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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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 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 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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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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King Harald’s Snow Job: A new canine cozy and interview with author Richard Audrey

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It’s early December and Andy Skyberg is itching to blow town for a weekend of holiday cheer with old friends—including a date with an attractive divorcée who thinks he’s hot.

But first, Aunt Bev needs a teensy bit of help. She’s managing the Girls’ Weekend Out event at the Beaver Tail Resort and could use some extra muscle. Andy figures he can spare a few hours before hitting the road.

Mother Nature, though, has other plans.

 

A giant blizzard makes an unexpected turn. Andy and his pooch King Harald find themselves snowbound—in a hotel full of hard-partying women, stranded travelers, a hockey team, a man-eating novelist, a belligerent blogger, and one violent, devious jewel thief.

Before you know it, man and mutt are up to their noses in another case. It’s a winter wonderland of fast-paced fun and merry madness, as the sleuthing duo dig out from King Harald’s Snow Job.


Aloha Richard, and welcome back again to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about Andy, the (human) protagonist? 

Andy Skyberg is about forty—a good-natured, easygoing sort of fellow. Unfortunately, his wife runs off with her Pilates instructor…his business tanks…and he goes into a deep funk. Lucky for him, his sister has a job for him back in their hometown of New Bergen, working in her restaurant. As soon as he moves back, he goes looking for a dog. He finds a big ginger-colored mutt called King Harald at the animal shelter and it’s love at first sight. What Andy doesn’t bargain for is Harald’s unexpected talent for sniffing out crime and landing his “boss” in the doo-doo.

How much do you and Andy have in common?

Other than being a middle-aged white guy from the upper Midwest, not a lot. He has more energy and more courage and a better work ethic. I’m actually a little envious of Andy.

Have your characters evolved throughout the series?

When the series starts, Andy is a little beaten down and easily manipulated by his sister/boss and his aunt. My intention, however, is for him to become more independent of these ladies. Of course, a lot of the books’ humor depends on Andy getting tossed into trouble, especially by his Aunt Bev. It will be a tricky balance, but I’m game to try. And, of course, I’ll keep throwing him curves in his love life, but eventually he’ll find the girl of his dreams.

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 anybody, but I have depicted a few real people (under fictional names, of course) who I thought were jerks or idiots.

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

A: Andy lives and works in the tourist town of New Bergen, a couple of hours up the Interstate from “The Cities.” It’s located in Beaver Tail County. Both places are fictional, but not unreasonable facsimiles of real locales in the Upper Midwest. However, a real rural county is not likely to have all the perquisites and amenities that I give Beaver Tail. In a way, I hope to make it like Midsomer, with a whole potential universe of eccentric characters and criminal possibilities.

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

Jared Padalecki

A: If he were younger, Jeff Bridges would be the ideal Andy. Though maybe a little too handsome, Jared Padalecki (of Supernatural and Gilmore Girls fame) would make a fine Andy.

For Aunt Bev, I nominate Sally Field.

Sally Field

For Thor Hofdahl, I’d go with Gerald McRaney or Terry O’Quinn.

Gerald McRaney

Finally, for Becky Reingold, Kristin Wiig or Amy Adams.

Kristen Wiig

 

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

A: The best advice was to write novels because you love doing it, not to make money. How true. The worst advice was to keep trying different genres to find the one that sells for you. Well, the problem with that is that genre readers often won’t read a freestanding book. They tend to not be interested unless there’s a series. So series (one canine cozy, one historical, one middle grade fantasy) are what I’m working on.


Richard Audry is the pen name of D. R. Martin. As Richard Audry, he is the author of the King Harald Canine Cozy mystery series and the Mary MacDougall historical mystery series. Under his own name he has written the Johnny Graphic middle-grade ghost adventure series, the Marta Hjelm mystery, Smoking Ruin, and two books of literary commentary: Travis McGee & Me; and Four Science Fiction Masters.

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New Brewing Trouble Mystery: A Room with a Brew by Joyce Tremel

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It’s Oktoberfest in Pittsburgh, and brewpub owner Maxine “Max” O’Hara is prepping for a busy month at the Allegheny Brew House. To create the perfect atmosphere for the boozy celebration, Max hires an oompah band. But when one of the members from the band turns up dead, it’s up to Max to solve the murder before the festivities are ruined.

Adding to the brewing trouble, Candy, Max’s friend, is acting suspicious… Secrets from her past are fermenting under the surface, and Max must uncover the truth to prove her friend’s innocence. To make matters worse, Jake’s snooty ex-fiancée shows up in town for an art gallery opening, and she’ll be nothing but a barrel of trouble for Max.

 


About The Author

Joyce Tremel was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. She is a native Pittsburgher and lives in a suburb of the city with her husband.

Her debut mystery, To Brew Or Not To Brew was nominated for the 2015 Reviewers’ Choice award for Best Amateur Sleuth by RT Book Reviews. The second book in the series, Tangled Up In Brewwas released in October 2016 and chosen as a “Top Pick” by RT Book Reviews. It was the winner of the 2016 Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Amateur Sleuth. It was also named one of the Best Books of 2016 by Kings River Life Magazine.

