Murder with a paranormal twist: New Sins for Old Scores

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Murder, like history, often repeats itself. And, when it does, it’s the worst kind of murder.
Detective Richard Jax was never good at history—but, after years as a cop, he is about to get the lesson of his life. Ambushed and dying on a stakeout, he’s saved by Captain Patrick “Trick” McCall—the ghost of a World War II OSS agent. Trick has been waiting since 1944 for a chance to solve his own murder. Soon Jax is a suspect in a string of murders—murders linked to smuggling refugees out of the Middle East—a plot similar to the World War II OSS operation that brought scientists out of war-torn Europe. With the aid of a beautiful and intelligent historian, Dr. Alex Vouros, Jax and Trick unravel a seventy-year-old plot that began with Trick’s murder in 1944. Could the World War II mastermind, code named Harriet, be alive and up to old games? Is history repeating itself?Together, Jax and Trick hunt for the link between their pasts—confronted by some of Washington’s elite and one provocative, alluring French Underground agent, Abrielle Chanoux. Somewhere in Trick’s memories is a traitor. That traitor killed him. That traitor is killing again. Who framed Jax and who wants Trick’s secret to remain secret? The answer may be, who doesn’t?


T.J., thanks for stopping by Island Confidential.  Can you tell us a little bit about your lead characters, Richard and Trick?

 T.J.:Richard Jax and Trick McCall are some of my fav characters from my mysteries! Jax is a Special Agent with the Virginia Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI)—the state’s version of the FBI. He’s a likable, hardworking guy who runs afoul of his fiancé and best friend—Kathleen Cullen and Special Agent Leo Carraba. Let’s just say he trusts the wrong people. Jax has a few quirks, too, like reciting movie quotes and characters when he gets nervous. His favorite is old firm noir from the 1940’s like Charlie Chan.  Then there’s Trick. When Jax is ambushed and nearly killed, he’s saved by the spirit of long-dead World War II OSS—Office of Strategic Services—operative, Captain Patrick “Trick” McCall. Trick was murdered in 1944 and is hunting his own killer, now. But being the pragmatic investigator he is, Jax thinks he’s losing his mind and not seeing a ghost—despite the help Trick gives him. When Jax has to face his own failures with his fiancé and Carraba, he begins to question his own sanity and wonder if his being the prime suspect in Carraba’s murder is for good reason. Was he to blame? Did he actually kill his best friend?

While Jax is pragmatic and often too serious, Trick is a fun-loving, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants adventurer who pushes and cajoles Jax along the way to solving the murders. Together they must find the truth behind a WWII traitor and a treacherous plot that has lasted for over 75 years. As they do, Trick has to come to terms with being a 1940’s man suddenly thrust into 2011. The people and advances are unnerving to him and he uses humor and sarcasm to make his place in this world.

 In the end, Jax learns the truth behind Captain Trick McCall, his friends and loves, and why history has once again repeated itself.

Is there any of you in either of the protagonists?   

 T.J.: Moi? Well … a bit but not as much as my protagonists in my other novels. I’m an acquired taste and it’s best to spread the real-me over a few characters and not all in one. As a former government agent now a consultant, Jax’s persona and idiosyncrasies are certainly from me. So are his skill-sets. I’ve run homicide and corruption investigations, chased terrorists, and dealt with the human side of these crimes and adventures. Those things come from my experiences and onto the pages—I hope. I try to capture that human cost—the innocent caught up in the chase, the untold consequences of my character’s actions and inactions. Many other’s thrillers and mysteries are focused on the chase, the clues, and the grand finale. Mine are too, but I try hard to carry along the cost of these events in my stories. With Jax, he loses his friends and loves along the way, and as he makes new ones, there is a larger cost—trust, respect, even his career. I’ve experienced these things myself.

There is certainly more of me in Captain Trick McCall than Jax. I love Trick’s character. He’s an adventurer—that’s how he was recruited into the OSS in the 1940’s. He tries to keep things light and fun and even in the face of danger, keeps his cool with jokes and sarcasm. That’s 110% me. Trick also likes to dissect problems with a little charm and wit—keep the goal in mind but don’t let it consume you. That’s also something I try to do. Not always successfully, but then, Trick isn’t, either.

In my writing, no matter the character, I try to look through their eyes and respond realistically. I’ve been in many real-life adventures and can relate to what my characters endure. Even the bad guys—although it’s a bit harder since I’ve never been a truly bad guy in my life. I have been to murder scenes, autopsies, terror attacks … you name it. I know what holding back bile is like when you first get to a nasty crime scene. I know fear and what it’s like to wonder if you’re going home that night. I also know what it’s like to tell someone their loved one is dead. So those costs in a murder mystery are real to me and I try very hard to make them real to my characters.

So between Jax and Trick, they each have a good piece of me in them. After all, I wrote them so I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a big investment in their lives.

How would you feel about these characters if you met them in real life?

 T.J.: Truth is, I have. Every one of my characters comes from my real-life background and adventures I’ve had around the world. I’ve lived and worked in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, the United Kingdom, throughout the America’s and elsewhere. I’ve known some pretty amazing people and some pretty nasty ones. So when I develop a character, I steal traits from those I’ve known. Bad guys included. Oh, there is no character that is 100% someone, but maybe 50-50 between a couple people I’ve known.  So, if I’d met them now, I’d be right at home.

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

  T.J.:  Absolutely. If they didn’t, who’d read about them? I try to develop a character as close to life as possible—strengths, weaknesses, oddities. Jax can be too pragmatic, loses his confidence, and is no-fun—too focused and driven. As New Sins for Old Scores moves along, Trick begins to break through and pull other traits out of him. Jax lightens up a bit and regains some of his confidence. But since Jax is a victim in this story, too, he has a long way to go to find normalcy again. By the end of New Sins for Old Scores, he’s close but not completely healed up. Trick also continues to go through character development. He begins as an out-of-sorts forties man trying to understand the 21st century. As the story progresses, he begins to hone his own contributions to the story and grows his confidence in this new world of his.

 My characters also have true-to-life failings. As I mentioned, Jax loses confidence and also is too pragmatic to let loose and enjoy sometimes. He struggles with the loss of his friend and fiancé, and that weighs him down. As the story builds, he occasionally finds his feet again but it doesn’t always last—causing him to make bad decisions and fail. As the series moves on, those gains and losses will continue and he and Trick will undoubtedly have to deal with other setbacks, too. It’s those setbacks and challenges that I use to move the stories and the characters forward. Without that, it would be the same old characters, doing the same old investigating. No fun at all.

