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Survival of the Fritters (A Deputy Donut Mystery) by Ginger Bolton with CAT TOY instructions

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Emily Westhill runs the best donut shop in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin, alongside her retired police chief father-in-law and her tabby Deputy Donut. But after murder claims a favorite customer, Emily can’t rely on a sidekick to solve the crime—or stay alive.

 

If Emily has learned anything from her past as a 911 operator, it’s to stay calm during stressful situations. But that’s a tall order when one of her regulars, Georgia Treetor, goes missing. Georgia never skips morning cappuccinos with her knitting circle. Her pals fear the worst—especially Lois, a close friend who recently moved to town. As evening creeps in, Emily and the ladies search for Georgia at home. And they find her—murdered among a scattering of stale donuts . . .

Disturbingly, Georgia’s demise coincides with the five-year anniversary of her son’s murder, a case Emily’s late detective husband failed to solve before his own sudden death. With Lois hiding secrets and an innocent man’s life at stake, Emily’s forced to revisit painful memories on her quest for answers. Though someone’s alibi is full of holes, only a sprinkling of clues have been left behind. And if Emily can’t trace them back to a killer in time, her donut shop will end up permanently closed for business . . .


Guest Post: How to make a toy for your cat BECAUSE YOUR CAT IS NOT SPOILED ENOUGH ALREADY

Deputy Donut, the café in SURVIVAL OF THE FRITTERS, is named after Emily Westhill’s cat, Deputy Donut. When Emily and her father-in-law Tom designed the café, they set aside one room for a combination office and kitty playground.

            Dep goes to work with Emily and stays in the office and kitty playground combo. The room has windows on all four sides, looking into the dining area, the kitchen, the parking lot in back, and the driveway. One door leads directly outside, and the other leads into the dining area. If Dep tires of napping or keeping an eye on everything through her windows, she can climb carpeted columns, stairways, and ramps, and then she can run around the perimeter of the room on catwalks above the windows.

            Dep likes to take her toys up to those catwalks. She also likes to drop them and watch them bounce and roll. Here’s how to make one of Dep’s favorite toys for your cat:

Materials:

  1. Faux fur, two pieces about five to seven inches square. Choose fur with flexible, knit backings. I raided my stash for scraps, white for the “icing” and a golden beige, like a fried donut (well, sort of), for the bottom half of the donut, but maybe you’d like strawberry pink or chocolate brown icing. The backing of the fur in my stash wasn’t as flexible as I’d like.
  2. Thread
  3. A few handfuls of polyester stuffing
  4. A teaspoon or two of catnip

Steps:

  1. Cut two rounds of faux fur, 5”– 7” in diameter. If the faux fur in your stash is heavy or stiff, cut bigger rounds. I traced around the top of a bowl. Pin or clip the rounds together. In the center of one round, draw a small circle. I traced around a quarter, but for heavy or stiff fur, tracing around a nickel might have worked better. Use a ruler to draw a straight line from the edge of the circle to the edge of the fabric pieces.
  2. Starting close to the cut line, backstitch and then sew around the small circle. Don’t worry if the sewn circle isn’t round—donut holes seldom end up round. Leaving an unstitched space at the straight line, stop before your original backstitching and backstitch that end of the almost-circle. Remove the donut from your sewing machine and cut along the straight line and then around the inside of the circle, leaving a scant quarter-inch seam allowance. If your faux fur is stretchy, you don’t have to clip the seam around the inner circle.
  3. Backstitching at the one of the edges where the straight line was drawn, and with a quarter-inch (it doesn’t have to be exact) seam allowance, stitch around the outside of the circle, easing the top fabric as necessary. Don’t worry about any little pleats you might make or about stitching in a perfect circle—donuts aren’t perfectly round. Flip the donut over and check for stitching that went off or is too close to the edge. Re-stitch those sections with a quarter-inch seam allowance.
  4. This is the hardest part, especially if your faux fur is stiff or thick—turn the donut (it’s now a curved tube) right-side-out. Then the project becomes easy again. Holding the donut upright so that both open ends are up, stuff the donut, alternating polyester stuffing with pinches of dried catnip. Keep adding bits of stuffing until the doughnut is rounded, but still soft.
  5. Now for the second hardest part, and it’s not that difficult—slipstitch the two open ends to each other, finishing the donut shape. Mine ended up with catnip sprinkles. I don’t think the cat will mind . . .

About The Author  

Ginger Bolton writes the Deputy Donut mystery series–cops, crime, coffee, donuts and one curious cat. When Ginger isn’t writing or reading, she’s crocheting, knitting, sewing, walking her two rescue dogs and generally causing trouble. She’s also fond of donuts, coffee, and cafes were folks gather to enjoy those tasty treats and one another’s company.

