Final day: 32 mysteries and thrillers (including a Professor Molly mystery)!

Should authors give their books away? I don’t know, but I’m doing it today, along with 31 other mystery, thriller, and suspense writers.

Head over to Anne Tan’s blog and load up your e-reader.



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Interview and #Giveaway: Doggone It

>>>Enter to win a signed hardcover copy of Doggone It<<<

Dreamwalker Baxley Powell can’t remember the last time she had such a crappy weekend.

A twilight encounter with a ghost dog left her numb and disoriented, her dreamwalker abilities are wiped out, and the sheriff just summoned her to a double homicide.

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You’re Joking: Detecting Sarcasm in Emails Isn’t Easy

paff_092716_sarcasmcommunication_newsfeature“Well, that meeting was a really fantastic use of my time.”You may want to think twice before hitting send on that email with a sarcastic joke – regardless of whether your boss or your work buddies are on the receiving end.

New research investigating how we determine the emotional content of text is showing that people have a very hard time catching on to sarcasm in emails and texts. This means that written communications aren’t the best medium for making a well-meaning joke; people often interpret a friendly riff as being overtly negative, or they don’t catch the sarcastic tone at all and assume a caustic jibe is actually praise.

Across three studies, Chatham University psychological scientists Monica Riordan and Lauren Trichtinger measured people’s accuracy at gauging the emotional tone of emails sent by both friends and complete strangers. Their results: We’re terrible at it – even when we’re corresponding with our friends.

In one study, participants were assigned to write an email that would evoke one particular emotion, such as disappointment after trying a new restaurant or happiness about getting asked out on a date. Participants then sent these emails to both friends and strangers also enrolled in the study. Both friends and strangers rated the emails for the presence of eight basic emotions, and then sent their own response emails. Additionally, everyone rated how confident they felt in their ability to accurately identify the intended emotional tone of the email.

Although participants were highly confident in their interpretations, especially when communicating with a friend, this confidence had no relationship with accuracy.

“It is clear from this study that readers can determine that we are angry, but cannot determine HOW angry,” said Riordan. “The loss of this subtlety could lead to consequences in many forms– especially in our relationships, where the difference between annoyance and rage can be vast, and a simple misinterpretation of an intended emotion can lead to a drastic alteration in that emotion.”

Research from a team led by Adam D. Galinsky (Northwestern University) finds that when people are in a position of power they’re even worse at accurately predicting how others will interpret a sarcastic comment.

In one experiment, 42 college students read a scenario in which they went to a fancy restaurant recommended by a colleague’s friend, but had a particularly bad dining experience. The next day, an email was sent to the friend who made the recommendation stating only, “About the restaurant, it was marvelous, just marvelous.” Participants then used a 6-point scale to indicate how they thought the friend would interpret the comment, ranging from very sarcastic to very sincere.

Before reading the restaurant scenario, participants were randomly assigned to a high-power or a low-power condition. High-power participants were instructed to recall and write about a personal incident in which they had power over individuals. Participants assigned to the low-power condition were instructed to write about a personal incident in which someone else had power over them.

The results showed that those assigned to the high-power group were much more likely to assume, perhaps mistakenly, that the friend would think the email was clearly sarcastic.

“These findings support our prediction that power leads individuals to anchor too heavily on their own vantage point, insufficiently adjusting to other individuals’ perspectives,” Galinsky and colleagues write in Psychological Science.

If it’s so easy to misinterpret a written message, what can people do to help make their intentions clear? University of Nottingham psychological scientists Dominic Thompson and Ruth Filik found that the use of an expressive smiley face emoticon (such as : ) or ^.^) can provide a helpful cue for when messages are meant sarcastically.

Participants were shown a list of short text message conversations and asked how they would make it clear that a response text was to be taken either literally or sarcastically.

You: So how was the interview?

Friend:  I really can’t tell…

You: Well, you didn’t look confident

In this example, participants would be prompted to modify the wording of the final response in the exchange in such a way as to clearly communicate either sarcasm or a straightforward response. There was no specific mention of emoticons or images.

The results showed that people were “significantly more likely to use emoticons to aid understanding in sarcastic comments than literal ones.” Emoticons were also more likely to occur in texts articulating praise rather than criticism.

Specifically, Thompson and Filik found that the tongue out (:p) and wink (; )) emoticons were the most closely linked with marking sarcasm, and almost never appeared in any condition except for marking sarcasm.