 One of the big changes in Jax is how he comes to grip with Trick McCall. He gives up trying to decide if he’s a ghost or the byproduct of his near-death injuries. Over time, he treats him like a partner in solving the murders and even allows Trick to “share” him. You’ll have to read New Sins for Old Scores to learn what that means!

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

 T.J.: Well … Did someone say something about me? They can’t prove it!

 In my profession, especially back in the gun-toting days with the government, I often considered the possibility I’d have to kill someone. Part of my mission back then was protecting high-ranking dignitaries from terrorist attacks and investigating terror attacks. While most missions were relatively safe, there were a few that raised the hair on my neck and kept me awake nights. There were lots of times I considered the very real possibility of having to kill someone—or someones.

But to your real question, absolutely. At one of my client offices, I have a very close friend. Every time he gives me trouble, I threatened to make him my next victim. Slow. Maniacal. In a dark basement with leeches and snakes. Yeah, he loves it.

 In truth, there have been people I’ve known in my past that have already been the bad guys and victims in my books. About five at last count. It’s easier for me to connect with bad guy characters if I mentally connect them to someone. I know their personalities, their dark sides, their mannerisms, etc. I project them into a character. It works well for me.

 And let me tell you, my ex-wife … boy, was knocking her off fun!

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

T.J.: Both. My settings are, for the most part, real places that I take a few liberties with. For instance, the Grey Coat Inn in New Sins for Old Scores is a real place. It’s called something else and is not exactly where I say in the book, but it’s real nonetheless. It also has a deep history as part of the Underground Railroad just as I say in the story. Leesburg is a growing historic town in Virginia, as is Winchester (from my Oliver Tucker series). I try to keep places real so readers can relate, perhaps find and explore them too. I change things that can cause issues—building names (unless they are innocuous to the story) and specific streets, in particular if a murder occurs there or a bad guy lives there.

I am very fortunate to live in Virginia where history and wonderful towns are plentiful. All my mysteries have a historical subplot in them and I love to use the local Virginia culture and history to further those plots. It’s not hard to stay true to life, because in Virginia, history goes back to before we were a country and it has “been-there, done-that.”

I use historical events to bolster my modern-day plots. In New Sins for Old Scores, the historical subplot surrounds Operation Paperclip. This was a real OSS operation during WWII where the US was sneaking scientists and industrialists out of war-torn Europe back to the US. The Soviets and other allies did it as well. In New Sins for Old Scores, I overlaid that famous operation into the modern day and simply asked the questions, “What would happen if someone did that today in the Middle East? What if they did it illegally? What might happen then?” I connected Operation Paperclip, modern day activities surrounding the Middle East conflicts, and poof, New Sins for Old Scores was written.

 Characters are real to life, too, and based on true events. Captain Patrick “Trick” McCall is based on my mentor of 25 years, Wally F. Wally was one of the last OSS Operatives from WWII and a former deputy director at CIA. He worked with me on the characters and history, and in time, became half of Trick McCall. I, of course, was the other half—clearly the better half. The fun half, too. I lost Wally in 2015 to age and a bad heart (he was 92!) and publishing New Sins became even more important to me.

 Still, you might notice it’s not dedicated to him. That’s because I have since written a thriller, The Consultant: Double Effect, about modern day terrorism in Northern Virginia that will be published by Oceanview in May, 2018. In The Consultant, Wally is 100% the character named Oscar LaRue and plays a huge role in this book and the coming sequels. That book is dedicated to him as “the real Oscar LaRue.” I dare say, too, that every story I’ve written and published, Wally has been a main character in some way. In his living years, he begrudgingly loved it. He wasn’t a fan of the paranormal mysteries on the outside, but he loved that he was a main character on the inside.

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

 T.J.:The big question, right?  Today, you have to look a bit deeper into film and TV to find the really good characters. The media shoves the same old names and types at you—Brad Pitt, Jolie, DiCaprio. All stellar performers, no doubt. But there are some really great “others” that I’d go to see before any of them.

I’d love to see Nathan Fillion as Trick. I think he’s a fun-loving, personable actor who could pull off the role of being a man from the 40’s suddenly thrown into the 21st century. I also think Karl Urban from Almost Human would make a great Jax, or perhaps Alex O’Laughlin. Both of them are great actors. They can be focused and serious, but when a Nathan Fillion gets involved as Trick, they would be fun and adventurous, too. Alex, the beautiful historian, would definitely be Hayley Atwell from Agent Carter. She’s beautiful, skilled in action shows, and has that strong, take-charge persona.

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

 T.J.:

Best advice: Keep writing. Don’t quit. It takes years to get where you’re going for most of us, don’t give up or you’ll never get anywhere. It’s the way it is. Unless you’re the 1% of authors, you won’t write a blockbuster for your first book or two or three that will allow you to quit your job and move into the mansion. I’ll never be able to do that but I won’t stop writing and hope my books continue to be published. It takes time. Long hours. Rewrites. Rewrites. Rewrites. Then more rewrites and a hell of a lot of rejection. Don’t quit. Ever.

Worst Advice: So many I can’t pick. Here are a couple of small pieces of advice that nearly threw me before I realized they were not for me:

  1. Never mix first-person with third-person in the same novel. Oh please, it’s done all the time and while I’m a new author, it works for me just fine.
  1. Start with self-publishing to get your work out. If you’re really, really good at editing, covers, marketing, and all the things no one tells you about publishing, then this might work. For me, I went to traditional publishing first. I wanted to make my bones (establish myself) before I even considered any other path. I felt, and this is not true for everyone, that getting an agent and traditional publisher first would prove to myself that I was good and could “do this.” I can always self-pub later after I develop my work and an audience. To me, it was a means of proving myself in the market. Now, having said that, many authors find happiness and a good platform doing it exclusively on their own. There are some that have best sellers and have made a huge career on their own. I am in awe of them. One day, maybe. The truth is, there are so many publishing paths today. Self-publishing is just one. There are some amazingly good micro-presses and indie presses that even if you can’t get into one of the big houses, there are great options for more traditional publishing. Black Opal Books, who published New Sins for Old Scores, is among the best of these indie presses.

In my case, I’m extremely lucky that I have three publishing houses. My first series, the Oliver Tucker Gumshoe Ghost mysteries (God, I hate that tag line) has three books with Midnight Ink, a smaller publisher under Llewellyn publishing. New Sins for Old Scores is with a great indie, Black Opal Books. My new thriller, The Consultant: Double Effect is with Oceanview Publishing, a larger, great house right up there with the biggies. I’m thrilled with all the deals my agent put together and each one moves me farther ahead. Had I stopped early on and went solo in self-publishing, I’m not sure I’d have had the ability to get even this far along.

