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A New Down South Cafe Mystery and character interview from Gayle Leeson: Honey-Baked Homicide

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The owner of a delightful Southern café tastes the sharp sting of suspicion in this delectable comfort food mystery . . .

It’s fall in Winter Garden, Virginia, and business at Amy Flowers’ Down South Café has never been better. So when struggling beekeeper Stuart Landon asks Amy to sell some of his honey, she’s happy to help. The jars of honey are a sweet success, but their partnership is cut short when Amy discovers Landon’s body outside the café early one morning.

As Amy tries to figure out who could possibly have wanted to harm the unassuming beekeeper, she discovers an ever-expanding list of suspects—and they’re all buzzing mad. She’ll have to use all of her skills—and her Southern charm—to find her way out of this sticky situation…


Character Interview:

Amy Flowers from Honey-Baked Homicide by Gayle Leeson

Amy, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

Well, I guess it’s that I’m a real girly-girl, but I have a tomboy side too. I love dressing up, hanging out in my “fancy room” (I transformed my mom’s old room into a girly paradise), and wearing makeup. But somedays, I’d just as soon not bother with the frills and go play softball, or hike, or climb a tree.

Which character in Honey Baked Homicide do you get along with the best?

I get along well with all my family. I mean, I adore my mom. Aunt Bess is a hoot—she keeps us all on our toes. But, I think my best friend is my cousin Jackie. We’ve always been more like sisters than cousins, and we work side by side every day.

Anyone you have a conflict with?

I have a little bit of a problem with Sheriff Billings. I get the idea he doesn’t approve of my dating his deputy—Ryan Hall—and that he doesn’t entirely trust me. I mean, yeah, there have been a couple of deaths on my property—I mean, the first one was before I even owned the place. And I had nothing to do with those! Still, the man likes my cooking, and I believe I might be starting to win him over.

Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?

She’s sitting here beside me whispering, “Tell them I’m great! Tell them you like me!” So…yeah… she’s great and I like her. But it certainly doesn’t take much to distract her. I do wish I could block her Internet, especially during work hours. She goes to look up a word and comes back half an hour later. Or she needs to research something “real quick” and she doesn’t get back to writing until the next day. What is up with that? If I did my customers that way, I’d run myself out of business in a hurry!

Amy, what’s next for you?

Well, the holidays are right around the corner, so I’m sure I’ll be doing plenty of baking. But, I might need to put some mistletoe over the door jamb for when a certain handsome young deputy pays me a visit. 😉


About The Author

Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. I also write as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, I write the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, I write the Embroidery Mystery series. I live in Virginia with my family, which includes her own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff. I’m having a blast writing this new series!

Webpage – http://www.gayleleeson.com

Gayle Trent Webpage – http://www.gayletrent.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GayleTrentandAmandaLee/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/GayleTrent

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/426208.Gayle_Trent

Purchase Links

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The Tulip Shirt Murders – A Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery and character interview by Heather Weidner (with gift card giveaway!)

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Private investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in The Tulip Shirt Murders. When a local music producer hires the duo to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs, Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests.

The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads. And they must put the rest of the missing pieces together before someone else is murdered.


Character Interview with Delanie Fitzgerald

Delanie, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

My name is Delanie Fitzgerald, and I’m the owner of Falcon Investigations in Chesterfield County, Virginia. I chose the name of my company in honor of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.

Who is your favorite character in The Tulip Shirt Murders (besides yourself, of course)?

One of my closest friends is my partner, Duncan Reynolds. He’s a computer guru who has a knack for getting computers to cough up all sorts of information. We share our office with his sidekick, Margaret the English bulldog.

Is there anyone you’re not so crazy about? 

I met this sleazy strip club owner last summer when he wanted some dirt on the Mayor of Richmond. Then I had to spend most of my summer helping him clear his name when the mayor ended up murdered outside of his establishment. The strip club owner, Charles Wellington Smith, III (Chaz) has horrible table manners and no filter. He says whatever pops into his head, but he’s a good, cash-paying client.

Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?

Heather’s an interesting character too. Even though we are very different people, we both are redheads, love 80s music, and drive Mustangs.

What’s next for you?