 

Webpage: http://gingerbolton.com/

Ginger has joined Killer Characters! http://www.killercharacters.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorGingerBolton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ginger_bolton

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16834862.Ginger_Bolton

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First in a new cozy series: Murder of a Good Man by Teresa Trent

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When Nora Alexander drives into Piney Woods, Texas, to fulfill her dying mother’s last wish, she has no idea what awaits her. First she is run off the road, then the sealed letter she delivers turns out to be a scathing rebuke to the town’s most beloved citizen and favored candidate for Piney Woods Pioneer: Adam Brockwell. Next thing you know, Adam has been murdered in a nasty knife attack.

Suspicion instantly falls on Nora, one of the last people to see him alive. After all, everyone in Piney Woods loved him. Or did they? Nora learns that her mother had a complicated past she never shared with her daughter. Told not to leave town by Tuck the flirty sheriff, Nora finds a job with Tuck’s Aunt Marty trying to get the rundown Tunie Hotel back in the black. The old hotel was Piney Woods’ heart and soul in its heyday as an oil boomtown. Now the secrets it harbors may be the key to getting Nora off the hook. She’s going to need to solve the mystery quickly to avoid arrest, or worse: becoming the killer’s next victim.


Character Interview: Nora Alexander

Nora, welcome to Island Confidential. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?  

My name is Nora Alexander and I have recently lost my mother. Upon her death I found a letter she had written to a man in Piney Woods, Texas. Texas? Really? Anyway, I took off for a state I had never been to and tracked this man down. From what I could figure, it must have been a love letter, because why else would it concern my mother in her final days?

Who’s your favorite character in Murder of a Good Man?

Luckily, when I hit town, I found a room at the Piney Woods Bed and Breakfast and met Tatty and Ed Tovar. They are the owners of the B&B and Tatty has a wonderful gift of smoothing things over.  Having Tatty and her husband Ed around has provided a home away from home for me.

Anyone you’re not so fond of?

 Tuck Watson is the law around this town and he is determined to arrest me. For what, I can’t tell you right now, but the man is infuriating, and handsome, but infuriating!

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

So, she writes my scenes and then rewrites them and then rewrites them again. Some days I feel like I’m on a loop that can’t stop repeating. I guess I like the scene better when she’s finished, but gee whiz, some days I want her to just give it a rest!

What’s next for you? 

Well, I have some big changes in this book,  and I can’t tell you too much without giving it away…but…it has a lot to do with cats.

 


Teresa Trent lives in Houston, Texas and is an award-winning mystery writer.  She writes the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series, is a regular contributor to the Happy Homicides Anthologies. Teresa is happy to add her Henry Park Mystery Series to her publishing credits with Color Me Dead, the first book in the series. Teresa has also won awards for her work in short stories where she loves to dabble in tales that are closer to the Twilight Zone than small town cozies. When Teresa isn’t writing, she is a full-time caregiver for her son and teaches preschoolers music part-time. Her favorite things include spending time with family and friends, waiting for brownies to come out of the oven, and of course, a good mystery.

Author Links

FACEBOOK:   https://www.facebook.com/teresatrentmysterywriter

TWITTER:   https://twitter.com/ttrent_cozymys

BLOG:   https://teresatrent.wordpress.com/

WEBSITE:   http://teresatrent.com

 


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A New Provincetown Mystery: Murder at Fantasia Fair by Jeannette de Beauvoir

 

Wedding coordinator Sydney Riley never thought she’d get caught up in a murder investigation, but she became an amateur sleuth when her boss was killed during Bear Week. Now she’s back, this time as the Race Point Inn hosts Provincetown’s venerable transgender event, Fantasia Fair… and murder is once again an uninvited guest!

 

It’s all hands on deck at the inn as visitors arrive for the week-long event and Sydney helps coordinator Rachel Parsons organize the occasion. Guest Elizabeth Gonzalez is attending with her spouse, Bob, who–as Angela–is taking a bold first step into a whole new existence. Angela, Elizabeth, and Sydney learn the ropes and politics from other guests, some of whom have attended annually for more than forty years.

But the next day, Sydney’s detective friend summons her to one of the town beaches where Angela’s body has been found–with a knife in her back, a knife stolen from Adrienne, the Race Point Inn’s diva chef.

Fair organizers and attendees try and carry on as Provincetown is overrun with police, press, and rampant speculation. Sydney, her boyfriend Ali, her friend Mirela, her boss Glenn, and a host of Fantasia Fair participants scramble to find out who killed Angela–and why–before the killer strikes again.


Guest Post

I’d been living in Provincetown for about eight years when my friend Michelle said to me, “Seriously, why do you keep writing books that take place in Montréal and Boston? You live in a postcard here!”

She was right, of course; I do live in a postcard. We were having this conversation at the Provincetown Bookshop, and Deborah immediately said, “She’s right. We could absolutely sell Provincetown mysteries!”

I tucked that into the back of my mind—I was very engaged with my Montréal series at the time—but returned to it when a new publisher, interested specifically in Ptown books and Ptown authors, contacted me over a historical novel he was interested in publishing. Several conversations—and several bottles of wine!—later, we’d come up with a new series that takes place during Provincetown’s “theme weeks,” when the town is overrun with all sorts of holidaying folks, from Family Week to the Portuguese Festival to Women’s Week and beyond.