 So, my advice? Look around. Do your research on your options. And above all, don’t be afraid to take a risk.


About The Author  

Tj O’CONNOR IS THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE 2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARDS (IPPY) FOR MYSTERIES. He is the author of New Sins for Old Scores, from Black Opal Books, and Dying to KnowDying for the Past, and Dying to TellHis new thriller,The Consultant, will be out in May 2018 from Oceanview Publishing. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York’s Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children. Dying to Know is also the 2015 Bronze Medal winner of theReader’s Favorite Book Review Awards, a finalist for the Silver Falchion Best Books of 2014,and a finalist for the Foreword Review’s 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.

Learn about Tj’s world at:

Web Site    Facebook     Blog     Goodreads


 

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New first in series: Engaged in Trouble (An Enchanted Events Mystery Book 1)

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When a washed-up pop star inherits a wedding planning business, it’s all bouquets and bliss until a bride turns up dead.
Paisley Sutton shot to stardom as a teenage rock sensation, but ten years later that star has fizzled out, just like her bank account. When she unexpectedly inherits her aunt’s wedding planning business, Paisley leaves the glamour of Los Angeles for a charming small town in Arkansas. Thinking she’ll arrive in Sugar Creek and liquidate the moldly property, Paisley’s shocked to find Enchanted Events has experienced a major makeover and is now the place for brides. She’s got two months to keep Enchanted Events afloat if she wants to sell and rekindle her music career with the profits.Paisley’s tossed into a world of vows and venues, but her most difficult challenge comes in the form of one demanding bride. When this Bridezilla’s found facedown in her cake, all fingers point to Paisley as the prime murder suspect. And she does not look good in prison orange.

This former pop princess will need the help of her gun-toting, ex-CIA grandmother and her handsome neighbor, Beau Hudson, to unravel the mystery and clear her good name. As she and her unruly posse dig into Bridezilla’s life, she discovers the woman had a long list of enemies. The closer Paisley gets to the truth, the more her own life is in danger.

Love is in the air this wedding season, but before Paisley can help the ladies of Sugar Creek say, “I do,” she’s got to unveil a killer. Or find herself the next target.

Engaged in Trouble is the first book in the long-awaited Enchanted Events cozy mystery series by award-winning author Jenny B. Jones. If you like laugh-out-loud adventures, small-town romance, unforgettable, sassy characters, and a mystery to keep you guessing, then you’ll love this new page-turning series.


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

JBJ: Paisley Sutton is a former member of an uber popular girl band. If you think about the band Destiny’s Child, there’s at least one member you might not be able to name. That’s Paisley. She rose to fame as a teen, but now over ten years later, she’s barely getting gigs singing on cruise ships. When she unexpectedly inherits her great-aunt’s mothball ridden wedding business, Paisley moves back to Sugar Creek, Arkansas, planning to keep the business afloat long enough to sell the vintage home its housed in and cash in the profits. But when she rolls in to Sugar Creek, she realizes the moldy business is now a booming event planning agency, which is just the beginning of her complications. A dead bride in a waiting room doesn’t help either.

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

JBJ: I’d love to meet Paisley in real life. She wears her funky stage clothes to work, has stories of rock stars to tell, and has a gun-toting granny who’s former CIA in her corner. But Paisley’s also battling some demons and is the underdog. I’ll always root for the underdog. 
Paisley might be like me in a few ways—she’s sarcastic, likes to keep things on the bright side, and has a grandmother she adores.

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

JBJ: I’m just finishing book two, Royally in Trouble, but the series is somewhat planned out. Paisley really struggles with self-esteem issues and earning the approval of her super successful parents. Her siblings are brainiacs, and Paisley’s always been the artsy gypsy who never quite fit their mold of what success should look like. Through the series she has to slowly let go of the old dreams to grab hold of the new ones life is offering her, including a romance with a man who was once her childhood enemy.

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

JBJ: Ha, no, but maybe I need to up my game? I have named some bad guys or annoying characters after a few people who’ve crossed my path who weren’t the kindest.

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

JBJ: My setting is very realistic. It’s set in the Northwest corner of Arkansas, which is an interesting blend of Mayberry meets Los Angeles. It’s the home of Wal-Mart, which means that celebrities are occasionally there to do business with the mega retailer. The downtowns in the area cities have undergone renovations and are rebuilding and rebranding, including some downhome stores/restaurants, as well as some trendy, urban upper scale venues. So you might go eat a favorite Mexican restaurant, walk the square, hear some bluegrass, and even see someone like Tom Cruise or Hugh Jackman. Sugar Creek is a fictional town on a very real creek that nestles next to these Northwest Arkansas cities. And a Rockwell town is a perfect place to have a fictional murder, right? The locals all seem so innocent…

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

JBJ: I’m not totally sure, but I do know I want a walk-on part. I think Emma Stone would make a great Paisley, and for her romantic interest, I’ve been modeling him after an actor named Ross Marquand. Luke Evans is welcome to audition as well. I wouldn’t turn him down, though I might make him go through a few call backs.

What’s the best advice you’ve had as an author?

JBJ: Six months before I got my first contract, I was at my first writing conference. I had paid to have a few chapters of my manuscript reviewed by an author I admired. She asked me if I had pitched to any agents or editors. I said, “No, I was told not to since my book isn’t done.” And she said words I will never forget. “The rules are made for everyone but you.” In other words, push through those barriers and doors. Assume the answer is yes until you hear a no. Assume you can be an exception. Expect a miracle. Years later that author and I are now friends, but I’ll be her fangirl forever and owe her so much. She passed my few chapters on to a publisher, and six months later, I had the contract that launched my career.


About The Author

Award-winning, best-selling author Jenny B. Jones writes romance, cozies, and YA with sass and Southern charm. Since she has very little free time, Jenny believes in spending her spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits, such as eating ice cream, watching puppy videos, and reading celebrity gossip. She lives in the beautiful state of Arkansas and has worked in public education for half of forever.  She loves bluegrass, a good laugh, and strong tea. She adores hearing from readers.

Webpage: www.JennyBJones.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jennybjones/
Twitter: @jenbjones

Instagram: @JennyBJonesAuthor
Good Reads: www.goodreads.com/JennyBJones

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

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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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A new Blossom Valley Mystery: Marriage is Pure Murder by Staci McLaughlin

>>>Enter to win a paper copy of Marriage Is Pure Murder by Staci McLaughlin (U.S. Only)<<<

Wedding bells are ringing at the O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa in California’s postcard-perfect Blossom Valley. The entire staff is pitching in to send one of their own down the aisle. But no one knew the nuptials could turn up so many secrets—or that marriage and murder could go hand in hand . . .