Duncan and I have more clients in The Tulip Shirt Murders. We help a local music producer who thinks he is being bootlegged. And Chaz pops back in my life with a request to help solve a murder.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, Lethal Ladies Write, and James River Writers. The Tulip Shirt Murders is her second novel in her Delanie Fitzgerald series.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She blogs regularly with the Lethal Ladies and Pens, Paws, and Claws.

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A New Golden Age-Style Mystery (with bonus cocktail recipe!) from Ellen Seltz: Mister Mottley and the Dying Fall

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The only way out is a long way down.

Edmund Mottley, Specialist in Discreet Enquiries, is in a precarious position: his old flame Susan needs his help. Her new fiance is accused of murder, and she wants Mottley to clear his name.

Mottley would rather jump off a cliff than get involved, but when Susan is threatened by a shadowy crime syndicate, Mottley leaps to her aid.
Mottley and Baker, his intrepid valet, pursue the case to an island of otherworldly beauty. But the island is haunted by secrets, treachery, madness, and … something more.
Every clue crumbles under their feet, pushing Mottley’s powers of deduction — and Baker’s loyalty — to the limit. With his own life on the line, can Mottley save Susan before time runs out.  The Mottley & Baker Mysteries are classic whodunnits set in the Golden Age of 1930’s traditional detectives. If you like Miss Marple’s pastoral puzzles or Albert Campion’s rollicking adventures, you’ll fall hard for this cozy historical mystery adventure.


Guest Post

Writing for Refreshment

Ellen Seltz

“The cup of tea on arrival at a country house is a thing which, as a rule, I particularly enjoy. I like the crackling logs, the shaded lights, the scent of buttered toast, the general atmosphere of leisured cosiness.”

― P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters

 

Bertie Wooster sums up here the essence of my lifelong love for good old-fashioned mysteries:  They’re really a kind of hospitality. “Come right in, make yourself comfortable,” the author seems to say. “Just for a while, put your worries aside, enjoy the scenery, and take some refreshment.”

Perhaps it’s my training in live theater, but I always feel that my readers and my characters are sharing space – my space. It’s my job to meet their needs, take care of all the details, and make sure everyone gets the most out of the experience.

I thought, for a visit here at Island Confidential in Hawaii, something light and cool would be more suitable than hot tea and toast. So let me introduce you to the gimblet cocktail.

The gimblet, like its more famous sibling, the gimlet, features a combination of lime, spirits, and soda water, served ice-cold. The difference is that the gimblet includes fresh lime juice instead of lime syrup. It’s similar to a lime rickey, but without added sugar.

Like the classic gin & tonic with lemon, the origins of the gimblet and gimlet trace back to the days of British naval exploration and empire – ways to make the medicinal properties of citrus, juniper, and quinine more palatable. Those “make the best of it” snorts evolved into a palate-pleasing balance of flavor, temperature, and kick.

You make a gimblet by mixing one part lime juice to three parts gin. Shake well over ice and strain into a medium glass, then fill to the top with soda water. Being ahead of his time, Mottley prefers his gimblet with vodka.

The gimblet, though little-known today, is immortalized in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. The bar at the Savoy Hotel was a mainstay of jazz-age cocktail culture, and the bartender Harry Craddock was a celebrated expert with an encyclopedic knowledge of mixology. His recipes remain a gold standard and basic reference text for cocktail aficionados everywhere.

Some people find the gimblet overwhelmingly tart, but – well, not to put too fine a point on it, Mottley can be a bit tart in his attitude. It suits him. I’m not much of a drinker myself, but I do enjoy unsweetened lime or grapefruit-flavored sparkling water, so perhaps Mottley inherited his taste for tartness from me.

The gimblet pops up in my new book as a prelude to some pointed questions from Mottley’s old flame Susan Parton. Ever a good hostess, Susan is thoughtful enough to bring Mottley his favorite drink before she puts him on the spot. In fiction as in life, a difficult scene goes better when you have something to drink.

Mottley made his way to a quiet corner and dropped into a low chair. Susan materialised at his elbow and handed him a vodka with fresh lime and soda on ice. She perched on the arm of his chair as he sipped.

“All right?”

“Very nice. If ever you need a job, tell Craddock at the Savoy I sent you.”

“Are you going to take our case?”

“Look, Bunny, are you sure you want me mucking about with this? Denis is in no danger, there’s no legal case against him. Even if his money’s tied up for years, that’s hardly a problem for you.”

