Thursday, September 29, 2016

Interview with Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day

Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day Interview

How many books have you published? 
I have nine mystery novels out in four series (I had written a number of technical manuals previously, but that's a different story). Four more books are either finished or in production, and number fourteen is underway! (Check them out here)

Under what names do you publish? 
Edith Maxwell, Maddie Day, and Tace Baker. Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods Mysteries (from
Kensington Publishing) and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries (from Midnight Ink). Maddie Day writes the Country Store Mysteries (also from Kensington Publishing), and Tace Baker wrote two books in the Lauren Rousseau mystery series (but she's on a long-term sabbatical right now, because I can't write four books a year!).

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
My editor at Kensington Publishing wants me to sketch out the story before hand, with a one-page prose synopsis, so it's a very rough plot. But I prefer to just follow my characters around and write down what they do. I'm always surprised!

How do you keep continuity on backstory? For example I read a book recently where the lead character said she had three brothers, several books later, she was an only child. 
That is so important. I keep a Series Characters file for each series. Every character who has ever been named is listed, as well as everything I know about them. Of course my protagonist has the longest entry. We forget by book four what kind of car she drives or, as you say, how many brothers she has. The list also keeps me from repeating names, or naming three characters Thomas, Tommy, and Tim. Way confusing for readers.

Who is your favorite author? 
That's too hard! I will say that I very much admire both Julia Spencer-Fleming and Louise Penny. Their stories suck you in, their characters are richly drawn and real, and their language is elegant and clear. If I could write like either of them I'd die happy.

Do you write with pen and paper or a computer?
I normally type into the computer, but I've been know to fill up a few pages of paper when I'm away from my desk. I also brainstorm with pen and paper, or by voice into my phone while I'm out on one of my plotting walks.

Check out my review of Til Dirt Do Us Part.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Murder Takes a Clue

As many of you know I am a huge Agatha Christie fan and The Book Club Murders bought out the Christie fan in me. Leslie Nagel sets her book in Oakwood, Ohio, Charley Carpenter is the owner of a clothing store called Old Hat Vintage Fashions and hopes to draw the wealthy elite to her shop.

She joins the Agathas Book Club with some of the snootiest women in the area in hopes of generating some new clients. As she is driving to the next book club meeting, Charley happens upon a road block of police cards positioned across the road near a railroad underpass. Something big must have happened, she thinks, and drives away to the book club meeting for which she is, as usual, late.

One of the Agathas reports on the few facts she knows about the murder, and the rest are eager for details. When the Detective Marcus Trenault to break the news to book club
member Lindy Taylor about the death of her sister Serena Wyndham, the book club becomes involved. Before too long another member is found murdered. What is the connection between the two murders? Is the murderer imitating the crime scenes of Agatha Christie books?

When a third murder takes place, Charley begs Detective Trenault to let her work as an inside informant to the club. Before long Charley finds herself in a dangerous situation and uses her Agatha Christie mystery solving techniques to find the murder.

This was an excellent book and I look forward to others, especially if they pay homage to Agatha Christie.For more books by Leslie Nagel, click here.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Treasure Hunt Mystery

There's very little glory for historians, especially if they are professors, so when I found Gigi Pandian's Artifact, I was thrilled. Jaya Jones is the daughter of an American hippie who moved to India and married an Indian woman. As her friend Sanjay says about her, "you are the worst Indian" because she doesn't speak any of the Indian languages and doesn't recall much of her early life in India.

When she receives a mysterious package from her former boyfriend, Jaya discovers it contains an exquisite gold bracelet with an enormous ruby. The included note from Rubert says he needs her help and asks her to keep the artifact safe. "You are the only one I can trust," he says and asks her to call him on his mobile. Jaya remembers Rupert as the treasurer hunting type of archeologist and she is worried about the piece of jewelry and what it means that Rupert had it in his possession.

Unfortunately before she is able to contact him, Jaya discovers a
small article in the newspaper reporting the death of Rupert Chadwick in an automobile accident in Scotland. Jaya is puzzled why Rupert would have sent her the package and asked for her help. Her field of expertise is the trade routes and military skirmishes of the British East Indian Company, not ancient Indian jewels.

Helping her decipher the cryptic clues are her magician friend Sanjay, a handsome art historian Lane Peters and a charming archeologist. Jaya and Lane head for the archeological dig in Scotland to discover what other pieces of the mysterious rubies might be at the site and why a cache of Indian jewelry would be found in Scotland.

