Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Interview with Gail Oust

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

Ginger Snapped, released in December 2017, is the fifth book of my Spice Shop Mystery series. I also wrote a 3-book cozy series called the Bunco Babe Mysteries which have been republished by Beyond the Page as the Kate McCall Mysteries and are available in e-book format. Before writing cozy mysteries, however, I was a romance writer and had nine historical romances published under the pseudonym of Elizabeth Turner.

How did you become interested in writing? 
Long before I even thought of writing a book, I was an avid reader. I confess that I think of myself more as a storyteller than a writer. Writing is simply a means to get the story inside my head down on paper.

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 generally start my writing day mid-morning by packing a lunch and heading downstairs to my office. I know if I’d come upstairs to eat I’d end up throwing in a load of wash, starting dinner, or any number of non-writing related tasks. When I have a deadline staring me in the face, I work until at least five o’clock. I don’t give myself a daily word count, but I do keep to a schedule and know exactly how far along I need to be chapter-wise to complete my work-in-progress on time.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go? 
I’ve done it both ways but found it’s less stressful if I have a longish synopsis to work from. I compare it to using a road map in planning a lengthy trip. GPS is great but I need a broader overview.

Do you use real people and places as models for your books? 
Some characters are entirely imaginary; others are a composite of people I’ve seen or met that fulfill my mental vision for that character. That said, I did use a good friend once who won a bid at a silent auction to become a character in a Spice Shop Mystery. She appeared in one book, then I killed her off in the next one. We’re still friends.

Who is your favorite author?
Good question. I really don’t have a ‘favorite’ author but have favorite books. Even when reading books by the same author, I find certain ones resonate with me more than others.

How do you promote your books? 
I’m not as media savvy as many authors and need to improve on that score. I’ve done various presentations and panels, but I’m too much of an introvert to enjoy this. Public speaking is just not my thing. What I do, however, is participate in a virtual blog tour and blogs such as yours. I believe this helps get the word out and targets the readers most likely to enjoy my books. I really do appreciate all bloggers, such as yourself, do on an author’s behalf.

For a review of Ginger Snapped, click here

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Pawprints & Predicaments

A year ago, I don't think I would have read a mystery featuring dogs (Please don't hate me), but then I met Beau and things changed. You'll learn more about Beau on Friday on

In the meantime I dove right into Pawprints & Predicaments Bethany Blake. Daphne Templeton runs a petsitting business and is now in the process of open a bakery shop for pet treats. Right in the middle of her planning is the Sylvan Creek Winterfest highlighting her pet-friendly Pocono Mountain town.

TV producer Lauren Savidge decides she needs to film her show "America's Most Pet Friendly Towns" at various locales in town and also the Polar Bear Plunge during the Winterfest. Lauren's intrusive ways have rubbed many residents the wrong way and it is no surprise that she doesn't survive the polar plunge.

Daphne and a phantom St. Bernard dog drag a limp Lauren from the water. Once on land the dog escapes into the woods. He is the embodiment of the legendary St. Bernard known throughout Sylvan Creek. At first it appears she drowned in the confusion, but Detective Jonathan Black discovers blood on her head and calls it suspicious.

Of course there are many suspects including some of the town's quirkier residents as well as Lauren's own staff.  Although Daphne is warned by Detective Black to keep away from investigating. especially after her previous close calls. Daphne, not one to be quieted or controlled, continues investigating.

Pawprints and Predicaments has a little dog that loves to dress up in costumes; another dog, Socrates, who is the reincarnation of the great philosopher; and of course, the elusive St. Bernard.

The Lucky Paws Petsitting Mysteries are a fun series and I will have to go back and read the earlier ones. I'm looking forward to the next one and to see how Daphne manages the pet bakery.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Spider Catchers

CIA analyst Lee Carruthers is drawn into a search for a missing aid worker in Morocco. What she finds is human trafficking, terrorist violence and much more in The Spider Catchers by Marilynn Larew.