“It’s not the money, Edmund. It’s the people. Half the guests we invited tonight were mysteriously ill or otherwise engaged. We were cut dead at Chez Dupin last night.”

“People!” Mottley snorted. “Since when do you care about people? Doesn’t love conquer all, and what not?”

She gazed into his eyes, too intent to take offence. “I know you’ve a low opinion of my intelligence, but I’ve never been quite that silly.”

Mottley shifted in his chair. “My dear girl, of course not…”

“This isn’t a story to dine out on. It isn’t romantic. Denis has worked his whole life to build up that firm. Of course I don’t believe he’s a killer, but I can tell he’s keeping something from me. I just want to know the truth.”

“Bunny.” Mottley covered her hand with his own.

She snatched her hand back. “Don’t Bunny me! You owe me, Edmund. I’ve found someone who doesn’t think of me as a little sister. Someone who loves me back.”

“Oof… I’m sorry, Susan, I’ve said so. I meant it.”

“We need your help.” She leaned in and whispered, “You owe me.”


About The Author  

Ellen Seltz worked in the entertainment industry for twenty years, from Miami to New York and points in between. Her primary roles were actress and producer, but she also served as a comedy sketch writer, librettist, voice artist, propmaster, costumer, production assistant, camera operator and general dogsbody.

She turned to fiction writing in the vain hope that the performers would do as they were told. Joke’s on her.

Ellen is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, where she now lives with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys vegetable gardening and vintage-style sewing.

 

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A New Cat Latimer Mystery from Lynn Cahoon: Of Murder and Men

Love is in the air in Aspen Hills, and it’s making a terrible mess of Cat Latimer’s writers’ retreat—especially when blood stains the plot . . .

Ever since her business partner, Shauna, fell for a wealthy landowner in town, Cat has been working double time to keep her writers’ retreat running. And with the January session almost underway, that spells trouble. As if scheduling mishaps aren’t disastrous enough, Shauna skips out on kitchen duties one morning, forcing Cat to serve unsuspecting guests store-bought muffins . . .

But best laid plans really go awry when Shauna discovers her beau missing from their bed. When his body later turns up in the horse barn, they quickly find out the victim’s scandalous lifestyle left many dying for revenge. While balancing an eccentric group of aspiring writers and a suspect list for the record books, Cat soon finds herself on the heels of a killer—and authoring her most deadly conclusion yet . . .


Character Interview

Seth, welcome to Island Confidential!  Tell our readers a little bit about yourself–maybe something they might not guess?

Hi, I’m Seth Howard. I’m the Aspen Hill’s handyman as well as being Cat’s boyfriend. We dated in high school and even then, I knew she was the one. She, unfortunately, had other plans and married that professor guy. But now that’s he’s gone, that’s water under the bridge, I hope. That Dante character hangs around a bit too often for my peace of mind. How can I compete with a guy who has everything?

Who’s the character you get along with the best?

Of course Cat and I get along best. (wink, wink). Okay, fine, I’ll be good. Honestly, I’m good with her uncle too. Pete and I have been friends for a while now, since I got back from my service in the Army. He knew I was still messed up on Cat, but he was nice enough not to rub my nose in it. He’s a cool guy. Even if he is the chief of police.

Anyone you have a conflict with?

I don’t know if it’s conflict, but Shauna’s been strange lately. She’s always disappearing to Kevin’s ranch. If you ask me, she’s addicted to the money thing too. The guy is almost as rich as Dante, but of course, he got his money the legal way. Dante’s family, well, let’s just say they’re connected. Back to Shauna. She used to be chatty when I showed up at the house, but now, she looks at me like I’m the enemy. Maybe Cat said something to her that I should know.

Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?

I’d love to be honest, but she’s standing right behind me. I can feel her there. Lynn’s okay. She’s funny and lets us do what we want. I worry that she lets Cat get too deep into these investigations and maybe into danger, but she always pulls her out just in time.

What’s next for you?

My author, Lynn, has already dictated our next adventure. SLAY IN CHARACTER will release in late 2018. We took the writers on a field trip to Outlaw, Colorado. It’s a ghost town that’s been refurbished for tourists, but is as authentic to 1860 as possible. We even got to see a shootout. Although the guy who ‘died’ didn’t really know how to act.

