A novella a month: How’s my 2017 resolution going?

So far so good!

January: To solve the mystery of a disappearing corpse, Mary-Alice has to endure a visit to the Swamp Bar (where decent ladies don’t go) and battle her vindictive cousin, Mayor Celia Arceneaux. Will her gentle temper and unshakable faith in human nature endure?  

The Vanishing Victim

February: Mary-Alice Arceneaux just got a big surprise for her 70th birthday–a trip to Hawaii, courtesy of young Fortune Morrow. But with bounty hunters on their trail, and family secrets lurking in the unlikeliest of places, the southernmost state has a few more surprises in store.  

Aloha, Y’all

 March: Professor Gwendolyn Jackson’s husband sends her a voice mail from the road, telling her he’ll be home soon. Just one problem…by the time the message was sent, he was already dead. When the police dismiss her concerns, Professor Jackson turns to her former student, Fortune Morrow, for help.  

The Two-Body Problem

 April: Mary-Alice is thrilled to be invited into an investigation into a series of disappearances in Upstate New York. but by the time she arrives at the forbidding Kilmer House where she will spend the night, she realizes she may be in over her head.  Black Widow Valley

Black Widow Valley

 May:  Mahina State’s fundraising office tasks Professor Molly to serve as the personal tutierge (that’s tutor-concierge) to Jeremy Brigham, whose mother happens to be fabulously wealthy and gravely ill. But once inside the Brigham House, the pregnant Professor Molly realizes something is very wrong. Now she has to decide whether to mind her own business, or risk everything to prevent a murder.  

Mother’s Day

June:  When a young woman vanishes from a roadside motel, Mary-Alice and the gang leave Sinful and head across the border to find her. They soon discover that the unprepossessing McCully Inn holds some Texas-sized secrets.  

The No-Tell Motel

July’s novella is Vampire Billionaire of the Bayou.

The Sinful Ladies’ Detective Agency has just scored a cushy gig: Doing surveillance for a businessman who claims business rivals are after his trade secrets. But just as Fortune, Gertie, Ida Belle, and Mary-Alice are deciding how to spend their easy money, the unthinkable happens.

The Sinful Ladies team up with Sheriff Robert E. Lee, who wants to prove he’s not quite ready for the glue factory. Together, they discover that a bizarre death in a haunted plantation house is far from the strangest thing about this case.

In this modern adaptation of the classic tale The Circular Study, the Sinful ladies encounter ghostly rumors, an unspeakable family secret, and a strangely ageless corpse with a cross draped over his chest.

$1.99 on Kindle


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A New Resort to Murder Mystery (with giveaway and author interview): ICED by Avery Daniels

>>> Enter to win a print copy of ICED <<<

Julienne has her ideal job as an event planner at a prestigious resort. During a luncheon event she coordinated, a renowned celebrity pastor is killed next to the buffet. All eyes turn to her as the suspect. If she wants to stay out of jail or even keep her job, Julienne needs all the help she can get to solve the crime.

She has her work cut out for her with a vengeful high school rival now reporter, the public demanding she be fired, plus family who knows what’s best for her, and a boyfriend who doesn’t understand her. She turns to friends and a new ally to uncover who wanted to put the pastor on ice.

Julienne goes undercover and investigates a local swingers group as she follows the trail of clues before they go cold. Can she gather enough suspects and motives to convince the police to widen their investigation? Can she do it before the killer sets his murderous sights on her? Will her personal life ever be as simple as unveiling a murderer?


Interview with Avery Daniels

Avery, welcome to Island Confidential. Can you tell us something about Julienne, the protagonist of Iced?

Julienne LaMere, or Julie for short, lost her mother to Breast Cancer as a young teen. Her father, who made good money and is retired in Florida now, wants to see her married to a well-to-do man and living a country club life and providing grandchildren for him to spoil – not working for a living. Julienne still misses her mother deeply and works at a luxury resort in a management-training program because this is her ticket to live and work around the world. She has wanderlust and doesn’t want to live in just one place, and not just vacation and sightsee exotic locations – but live there. She has many posters and books about resorts everywhere and this is her dream career. The series will follow her to resorts. As for providing grandchildren for her father to spoil, she isn’t inclined towards that either.

