Friday, May 18, 2018

To Helvetica and Back

You'd be hard pressed to find many typewriter users in this day or I-Pads, tablets, phones and other electronic devices. In To Helvetica and Back (love the title) by Paige Shelton, The Rescued Word, owned by Chester Henry and his adult granddaughter Clare, repair old typewriters and restore old books.

In the beautifully scenic town of Star City, Colorado,Clare is working on the restoration of an old edition of Tom Sawyer. Chester old friend Mirabelle needs her old manual Underwood typewriter repaired because the "L" key is sticking. Clare knows how much Mirabelle loves her typewriter so she promises to repair it.

When a strange man comes in asking to purchase the typewriter, Clare of course, refuses, but the man becomes threatening. A quick call to 911 sends the belligerent man on his way. Unfortunately the next morning, Clare finds him dead behind the shop

Neither Chester nor Clare have alibis and the police seem to think they might be suspects. Not
deterred by this false accusation, especially because Clare's ex-boyfriend Creighton is involved in the investigation, she decides to closely inspect the Underwood to see what the attraction is.

While inspecting the keys, Clare finds a series of numbers and letters scratched into the bars of the keys. Mirabelle has no idea what they mean. Could the numbers connect to the dead man behind the store?

In their search for the killer Clare and her police officer friend Jodie (sister to Creighton) join a band of motorcyclist in a goat relocation project, find themselves in a rough bar and suspect the owner of the Tom Sawyer edition of being the killer. The story weaves its way through to an unlikely, but interesting conclusion given Colorado's silver mining history.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Marinating in Murder

The Culinary Capers group is set to have their monthly dinner meeting, but it's an outdoor picnic instead even though it is fall in Vermont. In Marinating in Murder by Linda Wiken, the friends are waiting for Allison so they can load their coolers into her SUV. (Published by Kensington Books.)

When she does, they are shocked to find the body of her not-so-ex-husband James. But more shocking is that he was married to another woman at the same time as he was married to Allison.  J.J. Tanner cannot resist the opportunity to investigate.

The situation becomes complicated when the second wife, Jessica, shows up and accuses Allison of murdering her husband, who she knows as Jeffrey. As J.J. digs deeper, she finds James/Jeffrey lead a secretive life and neither wife knew many details about his life.

While J.J. investigates, she meets Jessica's brother Brad who wants to help find the killer, but also seems interested in seeing her socially. She's torn by
this as she is still hoping to develop a relationship with the handsome PI Ty Devine, but J.J. figures she can investigate and enjoy an occasional dinner with Brad.

The more she digs, the fewer details J.J. is able to find about James/Jeffrey. She locates a group of hockey players who recognize him as someone from the fringe of their group, but no one claims any real knowledge of him.

In addition to her investigation, J.J. is dealing with a Bridezilla in job at Make It Happen. In J.J.'s mind event planning can be more difficult than a murder investigation.  Her investigation leads her into some unusual places and puts her in danger, but, as also, J.J.'s resourcefulness saves the day.

This series is a favorite of mine because of the Culinary Capers rotating dinner. This is something I have always wanted to organize. Maybe this will be the year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Interview with Nancy Cole Silverman

What is the title of your newest book and how many books have you published?

I’m currently finishing up edits on Reason to Doubt, book five in the Carol Childs Mysteries while I dabble with the beginnings of a new series. The new series takes Misty Dawn, an aging Hollywood psychic to the stars, out from beneath the umbrella of the Carol Child’s Mysteries where she played minor roles and launches her into a series of her own.

How did you develop your character and choose your location? 
I spent twenty-five years in talk radio and when I began to write it’s all I knew. So radio and Los Angeles felt like a natural to me. I liked making my character a middle-aged woman because women, particularly women covering news stories, are so complex. They’re faced with balancing family, work and relationships and heavy, sometimes backbiting competition to remain relevant.