I enjoyed this book and have read the others in the series including Pirate Vishnu, Quicksand and Michelangelo's Ghost.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Five-Ingredient Mysteries

The Codger Cook and his granddaughter are at it again in Maya Corrigan's Final Fondue. It's the Tricentennial in Bayport, Maryland, and every room in town is booked including rooms at granddad's house. Val has been shipped off to stay with her cousin Monique, but remains at he house for part of the evening to help prepare appetizers for the guests.

A wedding party is on a scouting mission for venues in Bayport and they are the house guests. While they wait for the bride to arrive at the house, an icy silences surrounds them. Once the bride arrives, they head to the festival and Val sets out on her own. To her surprise she encounters the irate chef who caused her to lose her job in New York. After a bitter argument, Val decides to return home frightened by the angry encounter.

While Val is cleaning up after the guests, she takes the trash outside and stumbles on the body of one of the guests - strangled with a rope still around her neck. Who would have killed the bubbly bridesmaid? Was it a case of mistaken

When the bride is attacked in the Festival Corn Maze, Val puzzles out that attack and who might have been behind it. Both Sarina and Noah were nearby. Do they hold a grudge for an experience on a blind date 10 years again?

In the meantime Val agonizes about accepting the job offer to return to her PR job in New York. On tap for this momentous decision is Val's mother and her former fiance, Tony. Tony is in town either for a reconciliation or closure, Val is not sure, but she does know she doesn't want any part of it.

Mysterious texts and other threats, Val pieces together the back story of the group and discovers the shocking truth about them.

The first in the Five-Ingredient Mystery series is By Cook or By Crook.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Interview with Cheryl Hollon

Cheryl Hollon Interview

How many books have you published?  
Kensington have published three books in the Webb's Glass Shop Mystery Series. They are PANE AND SUFFERING, SHARDS OF MURDER and CRACKED TO DEATH. They have also extended my contract for another three books. Yay! The fourth book, ETCHED IN TEARS, will release in 2017. (You can see all her books here)
Under what names do you publish?
Cheryl Hollon

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go? 
I plot out a detailed story plan and then write a VERY rough draft where I discover surprises that my characters plot for me.
How do you keep continuity on backstory? For example I read a book recently where the lead character said she had three brothers, several books later, she was an only child. 
This is incredibly difficult. Not only do I try to avoid continuity mistakes, but I also keep in mind that the reader may not have read the prior books. I have a Webb's notebook where I try to keep everything straight, but sometimes my brain just messes up.

Who is your favorite author?  
Louise Penny, hands down.
Do you write with pen and paper or a computer? I can write anywhere on anything -- even texting. 
My most efficient and pleasurable writing hours are spent in my standalone writing shed in the backyard of our Craftsman house. Bliss!

Read a review of Pane and Suffering

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Lea Wait Interview

Lea Wait Interview

How many books have you published?
My 17th book has just been published – Shadows on a Morning in Maine. My 18th, Dangling By a Thread, will be published in late October. I’m writing two mystery series, and I’ve also written five historical novels for young people and a memoir which includes hints on writing – Living and Writing on the Coast of Maine. (You can see her books by following this link)

Under what names do you publish?
Just under my own – Lea Wait.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write, or plot as you go?
I plot most of the book first, although some details I leave open. I definitely have an abbreviated outline – I know where I’m going to start, and where the end will be. But my planning isn’t inviolate. I do change some plot points along the way.

How do you keep continuity on backstory? For example, I read a book recently where the lead character said she had three brothers.  Several books later she was an only child.
I’m not perfect – but that wouldn’t have been my book! I keep a “bible” of all my characters in all my books, so I know their backstories and hair colors and what they drink and whether they have nightmares. I update my “bible” with each book – which also includes maps of towns and floor plans of houses and restaurants, etc.

Who is your favorite author?
That is so hard! But right this minute I’d say my favorite mystery writer is Louise Penny. She’s fantastic!

Do you write with pen and paper or a computer?
A computer, definitely. Although I take notes with pen or pencil, and have files of research notes I’ve written by hand. But when I’m writing … a computer.

Lea Wait writes the Shadows Antique Print mystery series and the Mainely Needlepoint series. Although many of her books are set in Maine, books in her Shadows series have also been set in New York State, New Jersey, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Her website is, and she invites readers to friend her on Facebook and Goodreads. 