Dana Lewis is marrying Jason Forrester, a talented reporter and the love of her life. She couldn’t dream of a better venue than the farm where she works, and her friends are determined to give her the wedding of her dreams. Even her florist, Bethany Lancaster, is making sure she has just the right flowers. But Dana’s happiness wilts when she finds Bethany shot dead—and discovers her friend was a busybody with a blackmail list longer than a cathedral veil. With so many enemies, finding Bethany’s killer seems all but impossible. And when Dana herself is eyed as a suspect, she’ll have to chase down the culprit faster than she can say, “I do”—or she’ll be trading in her wedding dress for prison stripes.


Island Confidential: Staci, welcome to Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little about your protagonist, Dana Lewis?

Staci McLaughlin:  Dana is in her late twenties and living on her own when she is unexpectedly laid off from her marketing job in the San Francisco Bay Area. She finds herself moving back to the small Northern California town where she grew up. Now she has to put her life back together and rethink her career while living with her mom and annoying younger sister.

How much of you is in Dana?  How would you feel about her if you met her in real life?

SM:  Dana is a lot like me. We share the same core values and interests. She tries her best, even when she doesn’t always succeed, and values her family. I think Dana and I would have a lot of fun together, especially since we both love junk food!

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

SM:  Yes, definitely. Dana starts out a little uncertain about where her life is headed in the first book, but in each progressive book she starts to gain confidence in both her career and her personal life. Similarly, her younger sister Ashlee, who is an absolute brat in the first book, matures somewhat as the books progress.

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

A:  Not yet! I’ve heard of writers doing that, but I can’t think of anyone I have ever been so mad at that I would wish them dead, either on the page or in real life.

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

SM: Blossom Valley is a fictional town, but it is loosely based on Ukiah, a real town in Northern California where I grew up. The population of Blossom Valley is considerably smaller, and the town more closely resembles the Ukiah of my childhood rather than today, but it has the same atmosphere and kinds of people. One thing I like about using a fictional place is the flexibility. I can create a new business at the spur of the moment if needed or add other features that are important to the plot.
When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

SM: I love how you say, “when”! I think Jennifer Lawrence would be a good pick for Dana, since Dana is mostly practical but can also be a bit goofy. Ryan Reynolds would be great as Dana’s love interest, Jason.

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

SM: The best advice I have ever received was to just keep writing. Like anything, the more you practice, the better you get. When I make sure to write every day, it’s much easier to get into the proper mindset and come up with ideas. If I don’t write for a week or longer, it can take me a day or two to get back into the rhythm.

I guess the worst advice would be to write what you know. If I were to stick to only what I know, it would be a very short book! Plus, one of the fun aspects of writing is doing research and learning about new topics. I love to then share that information with the readers.


About The Author

Staci McLaughlin graduated from the California State University, East Bay before becoming a technical writer for a number of years. Now she is a stay-at-home mom and a cozy mystery writer in my spare time (Ha!). Once she can wrangle the kids into bed, my husband and I enjoy watching scary movies and playing both board games and video games.

She is currently a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, as well as a contributor to the LadyKillers blog. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Meet the author: Sherri Bryan, featured in #25KillerCozies

>>>25 Mysteries to Die For: Get 25 Killer Cozies for only 99 cents!<<<

 When a handsome stranger to the bustling coastal town of St. Eves meets an untimely end, a reluctant amateur sleuth uncovers a shocking secret that rocks the close-knit community to its core.

Sherri Bryan is the author of Tapas, Carrot Cake and a Corpse – A Charlotte Denver Culinary Cozy Mystery with Recipes, Book 1, one of the 25 killer cozies in this limited-edition bundle.


Sherri, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

SB: I was born in London and lived in the UK until my husband and I moved to Spain fifteen years ago.

I left my job as an event organiser when we moved to sunnier climes, having decided one cold and rainy night that we both fancied a complete life change. Decision made, we flew out to Spain the following month and bought a café bar on a marina in southern Spain which, incidentally, was the inspiration behind my cozy mystery series.

We had a wonderfully happy six years at the café. However, the hours we worked gave us little time to truly appreciate the wonderful country we now call home so, after much discussion, we decided to sell up and take a little time out to travel.

 It was during our wanderings that I began to yearn to write again so, when we returned, I got straight to it. I achieved a lifelong dream when my first book, ‘Tapas, Carrot Cake and a Corpse’ was published in May 2015.

 Apart from writing, I love to cook, read and spend time with friends, family and our adorable rescue dog, George.

Was there a certain time in your life you knew you wanted to write?

SB: Yes, I’ve always loved to write. When I was six, I used to write short stories for family members which I’d force them to sit through as I read them out loud. When I was fourteen, I wrote a short book about a boy wizard called David Moon. If only J. K. Rowling hadn’t got there first!

What are you currently working on?

SB: I’m working on book seven in my cozy mystery series and have just started a collection of short stories in collaboration with another author.

Of the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?

SB: I think book two in the series is my favourite. I’m a huge animal lover, and a big softie so, without giving anything away, writing that book gave me a huge amount of pleasure.

What books have most influenced you as a writer?

SB: In recent years, all of J. K. Rowling’s books. Even though I write in a different genre, I love her writing and I find her personal story a huge inspiration. When I was very young, though, I rarely went anywhere without an Enid Blyton book under my arm.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing? And the most rewarding?

SB: For me, the most challenging parts are keeping to deadlines (which I’m hopeless at) and getting started on new stories. Coming up with plots, twists and red herrings that are fresh and entertaining is what takes the most time, and the most brain power! Without doubt, the most rewarding is hearing from readers who enjoy the stories.

What book is on your nightstand?

SB: Currently, there are two. ‘Land Girls’ by Angela Huth, and ‘A Walk in the Woods’ by Bill Bryson. I always read more than one book at once.

What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

SB: Book seven in my current series, a new cozy mystery series and the short story collection I mentioned earlier.

Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers?

SB: Although my books are light-hearted reads, they are all mysteries with a twist, waiting to be solved. As cooking is one of my passions, it made sense to write a series with a culinary theme, although food is not the main focus of the books. That said, recipes are included.

 Most of all, though, I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s taken a chance on my books. I hope they’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

25 Mysteries to Die For is due out on 27th December and is priced at just 99¢ – get it NOW on preorder  at http://bit.ly/25Mysteries


 

AUTHOR LINKS

Website http://sherribryan.com

Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/sherribryanauthor

Twitter http://twitter.com/sbryanauthor


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in London, I was bitten by the writing bug very early in life.

sherri-bryan-author-pic

Spurred on by an over-active imagination, I couldn’t stop the stories that were flowing onto pages when I was just six years old. Thankfully, that’s as far as they got.

