A 92-Year-Old Woman Just Earned Her Fourth College Degree

“Only the strong survive,” she was quoted as saying.

from Mental Floss http://bit.ly/2KqxR0v

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A New Nosy Parkers Mystery: The Case of the Clobbered Cad by Debra E. Marvin

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Inspired by the famous Girl Detective, the members of the Olentangy Heights Girls’ Detective Society, affectionately known as the Nosy Parkers, spent their formative years studying criminology, codes, and capers. Unfortunately, opportunities to put their unique skills to work were thin on the ground in the post-war boom of their little corner of suburbia and they eventually grew up to pursue more sensible careers. Until…Heather Munro’s youthful devotion to The Girl Detective led to a passion for digging around in history. Now pursuing her Master’s Degree in Celtic Studies, Heather must balance exploring Edinburgh with her determination to excel in her all–male classes at the University. Unfortunately, on her first night working in the Archives room, she discovers the dead body of a visiting professor, the same would-be lothario she’d hoped never to see again.

As clues come to light, it’s clear someone hopes to frame Heather for the murder. Besides her quirky landlady, whom can she trust? How can she clear her name? The police and the American Consul have plenty of suspects, but only two seem to have both motive and opportunity: Heather and the quiet Scottish historian she longs to trust.

Guest Post: When Setting Becomes a Character

When we sit down to read, we have two settings vying for our attention. When I’m not tired or stressed, I can read in a noisy room—as long as the story has sucked me in. What about you? Do you need the quiet corner of your favorite couch or can you sink into that novel while riding on the bus?

What really counts is the setting we step into, inside those pages!

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I’ve always preferred historical settings because they take me just that much farther away from real life! That fictional setting needs to be compelling whether it’s a place as distant as a mystical new planet or the corner coffee shop you’ve visited just last week. When authors provide what we call a ‘telling detail’, they’ve provided an anchor into that world—the scent of a man’s cologne or a horse barn, the sound of children playing or a four-in-hand carriage rolling down a cobbled street—details that should overcome what’s around us to draw us in.

In The Case of the Clobbered Cad, we hear bits of Scottish dialect, Benny Goodman and the drone of bagpipes. We smell fresh scones, bus exhaust and musty old books. But setting also tells us about the characters. My heroine Heather couldn’t get enough of the old structures of an old city and her reactions differed immensely to those who lived there. That was easy to do. I had the opportunity to visit Edinburgh and walk those streets in just the same way as my awe-struck heroine. I heard the chatter, rode the bus past centuries-old statues and watched rain and big blue skies change the lighting along the Royal Mile. I smelled wet wool, hot tea and spilled ale. While I can’t guarantee you’ll be immersed in my setting as much as I was, I hope you’ll enjoy a ‘taste’ of Edinburgh found my amateur sleuth tale.

I’m not saying every book must have an awe-inspiring setting, because it’s the characters and their challenges that keep us turning the pages. But don’t you love when that setting pulls you that much deeper into that story?

What book settings have you enjoyed enough that you made a point to visit? What ‘telling detail’ do you recall from something you read that made you stop and sigh? Have you ever picked up a book to read just because of the setting?

Thank you for letting me be your guest today! I’m looking forward to chatting about settings with readers!

Readers, when has a setting in a book made an impression on you?

About the Author

Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and serves on the board of Bridges Ministry in Seneca Falls, NY. She is published with WhiteFire Publishing, Forget Me Not Romances, and contracted with Journey Fiction, and a judge for the Grace Awards for many years. Debra works as a program assistant at Cornell University, and enjoys her family and grandchildren, obsessively buying fabric, watching British programming and traveling with her childhood friends.