Check out Lea Wait's Thread and Gone at

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Homeplace Ghost

Geneva is back and is as haunting as ever in Molly MacRae's Plagued by Quilt. Because only Kath Rutledge can see her, trying to help Geneva find out who she was is very difficult. When two skeletons are found at the Holston Homeplace Living History Farm garbage dump, Kath thinks they might be the people Geneva believes she saw murdered decades ago.

Geneva has been haunting Kath's yarn shop since Kath arrived to take over the place in Blue Plum, Tennessee. Although Kath's grandmother Ivy is dead, Kath has found her secret dairies which contain her herbal remedies. Many people in Blue Plum thought Ivy was crazy, but there was more to her than meets the eye. 

When one of the historians is found brutally murdered, Kath and friends try to discover who the murderer is and how it is connected to the skeletons.

As for the townspeople, the Spivey twins are their usual negative force, but they surprise Kath with their patience teaching quilting to high school students at the Homeplace. Dangling a tantalizing quilt in front of Kath, they secure their place in the classroom. Kath is determined to spend time with the quilt, but the murder and her ghost are consuming her time.

I have enjoyed this series and Geneva is a very hip ghost. She has spend many years watching television so she says things that someone who had lived in the late 1890s would never day. The books are fun and entertaining.

The first book in the series is Last Wool and Testament. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Return of the Navajo Tribal Police

As a huge fan of Tony Hillerman and his amazing books, I was crushed to learn that he had died. But lo and behold his daughter. Anne, is continuing the Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee series with the focus on Jim's wife and fellow Navajo Tribal Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito in Spider Woman's Daughter.

I happened to meet Anne Hillerman at Malice Domestic last year, and I told her how much her book sounded like Tony's voice. She laughed and said, "I listened to his voice for my entire life."

Spider Woman's Daughter opens with a routine breakfast meeting with Bernie, Jim and Joe. While they wait for Joe, Bernie steps outside the restaurant to answer her cell phone. Suddenly shots ring out and Joe crumples to the ground.

Who would shoot the legendary Lt. Leaphorn in broad daylight with a table full of other cops just a heartbeat away? With Jim in charge and Bernie told to sit this one out as she is an eyewitness, Chief Largo turns a blind eye and Bernie joins the investigation.

Missing is Joe's long-time girlfriend anthropologist Louisa Bourebonette who seems to have left Joe's place in a hurry. What would have caused her to leave so hastily? As Jim and Bernie dig into an old investigation, they find themselves closer to the truth.

I loved this book for many reasons. First, I was happy to have the Tony Hillerman series continued. His books have been favorites of mine for years because of the cultural descriptions and the characters. Second, I was thrilled to see the focus shift to Bernie. As much as I love Joe and Jim, Bernie is a great character as well.

If you want to read the series from the beginning, The Blessing Way is the first book by Tony Hillerman. The next book by Anne Hillerman is Rock With Wings.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Tonya Kappes Interview

Interview with Tonya Kappes

How many books have you published?
My 26 novel just came out this week! SQUEE!! (If you want to see all her books go here)

Under what names do you publish? 
My very own name, Tonya Kappes.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
Since I write mystery, I always know who the victim is, how the victim died, why the victim was killed, and who did it. Other than that, I write my way from beginning to end.

How do you keep continuity on backstory? For example I read a book recently where the lead character said she had three brother, several books later, she was an only child.
I'm lucky that I have wonderful editors who put together a book bible for me. They update the book bible with every novel. I also keep an address book for each series where I list the character by the names in the correct tab in the book. Under their name, I obviously don't put an address but I put all of their characteristics under their name. It makes it so much easier when I do need a quick eye color.

The character of Emma Lee Raines is very unusual. How did you develop her? 
There are so many cozy mystery characters that have the typical coffee shop, book store, witch etc....and I knew I wanted something different. I have a good friend who is an undertaker and I thought  it would be so funny. So I went with it.

Who is your favorite author? 
Too many to name and I never answer this because I have a lot of author friends and I don't want to hurt feelings.

Do you write with pen and paper or a computer?

Read Seeing Ghosts review on

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

More Cajun Fun

Ellen Byron vividly describes Cajun country in this second installment of life in Pelican, Louisiana, Body on the Bayou. The larger than life Vanessa Fleer is finally marrying Rufus Durmand. Good thing because she is about to have his baby. 

When Vanessa's cousin Ginger arrives for the wedding, then is promptly murdered, it is up Maggie to find the killer and make sure the wedding goes off without a hitch. Inexplicably Maggie has been drafted as maid of honor for Vanessa and is assigned a long list of tasks to complete before the wedding. Each day more gets heaped on her. 