And along with the new series is, of course, a new protagonist, Sydney Riley, wedding consultant for a fictional Provincetown inn. Like me, Sydney’s lived here for a few years, and like me, she has friends in all the different communities that coexist at Land’s End. When the first theme week murder—of her boss, the owner of the inn—plunged her into amateur sleuthing, I took it as an opportunity to explore all the different events and occasions that Provincetown offers its visitors.

Murder at Fantasia Fair is the second in the series, and deals with a subject that’s not for the faint of heart to take on: a transgender woman attending the annual week-long event has been found with a knife in her back, and Sydney—and her author creator!—must learn about this challenging community.

I say challenging, because that’s what it is to the uninitiated. Transgender identity is both a concept and a community that’s in flux, and its complexities are sometimes baffling to an outsider such as myself. It encompasses a wide range of people, from those who see themselves a “gender fluid” to those who have surgery to bring their physical beings into alignment with their psychological and social ones. It challenges language (unlike Mandarin, for example, English doesn’t have a gender-neutral personal pronoun), it challenges politics (transgender women didn’t grow up with the same experiences as those who navigated society as a girl), and it challenges one’s level of comfort with those who are different from oneself.

All that, and a couple of murders, too!

So join Sydney and her cast of characters—her boyfriend Ali, her best friend Mirela, her boss Glenn, her police detective friend Julie, and the inn’s diva chef Adrienne—as they try to figure out who wants the Fair’s attendees dead… before Sydney herself becomes one of the victims!

Excerpt:

The inn looked fantastic: I had to give Glenn that. Well, it had always looked fantastic, but there was a certain gaiety about the place today that had me humming the moment I got in. Rachel Parsons, the coordinator for Fantasia Fair, was standing beside the front desk, calmly ticking off items on a clipboard. I tapped her on the shoulder. “Hey, Rachel.”

She glanced at me. “Good morning, Sydney,” she said. “You look awful.”

“Thanks ever so much,” I said sourly. “Couldn’t sleep.”

“They make pills for that sort of thing nowadays,” she observed, her eyes back on her paperwork.

“None that are available at three in the morning.”

She glanced at me, amused. “You should live in New York City,” she said. “There’s nothing that you can’t get at three in the morning there.”

“Thanks, but no thanks.” Provincetown’s just the right size for me. In the winter I can go to the Stop & Shop and recognize everybody I see there. In the summer the town is flooded with visitors; and, in some way or another, most of us who live here year-round make our livings catering to those visitors. Sometimes I think it’s the contrast between the two seasons that’s most appealing. “Anyway, my cat would have kept me awake even with pills. He snores.”

“Cats snore?” She stared at me, momentarily distracted. “Who knew?”

“Stick with me. I’ll fill your head with all sorts of useless facts.” I slid past the counter to the space where I worked, tucked aside from the day-to-day business of the inn: a roll top desk, a very big calendar, and a wastepaper basket. My domain, such as it was. “Anyone arrive yet?”

“Heavens, yes,” Rachel said. “The meet-and-greet isn’t until six o’clock tonight, it always is, but that’s never stopped people from getting here early, and already there are about a million questions.”

I sat down and opened my laptop. “You must be used to it,” I said.

She sighed. “Yes, I suppose I must.”

I looked up at her. Rachel is tall—well, many trans women are, having begun life as males—and seemed even taller from where I was sitting. “You suppose you must? That doesn’t sound so positive. Isn’t that your job?”

“Of course it is. But sometimes I feel like, gosh, maybe they can just look at the schedule I hand them, or even go all-out and Google something for themselves. How far to the Monument?” She rolled her eyes. “How far is it? You can see the frigging Monument from here.”

“Ah, that kind of question,” I said, nodding sagely. “Welcome to my world.” I grinned. “Last week, someone asked me what we do with the Monument in the winter. I wanted to say that we roll it up and put it in storage.”

Rachel laughed. “Tourists. Gotta love them.”

“Well, that, or starve,” I said cheerfully.

***


Jeannette de Beauvoir grew up in Angers, France, but has lived in the United States since her twenties. (No, she’s not going to say how long ago that was!) She spends most of her time inside her own head, which is great for writing, though possibly not so much for her social life. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or traveling… to inspire her writing. The author of a number of mystery and historical novels, de Beauvoir’s work has appeared in 15 countries and has been translated into 12 languages. Midwest Review called her Martine LeDuc Montréal series “riveting (…) demonstrating her total mastery of the mystery/suspense genre.” She coaches and edits individual writers, teaches writing online and on Cape Cod, and is currently writing a Provincetown Theme Week cozy mystery series featuring female sleuth Sydney Riley. More at JeannettedeBeauvoir.com

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New Jade Blackwell Mystery: Murder over Medium by Gilian Baker

Former English professor turned blogger, Jade Blackwell, is enjoying her predictable routine when trouble comes knocking in the form of an old friend and colleague. Unbeknownst to Jade, Gwendolyn Hexby is no longer the successful academic she once knew and trusted—she is now following a new calling as a psychic medium, a contentious career that flies in the face of the logic and deductive reasoning Jade values.

