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

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

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

 


About The Author

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

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

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Why I Write Cozies: Guest post and new Haunted Library Mystery from Allison Brook

Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she’s offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies.

The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite pushback from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie’s determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it’s the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura’s case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al.

Now it’s due or die for Carrie in Death Overdue the delightful first in a new cozy series by Allison Brook.

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Why I Write Cozies
by Marilyn Levinson/Allison Brook

Like many authors who have been writing novels for several years, I write in various genres—mysteries, romantic suspense and kiddy lit. Recently I find myself especially drawn to writing cozies. And here are the reasons why:
1. I love writing mysteries but prefer leaving the CSI end of it to other authors. I’m interested in the puzzle and human interest aspects. Why was a person or persons murdered? How does my sleuth go about her investigation to expose the killer?
2. While I enjoy plotting, my characters are my main concern. What makes each one of them tick? How do they relate to one another? Why do they behave the way they do?
3. I LOVE secrets. Many of my characters have secrets that influence their current behavior. Secrets can make a character look guilty when she isn’t. Keeping a secret secret can drive a character to murder.
4. I love writing about small towns. Small towns where everyone knows everyone else is such a cozy element. The setting of a cozy is another character because it influences the people in the story. DEATH OVERDUE takes place in a small town with centuries- old homes and shops built around a village green. My sleuth, Carrie, is a librarian, so a good part of the action occurs in the library.
5. Romance winds its way in many cozies. In DEATH OVERDUE, Carrie finds herself attracting the attention of not one but two very different men.
6. Animals and cozies go hand-in-hand. In DEATH OVERDUE, a half-grown cat attaches himself to Carrie, and she finds herself bringing him to work. In a matter of minutes, Smoky Joe becomes a Library Cat.
7. Cozies always have a satisfying ending. The murderer is caught. Justice prevails. Most cozies are written in series, giving one’s sleuth an opportunity to forge more adventures and solve more mysteries.


About the Author

Allison Brook is the pseudonym for Marilyn Levinson, who writes mysteries, romantic suspense and novels for kids. She lives on Long Island and enjoys traveling, reading, watching foreign films, doing Sudoku and dining out. She especially loves to visit with her grandchildren on FaceTime.

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New Paradise mystery, giveaway, and character interview: Fireworks in Paradise

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While on vacation in South Carolina, Tj Jensen receives a call that her father has been left in a coma after a devastating car crash. Back home in Paradise Lake, Tj learns the accident that killed family friend Judge Harper and left her father clinging to life wasn’t an accident at all—someone cut their brake lines.

To make matters worse, her friend and police contact, Deputy Roy Fisher, is working with a new partner who has no intention of letting Tj anywhere near the case. Facing an investigation more explosive than the annual fireworks show, Tj enlists the help of her best friends to unravel the mystery, all the while navigating a new romance and the thought her father may never wake up.


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

My name is Tj Jensen and I am a high school physical education teacher and coach who lives at the lakeside resort owned by my father. I live with my grandfather, father, and two half-sisters, who I have been raising since our mother died. While I appear to have a good head on my shoulders, and a firm handle on things, I am really unsure and insecure much of the time. My life has been through so many changes in the past four years that there are times I look in the mirror and wonder what happened to the single and carefree girl I was. But then I look at the man I have chosen to welcome into my life, and the two young sisters I have agreed to raise, and I realize that while uncomplicated may be a thing of the past, I wouldn’t trade who I was, for who I have become, for all the carefree moments in the world.

Of all the characters in the series, who’s the one you get along with the best?

At the moment I would have to say the character I get along with best is Kyle Donovan since we are entering a new phase in our friendship and opening the door to love. The thing I love the most about a new relationship is that the world seems to hold nothing but hope and promise in spite of the everyday challenges we all must face.

Is there anyone you don’t get along with so well? At the moment the character I seem to be getting along the least with is the new deputy in town, Kate Baldwin, who seems intent on putting an end to my amateur sleuthing even if it is the last thing she does.

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

Well basically she is an okay person but she has really put me though the ringer in terms of my romantic life over the course of the past four years. Between you and me, I really like Kyle and I hope my author has finally made up her mind and settled on my happily ever after.

What’s next for you?

I guess you will have to ask Kathi what comes next, which I have, and basically she said she really doesn’t know. I imagine that whatever she settles on will be a surprise to the both of us.