 

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today bestselling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. Guidebook to Murder, book 1 of the series won the Reader’s Crown for Mystery Fiction in 2015. She’s also the author of  Cat Latimer series. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.lynncahoon.com

Keep up with Lynn:

Website | Amazon author page | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook


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Aria to Death: A Joseph Haydn Mystery by Nupur Tustin. Read an excerpt!

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When Monteverdi’s lost operas surface, so does a killer desperate to possess them. . .

Preoccupied with preparations for the opera season at Eszterháza, Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn receives a curious request from a friend in Vienna. Kaspar, an impoverished violinist with an ailing wife, wishes Haydn to evaluate a collection of scores reputed to be the lost operas of Monteverdi.

Haydn is intrigued until Her Majesty, Empress Maria Theresa, summons him with a similar request. Skeptical of the value of Kaspar’s bequest, Haydn nevertheless offers to help. But before he can examine the works, Kaspar is murdered—beaten and left to die in front of a wine tavern.

The police are quick to dismiss the death as a robbery gone wrong. But Haydn is not so sure. Kaspar’s keys were stolen and his house broken into. Could his bequest be genuine after all? And can Haydn find the true operas—and the man willing to kill for them?


Excerpt

Convinced of the value of his bequest by the attempted theft, Kaspar writes to Haydn seeking his help in authenticating the works. But how did the long-lost operas of an Italian master come to be in the hands of a Viennese merchant?

Herr Anwalt is confident the works will prove to be the operas of the great Claudio Monteverdi. In the maestro’s hand, no less! Only consider their worth, if that is true.

Johann raised his head from the letter he had been reading aloud. “Monteverdi’s operas! All of them!” His voice rose in incredulity as he glanced first at the Konzertmeister and then at Haydn. “It scarcely seems plausible, does it, brother?”

But Haydn, rapt in a study of the undulating landscape visible through the window and the sandstone farmhouses dotting the richly verdant country, made no reply. It was Luigi who spoke.

“It is not entirely impossible, I suppose. The old merchant traveled often enough to Italy.” The Konzertmeister paused to scratch contemplatively at his beard. “You know, he recounted the most unusual tale to me when I was in Vienna.

“Something about an old monk who took such exception to Monteverdi’s music, he dispatched some men to steal it. Every score would have been destroyed. But one of the thieves, enchanted by the music, kept the original and gave the monk a copy.”

Luigi’s remarks had drawn the Kapellmeister’s attention. He twisted around in his armchair, his eyes narrowed. “And the originals passed in some fashion, I take it, to Kaspar’s old uncle?”

Luigi shrugged, spreading his hands wide. “So, old Wilhelm Dietrich claimed. He said he had met the great-grandson of the brigand in question, a printer in Cremona.”

“And it is that tale that forms the basis of poor Kaspar’s hopes?” Johann stared at the Konzertmeister. “It is an amusing anecdote to be sure, but. . .” His eyes drifted toward his brother. “Can it be true?”

Haydn considered the question, chin cupped in his hand. “The more important question,” he finally replied, voicing the thought in a pensive adagio, “is whether the scores contain the music Monteverdi wrote for his operas.”

“And that cannot be determined until you have examined them.” Luigi reached for the letter Johann had placed on the table between them. “Why Kaspar did not enclose them with his letter, I cannot understand. His Serene Highness is hardly likely to grant you a leave of absence at this time.”

“After that first attempt on them, how could he not be wary of entrusting them to the mail coach?” Haydn murmured, his gaze fixed upon the pink roses painted on the table before him. . .

. . . .

“Well, it was fortunate the thieves were not well armed.” Luigi broke the silence that had fallen upon them. “It is odd that they were not. But they could not have been expecting much resistance.”

“An odd fact, indeed.” A troubled expression descended upon the Kapellmeister’s features. “There can only be one reason for it, I fear.”

“You mean that it was a deliberate attempt?” Johann ventured, sounding unconvinced. “But that would mean—”

“That someone knew exactly what the bequest consisted of,” Haydn completed his brother’s thought, his tone somber.

“But who?” Luigi wanted to know.

“Who indeed?” Haydn replied quietly.


About The Author  

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem.  The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on ntustin.musicaneo.com.

Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.