At first, Jade welcomes the visit, but things soon turn bizarre as Gwendolyn brings only disorder danger and disruption. When a murder is prophesied, and a beloved pillar of the Aspen Falls’ community winds up dead, Gwendolyn becomes Sheriff Ross Lawson’s prime suspect.

To get Gwendolyn out of hot water, and more importantly, out of her house, Jade attempts to prove her friend’s innocence. Jade believes she’s finally discovered the truth, but is soon brought back to reality when she learns all is not as it seems in the realm of the metaphysical. Not even murder.

Return to the Jade Blackwell Cozy Mystery Series in Murder Over Medium, as Jade jumps into the fray of a territory not governed by logic or reason—in either this world or the next.


Interview

Gilian, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?

Jade Blackwell is a former English professor who got out of academia while she was still (mostly) sane. She’s now an online entrepreneur—a blogger and ghostwriter. She uses her natural inquisitiveness, analytical skills, and finely-tuned B.S. meter (from years of teaching college students) to solve murderers in the village of Aspen Falls, Wyoming. Born and raised in Aspen Falls, she married her high school sweetheart, Christian. They are happily married and have a daughter, Penelope (Ellie) who is away at college. She’s a sassy homebody who lives in her head.

She loves murder mysteries, especially Agatha Christie. Hercules Poirot is her mentor, and she describes herself as a much younger, better-looking Miss. Marple. She loves her cats, Tommy and Tuppence, but hates cleaning up hairballs.

How alike are you and Jade? 

As with many first-time authors, Jade is much like me in the first book Blogging is Murder. But as I continue to get to know her and as I develop as a writer, she is becoming her own distinct personality. So, while we do have a great deal in common, such as our former profession and a dislike for cooking, she is her own woman.

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

We’d have a blast hanging out together! We could talk literary theory, slow cooker recipes, and of course, murder.

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

My protagonist does for sure. Jade is currently considering a new business challenge as she’s grown bored with blogging and ghostwriting. Now, she just needs to decide what challenge to take on, which she will do in the next book.

As an example, in the latest book, Murder Over Medium, we see Jade struggling to come to terms with the many changes in her friend and former colleague, Gwendolyn Hexby. Jade still finds solace in logic and data, but Gwendolyn has moved from the world of academia to superstition as a psychic medium. Very slowly throughout the book, we watch Jade soften to the belief in a mystical energy source to some extent. At the end of each book, she’s learned a valuable lesson that she takes with her into her next adventure.

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

I haven’t killed off a particular person, but many years ago, when I was a potter, I realized what a great murder weapon a clay cutting tool would make. It’s perfect for garroting someone. It even has handles on the ends so you can pull it tight without cutting yourself—much better than piano wire. I must admit it was jolly great fun to put that idea to good use in Book 2, A Time to Kiln.

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

I spent a lot of time determining the setting. The village of Aspen Falls, Wyoming is fictitious, but its situation in a real location. Since Jade was a college professor just a few years ago, the location needed to be near a university. Not too many in Wyoming, so that really narrowed the field. It needed to be near a mountain range too because I wanted that kind of feel to the setting. So, it ended up being around an hour from Laramie, WY.

Many people have asked me why Wyoming of all places. All I can say is that I tried to move Aspen Falls to Colorado at one point, but Jade wouldn’t have it. I thought since Colorado is so much more populated, it would be easier to write about. Nope. I’d try to write, but Jade wouldn’t show up. I only got a serious case of writer’s block. But as soon as I gave up and went back to Wyoming, all was well again.

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

This is the hardest question you’ve asked. I’m not familiar with American actors since I only stream British TV. And a few of these choices would take a miracle to accomplish, but here goes:

An older Honeysuckle Weeks as Jade Blackwell

 

Michelle Dockery as Gabrielle Langdon and Joanne Froggatt as Deputy Crystal Metcalf

 

 

 

A living Geraldine McEwan as Phyllis Buckley

 

A younger Michael Kitchen as Christian Blackwell

 

Emma Watson as Penelope (Ellie) Blackwell

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard?

Worst advice: Don’t bother. You can’t make a living as a writer.
Best advice: If you’ve got stories in you, write. Just start and learn as you go. Be the best you can be, and keep getting better as you learn the craft. The rest will take care of itself if you write great stories.


About the Author

 

Gilian Baker is a former English professor who has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger, ghostwriter and cozy mystery author to her C.V. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain murder mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder for her Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggling with her husband watching British TV or discussing literary theory with her daughter.

Gilian lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder.

Webpage – http://gilianbaker.com/blogging-murder-first-chapter/

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

Amazon –  http://amazon.com/author/gilian-baker

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16252646.Gilian_Baker


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Pre-Meditated Murder: A New Downward Dog mystery and Guest Post by Tracy Weber

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Yoga instructor Kate Davidson is ready to marry her boyfriend Michael, so she’s disappointed when a special dinner doesn’t end with a proposal. But disappointment turns to dismay and outrage as she learns the real problem: Michael is already married and his green card-seeking wife is blackmailing him.