Twitter |Facebook | Website | Pinterest | Amazon Author Page | Instagram |  B&N | kobo

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New College Town Cozy Series: Gone with the Wings, a Meera Patel Mystery

Author Leena Clover announces a brand new cozy mystery series set in a small Oklahoma college town. Mystery readers will enjoy this culinary cozy murder mystery featuring plenty of yummy recipes like Masala Fried Chicken and Shish Kabob Blue Plate Special.
Meera Patel is back home with the family after she dropped out of graduate school. Now she shelves books for a living and rustles up fusion recipes at Sylvie’s Cafe & Diner. Everything is fine until her old nemesis Prudence Walker floats up in the local pond. Meera is accused of murder! Well, she did publicly declare Prudence would drop dead.Meera cries foul and screams police harassment. But she has no defense when she is accused of a second crime. Flanked by pals Tony and Becky, Meera puts in the leg work, trying to solve clues and discard red herrings.Fall in Oklahoma has never been more exciting.Cozy mystery fans will love this new mystery series featuring an Asian American amateur sleuth. There is a full cast of characters with a professor father, young sibling, old grandparents, loyal friends and a candid glimpse into South Asian culture.

Character Interview: Meera Patel

Meera, welcome to Island Confidential. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

I’m Meera Patel, a 20 something girl from Swan Creek, Oklahoma. My father loves to think I’m some kind of prodigy. I think he expects me to be one. But I love cooking more than hacking computer networks which I’m good at. Really good at. No one really knows why I dropped out of graduate school just a few credits shy of getting my degree. I packed my bags one fine day, bid California goodbye and came back home to Swan Creek. A certain blue eyed guy might have something to do with it. But no one’s guessed it yet. So let’s keep it between us for now.

Who’s the Gone With the Wings character you get along with the best?

That’s a toss-up between Tony and Becky. We’ve been together since first grade. But there’s some things I talk to Becky about that I can’t share with Tony. He’s a guy, after all.

Is there anyone you don’t get along with so well? 

Pappa, my grandpa, is always on my case, I don’t know why. He refers to me as ‘that girl’ all the time, never calls me sweetie or baby like my Motee Ba. He’s just a cranky old man, I guess. Or he just likes ordering everyone around. Colonial hangover!

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

I think she’s done a fair job so far. She’s kept my secrets. She lets something slip once in a while, but thankfully, it’s been vague enough that most people haven’t caught on. She keeps wanting to talk about my mother though. And my future. What’s the rush, I don’t get it. I’m happy frying chicken at Sylvie’s, for now. Maybe I won’t be doing it two years later. But I’m in no hurry to get there.

What’s next for you?

Have you joined forces with my Dad? That’s all he asks me every few days. He wants me to get on with my life, do something spectacular. But what? Isn’t that the million dollar question?

I’m having a good time back here in Swan Creek. Rustling up new recipes for Sylvie’s Café is rewarding. And then I spend all my free time with my pals. I think I might have to go back to school soon. Maybe even teach a few classes. Or I might become a full fledged PI. Yeah, that’ll be the day. Meera Patel, Private Investigator instead of Dr. Meera Patel, Professor.

Que Sera Sera, right? What do you think is in store for me?

About the Author

Leena Clover is the author of the brand new Meera Patel Cozy Mystery Series, starring a 20 something Desi girl as the protagonist. The series is set in a small Oklahoma college town Meera calls home.

Leena Clover offers plenty of clues for her readers so that they can solve the mystery as they read along. Readers can expect a unique look into Indian/ South Asian culture and plenty of yummy recipes.Author Links

Twitter – http://twitter.com/leenaclover

Facebook – http://facebook.com/meerapatelcozymystery

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16918791.Leena_Clover

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‘Ulysses’ VR Game Developed in Boston, Showcased in Ireland

A virtual reality game developed by college students in Boston and based on James Joyce’s “Ulysses” is being showcased in Dublin as the Irish capital holds its annual celebration of the author and novel.

Read more at the NYT:  http://nyti.ms/2ss3Yrq

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The Coloring Book I Wish I’d Published

Julie Schumacher found plenty of fodder for her career detour into adult coloring books from two decades teaching at the University of Minnesota, which has its own therapy animals for stressed-out students to pet.

