporter overdrive as she tries to uncover information about Mr. Eldridge and the various charities the organization benefits. With disturbing psychic visions interrupting her day and night, Lee tries to piece together the clues she is seeing, while covering the holiday events in Salem.

Bell ringing Santas, a holiday boat parade and all the other colorful stories of the holidays in Salem intrude on Lee's ability to investigate. When she covers a prospective jumper on a building, thinks there's more to the first murder than robbery.

An engaging mystery set in Salem, Witch City of America, and if the readers have visited Salem, it is a nostalgic walk through the city. Even if you have never been there, you will enjoy the descriptions.

Purchase link

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Interview with EJ Copperman

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
I’ll have two books (!) coming out on October 9: The Question of the Dead Mistress is the fifth in
the Asperger’s mystery series about a man on the autism spectrum who answers questions for a living, and Bird, Bath and Beyond is the second in the Agent to the Paws series about a woman who acts as a theatrical agent to non-human clients. In all, I believe that makes 25 mysteries (and two non-fiction books) published.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
I am from New Jersey and have lived here all my life, so the Jersey attitude and locations come naturally. Kay Powell (Agent to the Paws) works in New York City, but lives in Northern New Jersey, and Samuel Hoenig (Asperger’s mystery) lives and works in Piscataway, New Jersey. Pretty much all my books take place here.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening?
I write 1000 words a day when I’m working. No days off, not weekends or holidays. That gets you a book in about three months, all told. Time of day is not important; I can write anytime I’m not doing something else. I tend to write in the afternoon, but that’s hardly a set rule. I’ve written in doctors’ offices, at the DMV, on vacation in Scotland and with an IV of chemotherapy attached to my left hand. So don’t tell me you would write if you could find the time. You have the time.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I talk to other writers who are friends, but I’m not involved with a group. I’ve never attended a writer’s retreat. I often wonder why writers never want to go on the advance.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
Not really. Samuel has Asperger’s (or whatever we’re calling it this week) and so does my son, but they have very different personalities. Kay isn’t based on anyone at all. She’s a kind of brassy heroine from a 1940s comedy, I guess.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Anybody who could act the role. I would LOVE to see a movie (or better, TV series) based on my characters, but I’m happy with anyone the producers might hire.

Who is your favorite author?
Besides me? I’m a big fan of Irwin Shaw. In mystery I don’t read much when I’m writing, which is most of the time. But I recommend my friends Chris Grabenstein, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Kellye Garrett, Con Lehane, Toni Kelner… I’m leaving people out and that’s going to bother me. And of course Catriona McPherson because she’s amazing.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
It’s not easy. I keep a “bible” of the Samuel series especially because he’s so precise about his habits. Mostly I forget what kind of cars people drive and things like that. Readers will (rightfully) get on you about those sorts of things.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
Well, playing second base for the Yankees seems out of the question at my age. Writing is really the only thing I know how to do. Sad, isn’t it?

For a review of Bird, Bath and Beyond, click here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Under a Dark Sky

Once again, Lori Rader-Day has scared the living daylights (no pun intended) out of me. In Under a Dark Sky, Eden Wallace, newly widowed and suffering from a fear of the dark, finds a reservation for a dark sky park in Michigan. It was in her late husband's name and was for a date around their wedding anniversary.

Deciding Bix would want her to go the park, she packs up and heads to the upper peninsula of Michigan, aiming to arrive before darkness falls. When Eden arrives, she discovers her suite is part of house that is occupied by a group of twenty-somethings. She thinks about returning home, but knows she will not reach Chicago before dark and that's where the trouble begins.

The group consists of six college friends lead by the charismatic and charming Malloy, his lovely new girlfriend Hillary, and his old friends Dev, Paris, Sam and Martha. There's a strange aura surrounding the friends and they don't seem to care for Hillary and appear jealous of Malloy's attention to her.

When a scream awakens Eden in the middle of the night, she races to the kitchen to find Malloy with a screwdriver protruding from his neck and Martha keening over the body covered in blood.

While Eden battles her fear of the dark at a dark sky park (how ironic), she also tries to figure out who among the friends in the murderer. During her introspection, she learns more about herself and her relationship with her late husband, and maybe finds a way to move her life forward.

A relentlessly surprising mystery by a fantastic storyteller.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Peppermint Mocha Murder

Chocolate whisperer Hayden Mundy Moore visits New England in the hopes of enjoying a traditional Christmas. Her financial advisor Travis Turner invites the California girl to his hometown for the holidays.  In The Peppermint Mocha Murder by Collette London, Hayden soon discovers trouble seems to follow her.

Hayden is excited because she didn't have a traditional upbringing and is looking forward to the Currier and Ives New England setting she imagines Sproutes, Massachusetts, to be.  She and Travis are in town for the highly touted opening of Albany Sullivan's lightly fictionalized memoir, but when she finds a woman looking remarkably like Albany face down in the punch bowl at the B&B where she is staying, apparently dead, she is queasy about their visit.

When it turns out not to be Albany, but Melissa Balthasar, one of the producers of Christmas in Crazytown, Albany's musical, Hayden is relieved it wasn't Travis' friend, but concerned about the actual death. The police believe Melissa had had too much to drink and accidentally pitched forward into the punch bowl, but after a couple of other incidents, Hayden is not
so sure. What she also discovers is that Albany isn't the only tall, lanky brunette in the B&B and maybe Melissa died by mistake.

This plunges her into an investigation that includes her best friend's childhood friends. What she discovers might be damaging to her relationship with Travis and maybe even her own life.

Hayden is a fun character and a chocolate whisperer is a new one on me. I'd love to be one, although I'm still not sure what it is.

When Hayden is stressed, she bakes. Among her chocolate treasures are chocolate-peppermint truffles, peppermint mocha fudge and cookies with peppermint frosting. (Recipes included.) 

Purchase link 

Friday, October 5, 2018

BOLO Books Composite Sketch

My fellow blogger Kristopher Zgorski writes a BOLO Books Composite Sketch of various people. Today he chose me.

Here is the link to the BOLO Books Composite Sketch

Neighborhood Book Club

Our neighborhood book club met last night and we discussed Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.  Everyone loved it and our discussion was excellent. But there's always one person who doesn't read the book. This month we gave him a pass as he is only two months old.

Here's a brief review of the book:
A powerful book with an amazing lead character who at the start of the book is six years old. A heart warming tale of self reliance, loneliness, friendship and love. A wonderful debut novel.

If you haven't already read Crawdads, I recommend it.