When his wife’s body is found—by Kate and her dog, no less—Michael is strangely unable to remember where he was the night she died. Since Michael has no alibi, Kate steps up to uncover what happened. What she walks into is a tangled web of deceit, obsession, and immigration fraud . . . with Michael trapped in the middle.


Guest Post from Tracy Weber

Finding Inspiration in Everyday Life: What Inspired Me to Write the Downward Dog Mystery Series

Several things inspired me to become a writer: a lifelong love of cozy mysteries; a passion for yoga; an almost obsessive love of dogs; a next door neighbor who is also a prolific author. I can even narrow down the specific moment I decided to write the Downward Dog Mystery Series. It involved a rainy night, a particularly challenging workout, and a passage from Susan Conant’s book Black Ribbon.

But in the end, the inspiration for my Downward Dog Mystery Series came from my first German shepherd dog, Tasha.

Tracy and Tasha

Tracy and Tasha

Tasha had some of the same issues as Bella, the German shepherd in my series. She was huge, not always perfectly well behaved, and she had a variety of expensive health conditions. In spite of her problems, I adored her to a fault.

She passed away a year and a half ago, and I still miss her.  Living with Tasha changed my life, in every way for the better. She made me more patient, more loving, and more connected with my community. At the same time, she got me into some pretty “interesting” situations. I began to wonder:  What if a yoga teacher with a crazy German shepherd like mine started stumbling into murder investigations?  What kind of trouble could she and her dog get into?

The plot for my first book, Murder Strikes a Pose, formed from that idea. In that story, Bella’s owner, a homeless man named George, is murdered.  In the most recent, Pre-Meditated Murder, Bella digs up the body of Kate’s boyfriend’s wife.  Oops!

Now that Tasha is gone, I share my life with crazy German shepherd pup Ana, so hopefully I’ll have another twelve years of GSD antics to share with my readers.

Ana protecting Tracy from Unidentified Creepy Statue

Ana protecting Tracy from Unidentified Creepy Statue

I hope you all continue reading my work and finding creativity in your own lives!

 


About The Author

Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. Her first book, Murder Strikes a Pose won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and is a 2015 Agatha award nominee for Best First Novel.

Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.

Keep up with Tracy

Website | Facebook | Whole Life Yoga | Twitter | Goodreads 


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Unbridled Murder (A Carson Stables Mystery) by Leigh Hearon

Win a print copyAfter horse trainer and rancher Annie Carson visits a feedlot in eastern Washington, she is determined to save as many horses from slaughter as possible before hightailing it back home—until she discovers the sleazy owner seemingly trampled in his corral. With the fate of the feedlot herd in her hands, Annie must navigate unfamiliar territory while trying to track down a killer and solve an increasingly tangled mystery. But unfortunately for Annie, returning to the Olympic Peninsula alive will be trickier than she ever imagined.


Interview with author Leigh Hearon

Leigh, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?

Annie Carson is a 40-something Western horse trainer and sheep rancher, born and raised in a rural part of the Olympic Peninsula.  She’s good friends with the local Sheriff and several deputies through their shared work in animal rescue missions.  Annie’s a loner, mostly by necessity—taking care of her flock and horse herd consume most of her time.  She sets a high bar for human conduct, and doesn’t tolerate perceived slackers, known liars, or people who cheat.  Her mouth is one of her most dangerous weapons, although she does tote a .30-.30 Winchester with her on occasion.  Annie lives alone, and except for one half-sister who was briefly dumped on her doorstep, she has no other family or truly close friends.  When we meet her, Annie has no love interest.  That aspect of her life soon changes.

Are you and Annie anything alike? 

My husband is convinced I’m the spitting image of Annie.  He’s the first to read what comes off the printer, and when I bring in a sheaf of new chapters and ask him where I left off, his invariable response is, “You were just about to….” Friends say they hear me talking when they read Annie’s dialogue.

For the record, I am not Annie.  For one, she is a far better horsewoman than I am.  Annie also likes single malt, and the stuff just gives me a headache.  However, we probably do share some inherent traits, and I like Annie very much.  If we were to meet, I’d probably be a bit intimidated.  She’s accomplished so much by herself, and has solved more murders in a single year than I’ve cracked in my 25 years as a private investigator.

Do your characters change and evolve as the series progresses?

Absolutely, starting with Annie.  At the start of book 1, Annie would much rather hang out with her horses than almost any other human, and isn’t shy about saying so.  When Marcus Colbert, the prime suspect in the murder of his wife, appears on the scene, she is instantly smitten—and convinced of his innocence, of course.  In this and the next two books, Annie frequently agonizes about the chances of the relationship’s success, given their disparate backgrounds.  The decision to let Marcus into her life forces Annie to fully trust another human being, something she hasn’t done in a very long time.  So far, everything seems to be working.  In fact, in book 4 (out in July 2018), Annie and Marcus have their first fight, a true sign that the relationship is beginning to take root!