Despite being a voracious reader, it wasn’t until years later that I discovered the cozy mystery genre by pure chance when I accidentally downloaded the wrong book onto my Kindle. I’d never even heard of cozy mysteries but I read the book anyway and I knew there and then that I’d found the genre I wanted to write in. My first book followed a few months later in May 2015.

As cooking is also one of my passions, I was delighted that I could incorporate it into my stories, all of which make up my culinary cozy mystery series, and all of which include a selection of recipes.

When I’m not writing, you’ll most likely find me with my nose in a book, rustling up something experimental in the kitchen or out with the dog.

 


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Meet the author: Elisabeth Crabtree, featured in #25KillerCozies

>>>25 Mysteries to Die For: Get 25 Killer Cozies for only 99 cents!<<<

Romance, obsession and murder are in the news when intrepid reporter, Kat Archer, becomes one of psychic matchmaker Ashley Byrd’s clients.

Elisabeth Crabtree is the author of Two Dead Love Birds (A Hatter’s Cove Gazette Mystery Book 4), one of the 25 killer cozies in this limited-edition bundle.


Elisabeth, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

EC: I’m an avid mystery fan. I love mystery books, tv-shows, movies, and games. If it has a mystery in it, I’m happy. I especially like ones that include some romance as well.

Was there a certain time in your life you knew you wanted to write?

EC: I started writing in high school but the publishing process seemed daunting and I was rather busy preparing for college so I set it aside. It wasn’t until 2011 that I discovered Amazon publishing and decided to give writing another try. I wrote both Deadly Magic and Deadly Reunion in two years and published both at the end of 2012.

What are you currently working on?

EC: I’m working on my seventh Grace Holliday Cozy Mystery. She and Kyle were married in the last book and will be on their honeymoon in the next one.

Of the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?

EC: It’s really hard to pick a favorite. I really enjoyed writing Bad Kitty. That one has Kat investigating a murder at Canary Island while taking part in a cat competition with the Gazette’s office cat, Rooster. This was the first book in the Hatter’s Cove Gazette series that featured Rooster so it was a lot of fun to write. Another favorite of mine is Murder Games. I just love mystery games and mysteries that take place in old creepy houses. In that one Kyle and Grace go to a Victorian mansion on New Year’s to take part in a murder mystery weekend event. They get snowed in with a real murderer on the loose.

What books have most influenced you as a writer?

EC: I love Agatha Christie and all of her mysteries. I grew up reading her books and have enjoyed every one of them.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing? And the most rewarding?

EC: The most challenging part is finding time to write. I have a day job and a family so I struggle finding time to write. The most rewarding part are the fans. I really enjoy reading their messages and reviews.

What book is on your nightstand?

EC: The Bible.

What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

EC: More Hatter’s Cove and Grace Holliday mysteries. The next Grace Holliday will be out late 2016 or early 2017. I may go straight into another Grace Holliday book after that or I might start a Hatter’s Cove book. I haven’t decided yet.

Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers?

EC: I love hearing from my readers. It brings me such joy and I want to thank all of them for reading my stories.

25 Mysteries to Die For is due out on 27th December and is priced at just 99¢ – get it NOW on preorder  at http://bit.ly/25Mysteries

AUTHOR LINKS

Website www.madlovepress.com

Facebook (author page) https://www.facebook.com/Elisabeth-Crabtree-Cozy-Mystery-Books-250993705085111

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elisabeth Crabtree is the author of the Grace Holliday Cozy Mystery Series and the Hatter’s Cove Mystery Series. As a life-long mystery fan, Elisabeth enjoys writing light, comedic mysteries with a touch of romance.

 


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Meet the author: Geraldine Evans, featured in #25KillerCozies

>>>25 Mysteries to Die For: Get 25 Killer Cozies for only 99 cents!<<<

Jasper Moon, a seer who failed to foretell his own murder, involves DI Joe Rafferty in a tangled web of deceit.

Geraldine Evans is the author of Death Line: Rafferty & Llewellyn Book 3, one of the 25 killer cozies in this limited-edition bundle.


Geraldine, thank you for stopping by Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

GE: My name is Geraldine Evans, and I’m a British writer. I’ve been published traditionally, off and on, since 1991 (Hale, Macmillan, Severn House, St Martin’s Press and Worldwide (US), which means I’m an author of a certain vintage!

 My main detective is DI Joe Rafferty, who comes from a family who think – if they must have a copper in their midst – he might at least have the decency to be a bent one. So there’s a fair bit of humour in them given Rafferty’s recent promotion, his sidekick, a moralistic Welshman, who thinks the law should apply to everyone—including the mothers of detective inspectors. Then there’s the rest of his family, who mostly don’t see eye-to-eye with him regarding the letter of the law. All complicated by murder.

 Was there a certain time in your life you knew you wanted to write?

GE: When I was young, I thought people like me didn’t become writers – working-class, council house raised, blah, blah – so it wasn’t till I’d got this thinking out of my system, around my mid-twenties, that I made my first tentative attempts to be a writer. I say tentative, because I never actually finished anything. It took hitting the milestone age of thirty to achieve that—and then I went for broke. I wrote a novel each year for six years (fitted around the day job). The final one of the six was accepted by Hale in 1991. That was a romance.

 But then they rejected my follow-up. I don’t know how you’d have felt, but I was all for murdering someone! So I did. I created Dead Before Morning, #1 in my almost eighteen-strong Rafferty & Llewellyn Mystery Series. It was accepted in 1993, on only its second slush pile outing, by Macmillan.

 What are you currently working on?

 GE: Number 18 of my Rafferty series, which has been a bit of a stop/start effort, as I’ve had to keep putting it aside for marketing and all the work that involves. Then, I really must do what I promised one of my readers, and get on and write #3 in my Casey & Catt Mystery series. I’ve rather let this one languish on the vine, and I shouldn’t. I would also like to write a second biographical historical novel. My first, Reluctant Queen, was about the infamous Henry VIII’s little sister, Mary Rose. It’s taken me a while to find somebody who isn’t written about by everyone.

 Of the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?

 GE: Of the mystery novels, I’ve several favourites: Dying For You #6 Rafferty—where my DI becomes chief suspect in his own murder inquiry. Death Line #4 Rafferty, wherein there was a nifty bit of footwork on my part—especially as I’ve only a tentative grasp of arithmetic. And Blood on the Bones #9 Rafferty, when my hero is unwillingly reacquainted with Catholicism.

My bio historical, Reluctant Queen. I love the Tudor period, but so many of the characters from that era have been done to death (literally, in plenty of cases). So I knew, when I learned a little more about Mary Rose, I was sure I had the Tudor that fitted my bill—not done to death, and a sufficiently interesting life to encourage the masses of research required.