Adding to her stress is the arrival of her sort of boyfriend Bo's ex-wife who confides in Maggie that she wants to reconcile with her ex-husband, They have a special needs child and Maggie is sure she will lose in this battle for Bo. 

Another murder puts Vanessa behind bars on her wedding day and turns Pelican upside down. Fun, crazy exploits with a cast of characters you would love to know. Maggie has the patience of a saint to deal with maid of honor duties.

The first book in this series is Plantation Shudders. Check the review here

Gluten-free in Kansas

It takes a lot of courage to open a gluten-free bakery in the middle of wheat country, but that's exactly what Toni Holmes does in Flourless to Stop by Him by Nancy Parra. Toni sets up shop in Oiltop, Kansas, the heart of the wheat belt.

Not everyone is thrilled about the Baker's Treat bakery (get it Holmes and Baker's Treat) and some people don't even want to sample her products. While Toni is visiting her friend Tasha at the Red Tile Inn, one of the maids discovers a body in the bathtub. The body turns out to be a close friend of Toni's brother Tim.

To make matters worse, the room has been reserved in Tim's name. When the police discover several other rooms booked in Tim's name over a period of time, they arrest him for murder and selling drugs.

Toni's scooter-riding grandmother wants her to investigate, but Toni is up to her ears in baking orders for the Christmas holidays. She knows Christmas time can be the make or break time for her small business and she struggles with baking around the clock and squeezing in time to investigate.

Another problem for Toni is her decision not to date anyone for a year because of her acrimonious
divorce. With two handsome men competing for attention, her resolve begins to weaken. Will she choose the handsome lawyer or the cowboy handyman? And can she prove her brother is innocent while baking dozens and dozens of gluten free products?

My only complaint about this book is the over-the-top scooter riding 90-year-old grandmother. I know you have to suspend disbelief in mysteries, but please, this is too much.

The first book in the series is entitled Gluten for Punishment.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Down South Cafe

Amy Flowers has had enough of the bullying by Lou Lou, owner of Lou's Joint, so she quits but offers to by the cafe. Needless to say Lou Lou is not interested and challenges Amy to open her own cafe. Later that evening Lou Lou's son Pete calls to say he has convinced his mother to sell the cafe to Amy. In The Calamity Cafe, Gayle Leeson introduces us to the Down South Cafe Mysteries situated in Winter Garden, Virginia.

When Amy arrives at the cafe the next morning, she finds Lou Lou dead in her office.Naturally she becomes a "person of interest" in the murder, but there are plenty of other suspects as Lou Lou was not the nicest person. Even her son Pete is a suspect as well as his girlfriend Chris Anne.

While Amy is remodeling the cafe she discovers a box of cash hidden in the walls. Rumors abound that  Lou Lou's grandfather Bo and his brother Grady held up a bank in the next state and then the brother disappeared. Many thought Bo had killed Grady when he seemed to have disappeared from
the area many years ago.Is there any truth to that rumor? Amy hopes to find out.,

I'm happy to read that heroines in mystery books have learned not to go anywhere on their own after finding a body or walking into dark cellars, but heroines like Amy Flowers blab their intentions to too many people, leading naturally to a confrontation with the killer. I just wish the heroines would be more discreet.

This is the first book in the series. I hope to see more. Click here for more.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Main Line to Murder

The Main Line is Murder by Donna Huston Murray features Ginger Barnes and her family. Ginger's husband has been appointed headmaster of Bryn Derwyn Academy, a prestigious school on Philadelphia's Main Line. The Academy is filled with the children of Philadelphia's high society and trying to fit in for Ginger and her family is difficult.

When Ginger finds the Academy's attorney dead in the Community Room, she is sure it will be trouble for her husband and the Academy's reputation.

Sure enough over the next few days parents begin to keep their children him and Ginger's life is disrupted. Not only is her husband's job in jeopardy, but the family home, which is one of the perks of the Headmaster's position is in peril. Ginger decides to seeks out answers to who wanted Richard Wharton dead and how she can save the Academy and her husband's job.

As Gin begins to unravel the complex relationships at the
Academy and with the donors, she discovers there were many people who would love to see Richard Wharton dead for any number of reasons. When one thread leads to a powerful family, Ginger begins to pull on the thread to discover the killer.

This book had the scariest ending of any book I have read in a long time. If I were Ginger Barnes, I would be afraid to sleep at night.  For more books by this author, click here.