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 first thing n the morning and try to write at least a thousand to fifteen hundred words a day. If that sounds daunting, I think of it as writing scenes. It’s easier to think today I need to write the ‘bar scene,’ get the bones of the scene together then go back and dress it up.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I have several writer friends I’m constantly in touch with but I seldom share what I’m working on until I’ve completed a draft. What I do do, however, is what I call story therapy. Talk it out. Ellen Byron and I are walking partners. I call our walks My Tuesday Mornings With Ellen. Lots and of times we’ll share ideas. I’m also good friends with Rochelle Staab. She and I frequently talk shop over lunch. What I do know, it’s important for a writer to get out and away from their desk. It’s amazing how walking away from a project for a short bit can reinvigorate an idea.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know? 
I’ve been accused of being Carol. But she’s so much gutzier and cooler than I ever was.

Who is your favorite author? 
There are so many. But for coffee contemporary mystery with a female protagonist I’d have to say, Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, Tammy Hoag,

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent? 
I’ve started an excel sheet with birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

If you could not be an author, what would you like to do as a career? 
Teach maybe? I teach creative writing classes from time to time, and I do enjoy that. I would be hard for me to say at this point in my life what else I’d like to do. I’ve come to the writing thing, or fiction writing anyway, late in life, and I’ve already run the gambit of things I’d love to do.

For a review of Room for Doubt, click here. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

And the winner is . . .

And the winner of the Malice Domestic Mystery Most Geographical is Faith Creech!

 

 Thanks to everyone who entered and left comments. Watch for another Giveaway in June.

Monday, May 14, 2018

As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles

It's Christmas time in Jewel Bay, Montana, and the Merc is very busy. Why would Erin choose this time of year to get married? In As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles by Leslie Budewitz, the black sheep of a local family returns to redeem herself, but not everyone is happy to see her. (The book will be released on June 8 by Midnight Ink.)

Merrily Thornton was accused of having an affair with local businessman Cliff Grimes and then stealing funds from the company. She spent some time in jail and now, 20 years later she wants to reconcile with her parents and her sister. When she arrives her mother creates a huge scene, spoiling any chance of reconciliation.

Erin feels sorry of Merrily and invites her to a cookie exchange on the weekend. When she doesn't show up, Erin is disappointed but figures Merrily didn't want to deal with the townspeople especially after the scene on Main Street. 

Although Erin was not able to hire Merrily when she came looking for a job, Greg Taylor, owner of
the Building Supply Company hired her, giving her a second chance. When Merrily doesn't show up for work after the weekend, Erin is concerned, but when some money is missing from Greg's business, everyone jumps to the conclusion that Merrily has stolen again.

Erin thinks maybe Merrily has just left town and she decides to visit Merrily's home to see if there is any sign of why she left. When she arrives, she discovers the makings for Christmas cookies for the exchange, but something interrupted Merrily. Sadly she finds her dead nearby.

Erin adds solving Merrily's murder to her growing to-do list before the wedding. There are several suspects making the search more difficult. Add to the mix a Merrily's college-age daughter and the soon-to-be ex-husband no one knew about.

The Merc is a great place and I wish there was a store just like that in my town. I very much enjoy this series and I was happy to see Erin and Adam get married. Looking forward to the next in the series.  

Friday, May 11, 2018

Class Reunions Are Murder

Newly widowed and in the depths of junk food despair, Poppy McAllister resists returning to Cape May, New Jersey for a 25th high school reunion. In Class Reunions Are Murder by Libby Klein, Poppy only thinks they figuratively are murder. 

Coerced back by her friend Sawyer and knowing she hasn't visited her elderly aunt Ginny in years, Poppy heads up to the Jersey Shore. Everything she packed is too small for her and her latest binge of eating nothing but cookies hasn't helped her weight.

If she has to go to the reunion, she reasons, she might as well go in style, but the hideous dress that fits her makes her more of a target for the "mean girls" than in her high school days. She cannot figure why Barbie, the queen of mean, sent her friends a special invitation to the event.

After a very visible fight with Barbie, her friend Sawyer takes off for some air and Poppy tries to find her. What she does discover will cause her more trouble
than she bargained for. Dead in front of Poppy's old high school locker is Barbie. As Poppy bends over to investigate, Amber, one of Barbie's mean squad, flashes a badge and arrests Poppy on the spot.