How much are you like Julienne? 

I took clarinet lessons as an adult and am nowhere near as good as Julienne who is symphony quality. The townhome complex where Julienne lives is loosely inspired by where I live. Her French heritage is perhaps my wishing I had grown up with more of the French culture from my great-great grandmother who came to America from the Alsace-Lorraine area of France, but sadly didn’t pass down any of the culture or language. I took French in high school and college and in 2010 finally got to travel to Paris for ten days. I was in Notre Dame Cathedral Christmas day and spent an entire day at the Louvre, but only made it through about 65% of the museum.

I think Julienne and I would be friends. She enjoys people, which makes her good at her job. She is a loyal friend, as we find out in this first book in the series.

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

Absolutely. Even in this first book we see Julienne face some issues left from her mother’s passing when she was an impressionable teen and how it has impacted her romantic relationships.

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

It is a joke among mystery authors and considered therapeutic. I am planning on getting the t-shirt that says “I’m a writer. Be careful or I may kill you in my next book.” Yes, such a shirt already exists. But seriously, only after the last bad relationship breakup have I considered it. Friends joke about how they can guess who the victim is in some future book.

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

The setting in Iced, the first of the Resort to Murder series, is a large mountain resort in Colorado Springs. It is inspired by the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort. I have taken only a few liberties and changed the name to be the Colorado Springs Resort. This stunning and glamorous resort is in my backyard and I grew up visiting the grounds. The lake was open to the public to feed the ducks and walk around, but it has since been closed off. The Broadmoor has many shops and is still open to the public, you just have to go through the hotel to access the lake currently.

For the next book in the series, Nailed, I am planning on using the Sonnenalp Hotel, a five star Bavarian style resort in Vail, as the setting. I will sadly be forced to go visit for research. I may have to fudge a few details to work the plot though – they will be snow bound for a few days!

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

I always envisioned Julienne as Connie Seleca in her twenties – I’m not sure of a similar looking actress today. Suggestions? For Mason, I describe him in the book as a cross between a young Hugh Jackman and Aidan Turner (Poldark Actor). For the movie or TV series I can go with Aidan Turner, twist my arm.

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

That is a tough question. I have taken writing classes that focus on everything from plot development, character development and arcs, sizzling dialog, description and setting, theme, and on and on…but the best advice is to look at what I love in the books I read now (which every successful author reads a lot.) Not to copycat, but to learn from those authors. How do they pace and build the suspense, draw out the tension between romantic interests, drop the subtle clues of the murderer?

The worst advice is not to worry about details or editing, yes some out there think that it ruins the creative flow captured in your first draft. Another worst piece of advice is to have anybody you know (whether they know and like the genre you are writing) to be beta readers or critique partners and work to please them. I am fortunate to have two great critique partners who understand the cozy mystery genre and give constructive insights, then leave the rest to me.


About The Author

Avery Daniels was born and raised in Colorado, graduated from college with a degree in business administration and has worked in fortune 500 companies and Department of Defense her entire life.  Her most eventful job was apartment management for 352 units (plenty of fodder for stories there!).  She still resides in Colorado with two brother black cats as her loving companions.  She volunteers for a cat shelter, enjoys scrapbooking and card making, photography, and painting in watercolor and acrylic.  She inherited a love for reading from her mother and grandmother and grew up talking about books and history at the dinner table.  Her first try at writing a fully developed story was as a teen was a tale of a girl trying to nurse a fawn back to health and then release it into the wild again.  She is plotting her next Resort to Murder novel and struggling over which Colorado resort should be her setting.

Author Links

Web – Avery-Daniels.com

Facebook –   https://www.facebook.com/AveryDanielsAuthor

GoodReads –   https://www.goodreads.com/Avery-Daniels


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New Quilting Mystery and character interview: Knot What You Think

>>> Enter to win a print copy of Knot What You Think <<<

The newest member of Martha’s close-knit quilting circle has an eye for couture. But when the designer’s fingerprints are found blanketing a crime scene, Martha must prove that he didn’t have a hand in homicide!