What books have most influenced you as a writer?

 GE: On the mystery side, it would have to be Cynthia Harrod Eagles, Reginald Hill, and Ruth Dudley-Edwards. Harrod Eagles is a fabulously witty writer, and her Atherton is the perfect foil for her main character, Bill Sider. Reginald Hill is also a very witty writer, and in his Andy Dalziel has created a nigh-on perfect character. And Ruth Dudley-Edwards with her Baroness Troutbeck character, has created a divine flouter of rules. I do like a good flout! It’s why I wrote both my mystery series.

 Sharon Penman is my all-time-favourite as an author of historicals: the history, the characters, the dialogue—all brilliant. Jean Plaidy was the writer who introduced me to history, and from whom I learned my love of both historical fiction and non-fiction. She was a prolific writer, covered everyone who was anyone, so I’d like to pay a tribute to her, too.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing? And the most rewarding?

GE: The most challenging is everything but the writing! The emails. Oh the emails. If I have to leave them for a day I’m swamped with 200-300 of the blessed things, and it takes me a several days (and then some) to plough through them. Meanwhile, the new mail is piling up.

 The marketing, which is another relentless time grab. Sometimes, I don’t know how I manage to do any writing at all. You’ll laugh (or perhaps not if you’re a Rafferty fan, eagerly awaiting my next opus), but I’ve been trying to write #18 Rafferty since January, and I haven’t even got a tricky plot hole as an excuse. How other authors write a book every month, I can’t imagine. I like to write amusing dialogue, and you need to hit on just the right combination of words, and they’ve got to be the perfect words, in the perfect order, no stand-ins will do. The trouble is, it can take days, sometimes, before you can get hold of those words which slide away the second you reach for them. Definitely on the challenging side of the equation.

 The most rewarding is obviously the writing—when I can get at it. I’ve mostly been a seat-of-pants writer, though nowadays I generally write a brief plot plan, if only to lessen the snags, pitfalls and rewriting. That said, there’s nothing so satisfying as writing yourself out of a plot hole as a pantser. I go around with a grin for days. Or if I hit upon a nifty bit of dialogue by-play and manage to seize hold of it immediately.

 What book is on your nightstand?

 GE: I’m currently reading The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman (for about the fourth time—love that book). It’s about the Plantagenet’s, Edward IV and Richard III, all their friends and enemies (sometimes one and the same), and the Wars of the Roses.

On the mystery side, I’ve so many awaiting my attention that I hardly know where to start. But I will. Janet Evanovich’s latest. Love her Stephanie Plum. Then there’s Harrod-Eagles. I mostly read on my Kindle now, or my Fire, and I have an in-built resistance to paying over the odds for digital books. But I invariably give in on my favourites.

What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

GE: The #18 Rafferty that I mentioned earlier (other things being equal). The second historical (ditto), and the #3 Casey & Catt (I do hate to be repetitive, but ditto again).

Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers?

GE: One thing that I’d like to make clear–I started to write my Rafferty & Llewellyn series in 1991/2, after I received an unexpected rejection from Hale, and it was published by Macmillan in 1993. So when Lewis, the off-shoot from Morse, began, my series was already in its second decade and more. So when readers/reviewers compare the two, they should say that the Lewis series reminds them of my Rafferty, not the other way round. It might sound picky, but us writers are sensitive souls. Each time I get a comment like that in the reviews it’s like a dart to my heart. I feel like writing a comment to that effect beneath the review. So far I’ve resisted the temptation, but oh, my poor, holey heart.

 That said, I love my readers. Even with the dart-to-heart remarks, they mostly say lovely things, and help me resist the urge mentioned above.

 I know how difficult it is to compose reviews—I’ve written a few myself, so am familiar with the angst involved. I think it’s awesome when they take the trouble. Why would they bother? Why not just move on to the next book? I don’t know—but it’s serious Wow! factor time when they do. So—thank you. It’s very humbling and, at the same time, very elevating. I’m floating on air when another reader says they love my characters. Because I do, too.

25 Mysteries to Die For is due out on 27th December and is priced at just 99¢ – get it NOW on preorder  at http://bit.ly/25Mysteries

AUTHOR LINKS

Website/Blog: http://geraldineevansbooks.wordpress.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@gerrieevans

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Geraldine.Evans.Cime.Author/

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

geraldine-evans-author-pic

Geraldine Evans is a multi-published mystery author who has had eighteen novels traditionally published. Her publishers include Macmillan and St Martin’s Press. But in 2010, she made the momentous decision to turn indie. Since then, she has published all of her backlist in digital format, including her Rafferty & Llewellyn and Casey & Catt detective series, as well as creating new, original to kindle works. Geraldine also writes biographical historical novels.

Although originally a Londoner, she now lives in an old market town in Norfolk, England, where she moved with George, her late husband, in 2000.

 


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Meet the author: Colleen Cross, featured in #25KillerCozies

>>>25 Mysteries to Die For: Get 25 Killer Cozies for only 99 cents!<<<

Helping an ex-con could prove deadly, and accidental death pays double!

Colleen Cross is the author of Blue Moon: a Katerina Carter Color of Money Mystery, one of the 25 killer cozies in this limited-edition bundle.


Colleen, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

 CC: First of all, thank you for having me…it’s very nice to be here. I live in Vancouver, on Canada’s southwest coast.  I’m a writer and a runner, a cat and dog fanatic (though my dog likes cats a little too much, lol), a traveller turned homebody (my life revolves around my dog), and a lover of all things nature and the great outdoors. We go to the beach and hike a lot, and then I come home to write. And naturally, I’m a bookworm. I read mostly mysteries, thrillers, and lots of nonfiction.

 I am a graphic artist turned accountant turned writer. I have always been writing though, so I suppose I have finally come full circle to my true calling.

 Was there a certain time in your life you knew you wanted to write?

CC: I’ve always written stories in my head and began writing (and illustrating) them soon after I learned how to write. In fact, the treehouse I imagined as a child lives on as Cendrine’s home in my Westwick Witches Cozy Mysteries series.  I never dreamed I could write for my day job though. It’s a dream come true!  When I was a kid I read everything I could get my hands on, so it was only natural that would go the DIY route and write my own stories! Back then, they tended towards fantasy.

 What are you currently working on? 

 CC: I’m currently working on the third book in my Westwick Witches Cozy Mysteries series, Witch and Famous. It’s 100% cozy mystery with sprinkles of humour and fantasy. It’s so much fun to write that it often feels like my characters are coming up with their own lines, and sometimes they are rather cheeky! Since witches are magic, I get to make even more stuff up than usual!