“Importantly, this suggests emoticons may actually be more efficient than ‘standard’ language for marking sarcastic intent,” Thompson and Filik conclude. “That is, the intention can be communicated more quickly via an emoticon than via additional words or phrases, in a way somewhat similar to nonverbal cues in speech.”



Galinsky, A. D., Magee, J. C., Inesi, M. E., & Gruenfeld, D. H. (2006). Power and perspectives not taken. Psychological Science, 17(12), 1068-1074. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01824.x

Riordan, M. A., & Trichtinger, L. A. (2016). Overconfidence at the Keyboard: Confidence and accuracy in interpreting affect in e‐mail exchanges. Human Communication Research. doi: 10.1111/hcre.12093

Thompson, D., & Filik, R. (2016). Sarcasm in written communication: Emoticons are efficient markers of intention. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 21(2), 105-120. doi: 10.1111/jcc4.12156

from Minds for Business – Association for Psychological Science http://bit.ly/2dpqz1U


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#Giveaway and Interview: Ellen Byron, Body on the Bayou

>>>Win a print copy of Body on the Bayou (US Only)<<<
The Crozats feared that past murders at Crozat Plantation B&B might spell the death of their beloved estate, but they’ve managed to survive the scandal. Now there’s a très bigger story in Pelican, Louisiana: the upcoming nuptials between Maggie Crozat’s nemesis, Police Chief Rufus Durand, and her co-worker, Vanessa Fleer.When everyone else refuses the job of being Vanessa’s Maid of Honor, Maggie reluctantly takes up the title and finds herself tasked with a long list of duties–the most important of which is entertaining Vanessa’s cousin, Ginger Fleer-Starke. But just days before the wedding, Ginger’s lifeless body is found on the bayou and the Pelican PD, as well as the Crozats, have another murder mystery on their hands.There’s a gumbo-potful of suspects, including an ex-Marine with PTSD, an annoying local newspaper reporter, and Vanessa’s own sparkplug of a mother. But when it looks like the investigation is zeroing in on Vanessa as the prime suspect, Maggie reluctantly adds keeping the bride-to-be out of jail to her list of Maid of Honor responsibilities in Body on the Bayou.

Q: Aloha, Ellen, and welcome back to Island Confidential! I really enjoyed Body on the Bayou, but for our readers who haven’t had the pleasure of reading it, why don’t  you tell us something about your protagonist, Maggie? 

A: Magnolia “Maggie” Crozat is a thirty-two year old Cajun/Creole artist who spent over a decade in Manhattan and has come home to Pelican, Louisiana after a painful breakup. She’s a fish out of water in her hometown, where residents seem to see her as “that artsy fartsy girl.” She divides her time between working at her family’s plantation-turned-B&B, working as a tour guide at another plantation, and pursuing her art career.

Q: How much of you is reflected in Maggie? 

A: Maggie has my dry sense of humor. And I’ve often felt like a fish out of water in life, so we share that. But we certainly don’t share a talent for art! I can barely draw stick figures. I think Maggie and I would be friends in real life. Except I’m not as hip as she is, LOL.

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

A: Oh, absolutely. Maggie becomes more secure in herself and her relationship with hot detective – they’re always hot, aren’t they? – Bo Durand. Her relationships with some frenemies change as well. I love create unexpected alliances.

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

A: Fo sho! In fact, wanting to kill a coworker is what inspired me to try writing mysteries. I wrote a chapter of a book where I turned him into an odious character who got murdered. I worked out some inner demons, but the writing wasn’t very good, so I shelved that project. Happy to say that no one’s driven me that far since – except for the occasional political figure.

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

A: The actual town where I set my series, Pelican, Louisiana, is a fictionalized version of a real small town. The plantations are based on real location as well, and while I fictionalize the locations a bit, the settings are pretty close to the real thing. If I guided you to many of the areas that inspired me, you’d find the real-life locations pretty close to their made-up counterparts.

Q: You’ve written for hit TV shows like Wings and Just Shoot Me, so I know this question must have crossed your mind: When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

A: Hah, I’ve asked myself this question many times! I see Anne Hathaway as Maggie, and Colin O’Donoghue from Once Upon a Time, my favorite TV series, as her boyfriend, Detective Bo Durand. And my dream casting for Gran’ would be Blythe Danner.