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New Zodiac Mystery: All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco

The stars predict a wedding-day disaster, but San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti never expected murder

Julia Bonatti is alarmed by the astrological signs looming over Geneva Leary’s wedding day, but nobody asked Julia’s opinion and being a bridesmaid means supporting the bride no matter what. Even with the foreboding Moon-Mars-Pluto lineup in the heavens, no one’s prepared for the catastrophes that strike: a no-show sister, a passed-out wedding planner, and a lethal shooting in the dead of night.

With anger and grief threatening to tear the Leary family part, Julia is determined to understand how such a terrible tragedy could occur. As she digs deeper into the family’s secrets, her astrological insights will lead her to the truth about a criminal enterprise that stretches far beyond the California coast.


Island Confidential: Connie, thank you for stopping by! Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?

Connie di Marco: Julia Bonatti is a San Francisco astrologer who never thought murder would be part of her practice. In fact, she never in a million years would have predicted she’d be a practicing astrologer. Her life took an abrupt turn when her fiancé was killed in a hit and run accident, and she was no longer able to continue with her life plans. Astrology offered a sense of solace and comfort, a pathway to understand the cruel blow that she had been dealt. She discovered she was fascinated by the arcane symbols and their meanings and eventually realized she was quite good at the art of synthesis and helping her clients through difficult times.

How much of you is in Julia?  

CdM: It’s probably not possible to create any character that isn’t some aspect of oneself. Julia’s outlook on life, her values and sensibilities are probably mine, but she is a much freer and more daring agent. She’s a woman alone, although she has close family and friend connections that support her. But in a real sense, she’s a lone wolf, free to wander the city at any time, day or night, and open to far more adventure than I would be. She’s much more physically daring than I, not afraid to investigate, to confront suspects or to do whatever she feels necessary to solve the crime in spite of the danger this could represent. If I met her in real life, I’d probably admire her and wish I could be more like her. Perhaps every protagonist is an idealized version of each writer’s psyche.

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

CdM: Yes, they do. There is a chronology to the characters’ lives and as the series continues, I do want everyone to grow and evolve. But it’s also important for each book to be read as a stand alone. I’ve found authors I’ve loved by picking up their fifth or maybe tenth book in a series, and enjoying it so much, I’ve gone back to the beginning and read each one from the start. It can be a tricky task to give readers enough backstory to understand what forces shaped a character, but not describe so much that it bogs the story down or bores a reader who is familiar with the series.

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

CdM: Hmmm. Should I admit to this? Well, I’ll say this, one or two of my victims are modeled on people I’ve known and really disliked, although the names have been changed to prevent any lawsuits! And I know I’ve modeled villains on real life people too. That’s even more fun. I like to invent murderers who could be someone we know, someone who lives next door, an everyday person, someone for whom there’s a logic to their crime. They may not by nature be all bad or evil, but just people who commit crimes out of passion or impulse. Or because they believe they must commit that terrible act in order to protect themselves and survive. Delving into that gray area makes those characters far more interesting I think.

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

A: The Zodiac Mysteries are set in San Francisco, a real city with real streets and real buildings. So I try to be completely accurate when I describe a location like the downtown courthouse, or the kinds of restaurants in North Beach for example, although I do take liberties. It’s impossible not to. In All Signs Point to Murder, Julia meets a man who can give her information she needs at a place called Wong’s, an all night diner in Chinatown. Is there a real Wong’s? I doubt it, but there are plenty of small eateries like that in that area, so the location seems true to the city and the story. Sometimes, Julia will go to a place that really does exist. For example, she has a lunch at the Garden Court restaurant inside the Palace Hotel. A beautifully restored historic location with potted palms and glass ceilings and plus, it was a chance to incorporate a little history about its builder from 1873.

My earlier series, the Soup Lover’s Mysteries, written as Connie Archer, required a different approach. Snowflake, Vermont is an imaginary village but it offers the same things that any small town in Vermont would have – a Village Green, a white-steepled church, a soup restaurant and so on. But in those books, I wanted to cultivate that imaginary sense of place. I studied a list of Vermont cities and towns before coming up with names that don’t really exist in Vermont. The jail is in Bournmouth and the hospital’s in Lincoln Falls. I wanted to make sure that any town I mentioned did not have a counterpart in real life. I wanted the village to exist in an unreal place, like Brigadoon in the musical, a mysterious village that only appears for one day every hundred years.

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

CdM: I don’t really ever think about that. For one thing, no writer ever has any control over scripts or casting. I think every reader forms a picture in his or her head about a character, how they walk, what they look like, how they sound, and often the casting of actors doesn’t work very well. When Katherine Heigl was cast as Stephanie Plum, I was taken aback. Nothing against the actress, but in no way did she seem like my vision of Stephanie Plum. In the best of all possible worlds, a writer would have some control over those decisions, but that rarely if ever happens.