 I tend to do ten million things at once, so don’t be surprised if I come up with a completely new series or two while I’m working with the Westwick Witches. In fact, as I’m writing this I just thought up a brand new series! It’s a secret for now…

 Of the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?

 CC: My favourite changes constantly because it’s always the book I’m currently writing. My very first book, Exit Strategy, will always be special to me of course. I’ve got books 4 and 5 in that series outlined and ready to write. I just need to find time to write them!

 What books have most influenced you as a writer?

 There are so many books that I don’t know where to start. As a kid, I loved Nancy Drew. I also loved Russian classics but also Edgar Allen Poe. Most of all, though, I loved Black Beauty. That got me started reading all things horses, which was how I discovered My Friend Flicka and Mary O’Hara’s other books. I wrote to her (back then it was snail mail) and was so thrilled to get a reply from her!  Then I was in love with all things horses, even though I had never ridden one, and read every horse book I could find. Then it was every book about dogs…and I guess you can see why I usually have 2-3 books on the go at any given time. Cozy mysteries are always at the very top of my list along with psychological thrillers (as long as they aren’t too scary).

As an adult, my influences are more from writers like Lisa Scottoline, Kathy Reichs, and Tess Gerritsen, all great mystery / thriller writers. But it was those early reads that really got me hooked on reading, which in turn got me started writing in the first place. Great books in any genre transport us to a different world and give us different perspectives, and there are so many more I want to discover. I learn something from every book I read. I hope that never changes.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing? And the most rewarding?

 CC: The most challenging part for me is staying with my original story outline. I find that as the story develops some of the characters take over, so to speak, and take the plot in directions I never expected. As much as I try, I’ll never be a straight plotter. But that has its own rewards, since it often keeps the story fresh and provides me with surprise twist endings!

 The most rewarding part is feedback from readers. I’m alone in my head with my characters until the book is published, so it’s always nice to know that readers enjoy my stories. Knowing that I kept someone guessing, made them laugh out loud, or otherwise entertained them and forget their worries is the greatest reward of all.

What book is on your nightstand?

 CC: I have a couple at the moment: The Secret Place, by Tana French, and The Casual Vacancy, by J. K. Rowling.

What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

CC: Witch and Famous, the third book in the Westwick Witches Cozy Mysteries series, will be published in early 2017. I’ve got more books planned in all of my series, which run the gamut from cozy mysteries to crime thrillers. My absolute favourite to both read and write is cozy mysteries, though. I gravitate towards cozies whenever there is lots of bad news in the world. I like to inject a little humour into my stories, even into my thrillers, which are suspenseful but not dark.

 Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers?

 CC: Just that I’m happy to know you’re out there, that there are readers out there who “get” me and my quirky family of characters! I’m so grateful to be doing what I do for a living, and thank you for your reviews, feedback and support. I always love to hear from readers.

25 Mysteries to Die For is due out on 27th December and is priced at just 99¢ – get it NOW on preorder  at http://bit.ly/25Mysteries

 AUTHOR LINKS

Website: http://www.colleencross.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/colleenxcross


 

ABOUT THE AUTHORColleen Cross writes page-turning thrillers and fun, cozy mysteries. She lives with her family on the West Coast. When she’s not writing, she loves to run, hike, and explore with her rescue dog Jaeger, who reminds her daily that life’s too short to not follow your dreams–or a squirrel or two.

colleen-cross-author-pic

Her books have been translated into multiple languages with more to come.

Visit her website at http://www.colleencross.com and sign up for her twice-yearly private newsletter to hear about new releases and exclusive subscriber-only offers.


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Meet the author: Anna Celeste Burke, featured in #25KillerCozies

>>>25 Mysteries to Die For: Get 25 Killer Cozies for only 99 cents!<<<

Kim and Brien’s most excellent honeymoon adventure gets gnarly when murder and mayhem arrive along with an unwelcome visitor on New Year’s Eve.

Anna Celeste Burke is the author of Gnarly New Year, one of the 25 killer cozies in this limited-edition bundle.


Anna, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

ACB: I’m a retired professor living out in the California desert not too far from Palm Springs. I took up writing fiction when I retired several years ago. Before that I had a lot of different life experiences—good and bad—that have influenced my writing. I was a University Professor and Associate Dean for Research when I retired. At other times, I worked as an organizational consultant, a therapist, a chef, a caterer, an Avon sales person, an assistant in a genetics lab, as well as a variety of odd[er] jobs. I enjoy hiking, music, and old movies—especially film noir. My life got off to a bumpy start, so I’m forever grateful for second chances.

Was there a certain time in your life you knew you wanted to write?

ACB: I read like a fiend when I was a child. Like many children, I made up stories—I especially enjoyed creating alternative endings for my favorite books. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered that I had to write. My second or third year of graduate school, on my way to becoming a professor, I began to feel the pressure to publish. When they say publish or perish in the academic world, they mean it. It’s hard to get and keep a job if you don’t write. The “stories” I wrote then were all about using science to understand mysteries behind poverty, mental illness, or crime.

What are you currently working on?

CB: The 4th novella in the Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery Series: A Merry Marvelous Marley World Wedding for release in December. A Christmas wedding is in the works! When a bride goes missing, a cast of unusual suspects make it difficult to figure out whodunit and why. I’m also hoping to finish the 4th book in the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery Series, A Dead Mother.

Of the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?

ACB: I don’t know if I have a favorite, but I’m always delighted when I finish a new book. Right now, that’s the latest book in my Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery Series: A Merry Marvelous Marley World Wedding. It’s my “new baby” so it’s special. There will also always be a special place in my heart for the first fiction book I wrote—book one in the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series, A Dead Husband.

What books have most influenced you as a writer?

ACB: A ton of mysteries, most of them what we now regard as cozy. When I first read Agatha Christie’s books, for example, I just called them mysteries. I love reading mystery series. I enjoy encountering the same sleuth confronted by very different mysteries to solve. I’m partial to women sleuths who are accidental or amateur sleuths. There are so many in addition to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple that I could never list them all. I enjoy books with female sleuths ranging from cozy to hard-boiled.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing? And the most rewarding?

ACB: The creative part of writing is the most enjoyable aspect of what I do as an author. Making stuff up is fun. The research required to write a book is sometimes challenging but also rewarding. I always learn something new with every book I write.

Character development and plotting are two components of storytelling that matter a great deal to me. Writing a series is particularly appealing because it provides a much longer “character arc”—a longer time frame in which to explore a sleuth’s character and in which it can grow and change.