Alicia Harmon, director of the Femme Aid Office in Fez, Morocco, has been missing for two weeks. In her most recent report, she wrote that she had found a funny link to terrorist money and she was trying to make the connection when she disappeared. Lee is ordered to Fez to discover what the connection could be.

Using all her local knowledge and her friends, she wanders the streets of Fez trying to gather information, but she is thwarted every step of the way. First by the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, then by a terrorist bomb in Fez. It seems a splinter group called the Pure Warriors of Islam is making inroads in Morocco through brothel violence, slave trafficking and terrorism.

When Lee is perilously close to a bomb explosion, she is more determined than ever to find the link Alicia had discovered. In Alicia apartment she finds death threats telling her "to stop asking questions." Not sure what it is Alicia had discovered or where the connection is, she keep poking and poking, hoping to shake out some news.

Things get crazier and crazier as Lee faces one challenge after another and finally discovers how the terrorists are receiving their money. The Spider Catchers is a terrifying look at how simple fundraising can go astray and how zealots can transform a country from a safe place to live to a hot spot.

Lee Carruthers is a tough character and I look forward to her next adventure.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Introducing Anything Can Happen Friday

Like many readers of the same genre, I feel the need to step out of my cozy mystery cocoon and read other books, see a movie or a play. That said, I will be introducing Anything Can Happen Friday (AHCF) on the blog where I will review books from other genres or a movie or a play or even publish a recipe from a book.

To introduce ACHF, I saw Hamilton last week. If you haven't seen Hamilton, you must see it.
The musical is like nothing you have ever seen before. For most people, Hamilton is the guy on the $10 bill. Some may know he was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr, but unless you are a history buff, you probably did not know how critical he was as aide de camp to General Washington, how important he was to passing the U.S. Constitution and finally his impact on the Federal Reserve. He makes a deal with the southern colonies to move the new US. capital to the south in exchange for keeping New York as the financial center, thus the birth of Wall Street.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the book, music and lyrics, is a genius. He has turned history into one of the most popular musicals in decades. He portrayed Hamilton as an inveterate letter writer, who wrote as if he was running out of time, a wise cracking smart aleck who sometimes spoke before he thought, but someone who was deeply committed to the birth of the United States, but whose own flaws lead to his death.

The other characters include an unremorseful King George II, who thinks the colonies will return to his "benevolent reign", a flashy Marquis de Lafayette, an elegant General George Washington and a competitive Thomas Jefferson.

The staging was creative and the music was emotionally powerful. Plus it was such fun to see people of all ages in the audience enjoying the show. I have heard Hamilton is leaving Chicago before the end of the year, so don't wait. See it now.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Specter of Seduction

Fresh from their success in Alabama, Raissa James and Reginald Proctor are asked to come to Waverley Mansion, an antebellum home in Mississippi. The Specter of Seduction by Carolyn Haines is the third in the Pluto's Snitch series and it is the most diabolical.

The Sheridans have decided to renovate a crumbling down, but still gorgeous mansion in the wilds of Mississippi, but something seems to have taken hold of their eight-year old daughter Amanda. Her behavior is reminiscent of someone much older and she seems wild and untamed. Also she has an imaginary friend named Nan who seems to be leading Amanda down a distant and peculiar path.

The mansion property is fraught with Civil War history and betrayal. The original family known as the Norquist family had three sons and three daughters and lived comfortably and quietly before the war. Three years into the war a young woman named Nora Bailey came to live with the family and fell in love with Francis, the eldest son. As they were Southerners, the three sons were Confederate officers, but Nora would soon wreak havoc on their lives.  She had a voracious sexual appetite and had affairs with two of the brothers, the local doctor and who knows who else. She also was a Union spy and her mission was to gain knowledge of Confederate military plans, but was hanged as a spy at Waverley Mansion.