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

A: Honestly, nothing stands out as “best advice,” except for “put the funny word at the end of the sentence,” which has served me well as a sitcom writer. But I remember one specific lesson I learned that could classify as “worst advice.” I’d written a play inspired by my relationship with my great-aunt. After it was read in a writers group I belonged to, a member of the group who was way more established than me said he liked the play, but it would be much stronger if it was about the relationship between a girl and her father. I re-wrote the play… and completely lost my connection to it. He wasn’t giving a note. He was telling me how he would have written the play. That experience taught me to really distill and decipher notes so that they benefit my intentions and don’t throw me off course.


About The Author  

Ellen’s debut novel, PLANTATION SHUDDERS: A Cajun Country Mystery, has been nominated for an Agatha Best First Novel award, a Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery, and a Daphne Award for Best Mainstream Mystery. The second Cajun Country Mystery is BODY ON THE BAYOU, released September 2016. Ellen’s TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me; she’s written over 200 magazine articles; her published plays include the award-winning Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. Ellen Byron is a native New Yorker who lives in Los Angeles and attributes her fascination with Louisiana to her college years at New Orleans’ Tulane University.

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Want to see what a real dinosaur looked like?

Reconstruction is based on studies of a spectacular fossil from China, preserved with skin and pigments intact.

Source: Scientists reveal most accurate depiction of a dinosaur ever created | Elsa Panciroli | Science | The Guardian


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Undress for success? What kind of clothing really gets job interviews?

Women who wear low-cut tops and dresses in photographs accompanying their job applications are nearly 20 times more likely to get an interview, according to new research. Revealing clothing made women more attractive in both sales and accounting jobs in the study that was conducted in Paris, which is hosting the Appearance Matters Conference this week.Dr. Sevag Kertechian, the lead researcher of the Paris study, found that women with identical skills and experience on their resumes were 19 times more likely to get a job interview while wearing low-cut clothing instead of round-neck clothing.

“Regardless of the job, whether customer-facing saleswoman or office-based accountant, the candidate with the low cut clothing received more positive answers,” Kertechian told The Telegraph.

Source: Women in low-cut tops and dresses nearly 20 times more likely to get job interviews – Women in the World in Association with The New York Times – WITW


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Guest Post and #Giveaway: Cathy Ace, author of The Corpse with the Ruby Lips, talks travel

>>>Enter to win one of two signed paperback copies of The Corpse with the Ruby Lips<<<


Thanks for having me along today – it’s good to be here, and to have the chance to talk about something that’s close to my heart…travel!

For those who don’t know my Cait Morgan Mysteries, they might be unaware that each book takes place in a different country. The eighth book in the series is just due to be published, and, in THE CORPSE WITH THE RUBY LIPS, our indefatigable (if somewhat quirky) professor of criminal psychology Cait Morgan finds herself teaching a semester of special courses at the Hungarian University of Budapest. Budapest is a city that calls to many people, not least because of the fabulous way it’s featured in all those breathtaking shots we see of the locations to which Viking River Cruises can take us as we settle down to watch Masterpiece Mystery each week (you do do that, don’t you?).

For me it’s more than a series of picture postcards – I worked in Budapest for a couple of weeks, three or four times each year for about half a dozen years, and grew to love the place. It’s got a lot going on below the surface splendor of spectacular architecture, the magnificence of the Danube rippling through its heart and the almost-constantly-present sound of music wafting from concert halls, bars and restaurants. As – to be fair – most places do. But, in Budapest, all that beauty hides a dark past…a theme I develop in this book.

As for Cait’s other trips, she’s always followed in my footsteps: I used to live in the south of France, so Cait’s first book, THE CORPSE WITH THE SILVER TONGUE, was set in Nice…with the murder of the titular corpse taking place in the apartment of a couple of friends of mine (with their permission, I “borrowed” it!). Then I brought her closer to my current home and used my many jaunts to British Columbia’s wine country – just a few hours from my house – as inspiration for THE CORPSE WITH THE GOLDEN NOSE, which featured the suicided (or was it?) of a world-famous vintner. Then I sent Cait to the Pacific coast of Mexico in THE CORPSE WITH THE EMERALD THUMB, where I enjoyed dreaming up a make-believe resort near one of my favorite Places, Puerto Vallarta, followed by a trip to Vegas in THE CORPSE WITH THE PLATINUM HAIR, where I had even more fun “building” my very own casino and hotel. Trust me, if anyone in Nevada wants to truly create the Tsar! Casino, I’m all in. After that, I took Cait back to her – and my – Homeland….Wales in THE CORPSE WITH THE SAPPHIRE EYES, where she enjoyed (?) a long weekend in a spooky castle set on top of a cliff, in a storm. It was a delight to introduce readers to the place where I, and my leading lady, are from. Following that, I packed Cait and Bud off on a cruise around the Hawai’ian Islands in THE CORPSE WITH THE DIAMOND HAND…from which they returned having solved a puzzling murder mystery, and with a love of the Islands they “inherited” from me (I was married at the home of a good friend in Honolulu, and I’m very much looking forward to returning in March 2017 when I’ll be attending the Left Coast Crime convention). Recently Cait’s been in Europe – first of all in Amsterdam, in THE CORPSE WITH THE GARNET FACE, which is another city where I’ve worked for months on end in the past (and, incidentally, where I got engaged), And now she’s in Hungary.