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

This is rhetorical, right?  All of my characters are blends of people I’ve met and known over the years, so it’s impossible for me to fictionally slay a specific human being I’ve known in real life.  That being said, there are times when the ability to kill someone off or subject to adverse circumstances on the written page is just too tantalizing to resist.  No honest writer will disagree with that.  In fact, I think having this literary outlet is quite healthy.  Now, when someone really ticks me off, I don’t get mad.  I just make a mental note to include them in my next novel, where I can deal with his or her behavior using my own dangerous weapon—my words.

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

Suwana County is a fairly transparent double for Jefferson County in Washington State, where I live.  A few of my friends think I should have skipped the overlay and just made it true to life.  I have refrained from doing this simply because I need the ability to transform the landscape to suit my literary needs.  My latest book, Unbridled Murder, takes place in Eastern Washington, which I’ve visited and traveled through many times. The environment is the same, but the towns don’t exist, nor the people in them.

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

Sandra Bullock, Kyra Sedgwick, or Julia Roberts for Annie.  They’re all a few years older than she is, but then, so am I, and I can’t think of three smarter, sassier women to portray Annie Carson than the women I’ve seen so often on the silver screen (or HDTV).

Kyra Sedgwick. Photo credit: Angela George

As far as Marcus, I’m on the proverbial fence.  He’s always been a bit amorphous to me when I picture him in my mind’s eye.  Kind of a Cary Grant humor and good looks, but since Cary is no longer with us, I don’t have another actor in mind.  But I’ll happily accept suggestions!

How about George Clooney? Photo: Public Domain

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

Best advice has been to write what you know and love, without worrying about what the reading public might want, but also to be extremely proactive in promoting your book.  Worst advice?  To think about tabling the writing if you’re not going to be a famous, rich, best-selling author.  That’s not the reason I write.  Although a girl can dream, can’t she?


About The Author  

Leigh Hearon began her own P.I. agency, Leigh Hearon Investigative Services, in 1992. Her cases have appeared on In the Dead of Night, Forensic Files, 48 Hours, Court TV, City Confidential, Unsolved MysteriesAmerica’s Most Wanted, and CBS Evening News with Connie Chung. Hearon was an avid rider of horses throughout her childhood. She currently has a Saddlebred mare, Jolie Jeune Femme, and enjoys watching Jolie and two rescue mares cavort on a fifty-five-acre farm she shares with her husband. Visit her on the Web at leighhearon.com, on Facebook and Twitter.

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A New Amish Mystery: Kappy King and the Puppy Kaper by Amy Lillard

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Content to be unmarried and plain-spoken, Kathryn “Kappy” King is an odd-woman-out in the Amish community of Blue Sky, Pennsylvania. But she’s skilled at making the special kapps local women need to cover their hair. And she might be the only one who can unearth the danger hiding in this peaceful valley . . .

When Kappy’s neighbor, Ruth Peachey, turns up dead in her yard, everyone in Blue Sky believes it’s a tragic accident. Until the Englisch police find the gentle dog breeder was deliberately struck down—and arrest her mentally-challenged son, Jimmy, for the crime . . .

Jimmy’s sister, Edie, returns to Blue Sky clear his name, yet no one will speak to a shunned former Amish woman, much less give her information. Determined to help, Kappy starts digging for the truth among her seemingly-innocent neighbors. But suddenly a series of suspicious “accidents” threatens Edie and the Peachey farm—property Edie is determined to protect for her brother’s future.

Now, as danger looms large in the small community, Kappy must bait a trap for a killer snapping hard at her heels. And Edie must decide whether to make a home once more in the town she thought she’d left behind . . .


Author Interview

Amy, welcome to Island Confidential! You have a really unique protagonist in Kappy King. Can you tell us about her?

Kappy is a little different from the normal protagonist in an Amish mystery. First she’s still Amish with no plans to leave her church. She’s a little on the quirky side. Her family was killed when she was younger, and she went to live with her spinster aunt who made the prayer kapps for their district. Kappy inherited that business from her along with some of that odd, on-the-fringes style of living.

How much do you have in common with Kappy?

I adore Kappy. There’s some of me in Kappy of course. She’s a little bit of a rebel, by Amish standards of course. She doesn’t want to do business through the front of her house so she makes everyone go around to the basement. She may fudge it a bit and help Edie clean out the barn on a Sunday when she’s not supposed to work. She loves Jimmy, her special needs neighbor. All in all, I think she’s a good person, even if she doesn’t think she fits in, and she has a heart of gold. If I met her on the street, I would want to buy her a cup of coffee and chat all afternoon.

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

They do. Kappy may be in line for a new love interest. Or she might end up with her ex-fiancé, Hiram. Since Hiram was married to Kappy’s best friend, Kappy has a few issues with those past relationships. Only time will tell if they can work it out. Edie is faced with the tough consequences of her return to Blue Sky. She has to figure out if she really belongs with the English or back with the Amish and if she can ever truly call Blue Sky home again. Then there’s her little crush on Detective Jack Jones. Jimmy, Edie’s brother with Downs Syndrome, will make a play for a little more responsibility and freedom. It’s going to be tough for Edie, but I’m sure their sibling bond will carry them through.