Her sexual appetite was felt on the property and it drew college age women from The Mississippi
College for Women, which was a problem as well in the current day. The Sheridans also fear for the soul of their daughter Amanda with so much turbulence surrounding the home.

Raissa feels the powerful force of Nora and struggles to keep herself from being drawn in while she tries to save Amanda. With many twists and turns The Specter of Seduction is a wonderful addition to Carolyn Haines' list of books and I am looking forward to the next in the series.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Interview with Dora Ilieva

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

My latest book, which I published in October, 2017, is called White Clay. It is the third (and for now final) book in the Bulgarian series.
I have published four books so far – the Bulgarian trilogy and a slim collection of short stories called Faces.

How did you become interested in writing?
I’ve always wanted to write. I used to write in my youth, then after a rather long hiatus, I decided to pick it up again and I’m glad I did.

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? 
Unfortunately, I don’t have the chance to write every day, so I can’t really say what a typical day for me is. I write whenever I get a chance. If I had to choose a time of day, I’d choose the morning.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
I don’t plot the entire book. I start with a very rough idea and see where my writing takes me.

Do you use real people and places as models for your books? Have you been to the village ember dance you mention in the book?
I use characteristics from real people, idiosyncrasies that have stuck with me, but have never focused on a single person. As for places, yes, I usually use real places. The only exception I can think of is a city mentioned in White Clay – Gorodok 142. While the one I describe in the book is made up, it is known that those nameless, secret cities existed in the Soviet Union.

I haven’t been to the village of Gorna Krepost, but I have watched the ember dance at other places. It is an incredible experience.

Who is your favorite author?
This is a tough question. I don’t really have a favorite author, but there are many authors that I love - Saramago, Marquez, Allende, Greene, Christie, many 19th century authors… The list is long.

How do you promote your books?
Aside from the Goodreads giveaways and a Facebook page, I don’t really do much to promote my books. It’s not that I don’t want to, or consider myself above such endeavours. There is one main reason – I don’t have a lot of spare time to find out how to do it properly and put in a consistent effort. A friend and fellow author, Jennifer S. Alderson, has been extremely helpful in this regard and I am very grateful.

For a review of Devi;'s Gorge, click here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Way to the Manger

Christmas time in New Mexico is filled with tradition - both Tewa Pueblo and Christian. But this Christmas there's a dark foreboding when star basketball player Charlene Toya goes missing. In A Way to the Manger by Susan Slater, psychologist Ben Pecos has some unusual help in his search for Charlene.

Charlene is the star basketball player on the high school team with a goal of getting a full scholarship to the University of New Mexico, but something is standing in her way. She is eight months pregnant and has managed to hide this from everyone.

After the game Charlene heads to a building she hopes will have someone to help her with her pregnancy. Not an abortion, but with the adoption of the baby. She slips a note into the letter box asking someone to call her on a pay phone in the recreational center the next day.  As she turns to walk away, a woman answers the door and encourages her to come into the agency.

When the woman discovers Charlene is Native American, she tells her the child is shielded by law from adoption outside the reservation. With a sinking heart, Charlene flees to her truck and into a dangerous situation.

After Charlene has been missing for several days, Ben enlists the assistance of several members of the pueblo to find her. No one believes Charlene ran away, she had too much going for her. Most feel something terrible has happened to her. 

And something terrible has happened to Charlene but she uses her strength and resolve to find a way out of her situation.  An unlikely hero is Lorenzo Loretto, 96-year-old village hero.

A Way to the Manger is a Christmas novella in the Ben Pecos Mystery series. I look forward to getting to know Ben Pecos and the Tewa Pueblo better in the other books.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Malice in the Palace

Being 35th in line for the British throne doesn't guarantee an income or a place to live. When Lady Georgiana Rannoch returns from American with her dilettante mother, she finds the family home in Belgrave Square occupied by her brother and her not-so-welcoming-sister-in-law. In Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen, Georgie takes on another case.