Cait’s racked up quite a few air miles, as have I, over the years, and all I can do for now is wonder where she’ll go next. Maybe she’ll be happy to stay at home for a while…but once that travel bug bites, it’s hard to resist.

Cathy Ace’s latest Cait Morgan mystery is The Corpse with the Ruby Lips.

Quirky criminology professor Cait Morgan is invited to be a guest lecturer at a Budapest university, and although she’s hesitant to go without her husband and trusted sidekick, Bud, who must stay home to care for his aging parents, she decides to make the month-long trip on her own.

Soon after arriving, one of her new students, Zsofia, pleads with Cait to help her uncover any clues about her grandmother’s unsolved murder, which happened decades ago on the campus of Cait’s own home university in Canada. Cait agrees, but when she is repeatedly hassled by an creepy colleague, and as bizarre details about Zsofia’s family members come to light, Cait is beset by uncertainty.

As she gets closer to the truth, Cait’s investigation puts the powers-that-be on high alert, and her instincts tell her she’s in grave danger. Bud races to Budapest to come to Cait’s side, but will it be too late?


About The Author  

Cathy Ace

Originally from Wales, now-Canadian Cathy Ace writes the Cait Morgan Mysteries. Her series has found her criminal psychologist, foodie sleuth stumbling upon Corpses with a Silver Tongue, a Golden Nose, an Emerald Thumb, Platinum Hair, Sapphire Eyes and, now, a Diamond Hand during her globetrotting. The winner of The Bony Blithe Award for Best Light Mystery in 2015, when not helping Cait solve traditional, closed-circle mysteries, Cathy’s a keen gardener, ably assisted by her green-pawed chocolate Labradors.

Keep up with Cathy


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Review and Spotlight: An Act of Murder

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Introducing a new campus cozy series!

In the sleepy college town of Copper Bluff, South Dakota, English professor Emmeline Prather is enjoying the start of a new semester. But when one of her students dies working on the fall musical, it disrupts life on the small, quiet campus. Although the police rule the death accidental, Prof. Prather has good reason to suspect foul play.

Unmasking the murderer proves much more challenging than finding dangling participles, so Em recruits fellow English professor Lenny Jenkins for assistance. Together, they comb the campus and vicinity for clues, risking their reputations and possibly their jobs. After an intruder breaks into Em’s house, Lenny advises caution–and perhaps a change of address. Em, on the other hand, is all the more determined to forge ahead, convinced they’re on the brink of an important breakthrough.


I got a kick out of quirky English professor Emmeline Prather, who is just bloody-minded enough to continue to investigate a mysterious death on campus, against the advice of…well, just about everyone.  Professor Prather sees the world a little differently, which helps her to gather clues, but also places her in harm’s way. She will barge into the students’ living quarters and confidently interrogate the victim’s hapless roommate, but then find herself resentfully tongue-tied in the presence of a passive-aggressive colleague. She doesn’t stumble into a solution as much as she finds her own circuitous way to it, keeping in step to her own drummer the whole time. Prather is a sympathetic and entertaining protagonist, and the little college town of Copper Bluff, South Dakota is beautifully drawn. Mary Angela does a wonderful job at portraying small-town academia, and I am looking forward to Emmeline Prather’s next adventure.


About The Author  

Like her protagonist in the Professor Prather mystery series, Mary Angela lives on the Great Plains and teaches college writing and literature. When she’s not grading papers (when is she not grading papers?), she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She and her husband have two amazing daughters, one adorable dog, and a cat who would rather not be limited by an adjective. For more information, go to www.maryangelabooks.com.