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

No. Of course not! That would be horrible. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)

Right, no, me neither. Next question, how realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

Blue Sky, Pennsylvania, itself is a fictional town. But the area where Blue Sky is set is real, Kishacoquillas Valley. Also called, Kish Valley and Big Valley. Once I visited there I knew immediately that I wanted to set a series in the valley. It’s one of the most beautiful Amish communities I’ve ever seen. A great many of the details of the story hold true for Kish Valley—three different types of Amish there and three different color buggies. There is an Amish-Mennonite shared cemetery, a dry goods store, and other places that will show up in later books.

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

Allison Miller should play Kappy King with Sara Paxton as Edie Peachey. Tommy Jessop, a talented actor with Downs, should play Jimmy Peachey. And for Jack Jones…Brad Pitt. Sorry, sometimes I can’t help myself. Here’s where I ignore my Brad Pitt crush and admit that I can’t keep up with all the actors these days. (The truth is I never really did.) So I googled to find someone to play Jack and every one I came up with was either on Indian or Turkish television. I guess that says something about Jack’s looks. LOL The closest I can come up with is Kit Harrington, aka John Snow. He’s not quite as dark or as tall as Jack, but he’ll do just fine. 😉

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

My former agent, the late Mary Sue Seymour, gave me the best writing advice of my career. When I told her about it years later she didn’t remember the conversation that changed my life. One afternoon years ago, she suggested I try my hand at writing books about the Amish. When I sputtered she told me, “you’re a writer. Write it.” Those words gave me the confidence to not only write about the Amish but write mysteries as well. It’s mindboggling that the words which were so important to me, she didn’t remember saying. Always keep in mind that what you say can affect people in ways you’ve never dreamed. Because of this, I always try to be positive. I want to spread a little of that Mary Sue Seymour confidence around.

 The worst…I can’t really think of anything. I either let it go a long time ago, or made the best of whatever it was. All advice is essentially good if you learn from it.

 Amy, thanks for stopping by.

Thanks for having me today and letting me introduce everyone to Kappy King!


About The Author  

Amy Lillard is the award-winning author of more than twenty novels, including the Wells Landing series, The Quilting Circle novels, the Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries and the Kappy King Mysteries. Born and raised in Mississippi, she now lives with her husband and son in Oklahoma. Please visit her online at www.AmyWritesRomance.com.

amywritesromance.com

Facebook: @AmyLillard918

Twitter: @AmyWritesRomance

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A New Spice Shop Mystery and Interview from Gail Oust: Ginger Snapped

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Piper Prescott and Police Chief Wyatt McBride might have gotten off on the wrong foot but, over the past year, their interactions have evolved into a friendship of sorts. And when the body of Shirley Randolph is found floating in a fishing hole, their relationship reaches entirely new territory.

Shirley, the town’s Realtor of the Year, was also Wyatt’s suspected romantic interest, and now the residents of Brandywine Creek are speculating that Wyatt is responsible for her death. As the town council moves to suspend the handsome lawman, Piper springs into action to save his reputation and possibly his freedom. She enlists the aid of her BFF, Reba Mae Johnson, along with Wyatt himself, to help solve the puzzle and find Shirley’s real killer.

Pointing them toward high-powered real estate tactics and possible affairs, the investigation soon becomes personal when Piper’s shop, Spice It Up!, is burglarized, and she’s forced off the road late one night, narrowly escaping serious injury. Realizing that she must be close to uncovering the truth, and that the evidence against Wyatt is no longer circumstantial, Piper resorts to drastic measures to prevent a grave miscarriage of justice.


Interview

Gail, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little about your protagonist?

For readers new to the series, Piper Prescott, following her divorce from her ambulance-chasing, skirt-chasing ex-husband, opens her own business, Spice It Up!, a spice shop in the small town of Brandywine Creek, Georgia. Piper’s teenage daughter, Melly, her meddlesome former mother-in-law, and trusty sidekick, Reba Mae Johnson inhabit the pages along with hunky Chief of Police Wyatt McBride. McBride is no fan of Piper’s when it comes to the amateur sleuth bent on crime solving but, even so, the two have formed a friendship of sorts.

How much do you and Piper have in common?

My claim is that Piper is purely a fictional character, but friends have told me they see me when they read the series. I’m flattered, of course, but Piper is much younger and thinner. She’s also much braver and more impulsive than I am. And she doesn’t have to resort to a box of Clairol to hide all the gray. Piper and I would most likely hit it off when we meet at Spice It Up! I’d be impressed with her extensive knowledge of spices and would leave after buying twice as many as I’d originally intended.

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

Yes, but in subtle ways as do their relationships with other characters.

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

Yes! Actually, I’ve done that. My bad. At a silent auction a good friend of mine bid on being a character in my next book—and won. I introduced her as a character in Cinnamon Toasted, then killed her off in Curried Away. My advice is beware of what you bid on. Good news though, we’re still friends.