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

CdM: Probably the worst advice writers receive is to write what they know. I think that’s a very limiting concept that puts braces on our imaginations. Where would all the historical novels come from? How would authors be able to inhabit another century and recreate what was and wasn’t there for a modern reader?

It’s fine to write about worlds one is familiar with, but a writer also needs to constantly stretch and investigate worlds they know nothing about. Do I know anything about the discovery of a dead body? First hand? I don’t, but research will give me the answers I need. Do I know anything about human trafficking or smuggling or child abduction? Fortunately not, but these are all subjects that crime writers deal with. On the other hand, we all experience the same griefs, regrets, loves and sadness, all sorts of emotional states, no matter who we are and the exploration of those feelings is what makes a book memorable.

The best advice I’ve ever heard, and I knew it before I heard or read of it, is to get out of your own way. In other words, just let things flow. A writer friend, Dennis Palumbo, has written a book called Writing from the Inside Out. It’s a really wonderful and compassionate book. In it, he quotes Pablo Casals who said, “Learn the notes, then forget about ‘em.” Really great advice! You can spend your whole life nitpicking and worrying and editing and never get anything finished. Just get out of your own way, turn off the editor in your brain and keep your fingers moving over the keyboard.


About The Author

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries from Midnight Ink, featuring San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti.  The first in the series, The Madness of Mercury, was released in June 2016 and the second, All Signs Point to Murder, available for pre-order now, will be released on August 8, 2017.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime.  Some of her favorite recipes can be found in The Cozy Cookbook  and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook.  Connie is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

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New Kitty Couture Mystery and Interview: Cat Got Your Secrets by Julie Chase

Lacy Marie Crocker has settled into a comfortable groove back home in New Orleans, and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, she’s busier than ever running a thriving pet boutique, helping her mother organize the upcoming National Pet Pageant, and untangling her complicated love life. But when delivering a king-sized order of dreidel-shaped doggy biscuits for a Saint Berdoodle’s bark-mitzvah, Lacy stumbles into yet another murder scene—and the last person to see the victim alive was her own father.

It’s up to Lacy to clear her dad’s name from the suspect list before Detective Jack Oliver has to cage him for good. But just when she starts pawing at the truth, she receives a threatening letter from a mysterious blackmailer bent on silencing her with her own secrets. And Lacy’s not the only one with bones in her closet.


Author Interview with Julie Chase

Julie, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us about your protagonist, Lacy?

Lacy Marie Crocker owns Furry Godmother, a pet boutique on Magazine Street in the famed New Orleans Garden District, where she uses her fashion degree to make custom couture clothing and costumes for pets, as well as fresh baked organic treats for local furbabies. She is smart and kind, loving and curious. Her big heart and keen eye for details often get her into trouble when she really just wants to help.

Are you and Lacy alike? 

Lacy is a lot like me, except rich, confident and brave. LOL! I live vicariously through her adventures. She thinks what I think, then does the things I’d never be able to do from my cowering position behind her. If I met Lacy in real life, we would be great friends. I’d want to know all about her crazy adventures.

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

Absolutely, and not just the hero and heroine. Like flesh and bone people, my characters are each on a journey through their life. They grow and change as a result of the experiences and encounters they have. Often, they change each other.

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

No. I’m fortunate, I guess, because there’s no one I’d like to see meet an untimely death.

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

Lacy’s world is a mix of real and fantasy. New Orleans is a very special place to me. I visit as often as I can to get the big details right. But, Lacy is fictional. Her family, friends and past are too, so I create and events shops as needed or fabricate street names. It’s something I put a lot of thought into, keeping New Orleans authentic while making Lacy’s adventures unique.

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

Ha! I’d be thrilled just to get the opportunity to write book four in this series! But in the interest of fun, I have written a post on this topic before. You can find it here with photos, but the bottom line is:

Ashley Benson as Lacy Marie Crocker

Ian Somerholder as Detective Jack Oliver

Jensen Asckles as Chase Hawthorne (Lacy’s love interest / friend)

Emma Stone as Scarlet Hawthorne (Lacy’s BFF)

Susana Thompson as Violet Conti-Crocker (Lacy’s mom)

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

The worst advice I’ve ever been given as an author is to only write in one genre. For a long while at the beginning of my quest for publication, it was a popular thing to read on blogs and social media. Folks would say, “Don’t genre jump. It makes you look amateur.” Well, that’s hooey. If you’re a writer, then you should be writing the stories of your heart. All of them, and that doesn’t make you a novice. It makes you real.

The best advice I’ve been given as an author is to keep writing. If your manuscript isn’t selling, then write another and put that first one behind you. You can always come back to it, but obsessing over getting THAT one sold will stagnate you. We have to keep working, learning, improving. You don’t have to delete the work you can’t sell, but don’t get so hung up on selling that one piece that you stop writing. Keep. Writing.

 


About The Author

Julie Chase is a mystery-loving pet enthusiast who hopes to make readers smile. She lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three spunky children. Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) and Sisters in Crime (SinC). She is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyons Literary Agency.

Julie also writes as Julie Anne Lindsey. Learn more about Julie at her website.

 

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