Martha Rose is alarmed by the discovery of Dolleen Doyle’s dead body, especially when evidence suggests a fellow quilter committed the crime. Set on clearing her pal, Martha searches for answers—but with ties to a convicted fraudster’s stolen millions and a secret office room, the victim’s past raises even more questions. As Martha inches towards the culprit, she learns that wrapping the case up—and living to baste another square—will be trickier than she ever imagined . . .


Character Interview with Yossi Levy

Aloha Yossi, and thank you for stopping by Island Confidential. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

YL: My name is Yossi Levy, but my friends all call me Crusher. I got that name because of some undercover work I did in the ATF. A paramilitary group was planning to blow up the Federal building on Wilshire Boulevard in LA. They used a construction company as cover. Anyway, I managed to infiltrate. My job was to operate a big machine that crushed rocks into gravel, and the name stuck.

I met my girlfriend Martha Rose while I was running an op out of a bike shop in Reseda, posing as the leader of the Valley Eagles biker gang.  We were after some local skells selling stolen military ordinance to terrorists overseas. We were so dark, even the LAPD didn’t know who we were.

A civilian who was doing some technical work for us got accused of murder. Martha was his neighbor. That’s how I met her.

Who’s the character you get along with the best?

YL: You know, I’d like to say Martha, but the truth is, she’s hard to pin down. I want to get married, but she’s afraid to commit. The guy I really like is her Uncle Isaac. He’s an 80-year-old scholar.

I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home in New York, and although I’m not strictly observant anymore, I still keep a lot of the traditions.  I didn’t go to public school. I studied in a private Yeshiva. That’s a school which focuses on learning Jewish sacred texts. I loved that stuff. Now I look forward to discussions with Isaac when we celebrate the Sabbath together.

Which other character do you have a conflict with? 

YL: Are you kidding? Beavers! LAPD Detective Arlo Beavers. He was Martha’s boyfriend when I first met her. Then he cheated on her. That’s when I saw my chance and took it. The dude still comes sniffing around, hoping to win her back. But I can’t blame him. Martha is one sassy woman; smart and sexy.

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

YL: Mary Marks? She’s one spunky old gal. She didn’t publish her first book until she was 70 years old. Now she’s 74 and publishing her fifth murder mystery. One word for her is eccentric. She used to have gray hair. Now it’s turquoise and purple. She also pierced her nostril. And, I hear she plans to go skydiving on her 75th birthday.

What’s next for you?

Well, I’m staying in the ATF for now. And I really want to get married. I’ll just have to wait until Martha is convinced I won’t abandon her. Isaac is helping me with that. 


About the Author

Born and raised in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, Mary Marks earned a B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA and an M.A. in Public Administration from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. In 2004 she enrolled in the UCLA Extension Writers Program.

Her first novel, Forget Me Knot, was a finalist in a national writing competition in 2011. She is currently a reviewer of cozy mysteries for The New York Journal of Books at www.nyjournalofbooks.com.

Readers can visit her at www.marymarksmysteries.com and https://www.facebook.com/mmarks2013

Purchase Links

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New Cat Cafe Mystery: Cat About Town by Cate Conte

The first novel in a frisky new mystery series set in a small New England town, where an unlikely citizen is called in to solve the purrfect crime. . .

Maddie James has arrived in Daybreak Island, just off the coast of Massachusetts, eager to settle down and start her own business—and maybe even fall in love. When a stray orange tabby pounces into her life, she’s inspired to open a cat café. But little does Maddie know that she’s in for something a lot more catastrophic when her new furry companion finds the dead body of the town bully. Now all eyes are on Maddie: Who is this crazy cat-whisperer lady who’s come to town? If pet-hair-maintenance and crime-fighting weren’t keeping her busy enough, Maddie now has not one but two eligible bachelors who think she’s the cat’s pajamas . . . and will do anything to win her heart. But how can she even think about happily-ever-after while a killer remains on the loose—and on her path?