Getting the sleuth into trouble and writing her out of it is another challenging and rewarding element of storytelling. There are delightful surprises that come about while writing, especially when characters interact. Editing is far less satisfying than creating that first draft, but essential, of course. It’s amazing how much you get wrong while writing. Marketing is probably my least favorite part of the writing process. Without it, though, no one knows your book exists. So, it’s every bit as important as the creative process and editing.

What book is on your nightstand?

ACB: I have a ton of books on my Kindle. Several mysteries & thrillers are waiting in the queue to be read. Books by David Baldacci, James Rollins, and the latest book by Sue Grafton, “X.”

What’s Sue Grafton going to do after she gets to the end of the alphabet? I hope she goes on to hexadecimal or something, but she might be tired of Kinsey after all this time. What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

ACB: Once I finish the 4th mystery in the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series, A Dead Mother, I have the 5th book in the queue to write: A Dead Cousin. After that, there will be two Corsario Cove Cozy mystery novellas and another Georgie Shaw mystery that will take place on a cruise ship. The tentative title is MMW Fantasy at Sea.

Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers?

ACB: I’d just like to say thank you again for the support from sites like this one that help those of us who enjoy cozy mysteries find out about new authors and new series. I’d also like to convey how much I enjoy engaging readers. It’s so interesting to hear others’ take on the topics that show up in my books or hover in the background as I write. The energy from that give and take keeps me going when I’m trying to juggle the demands of writing and publishing.

25 Mysteries to Die For is due out on 27th December and is priced at just 99¢ – get it NOW on preorder  at http://bit.ly/25Mysteries

 

AUTHOR LINKS

Website link http://www.desertcitiesmystery.com

Facebook Link (author page) https://www.facebook.com/annacelesteburke

Twitter Link https://twitter.com/aburke59


 

ABOUT THE AUTHORanna-celeste-burke-author-pic

Anna Celeste Burke is an award-winning and bestselling author who enjoys snooping into life’s mysteries with fun, fiction, & food—California style! Her books include the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series set in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, the Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery series set on California’s Central Coast, and The Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery series set in Orange County, California–the OC. Coming soon: The Misadventures of Betsy Stark that take place in the Coachella Valley. Find out more at http://www.desertcitiesmystery.com.

 


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Meet the author: Carolyn Dean, featured in #25KillerCozies

>>>25 Mysteries to Die For: Get 25 Killer Cozies for only 99 cents!<<<

Amanda Graham inherited a rundown bed and breakfast, a starving cat, and some dead guy who’s buried in her garden…

Carolyn Dean is the author of Bed, Breakfast, & Bones: A Ravenwood Cove Mystery, one of the 25 killer cozies in this limited-edition bundle.


 

Carolyn, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

CD: I’ve been an author for two years now, and am loving writing cozy mysteries!  I’ve written romance and nonfiction, but it has been so much fun to create an imaginary town where I’d want to live. I have a weakness for happy endings and oddball characters, so to discover that cozies are the sort of book I like to write has been amazing.

Was there a certain time in your life you knew you wanted to write?

CD: I’ve known I wanted to write since grade school.  I distinctly remember coming home and announcing this to my Mom, who wasn’t terribly surprised.  I’d been telling stories around the dinner table since I could talk.  Yeah, I was that introverted kid who sometimes lived in a make-believe world and entertained herself at bedtime by making up entire plots of books, just to stay awake.

What are you currently working on?

CD: The third book in my Ravenwood Cove is due out in December, and has a Christmas theme. That means I was listening to Christmas carols before Halloween!  I love the holidays, but I think I’m going to be really sick of Christmas music by Christmas Day.

Of the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?

CD: The first book, Bed, Breakfast, and Bones, is hands down my favorite.  When I was writing it felt like the characters were introducing themselves to me, opening up their secrets, and showing me where I could tell more of their story in the upcoming books.  I’ve been able to tuck in little bits of my own experiences and thoughts, and it’s been really fun to hear the positive feedback I get from readers when they discover things in the story. I feel like I could sit down for a coffee with any of the characters from Ravenwood Cove, and enjoy a nice chat J

What books have most influenced you as a writer?

CD: This is going to sound like a cop out, but I have to say ALL of them.  I read everything from Ray Bradbury to Richard Brautigan to Agatha Christie.  Mix all that input with a ton of nonfiction reading and it makes for a very eclectic collection.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing? And the most rewarding?

CD: I get up at 5 AM every weekday (and sometimes Saturdays) to write.  Dragging my backside out of a warm, comfy bed to try to be brilliant in front of laptop is an exercise in futility some mornings…

The most rewarding thing so far has been getting a chance to talk to the people who love cozy mysteries as much as I do!  They are a warm, fun bunch of people, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them on Facebook.

5am? That’s a pretty aspirational writing schedule. Maybe that will be one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2017. What about filling the creative tank? What book is on your nightstand right now?

CD: Jan Karon’s “Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good” in hardback, a paperback in The Cat Who series, and about a zillion cozy mysteries loaded on my phone.  Hubby has to pry my phone away from me some nights so I’ll get some sleep.

I have not yet read The Cat Who series but it’s on my TBR. What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

CD: Oh, I have lots more adventure and people to write about in Ravenwood Cove!  Maybe someday I’ll be introducing some clean romances that are set in the same area, too.  Who doesn’t love a little romance at the beach?

Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers?

CD: I would like to tell them how grateful I am for them taking a chance on a newer author, and reading my books.  I’ve been absolutely bowled over by how warm and welcoming they’ve been, and it encourages me to keep writing what the sort of book that I love to read!  Seriously, I think I have the best readers on the planet.

25 Mysteries to Die For is due out on 27th December and is priced at just 99¢ – get it NOW on preorder  at http://bit.ly/25Mysteries

AUTHOR LINKS

Website link  www.carolyndeanbooks.com

Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/CarolynDeanBooks/

Twitter Link  @CarolynDeanBks


 

ABOUT THE AUTHORcarolyn-l-dean-author-pic

I’ve been writing and making stories in my head as early as I can remember. In third grade I came home, set my lunchbox down, and told my mother I wanted to be a writer. Luckily, Mom was supportive.

I’ve been a published author for a while now, under different names and genres, but the thought of writing about a small coastal town in Oregon, and about its loves and mysteries and holidays and people has been with me for years. To be honest, I am a bit scared to dump those ideas onto the written page, but hope you’ll enjoy getting to meet the people who inhabit my imagination.

In real life, I’m married with kids, live on the West Coast of the US, and own a hobby farm just outside of my favorite small town. I love to travel, and can often be found strolling down a windy Oregon beach, holding onto the string of a high-sailing dragon kite.

 


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