Luckily before Georgie frays her sister-in-law's last nerve, she is summoned by the Queen to the palace. It appears the Queen wants Georgie to act as a companion to Princess Marina of Greece, the fiancee of Prince George. This role includes moving into Kensington Palace which is a huge relief to Georgie.

Once she settles in and meets the Princess, she is thrilled to be acting as a companion, showing her London. They make plans to go shopping, visit a night club and various other hot spots.

When they return home one rainy evening, Georgie sees something odd in the courtyard. It turns out
to be the body of Bobo Carrington, a former mistress of Prince George. Is this meant to implicate the prince? Is he guilty of trying to rid himself of a liability before his wedding or did someone else kill her? Is the rumor true that Bobo had a baby and is Prince George the father?

When Georgie's boyfriend Darcy O'Mara looms in the frame as a suspect, Georgie works doubly hard to discover who killed Bobo Carrington.

The Her Royal Spyness Mystery series is always an enjoyable read. Malice is the Palace is another eye-opening look at life among the royals.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Devil's Gorge

When Sam Angelov's grandmother dies in Sofia, Bulgaria, and he inherits property, he must go to Bulgaria to make arrangements with her lawyer. In The Devil's Gorge by Dora Ilieva, Sam and his best friend Ben Galloway head to Sofia, thinking they will only be there for a few days to sightsee and receive the inheritance.

Sam's parents fled Bulgaria during the Communist era, but they rarely talk about their days in their home country. The only two relatives still living in Bulgaria are cousins - a university professor Kiril Kirilov and his daughter Kossara. Kossara is a PhD candidate in Epigraphy. Her father is well known for his Thracian studies and expedition.

At his parents urging, he tries to find them only to discover Professor Kirilov is on a two-year sabbatical working in the Rhodopes Mountains at Perperikon and has found the Altar of Dionysus. Kossara is heading there and she urges Sam and Ben to join her. Her father thinks he is on the verge of a breakthrough Thracian discovery, which might include the tomb of Orpheus and his magical lyre.

Sam begins have frighteningly realistic dreams about the Thracian civilization and at a traditional village festival the dreams seem more realistic. Someone is also on the trail of Orpheus and seems to know the team's every move. Who else wants the lyre and what are their plans for it?

This was a bold adventure through stunning countryside into the history of a civilization few remember. I enjoyed the journey.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Recipe From Giveaway Comments

To enter last week's giveaway, readers were asked what their favorite dessert was. The answers were as varied as you can imagine, but one reader, Kay Garrett, went so far as to send a recipe, so here it is.

Three Day Coconut Cake

1 box of Duncan Hines Butter Cake mix
3 pkgs of the fresh frozen coconut (freezer section at WalMart) thawed
8 ounces of sour cream
2 cups sugar

Prepare cake mix according to package directions.
Recipe calls for 3 layers – this gal used the 9 X 13” pan and then just split the cooled cake into two layers.
Cool 10 minutes and then cool on racks.

While cake is baking make the icing.
Mix the sour cream and sugar stirring until sugar dissolves – DO NOT BEAT.
Then stir in the thawed coconut and place in refrigerator until ready to ice cake.
When cake has cooled spread icing onto cake already on cake plate that has a sealed cover like Tupperware. Top with layer(s) and finish icing. Cover with lid, seal and place in refrigerator for a minimum of three day before eating. I check once a day and if any liquid comes off cake I spoon back to top of cake.

After three days, you will never know there is sour cream in the icing and it’s the best moistest cake you will eat. It will just continue to get better. It will never dry out. The longer it sits the better it gets If you can have it last long enough to find that out. It also freezes very well.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

And the Winner is . . .

Congratulations to Bobbi Makuch for being the winner of the Giveaway. The prizes are a copy of Secrets and Lies by Jenny Kales and Ginger Snapped by Gail Oust.

Thanks to everyone who entered and for all the comments on favorite desserts. I had to say there were some of my own personal favorites - key lime pie or just about any type of pie. That's why I love to read books with food themes, although I am always hungry while reading.