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

Brandywine Creek is a fictional small Southern town. I’m originally a Yankee (born and raised in Michigan,) but when we moved to South Carolina nearly fifteen years ago I was instantly smitten by new lifestyle. Brandywine Creek is the composite of several small, charming towns in the area where I live.

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

Good question. I believe Amy Adams would make a great Piper Prescott.

And when I think of ruggedly handsome police chief, Wyatt McBride, I picture James Caviezel (most recently the star of the TV show Person of Interest.)

As for the role of Reba Mae Johnson, Piper’s BFF, I’m open for suggestion but definitely would cast a Geena Davis type.

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

“If I can do it, anyone can” is simultaneously the best and the worst bit of advice. While we all are gifted with certain God-given talents, these talents/skills are all different. Strengths and weaknesses can vary within each individual. For example, some people are better writers than they are storytellers. Others are better storytellers but labor when it comes to putting the stories in their heads down on paper. I think we need to be honest with ourselves yet at the same time follow our passions. Just my opinion.


About The Author

gail-oust

Friends often accuse Gail Oust of flunking retirement.  While working as a nurse/vascular technologist, Gail penned nine historical romances under the pseudonym Elizabeth Turner for Avon, Pocket, Berkley, and Kensington.  It wasn’t until she and her husband retired to South Carolina that inspiration struck for a mystery.  Hearing the words, “maybe it’s a dead body,” while golfing with friends fired her imagination for the Bunco Babe Mystery series originally published by NAL.  In conjunction with Beyond the Page Publishing, the Bunco Babe series has  been republished in digital format as the Kate McCall Mysteries complete with new titles and a whole new look.  Gail is currently writing the Spice Shop Mysteries for Minotaur/St. Martin’s.  When she isn’t reading, writing, or sleeping, she can usually be found on the golf course or hanging out with friends.

Keep up with Gail on her blog, Facebook, and Goodreads.


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Stowed Away: A New Maine Clambake Mystery by Barbara Ross

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It’s June in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and Julia Snowden and her family are working hard to get their authentic Maine clambake business ready for summer. Preparations must be put on hold, however, when a mysterious yacht drops anchor in the harbor—and delivers an unexpected dose of murder . . .

When Julia’s old prep school rival Wyatt Jayne invites her to dinner on board her billionaire fiancé’s decked-out yacht, Julia arrives to find a sumptuous table set for two—and the yachtsman dead in his chair. Suspicion quickly falls on Wyatt, and Julia’s quest to dredge up the truth leads her into the murky private world of a mega-rich recluse who may not have been all that he seemed . . .


Author Interview

Barbara, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little about your protagonist, Julia?

In the Maine Clambake Mysteries, Julia Snowden returns from her venture capital job in Manhattan to save her family’s failing clambake business.

How alike are you and Julia Snowden?

Julia is in her thirties, half my age, so in that sense she’s quite different. She’s at a point in life where she’s making a lot of big decisions–about where to live and how to make a living and whom to love. On the other hand, she observes the world and reports on it much the way I do, filtering for the difference in age and experience. I find our characters have become closer together over the series.

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

Julia’s the offspring of a marriage between a summer resident mother whose formerly wealthy family owns a private island and a townie father who delivered groceries to the island in his skiff, so she feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. And she’s been away for seventeen years for boarding school, college, business school and work. Over the course of the books, Julia comes to feel more and more at home in coastal Maine, learning that a lot of her feelings about being an outsider come from inside her, not from the community.

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

Actually no, though I know a lot of mystery writers do this. No one’s ever done anything to me that rises to the killing level.

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

My town is of Busman’s Harbor is fictional, but is based on Boothbay Harbor, Maine where my husband and I have owned a home for more than fifteen years. Making my setting fictional allows me to move streets around, borrow shops and restaurants from other towns, and yes, to kill way more people than are murdered in small towns in coastal Maine. I try to aim for an emotional truth rather than at literal truth.

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

This is such a hard one. I usually propose Anna Kendrick for Julia, because she’s the right age, small like Julia and from Maine.

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

Writers get so much bad advice! I even do a presentation called, “Four Lies People Will Tell You about Marketing Your Novel.” And that’s just the marketing part, not the writing or publishing piece. One of the lies is, “You should write a blog about a subject other than writing to attract readers to your website.”

My best advice comes from author Hallie Ephron about first drafts, “Just hold your nose and write.”


About The Author  

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. The first book in the series, Clammed Up was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel, the RT Book Reviews, Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Amateur Sleuth and was a finalist for the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She is co-editor/co-publisher of Level Best Books, which produces anthologies of crime stories by New England authors. She writes at her home overlooking the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Barbara blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors and Maine Crime Writers. Readers can visit her website at MaineClambakeMysteries.com.

 

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Happy New Year!

How’s your year shaping up? So far, spring semester is starting out better than expected.

This was in my work mailbox. It may not even have been meant for me. But it’s a nice bottle of Kendall-Jackson chardonnay, and I’m taking it home.


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