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

Thanks for having me! I’m Maddie James, and I’ve just returned to Daybreak Island, where I grew up. My grandma just died, and my grandpa Leo needs me. But that’s nothing new – my family thinks I’m their own personal Dear Abby. You readers may pick this up as you start reading the series, but they all really love it when I solve their problems. Even when I was out west, it was inevitable – once a week I’d get a call from someone with a crisis to handle or problem to solve. Like the time my dad needed talking points written for an event he was attending and his assistant couldn’t do it. Then my sister Sam called me from the hairdresser’s chair once to ask me how many inches she should get cut off her hair! I mean, seriously. I’m not sure what any of them would do if I got hit by a bus.

Which character do you get along with the best?

Aside from JJ the stray cat I picked up? My best friend Becky. We’ve known each other since we were kids, when I was a burgeoning entrepreneur and she was dreaming of being editor of the Daybreak Island Chronicle. We stayed friends throughout my travels west, and now that we’ve both reached our goals and I’m back in town, we’re just picking up where we left off. She’s my voice of logic, my sounding board—and my main source of news, both on and off the record.

Which other character do you have a conflict with?

Officer Craig Tomlin, my high school boyfriend. It’s an interesting conflict—neither of us will admit it’s really a conflict! First he’s in the uncomfortable position of having to interview my grandpa – his former boss! – in a murder. To make it worse, I think he’s thinking we can rekindle our romance. I’m not sure I want that, but I don’t want to hurt his feelings. It’s kind of a dilemma.

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

Ha! Love this. She needs to write faster! I have so many more stories to tell and adventures to have. And she needs to stop procrastinating too. I’ve heard that’s her worst habit…

What’s next for you?

I’ve got to get the cat cafe up and running! That’s if I decide to stay on the island…Keep reading, though. I assure you JJ and I will have plenty more adventures to tell you about.


About The Author

Cate Conte is the alter ego of Liz Mugavero. Liz is the author of the Pawsitively Organic Mystery series from Kensington Books, the first of which was an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel. As you can imagine, her canine and feline rescues demand the best organic food and treats around. She is a member of Sisters in Crime National, Sisters in Crime New England, Mystery Writers of America, and the Cat Writers’ Association. She currently lives in Connecticut.

Facebook Author Page |Amazon Author Page | Twitter  | Goodreads Author Page  | Website B&N 


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A Delicious New Mystery Series from NYT Bestseller R.L. Syme

>>> Win a 15-piece macaron collection <<<

Small towns and gossip go together like flaky crust and sweet pastry cream. Between the police scanners, social media, and the senior center, it’s like a zombie apocalypse where the undead consume people’s secrets instead of living flesh.

But Vangie Vale wants nothing more than to stay under the radar…especially the police radar.

So when her new bakery becomes linked to a murder investigation, nothing will stop the gossip mill from connecting her to the dead body. Can’t have that.

Forced into the role of investigator, this new-in-town bakery owner has to become the very thing she hates–a nosy, small-town gossip–in order to clear her good name, and keep her face off the front page. But when a dating debacle brings her face-to-face with the Sheriff, Vangie can’t ignore the fact that one of her macarons was involved in a murder. She has to find the who-dun-it.

Book One in a cozy culinary mystery series from USA Today Bestselling Author, R.L. Syme.


Rebecca, welcome to Island Confidential, and congratulations on your new series! Can  you tell us about your protagonist? She’s had an unusual career path, hasn’t she?

Vangie Vale is an exiled pastor who opens a bakery in the town she moves to, because there isn’t a bakery there, and she loves to bake. She also needs an income, since she’s only working a few hours a week at the church that agreed to take her. Very smart, but very curious.

How much do you and Vangie have in common?

I don’t think Vangie is me at all—she’s way cooler than I am. But both my mom and my best friend think she’s me. So apparently, I didn’t do as good a job of making her not-me as I thought.  But I think I’d love to hang out with her if I knew her. We’d watch Sherlock together.

Will Vangie change throughout the series?

Vangie definitely evolves through this series. In fact, in a lot of ways, her arc is the whole series. She keeps solving these mysteries, but the reality is, every one is changing her just a little.