Watch for another Giveaway in the middle of February.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Curses, Boiled Again

Caution: do not read this book if you love lobster rolls and live no where near the ocean or have access to these tasty treats! In Curses, Boiled Again by Shari Randall, it's Aunt Gully's lobster rolls that get her into trouble.

Aunt Gully is excited to be a contestant in the YUM Network's search for the best lobster rolls. She recently opened her Lazy Mermaid Lobster Stand in Mystic Bay and is delighted to be competing against another local favorite Kahuna's and two other shops from Massachusetts and Maine. With both of her nieces, Allie and and Lorel, helping her, she's sure the shop will be a success.

Judges for the event include Broadway star and local celebrity Contessa Wells, Mayor Packer and YUM Network stars Rio and Rick Lopez. When the first lobster roll is served from Kahuna's, all four judges react as if they have been poisoned - in fact they have. In front of the horrified spectators, the four judges are treated by paramedics and rushed to hospitals.

When the police discover the contestants were, indeed, poisoned and one of them is dead, Allie jumps
in to keep her aunt from being a suspect. Searching for security video to prove that Ernie from Kahuna couldn't be guilty of poisoning only implicates her aunt. Not her intention.

As she investigates she discovers secrets about the others involved and finds herself unearthing some startling results.

This was a fun read and it was the first in the series. I hope there are more to come. I wonder what will happen to Allie, injured ballerina, turned lobster roll maker. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Treacherous Curse

Don't forget to enter the MapYourMystery giveaway. 

Veronica Speedwell and her partner Stoker are busily organizing the budding museum for the Earl of Rosemorran when their presence is requested by Sir Hugo Montgomerie, head of Special Branch. In A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn, The Riverton Expedition in Egypt has discovered a treasure trove of artifacts.

The Expedition lead by Sir Leicester Tiverton has uncovered a sarcophagus of a princess and an assortment of grave goods that ignited international excitement. Immediately after the discovery, a series of calamities forced the expedition to return to England earlier than planned.

It was reported an Egyptian god named Anubis visited the site and frightened away most of the workers. After his appearance, the director of the excavation died and the expedition photographer disappeared along with the precious diadem belonging to the mummified princess.

Veronica and Stoker jump at the chance to investigate although they do not believe in Egyptian curses. The flames of the curse are being fanned by an unknown reporter named J.J. Butterworth, but Veronica fears there is something more on Stoker's mind. She soon discovers he was once married to the wife of John de Morgan, the expedition photographer who disappeared, and the circumstances of their divorce were less than amicable. In fact there was talk of brutality and abuse.

Shocked by these accusations, Veronica continues to believe in Stoker and searches for the photographer, the missing diadem and the truth. When they nearly lose their lives in Veronica and Stoker realize there is more at stake here.

This is the latest book in the series by Deanna Raybourn, so I missed some of the backstory, but it was exciting and suspenseful and I plan to read the others in the series. Veronica is not you average 19th century Victorian-era woman.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Loving Vincent

Although MapYourMystery is a blog for reviewing books, I had to tell you about a film I saw this week. It is called Loving Vincent and it is a movie depicted in oil-painted animation in the style of Vincent Van Gogh.

It's a mystery of sorts. Known for his prodigious correspondence with his brother Theo, Vincent's last letter to his brother was never delivered. In this exquisitely hand-painted movie, the son of a postmaster comes to the last hometown of the troubled artist one year after his death to deliver his final letter and ends up investigating his last days.

Did Vincent kill himself or was he a victim of an accidental shooting? As the young Armand Roulin goes in search of someone to whom he can deliver the letter, he learns about Vincent's life in Auvers. He hears one side of Vincent from Dr. Paul Gachet, the man who treated him for his depression and who was so obsessed with becoming an artist himself, he copied much of Vincent's work himself.