With simple line drawings by illustrator Lauren Nassef, “Doodling for Academics” (The University of Chicago Press) pokes fun at the college world the professor of English and creative writing last skewered in her 2014 satire, “Dear Committee Members.” [Which I highly recommend–Frankie]

Read the rest at the NYT 

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“One of the few men in musical history who have ever squeezed big money out of an accordion”

By RICHARD SANDOMIRDick Contino, whose energetic accordion playing and movie-star looks made him a teenage star in the late 1940s, but whose celebrity ebbed after he was imprisoned for evading induction into the draft, died on April 19 in Fresno, Calif. He was 87.His wife, Judy, confirmed his death.

For a time, Mr. Contino was a show business rarity: a heartthrob accordionist who earned up to $4,000 a week in nightclubs.

“Dick Contino is one of the few men in musical history who have ever squeezed big money out of an accordion,” Time magazine wrote in 1951.

Read the whole thing: NYT Arts http://nyti.ms/2pykvrV

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New academic mystery, #Review, and character interview: The Art of Vanishing


I’m always on the lookout for a good campus mystery, and was delighted to discover Cynthia Kuhn. She obviously knows academia, and writes about it in an entertaining and accessible way. The Art of Vanishing is a light, fun, cozy, but Kuhn has built an impressive and convincing world complete with undiscovered mystery authors and egotistical literary legends. In fact, I spent quite a few minutes searching online for a certain early-20th-century writer, only to discover Kuhn had made her up. Highly recommended!

When Professor Lila Maclean is sent to interview celebrated author and notorious cad Damon Von Tussel, he disappears before her very eyes. The English department is thrown into chaos by the news, as Damon is supposed to headline Stonedale University’s upcoming Arts Week.

The chancellor makes it clear that he expects Lila to locate the writer and set events back on track immediately. But someone appears to have a different plan: strange warnings are received, valuable items go missing, and a series of dangerous incidents threaten the lives of Stonedale’s guests. After her beloved mother, who happens to be Damon’s ex, rushes onto campus and into harm’s way, Lila has even more reason to bring the culprit to light before anything—or anyone—else vanishes.

Professor Maclean, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

LM: Hello! I’m Lila Maclean, an English professor at Stonedale University. It’s my first year here, and I’m trying to fit in.  But— just between us—it’s been a challenge.

Being the new kid is hard–do you have any supportive coworkers? 

LM: My cousin Calista—we grew up together. Never imagined back then that we’d be colleagues in the same department! Adore her.

Is there anyone on campus you don’t get along with so well?

LM: The chancellor. Let’s just say that he is very concerned with people doing whatever he wants whenever he wants it, and I’m not quite as committed to that objective.

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

LM: She sure does like to type!

What’s next for you?

Make it through the semester. Rumor has it that there are more mysteries to be solved at the university. I’m not surprised—Stonedale seems to be full of secrets!

About The Author  

Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean academic mystery series. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Literary Mama, Copper Nickel, Prick of the Spindle, Mama PhD and other publications. She teaches English at Metropolitan State University of Denver and serves as president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado. Visit her at cynthiakuhn.net or @cynthiakuhn.

Author Links

Amazon | B&N  | iTunes | Kobo | Website |Blog | Facebook | Twitter

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The Blessed Event is on Kindle Monthly Deals. Only 99 cents in March!

“You may wonder what my least-favorite student was doing in my living room. In a twist of fate that might seem hilarious if it happened to someone else, he was now my stepson.”

Professor Molly Barda is looking forward to a quiet summer in Mahina, Hawaii working on her research and adjusting to married life. But when a visit from her new husband’s relatives coincides with a murder, Molly wonders what she’s married into–and realizes she might have a killer under her roof.


If you like Dorothy Parker, Sarah Caudwell, P.G. Wodehouse, or E.F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia stories, or are in the mood for a murder in Hawaii, you’ll enjoy this tale of passion, pilferage, and petty politics in the middle of the Pacific.

