New thriller from Nanci Rathbun: Honor Kills (with Giveaway and Author Interview!)

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Did honor force him to abandon his wife and kids? Or is he just a weasel?
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Plum Tea Crazy: A new Tea Shop Mystery by NYT Bestselling Author Laura Childs

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Win a print copy of Plum Tea Crazy (U.S. Only)


Theodosia Browning investigates a Charleston steeped in tradition and treachery in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.

While viewing the harbor’s Gaslights and Galleons Parade from the widow’s walk of Timothy Neville’s Charleston mansion, local banker Carson Lanier seemingly tumbles over a narrow railing, then plunges three stories to his death. But a tragic accident becomes something much more sinister when it’s discovered that the victim was first shot with a bolt from a crossbow.

At the request of the mansion owner, Theodosia investigates the tragedy and is soon neck deep in suspects. An almost ex-wife, a coworker, a real estate partner–all had motives for killing the luckless banker, but one resorted to murder to settle accounts.

INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!

 


Interview with Laura Childs, New York Times bestselling author of Plum Tea Crazy.

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

Theodosia Browning is the sassy, outgoing proprietor of the Indigo Tea Shop. Formerly a marketing exec, Theodosia is quick-witted and droll, and has a knack for getting embroiled in police investigations.

How alike are you and Theodosia? 

I’m a former marketing exec myself, but I’ve never gotten involved in a criminal investigation. However, if I met Theodosia in real life I’d probably be analyzing clues right alongside her and trying to figure out a list of suspects.

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

They’re the same characters personality-wise. However, they have grown and evolved a bit over the course of nineteen books. For example, Theodosia and her dog Earl Grey used to live in the apartment above the Indigo Tea Shop. Now they reside in a cute little Hansel and Gretel cottage in Charleston’s historic district.

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 anyone from my past in any of my books, but I do get my petty revenge from time to time. I assign their names to killers or characters that I particularly detest!

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

My Charleston, SC setting is faithful right down to the antique cobblestones. The places I write about – Church Street, Gateway Walk, Duelers Alley, White Point Gardens – are all real places. My job as an author is to capture their charm and allure with words. I want you to picture the Spanish moss swaying in the trees, smell the salty Atlantic air rushing in, and have the feeling of being followed down a narrow, walled-in lane.

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

I think Debra Messing would make a terrific Theodosia

and Michael Caine would be a delightful Drayton.

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

Worst advice – English teachers (pretty much all of them) who tried to hammer in that old maxim of “writing what you know about.” If authors did that we’d never have fantastic novels about outer space, time travel, and dinosaurs. Writing is all about creating imagery – a direct product of stretching your imagination!

Best advice – This was an object lesson of sorts. Mystery great Mary Higgins Clark took me under her wing at a Mystery Writers of America symposium and graciously introduced me to several editors and agents. When it came time for lunch – when Mary had a plethora of invitations – she whispered to me that she had to go home and write, that she had a tricky deadline. That’s when I realized that producing pages and meeting deadlines took precedence over panel discussions, lunch, and everything else. I realized that writing was serious business.

BONUS: Stay tuned for a character interview with Theodosia Browning herself!


About the Author

laura-childs-from-facebook

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fund raising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

Visit Laura’s webpage or find her on Facebook.

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Pawprints and Predicaments: Author Interview with Bethany Blake

Win 1 Set of the Lucky Paws Petsitting Mysteries and some swag! U.S. ONLY


The Tail Waggin’ Winterfest is the highlight of the season in the famously pet-friendly Pocono Mountains town of Sylvan Creek. But despite attractions like an ice sculpture display, a dogsled race, and gourmet hot chocolate, Daphne Templeton finds herself annoyed by TV producer Lauren Savidge, who’s filming the festivities. She’s critical, controlling, and as chilly as the January air. Daphne would like to tell her to go jump in a lake—and as a matter of fact, that’s exactly what they’re both going to do . . .

It’s the first-ever polar bear plunge in Lake Wallapawakee, and Daphne and Lauren are among the eighty or so people who charge into the frigid water to raise funds for animals in need. Daphne makes it back to shore—with the help of a mysterious St. Bernard—but Lauren is dragged out stone cold dead. Now, with her trusty basset hound Socrates at her side, Daphne intends to assist Detective Jonathan Black in his investigation—whether he wants her to or not . . .

Includes recipes for homemade pet treats!


Interview with Bethany Blake

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

Daphne Templeton holds a doctorate in philosophy, but she’s content working as a pet sitter in the quaint town of Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania. She loves to travel, but she’s increasingly setting down roots in her hometown. She drives an unreliable VW bus, bakes for pets and people, and solves crimes with her basset hound sidekick, Socrates.

Would you get along with Daphne if you met her in real life?

I would love Daphne, because she has a big heart. She’s hugely loyal to her family and friends, and she loves life.

Are you and Daphne anything alike? 

We are similar in that I also hold a doctorate that I’ve never used, and I once owned a small pet sitting business. I’m also kind of disorganized. But I’m a worrier, while Daphne charges through life pretty fearlessly.

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

Yes! Daphne starts out being very reckless and irresponsible. Maybe too reckless and irresponsible. As the series continues, she becomes more thoughtful and sets down roots. On the flipside, Detective Jonathan Black is initially very rigid and protective of his emotions and his past. As he and Daphne battle to solve crimes, he learns to loosen up, and he slowly reveals the truth about his time as a Navy SEAL—and the secret that compelled him to leave the military.

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

Sylvan Creek is based very closely on my hometown of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. I lived in the apartment that Daphne’s best friend, Moxie Bloom, “occupies” in the novel, and there’s a park with creek that rambles past a gazebo. Those are just a few of the similarities. But I’ve added a lot of fun things to Sylvan Creek, like some amazing restaurants that don’t actually exist in Lewisburg.

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

Keri Russell has Daphne’s curly hair and quirky vibe. I honestly can’t pick an actor to play Jonathan Black. No one quite has the mix of intensity and humor. I am open to suggestions!

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

The best advice I received was to join groups like Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America. They provide information, support and opportunities for networking. I don’t know that I’ve ever received truly bad advice. My network of friends and family have always encouraged me to keep going. As long as you have that, I think you’re okay.

 


About the author


Bethany Blake lives in a small, quaint town in Pennsylvania with her husband and three daughters. When she’s not writing or riding horses, she’s wrangling a menagerie of furry family members that includes a nervous pit bull, a fearsome feline, a blind goldfish, and an attack cardinal named Robert. Like Daphne Templeton, the heroine of her Lucky Paws Mysteries, Bethany holds a Ph.D. and operates a pet sitting business called Barkley’s Premium Pet Care.

Webpage | BookBub  |  Twitter  |  Facebook | Amazon | B&N | Kobo  | Google Play 

 


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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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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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Author Links

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Twitter – https://twitter.com/mehughesauthor


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

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

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


Interview with Lois Winston

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick Dempsey, Tina Fey, Hugh Jackman

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

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

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


lois-winston-med-res-file

About The Author 

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

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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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