 

 

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A new Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery and author interview: Etched in Tears by Cheryl Hollon

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When a famous glass artist is murdered at his own exhibit, deadly secrets are put on display, and it’s up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb to see through a killer’s cover.

Celebrated glass artist Dennis Lansing is returning to St. Petersburg, Florida, for an exhibit at the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum. His unique style of embedding document images in his art is at the vanguard of contemporary glasswork. But as Savannah’s first boyfriend and a former apprentice to her father, Dennis’s return home has her reflecting on the past—a trip down memory lane that takes a dark turn when Dennis is found murdered at the museum with an old reference letter from her father in his pocket. A search through her father’s records sheds new light on Dennis’s history, but it seems his present life wasn’t so transparent either. Now, with a gallery of suspects to consider, it’s up to Savannah to figure out who fits the mold of a murderer.


Author Interview

Cheryl, welcome back to Island Confidential! Can you tell us about your protagonist, Savannah? 

Savannah Webb is a strong, accomplished, empathetic, young woman how has been handed the challenge of taking over her family’s stained-glass shop.

Are you and Savannah alike at all?

There are parts of me in every character I create, but I’m not as capable as Savannah.

Ho would you feel about meeting someone like Savannah in real life?

I would love to meet her at 3 Daughters Brewing over a sampler of great beer.

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

Yes, they change as we all do after stressful circumstances. The teen-aged apprentice undergoes large changes as anyone his age experiences as well.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean? 

Boy, howdy! All those little frustrations that occur from day to day? For me, they’re material!

Ha, I’ll take that as a yes! Now, how realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

My setting is the Grand Central District of St. Petersburg, Florida. I’ve lived here since 1975 so I’m considered “nearly native.” I’ve taken a few liberties like moving Savannah’s glass shop right next door to Edward’s pub.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

Savannah Webb A young Sigourney Weaver
Edward Morris William Peter Moseley
Amanda Blake Adele
Jacob Underwood Asa Butterfield
Suzy Any adorable beagle!

What’s the best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” –Stephen King


About The Author  

Cheryl Hollon writes full time after she left an engineering career of designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India.

Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind their St. Petersburg, FL, 1920’s craftsman bungalow, Cheryl and her husband design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass and painted glass artworks and jewelry.

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A New Pancake House Mystery: Of Spice and Men by Sarah Fox

A Digital Copy of Of Spice and Men: A Pancake House Mystery by Sarah Fox

Lights. Camera. Murder? Wildwood Cove’s star turn is soured by a sneaky killer in this delicious cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of The Crêpes of Wrath.

Bonus content: includes original recipes inspired by the Flip Side Pancake House menu!

With a Hollywood film crew in town to shoot a remake of the horror classic The Perishing, the residents of Wildwood Cove are all abuzz. Even Marley McKinney, owner of The Flip Side Pancake House, can overlook the fact that the lead actress, Alyssa Jayde, happens to be an old flame of her boyfriend. After all, the crew loves Marley’s crêpes—so much so that Christine, the head makeup artist, invites her onset for a behind-the-scenes tour. But when Marley arrives, the special-effects trailer is on fire . . . with Christine inside.

The cops quickly rule Christine’s death a murder, and Alyssa a suspect. Marley’s boyfriend insists that the actress is innocent, but when Marley sticks her nose into the complicated lives of The Perishing’s cast and crew, she discovers more questions than answers. It seems that everyone has a hidden agenda—and a plausible motive. And as the horror spills over from the silver screen, Marley gets a funny feeling that she may be the killer’s next victim.

Sarah Fox’s addictive Pancake House Mysteries can be enjoyed together or à la carte:
THE CRÊPES OF WRATH | FOR WHOM THE BREAD ROLLS | OF SPICE AND MEN


About The Author  

Sarah Fox was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she developed a love for mysteries at a young age. When not writing novels or working as a legal writer, she is often reading her way through a stack of books or spending time outdoors with her English Springer Spaniel.

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A New Beer Mystery: Murder by the Barrel by Lesley Cookman

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When the sleepy village of Steeple Martin announces its first beer festival, the locals are excited. Beer, sun and music, what could possibly go wrong?

Beer, sun and music, what could possibly go wrong? But when an unexpected death shakes the village, it’s up to Libby Sarjeant to solve the puzzle. Was it just another rock star death or is there something more sinister afoot?