99 cents on Kindle

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New Sketch in Crime mystery: The Drawing Game

>>Enter to win a print set of the Sketch in Crime Mysteries (U.S. Only)<<<
A lover of all things green, CeCe Prentice is not impressed when a fully-sustainable development, Green Acres, pops up next to her family’s homestead. It’s not so much the ridiculous price tag of the million dollar homes built entirely from re-usable materials and powered by the sun, but rather the new neighbors who think they can simply buy a green lifestyle.
To make matters worse, one homeowner turns out to be CeCe’s high school nemesis, Phoebe Purcell, a hair-tossing vamp who tried to break up CeCe and her long-time boyfriend, Charlie.
Already disillusioned by the so-called eco-friendly development, CeCe’s family home is threatened when a series of power-outages at Green Acres kicks off a rash of home invasions. When neighbors start showing up dead, the mood at Green Acres turns south. But when Charlie, CeCe’s on-again, off-again love interest is implicated in the murders, CeCe springs into action when she discovers the only clue – a portrait she painted years ago.

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

Deirdre Verne: CeCe Prentice is a Freegan, otherwise known as a Dumpster-diver. She is an expert on scavenging furniture, clothing and anything else she needs. She’d much rather repurpose an old item than purchase something new. Her resourcefulness is one of her best qualities!

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

DV: I’m an awful lot like CeCe Prentice. I adore all things vintage and I have a houseful of items I’ve either scavenged or found at garage sales. I would love to meet CeCe for a day of scavenging road-side furniture. My latest project includes spray painting a pair of old figure skates shiny pink and adding red laces. They will be hanging on my front door next holiday season.

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

DV: There’s something nice about returning to a series and jumping back into a character you’ve come to love. On the other hand, it can get boring. I like to put my characters in challenging situations to uncover something new about their personality. For example, CeCe has surrounded herself with Freegan friends which is very safe for her. By introducing a love-interest who questions her beliefs, she has to see things from a different perspective. She is proving to be more open than I expected.

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

DV: I’m sure I’m not the first writer to take out my frustrations on paper. It happens to be great therapy. That being said, I’ve never directly created a character based on a real-life person. However, I have definitely used qualities of people I don’t like in characters that ultimately meet their demise. I have also used names of people I dislike and then changed the names before publication.

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

DV: My books take place on the North Shore of Long Island. I grew up on Long Island and although I no longer live there, I try to be as true to my memory as possible. When my memory fails me, I’ll jump in the car and spend a day in the towns I write about which is always great fun. I also use Google maps and paper maps to sketch out scenes and locations.

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

DV: I am a big fan of the TV program Orphan Black so my first choice to play CeCe Prentice would be Tatiana Maslany. She is a phenomenal actress with the perfect combination of strength and vulnerability. I’d like her father to be played by John Lithgow and Meghan Mullally, (Karen from Will and Grace), to play CeCe’s mother. I know that sounds like an odd cast, but this isn’t my area of expertise.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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

DV: The best advice I received was don’t hide. Writers can often be shy and uncomfortable promoting themselves. I would never have been published had I not joined writing groups, attended conferences and reached out for professional critiques of my work.

Worst advice? It hasn’t happened! The wonderful thing about writing is that fellow authors offer great advice. There are so many experienced people in the field who are more than happy to help out.

About The Author  

Deirdre Verne (Scarsdale, NY) is a college professor and an active college blogger. A writer for the millennium crowd, Deirdre’s interest in green living inspired her to create an off-the-grid character who Dumpster dives her way though a suspense-filled mystery series. A member of Sisters in Crime, Deirdre’s short stories appear in all three New York chapter anthologies –Murder New York Style, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices and Family Matters.


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“Many of the purported academic benefits of sports — recruitment, prestige — have all proven to not be true. They don’t exist.”

University of California, Santa Cruz athletes at a drill. Some students want to roll back the fees they pay to support sports teams.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Andy Pinedo likes sports. He just doesn’t want to pay more so other people can play them.

As sophomore at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Pinedo voted “no” last year in a referendum about whether he was willing to hand over another $270 a year to support his school’s Division III teams, above the $1,221 in fees the campus charges now.

Read the rest at The Hechinger Report.


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