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

Oh, like, writing someone into my book? Yeah, I definitely did that in a previous book. Not that I killed someone I knew, but that I wrote them. It wasn’t at all as cathartic as I thought it would be. But every book is a little bit of catharsis for me, too.

That sound interesting–maybe I’ll be able to talk you into doing a guest post on revenge-writing sometime! So how realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

My setting is very realistic. In fact, I’m pretty unapologetic about the fact that these little Montana towns are all based on very real places. I’ve lived in Montana a good portion of my life, so I feel like I know it.  It helps me to be able to write the place with some reality.

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

Mandy Moore would be Vangie Vale.

Kevin McKidd would be Malcolm Dean. Leo would be Theo James. Henry would be James Norton. Derek would be Jason Momoa. Emma would be Drew Barrymore. Clearly, I’ve thought about this.

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

Oh, that’s a great question. I think the best advice was “you can’t edit a blank page.” Nora Roberts is famous for saying that, and she’s so right. I’ve heard a lot of bad advice in my day, and I’ve probably given a fair share of it myself. But I find that most bad advice is at least well-meaning, even if it’s still bad.


About The Author

Rebecca Syme writes small town romance as Becca Boyd and cozy mystery as R.L. Syme. She is a long-time foodie and loves fancy cheese. Becca calls the mountains of Montana her home and draws inspiration from the beautiful vistas and heartwarming people. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Line of Fire series of sweet romances and part of the Chick Tales series set in Somewhere, TX. You can find her on Twitter talking #fancycheese or #Chopped, and on Facebook with her fans in Becca Nation.


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New Tourist Trap Mystery: Killer Party

After a few months of living with her boyfriend Greg, Jill is still getting used to sharing such close quarters, but she’s got no hesitation about joining him for a weekend at South Cove’s most luxurious resort.

While Greg and his college pals celebrate their buddy’s upcoming wedding, Jill intends to pamper herself in style. But when the groom is found floating facedown in the pool, Jill must find the killer fast, or she might not have a boyfriend to come home to any more…


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and two fur babies.

Keep up with Lynn:

Website | Amazon author page | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook


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A new Washington Whodunit: Calamity at the Continental Club by Colleen J. Shogan

The Mayflower Society is about to hold its annual meeting at Washington D.C.’s swanky gathering place for the elite, the Continental Club. That means Kit Marshall’s upper-crust future in-laws, Buffy and Winston Hollingsworth, are coming for a visit. Annoyed that Kit has not set a date to marry Doug, Buffy wants her to commit to a high society wedding at the club. Kit, though chief of staff for a congresswoman, feels uncomfortable with Buffy and Winston’s crowd.

Kit receives an unexpected reprieve in the form of murder. En route to her morning jog, she encounters the corpse of the leader of the Mayflower Society, conservative multimedia tycoon Grayson Bancroft. On the security cameras, no one was seen entering or leaving the club, which means the culprit had to be an overnight guest. Little love was lost on Bancroft, but the police have their prime suspect: Doug’s father.

Buffy and Winston, formerly disdainful of Kit’s sleuthing, urge her to investigate. With her future in-laws’ freedom and reputations at stake, Kit sets out once again to solve a murder mystery, this time aided by her fiancé Doug in addition to her friends Meg and Trevor and her dog Clarence. Her search for clues will take her from the club to the Smithsonian Museum, the National Archives, and Mount Vernon.

Calamity at the Continental Club is Book 3 of the Washington Whodunit series, which began with Stabbing in the Senate and continued with Homicide in the House.


Island Confidential: Colleen, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist? 

Colleen Shogan: Kit Marshall is a plucky, thirty-something Capitol Hill staffer who somehow finds herself embroiled in murder on a routine basis in Washington, D.C. In this book, she’s dealing with her recent proposal and planning a wedding while she solves a double homicide. She’s got her hands full!

How similar are you and Kit?

CS: I previously worked as a congressional staffer, but I’m not Kit Marshall. Instead, Kit is a pastiche of all the women I worked with on Capitol Hill. She’s no one person, but blends a lot of traits and characteristics. Kit tries to balance a lot in her life. She’s a little obsessed with keeping everyone happy: her fiancé, her best friend, her boss. But she also likes to have fun and has an impetuous side. She’d be a good person to know in Washington.