Interview

Lesley, welcome to Island Confidential!  Can you tell us a little about the protagonist of Murder by the Barrel? 

Libby Sarjeant is the eponymous protagonist of my series. She is a middle aged, nosy woman who, after the break up of her marriage moved to a village house in Kent (UK) found for her by some friends. She now lives with her partner, Ben Wilde and helps run the Oast Theatre in the village, Steeple Martin.

How alike are you and Libby?  

I think there’s a fair amount of me in Libby – and certainly my nearest and dearest are certain there is!

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

They’ve certainly evolved. Their lives have changed in the same way as my real life friends’ lives have, and my regular readers love them. They can often tell me of a fact about a character when I’ve forgotten it.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean? 

No! Although I have put someone who REALLY annoys me in a book, albeit with a sex-change. Funny thing was, people who read it afterwards who knew the real person recognised her immediately. I hope she didn’t…

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

My village is imaginary, but very much based in fact. It is in a recognisable part of the county, and I have a map of the whole area on my office wall, with all the main roads, villages and the nearest small town, of which I also have a map on my desk! The pictorial map of my village, Steeple Martin, appears in every book and is on my website.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the characters?

I have no idea! This is regularly discussed on my Facebook page, and readers all have their own pictures of the Libby and the rest of the characters, so I would be loathe to upset those visions! I can see them all in my head, and there’s only one who looks remotely like an actor, and that’s Libby’s partner Ben, who looks uncannily like the actor Paul Freeman!

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

Write what you know. Yes, of course, to a degree, but honestly – how many of us crime writers have actually committed a murder? How many authors have been to Alpha Centauri? Or a school for magicians? These days, we can research most things online, or find the resources to do so. And the best advice? Read a lot! Not that I needed telling – I’ve been reading a lot all my life!


About The Author  

Lesley started writing almost as soon as she could read, and filled many exercise books with pony stories until she was old enough to go out with boys. Since she’s been grown up, following a varied career as a model, air stewardess and disc jockey, she’s written short fiction and features for a variety of magazines, achieved an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, taught writing for both Kent Adult Education and the WEA and edited the first Sexy Shorts collection of short stories from Accent Press in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign.

The Libby Sarjeant series is published by Accent Press, who also publish her book, How to Write a Pantomime, with a foreword by Roy Hudd.   Lesley is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association.

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A New Keepsake Cove mystery and Author Interview: A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes

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Callie Reed makes a long overdue visit to her aunt Melodie, who lives in a fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, home to a bevy of unique collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Just as they’re beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt’s body on the floor of her music box shop. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can’t accept Melodie’s death being called accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she there in the middle of the night?

As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn’t careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie’s collection.


Mary Ellen, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us about your protagonist, Callie? 

Callie Reed is a young woman in the process of making big changes in her life. She was on the verge of leaving a downward-spiraling relationship and got the push she needed when her aunt died and left her a music box shop and the charming little cottage behind it on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She’s struggling, though, with the official “accident” ruling on her aunt’s death and starts to search for what really happened.

How alike are you and Callie?  

Though I tried my best to create someone totally new, I suspect some of me crept into Callie. Or maybe some of the wishful me. I don’t think I’d be as brave in certain situations as she is. But it’s fun to write and watch the situations from afar.

How would you feel about Callie if you met her in real life?

I think I’d like Callie if I met her. She’s smart, despite the wrong life choices she made when she was younger, and she has a pretty good heart.

Will your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

A Fatal Collection is the first book in the Keepsake Cove series, but I intend to have the characters grow. In my previous series (Pickled and Preserved mysteries and Craft Corner mysteries) the characters’ relationships progressed in a pretty natural way, I’d say.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean? 

I’ve thought of it but have never done it. I don’t put entire, real people into my books. I’ll mix and match various attributes to create someone new who will do what I want them to do.

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

I’ve created a fictional town. Keepsake Cove is a section of Mapleton filled with shops that each carry particular collectible items. Callie’s has collectible music boxes. Then there’s collectible cooking items, vintage toys, jewelry, etc. But the town is on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, a real area that I describe accurately as the characters move about.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

From your lips to God’s ears! Hmm. If I had total control (in my dreams!) I’d like Emma Watson for Callie, partly because she seems to have grown up pretty well from her Harry Potter role as Hermione.