Complicating matters is problems with Aunt Ginny. Someone if trying to force her into an assisted living center claiming she cannot take care of herself. With Poppy facing jail and her aunt under threat of eviction, Poppy and her friends band together to find out who killed Barbie.

There are plenty of suspects including her husband who is running for Senate, his campaign manager, the coach at the high school, the high school nurse, an ex-boyfriend or two and many others. Seems no one really liked Barbie.

Poppy is a terrific character and we can all empathize with her grief-driven depression, but her resilient personality shines through. This is the first in a series by Libby Klein.

Enter to win at Map Your Mystery: https://mapyourmystery.blogspot.com/…/05/malicegiveaway.html

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Survival of the Fritters

When you read Survival of the Fritters by Ginger Bolton, be sure to have at least a dozen donuts on hand. You will need them.

Emily Westhill and her father-in-law Tom are co-owners of Deputy Donut in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin. It is frequented by the local police and many others including the Knitpickers, a knitting group. It's a person not in attendance at the Knitpickers meeting that worries the group.

Georgia Treetor has been a loyal supporter of the group and never misses a day. Repeated phone calls go to voicemail.  At the end of the day, the group led by newcomer Lois, but old friend of Georgia's, returns with a key to her house. Lois had lived in Fallingbrook before and had been a close friend of Georgia's. Now back, she had hoped to renew their friendship.

Convinced to go along, Emily and the others drive to Georgia's house and find her vehicle in her driveway. After searching through the house, Emily finds Georgia
lying on the floor with a donut box over her face and a plastic doll shoved into her mouth. Obviously dead. But why would someone kill a sweet lady who made her living operating a "Doll Hospital"?

Disturbingly Georgia's death occurs very close to the five-year anniversary of her son's unsolved murder. That murder brings back painful memories of the sudden death of Emily's husband in the line of duty.

When evidence begins to point to Lois' grand-nephew and former town bad boy Randy, Emily is coerced into trying to prove his innocence. With so much evidence pointed to Randy as the murder, Emily enlists of aid of Detective Brent Fyne, her late husband's former partner. 

An entertaining first in the new series book by Ginger Bolton.

Enter to win at Map Your Mystery: https://mapyourmystery.blogspot.com/…/05/malicegiveaway.html

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Interview with Susan Slater

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published? 
Fire Dancer, the 4th mystery in the Ben Pecos series, was released last week. My twelfth book will be out this summer.

How did you become interested in writing?
I guess I should say I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in writing!

By the age of ten, my parents would keep me quiet in church by handing me pencil and paper. Lots of strange little short stories came out of those Sundays at the First Congregational Church in Newton, Kansas.

Then, in college I took the easy way out and majored in English/Drama—something I loved. I have a BA in English/Drama, MA in English Lit and a last degree, an Ed.S, in Adult Education but my dissertation was the creation of a unique way of teaching grammar to writers.

Top of my bucket list was always to be a novelist myself—don’t all English majors want to write the great American novel? I was in my 50’s before my dream came true—of getting published, I’m still working on the great American novel!

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, etc?
I try to treat writing like a job—I go to work five days a week and usually let whatever I’ve done that week percolate and “age” over the weekends. I work 9 to 3 with a lunch break. I never completely finish or end a scene in one sitting without having something to carry over for the next morning. As a result I never sit down and fiddle around trying to get going—I know exactly what needs to be done. And one scene then usually flows into the next.

I never box myself in by demanding I complete X-number of words or pages per sitting—I work more from completion of ideas—of getting from here to there so I’m sure of what comes next.

Now, as I reread this I realize it seems awfully tidy and scripted—I haven’t mentioned the 2 a.m. incidents of being startled awake with “OMG she couldn’t have killed him, she was . . .” or whatever other flagrant error of time and place I might have committed. Entrenched in a book, that is, past Chapter five I live that book. The people in my head are busy! Sometimes they contradict what I’ve just written or lead me in a new direction. If they share these ideas in the middle of the night, yes, there’s paper and pen bedside.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
With my mysteries I always know what’s worth dying for before I start and who is most likely to do what to whom. AND maybe unlike other writers, I always know the title in advance. It’s the one or two words that keeps me focused—Yellow Lies, amber scam; Thunderbird, crash of a stealth fight; Pumpkin Seed Massacre, Hanta Virus and so on. To that extent I do plot first.

Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
As I say in the acknowledgements to one of the books, writing has not made me popular with friends. Yes, both good and bad, even acquaintances can find themselves between the books’ covers. I especially like quirky secrets—for example, one I haven’t used yet—I have a friend who slept with the urn of ashes of her dead husband in bed beside her for years . . . you know, maybe I won’t use that anecdote. But you get the idea, little is sacred when trying for a best seller.

On a serious note, my places are always real. Adding a touch of realism is important for the reader to identify with. I’ve had readers write saying they never would have visited New Mexico had I not enticed them with my descriptions. Now that I’m in Florida and the setting is St. Augustine for the next two books, there should be a bump up in tourism. At least I hope so.

Who is your favorite author?
Oh, toughest question yet! I love Craig Johnson of Longmire fame. I’m a Bosch fan (Michael Connelly), my mentor, Tony Hillerman who made southwest mysteries a genre of their own and now his daughter, Anne, is following suit . . . for a good cozy you can’t beat either one of Connie Shelton’s series.

I also try to read award winners and best sellers in fiction—in that way, writing is a business. You have to know what people are buying. What’s hot this year? Hasn’t every writer missed the bandwagon once or twice in his or her career? Just not been at the right place at the right time with a finger on the reading pulse? For example, that Fifty Shades thing . . .

How do you promote your books?
Back in the day . . . and, yes, since 1999 (when my first novel came out), I’ve seen unbelievable changes in the industry. It used to be I could count on a tour of book signings—up the California coast, across the US Houston to Scottsdale, conferences like Left Coast Crime or Bouchercon and lots of local interest from Indy bookstores and libraries. My physical presence was in demand and was important to sales.

I’ve watched this slowly change. My current community lost its last Indy bookstore to flooding from the last hurricane along with the closing of two local libraries. My personal appearances are now book clubs, non-profit fundraisers in the arts, and offering writing workshops.

My presence is mainly online. I use social media and have a website.

For a review of Fire Dancer, click here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

New Giveaway - Malice Domestic

Enter to win the new Malice Domestic Mystery Most Geographical anthology, autographed by most of its authors.

 

Contest is open until Monday, May 14, at midnight.
Open to U.S. and Canada only. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 7, 2018

Picked Off

A Halloween-themed fundraiser for Carol Strong, a friend of Brie's aunt Eva is planned at Udderly Kidding Dairy. In Picked Off by Linda Lovely, Brie is looking forward to meeting Carol's son, Zack, a successful NFL quarterback. (Picked Off will be released on June 5 by Henery Press)

Carol Strong is running for governor of South Carolina, but she has some enemies who might try to disrupt the evening. Security is being provided by Brie's two would-be boyfriends, Paint and Andy. When Chester Finley drives up in a hearse with a bullhorn, he accuses Carol of being a "traitorous bitch". Chester is a member of CAVE - Citizens Against Virtually Everything.  He's pretty brave when he has his posse of other thugs with him.

Zack jumps in and punches Chester. Before a full on melee breaks out, Eva chases the intruders off with her shotgun. Trying to resume the evening takes some doing, but things seem to be running smoothly.

With everyone in costumes, security is tough so it's no surprise when someone assaults Zack with a pitchfork and no one can identify the assailant. Seriously injured, Zack is rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Carol stations herself at his bedside until a phone call takes her away. Suddenly Carol is missing and no one has any idea what has happened to her.

Along with her three sidekicks - Mollye, Paint and Andy - Brie tries to find Carol and keep the star quarterback safe. There's plenty of plotting and planning and lots of running away from the "bad guys" in this latest installment of the Brie Hooker Mysteries, and as usual Brie and Aunt Eva are right in the thick of things.

Another enjoyable mystery. 

Checkout the new Giveaway on Tuesday, May 8 at MapYourMystery.com