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Character Interview: Rory Chasen, owner of the Lucky Dog Boutique

Rory Chasen, manager of the Lucky Dog Boutique in Destiny, California, hopes her new line of good-luck doggy toys will be a hit, especially the stuffed rabbits with extra-large feet. The timing of the line’s debut proves ill-fated, though, as several local shops—including Rory’s—are ransacked and vandalized with spilled salt and other unlucky charms.

The most likely culprit is disgruntled real estate agent Flora Curtival, whose issues with the town give her a motive. But when Flora is murdered and one of Rory’s toy rabbits is found with the body, Rory needs all the luck she can get while trying to determine just who killed the superstitious vandal. 

Q: Rory, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential. Why not tell our readers a little bit about yourself–maybe something they might not guess?

My name is Rory Chasen, and my stories are being told in the Superstition Mysteries,.  I’m still not sure how I feel about that, but if it helps other people learn to deal with superstitions, whether or not they actually cause the effects they’re reputed to, well, that’s okay with me.

I don’t think it will be surprising to readers, but I’ve always enjoyed pets, most especially dogs.  That was why I happen to own, or be owned by, my spaniel-terrier mix Pluckie, whom I found out was actually good luck, since she’s a black and white dog.  Before I moved to Destiny, California, I worked in a chain pet store, so I arrived here with most of the skills I needed to manage the Lucky Dog Boutique, which is what I do now.

One thing that readers might not know was that I was a fairly ordinary person when it came to superstitions, before my beloved fiancé Warren walked under a ladder and was killed by a car right afterwards.  I did the usual things of crossing fingers and knocking on wood, almost without thinking.  And now?  Every time I do either of those things, or engage in any other superstitious behavior, I think about it a lot!

Q: Who’s the character you get along with the best? Why?

Once again I don’t think what I’m about to say will be surprising to readers, but the person in my stories that I get along with best is Justin Halbertson, the Destiny Chief of Police.  We’ve been getting closer…. Also, I certainly get along well with Gemma Grayfield, my bff, who’s moved to Destiny partially to hang out with me.

Q:  Which other character do you have a conflict with? Why?

Ah… that’s a pretty strange thing and might juice up my superstitious agnosticism.  It seems as if the people here in superstitious Destiny who’ve rubbed me the wrong way end up dead.  That happens even when I’m not the main murder suspect, as I am in my latest adventure UNLUCKY CHARMS.

I suppose if I had to name a person I sometimes have trouble with here who’s still around, that’s probably Mayor Bevin Dermot.  He is so pro-Destiny that sometimes he does or says things that he may believe are in the best interests of the town, but I don’t always agree with him.

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

Who–Linda O. Johnston?  She’s wonderful in many ways, since she tells my stories so well.  On the other hand–well, since I’ve become just a bit superstitious, I wonder if it’s a good idea for her to be telling the whole world about all of this.  Could it bring me bad luck?  Could it bring herbad luck?

Q: What’s next for you?

Actually, I’m not sure.  I hope to continue my wonderful life in Destiny with all my friends, most especially Justin.  I’m not currently anticipating any more murders, and therefore there may be no additional books about me.  But who knows?  Even thinking such a thing could jinx me in the universe, so maybe I’ll have more adventures sometime in the future.



Linda O. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the year.   Since then, Linda, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, has published more short stories, novellas, and 38 romance and mystery novels, including the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, and Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne.  She additionally writes the Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink.


Author Links:

Webpage:  www.LindaOJohnston.com

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

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#CozyMystery Spotlight and #Giveaway: Putting on the Witch by Joyce and Jim #Lavene

>>>Enter to win a print copy of Putting on the Witch<<<
In the latest mystery from the bestselling authors of Looking for Mr. Good Witch, the retired witches of Wilmington, North Carolina, are ready to kick up their heels…

With their coven’s spell book still missing, Molly and Elsie—along with their ghostly friend Olivia, her daughter Dorothy, and her boyfriend Brian—are all on edge, especially now that Dorothy’s infamously wicked father is back in the picture. So when they receive an invitation to an exclusive Witches Ball, the ladies jump at the chance to dress up and have some fun.

The castle locale is spectacular and the party is hopping, but the festivities come to a swift end when a member of the Grand Council of Witches is murdered. With the whole place on lock down, the coven is determined to find the cunning killer, even with an angry council and a real Spanish Inquisitor breathing down their necks…

About The Authors

Joyce and Jim are together in heaven but their stories live on.

Joyce and Jim Lavene wrote award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They wrote and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They were married for 44 years, and lived in rural North Carolina with their family. Joyce died on October 20, 2015. Jim passed less than a year later, on May 5, 2016.




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