Emma Watson

George Clooney, unfortunately is a little too old to play Callie’s potential love interest, Brian, who runs the Keepsake Café across the street from her shop. But, hey, who wouldn’t want George on the set? We could darken his hair a little, right?

Young George Clooney

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

One piece of advice that might be both the worst and the best is “write what you know.” A beginning writer might take that as sticking to what they already know and writing only about things they’ve experienced. That, of course, could be severely limiting and possibly quite boring.

What it really means is to know what you write. In other words, do your research, learn about your subject if you don’t already know about it, or learn a lot more about it if you do so that you can write accurately as well as drop in the little tidbits that flesh out a scene or a character so nicely for the reader.


About the Author

Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries (Penguin), the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. A Fatal Collection is her debut with Midnight Ink. A Wisconsin native, she has lived most of her adult life in Maryland, where she’s set many of her stories. Visit her at www.MaryEllenHughes.com.

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Author Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MaryEllenHughesauthor

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/mehughes13/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/mehughesauthor


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A new crafting mystery and author interview: Scrapbook of Murder by Lois Winston

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Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but “normal” deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.

When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.


Interview with Lois Winston

Lois, welcome back to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Anastasia?

Anastasia Pollack, a widowed suburban mom with two teenage sons, is the crafts editor of a woman’s magazine. She lived a blissfully normal life until the day her husband dropped dead at a roulette table in Las Vegas. That’s when she learned the truth about her husband, forever now referred to as Dead Louse of a Spouse. Not only has his secret gambling addiction resulted in Anastasia coping with massive debt, she’s also permanently stuck with her semi-invalid communist mother-in-law. As Anastasia struggles to keep from drowning in bills, she also has to referee the daily battles between her mother-in-law and her mother, a woman who claims to descend from Russian nobility. Then there’s her mother-in-law’s dog, her mother’s cat, and a Shakespeare-quoting parrot. You’d think that would be enough stress for any woman, but then the dead bodies start piling up.

How would you feel about Anastasia if you met her in real life? Do you think you have much in common with her?

If I were to meet Anastasia in real life, I think we’d become very good friends. We both have art backgrounds. I’ve worked for years as a crafts designer and editor for manufacturers, publishers, and magazines. We also both have two sons, although mine are well passed their teen years at this point. We’re both Jersey girls with the same sense of humor that comes from being a Jersey girl. And I did have a communist mother-in-law who was the model for Anastasia’s mother-in-law. That’s where the similarities end. My husband, thankfully, is still very much alive, and his gambling is limited to buying an occasional lottery ticket when the jackpot reaches astronomical heights. Unfortunately, so far we haven’t won more than $2.00.

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

When Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, opens, Anastasia has just buried her husband. As a way to save money, she’s decided to rent out the apartment over her garage that she’d used as her studio. Zack Barnes, her new tenant, is a photojournalist looking for a quiet place to live and work. As the series progresses, so does their relationship, moving well beyond landlord and tenant.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

Not only have I thought of it, I’ve done it. More often, though, I make these people the villains in my stories rather than the victims. It’s far more satisfying. However, I never use their real names, and I make enough changes to the character that no one but me would be able to figure out whom they represent. As long as I know, that’s all that matters. Getting even with bullies in print is quite satisfying, and I don’t have to worry about getting caught and winding up in prison.

I like your style! So how realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

I base The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries in an actual New Jersey town, and all scenes in my books take place in real places in New Jersey and New York City.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

Tina Fey would be perfect for Anastasia. Publishers Weekly even compared Anastasia quite favorably to Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon character from 30 Rock in their starred review of the first book in the series. I’d want either Hugh Jackman or Patrick Dempsey to play Zack.

Patrick Dempsey, Tina Fey, Hugh Jackman

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received as an author?

The best advice I ever heard is that every scene and all dialogue need to do one of two things—either advance the story or tell the reader something she needs to know at that moment about the character. If the scene or dialogue do neither, they’re filler and don’t belong in the book.

The worst advice I ever heard was that all five senses have to be included in every scene. That’s ridiculous. You should only include in any scene what’s important to the scene. Padding scenes kills pacing.


lois-winston-med-res-file

About The Author 

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at www.loiswinston.com

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