There's also Adeline Ravoux, the innkeeper's daughter, who tells of a happy, contented man the days before his death. She tells Armand that you cannot believe a word Dr. Gachet says about Vincent.

What Roulin finds leads to more questions about Vincent and his state of mind. Wonderful movie painting in glorious colors.

The artists who created the film painted over 65,000 frames in oils to produce the movie. In the coming months some of the artboards will be available for purchase. This is a wonderful film and a joy to watch.

The trailer link for Loving Vincent is here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Skeletons in the Attic

 Enter the Giveaway. Click here to enter!

Callie Barnstable fully expects to be her father's sole heir to his estate which she thinks might consist of well-worn furniture, a few mismatched dishes and some well-worn books. Much to her surprise the estate includes money and a house - one she did not remember. In Skeletons in the Attic by Judy Penz Sheluk,  Callie is in for more surprises as she heads to the Toronto suburb of Marketville.

A provision in the will requires Callie to live in the house for one year and find out who murdered her mother. Shocked because she always believed her mother just deserted them when she was six, Callie isn't sure how much she can learn from a 30-year-old cold case.

Over the years the house had been rented and the last two tenants claimed to have heard strange noises and a woman crying. Freaked by this Callie is not sure she is ready for this house.

The latest tenant, Misty Rivers, is a psychic and she is sure she can contact Callie's mother. Not ready
for spectral contact, Callie continues with her renovations. Finally one day she decides to investigate the attic to see if she can find any papers or clues as to why her mother disappeared. While she has two movers with her, she coaxes them up into the attic.

What they find sends chills down her spine. A coffin complete with a skeleton is in the attic.

Skeletons in the Attic is like a real life jigsaw puzzle. Callie begins putting the pieces together around the edges and slowly adds pieces to the middle. As she works to complete the puzzle, she reaches a startling conclusion.

Looking forward to another book by Judy Penz Shulak.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Enter the New Giveaway!

It's contest time and it's easy to win. Enter to win a copy of Jenny Kales' newest book Secrets and Pies and a copy of Gale Oust's Ginger Snapped. Contest ends on Monday, January 15.

For a review of Secrets and Pies, click here.

For a review of Ginger Snapped, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 8, 2018

For Better or Worse

Ginger Barnes has been working on do-it-yourself projects at her daughter and son-in-law's new home. Surrounding the home are some interesting characters that soon find a way to rope Ginger into their issues. In For Better or Worse by Donna Huston Murray, Ginger has come into her own since the death of her husband. I like her better for that (sorry, I know that is mean, but true).

Despite her husband's disapproval Susan, the mother of a toddler, wants to find a job and she asks Ginger to babysit for the child. Not sure she wants to work that much herself, Ginger agrees, mostly because the toddler Jack is adorable.

On the other side of Chelsea's house, an eccentric older woman, Mrs. Zumstein lives with her grandson. One morning a load of bricks is thrown from the third floor of her house. It's followed by three pops that sound like shots. Unsure whether to call the police, she heads over, finds no answer to her calls and returns to her projects.

Another neighbor with a baby and a possessive husband asks Gin to watch her baby while she takes a
shower. As all new mothers learn, doing small chores become a big problem with a new baby. But things are not right in any of the neighboring houses and Gin becomes uneasy about them, especially after Mrs. Zumstein falls down a flight of stairs and flings accusations at her grandson, who she thinks is her husband.

When Gin learns Susan and her husband Mike have moved from place to place over the past three years she is curious. On blind date with a man named George who turns out to be Susan's father, she learns some disturbing information.

Before she knows it Gin is involved in three dangerous situations and fears for herself and the people involved. This is a tense, taut mystery with lessons for every day living.

For a review of The Mainline is Murder also by Murray, click here

Friday, January 5, 2018

Scones and Scoundrels

The lovely town of Inversgail is in for a nasty "hurricane" named Daphne Wood. Famed environmentalist and modern day recluse, Daphne returns home after 30 years to be an artist-in-residence at the local school. In Scones and Scoundrels by Molly MacRae the women of Yon Bonnie Books and Tearoom find themselves in the middle of the storm.