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

CS: Yes, absolutely. I’ve read a number of cozy mystery series and one of my pet peeves is characters who remain static. There’s something comforting to readers about that consistency but it can also grow boring. So I try to keep relationships evolving. Kit’s fiancé, Doug, changes a lot in this story, and that’s going to have long term effects for the role he plays in the series.

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

CS: Sure, all the time. What’s the point of writing mysteries if you can’t fantasize about killing people who bug you the most?

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

CS: My settings are true to life. This book is set at a fictitious social club in Washington, D.C. but it strongly resembles several real-life locations. At times, you may need to take small liberties to make a particular plot work, but I am pretty obsessive about making sure I’m describing Washington in an accurate way. I want people who have never lived in our nation’s capital to understand what it’s like to reside there.

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

CS: America Ferrera might make a good Kit Marshall. Or maybe Kelly Clarkson. I don’t like it when movies are made and the character in the book wasn’t super skinny, but then the actress who plays her is a size 2. That ruins it. For Meg, I picture a Clare Danes or Kristen Bell. For Doug, it’s harder to say. I think Charlie Day could do it. He could bring a lot of humor and wit to Doug.

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

CS: The best advice has to do with perseverance. It’s important to keep writing and revising. Not everyone is going to like what you write. That doesn’t mean a lot of other people won’t love it! I’ve been lucky and haven’t received too much bad advice. I do remember an agent I met who liked my concept for a mystery series based in Washington, D.C. But she didn’t like the working title of my first book, Stabbing in the Senate. Quite frankly, I adored the alliterative title and so did everyone else who heard about it. So I had to say “thanks, but no thanks!”


About the Author

Colleen Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked in the United States Senate and for the Congressional Research Service. She’s currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress, working on great outreach initiatives such as the National Book Festival. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob Raffety and their beagle mutt, Conan.

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A new Gilda Greco Mystery and guest post: Too Many Women in the Room by Joanne Guidoccio

When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture—Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario.

Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.

Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?

 

 


All About Tag Lines

At a recent meet-up, I was surprised to learn that many of the writers in the room (myself included) didn’t know the difference between a log line and a tag line. I had always assumed the two terms could be used interchangeably. While both terms originated in the film industry, the two concepts have very different structures and functions.

A log line provides the main conflict, main character, and the stakes in a well-constructed sentence that is usually less than 25 words in length.

A tag line is a catch phrase that sets the tone. It sums up the entire plot in one compelling phrase or sentence that is at most 10 words in length.

In my research, I discovered that several synonyms exist for taglines, among them tags (United States), end lines or straplines in the United Kingdom, payoffs in Italy, and baselines in Belgium, and signatures in France.

Here are sample tag lines from the film industry:

One ring to rule them all.        Lord of the Rings

Don’t go into the water.         Jaws

The list is life.                          Schindler’s List

Not every gift is a blessing.    The Sixth Sense

The Toys are back in town.     Toy Story 2

Collide with destiny.              Titanic

There can be only one.            Highlander

Whoever wins…We lose.        Alien Vs. Predator

While these tag lines evoke interest and emotion, they provide few specifics about the individual movies. Instead, puns and clever wording set the appropriate tone and succeed in hooking potential moviegoers.

In the same way, a tag line for a novel needs to tantalize prospective readers with a minimum of well-chosen words and images. Less is definitely more when it comes to taglines.

Here’s the tag line for Too Many Women in the Room:

8 women → 8 motives to kill.

Any memorable tag lines to share?