Before the illustrious writer makes her appearance, her impact is felt in the long list of demands she has for her author-in-residence. When Daphne arrives early, bringing her dog and makes a fuss over the accommodations that have been hastily reorganized, no one is a fan.

Daphne is expected to appear at Yon Bonnie Books at a signing, but Janet begins to worry about her quirky behavior and hopes she doesn't disrupt the event.

When a visiting tourist is found dead behind a bar frequented mostly by locals, Janet, Christine, Tallie
and Summer would love to investigate, but the upcoming author event has them hopping. When said author decides she wants to investigate with them, she dreams up the name SCONES for their group. Janet and friends try to coax her out of investigating, but Daphne has a mind of her own.

Daphne makes no bones about her desire to investigate and she continues to alienate nearly everyone in town with her abrupt behavior. She harangues Gillian, the teacher who organized the author-in-resident, badgers Maida, the homeowner where she is staying, and torments just about everyone she encounters. Janet wonders if her years of living in solitude in the woods have had their impact on Daphne's behavior or is there something more.

A whispers of whiskey society, a Peeping Tom and another murder or two compound the efforts of the book shop owners while they investigate. There investigation leads them to an unlikely suspect.

Scones and Scoundrels is another enjoyable mystery featuring the technology-savvy women from Yon Bonnie Books.

For a review of Plaid and Plagiarism, the first book in the series, click here

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Janice J. Richardson Interview

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
The latest book - First Call, Book 4 of A Spencer Funeral Home Niagara Cozy Mystery Series was published mid-December 2017. It is the final book in that series.

My first book, The Making of a Funeral Director is a memoir. It covers two years of funeral service education and a bit beyond. That makes five.

How did you become interested in writing?
I sort of fell into it a bit later in life. The Making of a Funeral Director I wrote after I graduated, but didn't publish it. Years later, the manuscript surfaced when my husband found it during a move. With the advent of self-publishing, I researched all the 'how to' sources I could find. Rayne Hall's books were invaluable. Once the memoir was published, the idea for a fictional story about a funeral director popped into my head. I kept going after Casket Cache, it was so much fun. I enjoy the learning curve of being a self-published author.

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?
A day in the life of this author means rising early, sitting at my computer and stopping only to eat, quitting when I am tired in the evening. Plot bunnies come out at night, they need to be nurtured and noted right away. Once the book goes to my editor I tend to get a bit anxious, for me the editing process is harder than writing the first few drafts. I have learned to appreciate the input from beta readers and editors. It's a collaborative process.

As for a word count, I don't set goals. I just write until the book is done. Quantity over quality doesn't work for me. It may take me hours to write and rewrite a page, or a day to write several chapters. No rhyme or reason or rhythm, just writing.

I used a quote from Brandon Sanderson in my last book - "The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon." Well said. Stories that leave me (as a reader) with unanswered questions are my favorite. If the story is good, and I get caught up in it, then to imagine the ending is delicious fun. Not all readers like that style of writing, cozy mysteries tend to be neat and tidy, with no loose ends. I have modified a couple of my books and left the reader guessing.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
Sometimes I do an outline, but seldom stick to it, as the stories tend take on a life of their own. I wrote the last chapter of First Call long before I had an idea of how the story would evolve. I spent a fair bit of time researching that book. The story had to be shaped around the ending.

Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
Yes. My characters are composites of people I have worked with, and family and friends. I chose Niagara Falls as the setting, having moved to the region from the northern part of the province a few years ago. It is a marvelous place to live and I love the roar of the falls. The Niagara peninsula is a beautiful part of the country.

Who is your favorite author?
Can't pick just one. :) Non-fiction - my favorite non-fiction writer currently would be Frank Schaeffer. As for fiction, my favorites are Louise Penny, Jennifer S. Alderson's Zelda Richardson series and I.J. Parker's Sugawara Akidata series.

How do you promote your books?
Twitter was new to me and fun to learn. Occasionally I will tweet about my books, mostly I post about the Niagara Region and my cat Vegas, aka Kittybrat. I tend to follow people who don't constantly promote their books, and who follow back. I don't blog or have a website, so Facebook is my home base.

Marketing is not my strong point, I would rather build friendships with readers, authors and bloggers. Goodreads is one of my best marketing tools, I follow authors, readers and reviewers and do my best to review every book I finish.

My goal is to introduce readers to a protagonist whose job as a funeral director would educate and reassure them. Most people are not comfortable with funeral service, so I made Casket Cache (ebook version) free. I won't put my prices above four dollars on my other books. I want my books to be affordable for all. When I made Casket Cache free, to my surprise, it moved into the top ten in one of its categories with over 1300 books downloaded in three weeks. My plan is to keep it free, and I hope Amazon will continue to price match. My goal to educate, entertain and share freely may not be a marketing tool, but it is how I choose to manage my books. It is the readers, bloggers and reviewers who promote them. I'm humbled and grateful for their friendship and support

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Case of the Unsuitable Suitor

Henry Deveraux Twyst, the 18th duke of Chellingworth, is in a dither because his croquet lawn has been attacked by moles. With the big game against the Anwen Allcomer, set for the following week, he needs to have the lawn repaired. In The Case of the Unsuitable Suitor by Cathy Ace, the WISE agency women are investigating again.

Local pub owner Tudor wants the WISE agency to investigate the appearance of prodigal son Huw Hughes who has returned home. Tudor is concerned about Huw wooing Annie Parker, especially as Huw has had three wives die suddenly.Tudor is sure Annie's life is in danger because of Huw's attentions. He wants Carol to investigate the three deaths.

Tudor has had a thing for Annie for years,  but has been too shy to act on it. Now he fears she might be swept away by the handsome Huw. 

Although Carol has reservations about investigating someone interested in Annie, she wants to help
Tudor, so she uses her computer skills to seek information.

As Carol investigates, another agent Christine Wilson-Smythe is on holiday in Ireland with her boyfriend Alexander. Unfortunately they find themselves in the middle of a dangerous moonshine smuggling ring being operated very close to home.

Another enjoyable book by Cathy Ace featuring the WISE Agency women.

For a review of another Cathy Ace book, The Case of the Curious Cook, click here.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Another One Bites the Crust

In the midst of a massive renovation to Torte, Juliet Capshaw is also helping plan her mother's wedding. In Another One Bites the Crust by Ellie Alexander, Ashland prepares for another series of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

This season begins with Antony and Cleopatra, but there is more drama offstage than on. Antony, whose real name no one knows, has argued with everyone and has tried to alienate the artistic direction Lance from the Board.

Lance is not his usual fastidious self. He seems on the verge of break down and Jules is worried. He wants to throw an extravagant opening night party, complete with Elizabethan desserts. Just what Jules needs - complicated desserts on top of everything else she is handling. When he and Antony nearly come to blows at the party, Jules fears Lance is about to collapse.

In the middle of the night, Lance lands on Jules' doorstep covered in
what looks like blood, hiding a dagger under his cloak. He explains he found Antony's body with the dagger sticking out of his abdomen in the park. He cannot explain why he took the dagger.

When the police arrive at Lithia Park, there is no body, leading them to search the grounds and finally the pond. Eventually they discover Antony's body and arrest Lance.

Naturally Lance begs Jules to find the killer, as if she doesn't have enough to do with the renovation and the wedding.  And Lance, in his exasperating typical self, leaves out an essential detail that might help Jules investigates.

I love this bakery and shop. I wish it were in my town. I laughed when I recently read that Ellie Alexander actually moved to Ashland, Oregon.  Good for her. I hope it is as wonderful a place as she imagines.

Another One Bites the Crust is on sale today, January 2.