About The Author

In 2008, Joanne took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Where to find Joanne…

 

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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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New Hamptons Murder Mystery: Death on West End Road by Carrie Doyle

Like a basket of warm cinnamon buns, an unsolved crime is something that Hamptons innkeeper and sleuth Antonia Bingham just can’t resist. Despite a busy high-season schedule and an inn booked to capacity, Antonia has agreed to investigate a cold case in her beloved adopted hometown, East Hampton, NY: the killing of Susie Whitaker, whose brutal 1990 slaying on a tennis court in the poshest part of town was never solved. And the person who has hired Antonia? Prime suspect Pauline Framingham, a manipulative pharmaceutical heiress from a powerful family. The crime scene is compromised, the circumstances are complicated, and former witnesses are cagey, haunted and very reluctant to revisit what happened on that sun-splashed afternoon decades earlier. As Antonia attempts to unravel the mysteries of the past she unearths even darker secrets and ultimately wonders if it would have been best to let sleeping dogs lie. To make matters worse, past acquaintances and love interests reappear in the Hamptons, disrupting Antonia’s world and causing her to scurry to the fridge for comfort.

Death on West End Road is the third book in the Hamptons Murder Mystery Series. Along with a colorful cast of supporting characters, the beating heart of the book is Antonia Bingham, restaurateur, gourmand, and nosy carb-lover.

Praise for Death on Windmill Way by Carrie Doyle:
“Doyle is an enthusiastic guide for Long Island’s East End village…fun and satisfying”
–Kirkus Reviews

“…a fast-paced, cozy mystery story set within the well-heeled confines of East Hampton, New York…[it] will keep audiences guessing right up until the end…”
–Foreword reviews


Island Confidential: Antonia, welcome back to Island Confidential. Can you tell our readers something about yourself that we might not know?

Antonia Bingham: Despite the fact that I am chatty and love to engage with people I actually can be quite secretive. I think the readers would be shocked to know that I am planning a trip. Pretty soon I will be heading back to California and I will confront my past. It’s time that I come face to face with my fears and ensure that my ex-husband will never harm me again or anyone else for that matter. No one who knows me would imagine that I am planning this, and if they knew they would surely stop me. That’s why no one can know.

Are you and Joseph Fowler still on good terms? Does he have any competition in the BFF department?

AB: Joseph Fowler, the acclaimed author of many award winning historical novels is my best friend and really like a father to me. I am so lucky I have him in my life. But recently, believe it or not, Larry Lipper, the annoying crime reporter from The East Hampton Star, has been instrumental to me. Now I definitely do not want to say we get along best—he’s irritating, vain, narcissistic and believes every woman is in love with him. But actually, I was recently asked to solve a cold case and it was Larry who was my wingman. He helped me more than I could imagine.

Now that you and Larry seem to have declared a truce, is there any other character do you have a conflict with? 

AB: I have a one-sided imaginary conflict with Melanie Wells, a famous actress and the wife of Nick Darrow, the famous actor. The truth is, I have a giant crush on him and wish she were not around. I know that’s terrible, terrible! But they have such a toxic relationship to begin with that it makes me angry. I despise how she treats him. Okay, of course I only know his side of things. But still. Look, I know I am no competition to a gorgeous movie star, but a girl can dream, right?

Last time we spoke, your told me your author, Carrie Doyle, was procrastinating. But now it sounds like she’s been working hard and might want to take a little time for herself!

AB: I think that like me, she spent too much time in the kitchen this year and needs to get out and enjoy the sun! East Hampton is beautiful so I would encourage her to take a bike ride or go for a swim in the ocean. There is so much to see and do away from the desk and the computer and summer is so short!

What’s next for you?

AB: A mysterious man has booked the inn for a weekend and several guests will be joining him. They are all addressed by pseudonyms. It all sounds very creepy and dramatic but I am looking forward to it!


About the Author:

 

Carrie Doyle was the founding Editor-in- Chief of the Russian edition of Marie Claire Magazine. She is currently a Contributing Editor of Hamptons Magazine and has written extensively for Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country and has also written for Women’s Health and Avenue on the Beach. With Jill Kargman, Carrie co-wrote the film Intern (which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999), as well as several screenplays sold to Showtime, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Films and the Oxygen Network. Carrie and Jill co-wrote five books together, including three teen books for HarperCollins and two bestselling women’s fiction books, The Right Address and Wolves in Chic Clothing (Broadway Books). Carrie also penned the popular novel The Infidelity Pact (Broadway Books). Carrie lives in New York City with her husband and two children and is currently at work on an animated series for broadcast as well as her new series, the Hamptons Murder Mysteries.

 

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