Check out the other books in the series

Pumpkins in Paradise (A Tj Jensen Mystery Book 1)

Between volunteering for the annual pumpkin festival and coaching her girls to the state soccer finals, high school teacher Tj Jensen finds her good friend Zachary Collins dead in his favorite chair.

When the handsome new deputy closes the case without so much as a “why” or “how,” Tj turns her attention from chili cook-offs and pumpkin carving to complex puzzles, prophetic riddles, and a decades-old secret she seems destined to unravel.

 

 

Snowmen in Paradise (A Tj Jensen Mystery Book 2)
Winter Carnival comes to Serenity, and with it Tj finds her schedule busier than ever. Not only is her ski and snowboard team heavily involved in demonstrations and local competitions, but her ragtag choir is about to debut in their first live performance. To make matters even more complicated, someone has killed Travis Davidson, a town favorite son, world-class snowboarder, and Olympic hopeful. Tj is determined not to get involved in the subsequent investigation until she learns the prime suspect is Chelsea Hanson, high-school boyfriend Hunter Hanson’s sister.

Although there’s no shortage of Sereninites with a grudge against the hometown hero, even Tj has to admit there’s good cause to suspect Chelsea of the murder. Balancing bridesmaid duties, Winter Carnival obligations, show choir duty, and after-hours investigation, Tj sets out to prove Chelsea innocent.

 

Bikinis in Paradise (A Tj Jensen Mystery Book 3)
When the Tropical Tan Corporation descends on Maggie’s Hideaway, the lakeside resort where Tj Jensen lives, she must juggle a bikini contest, a BBQ cook-off, a missing model, and a dead chaperone while her father is out of town. Lead Deputy Dylan Caine is on vacation while his sister is visiting, leaving Assistant Deputy Roy Fisher in charge. When Roy asks Tj for her help they find there may be more going on than anyone realized. With Kyle and Jenna’s help, they dig into the lives of those involved, only to find a mystery more complex than anything they could ever have imagined.

 

Christmas in Paradise (A Tj Jensen Mystery Book 4) Christmas in Serenity is a magical time of year Tj has always looked forward to with happy anticipation. This year her holiday spirit is marred by the impending arrival of two new men in her life. When one of them ends up dead, Tj must juggle community plays, Christmas tree cuttings, sleigh rides, and holiday shopping with a complex murder investigation. As the facts begin to unravel, she realizes she may have to risk everything to save someone she loves.

 

 

 


Puppies in Paradise (A Tj Jensen Mystery Book 5)
When a friend of Tj’s is injured in a car accident during a blizzard, Tj takes responsibility for the litter of puppies left behind. Meanwhile, she works with Kyle, Jenna, and the gang to catch the person responsible for the death of a close family friend. When it turns out that the main suspects are also close to the Jensens, Tj must deal with one of the most difficult decisions she’s ever had to make.

 

Halloween in Paradise (A Tj Jensen Mystery Book 6)

In the midst of the annual Halloween frenzy, Tj finds herself pulled into a series of events at the high school where she works. Not only must she help one of the girls on her team deal with a case of cyberbullying, but she must help a student who has recently suffered a personal tragedy. And as if Tj wasn’t busy enough, in walks Samantha Colton, a reporter for Second Look, a television series that takes a look back at unsolved murders. This time the case is the death of a popular student after the homecoming dance ten years before. To make matters even worse—or maybe more convenient—the graduating class of the victim is in town for their ten-year reunion and all the suspects just happen to have converged on Serenity for the weekend. When Samantha turns up dead, Tj must track down someone who seems willing to kill again to keep their secret.

 

 


About the Author

Author of the Zoe Donovan cozy Mystery Series, Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Mystery series, Whales and Tails Cozy Mystery Series, Sand and Sea Hawaiian Mysteries, and Seacliff High Teen Cozy Mystery Series.

Come for the murder, stay for the romance.

Kathi lives in the beautiful alpine community of Lake Tahoe with her husband Ken and dog Echo. When she’s not writing she enjoys hanging out on the beach with her children and grandchildren. During the summer she enjoys hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, wakeboarding, and sunset cruises on the lake. During the winter she enjoys cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and curling up by a fire with a good book.

Kathi uses her mountain home as inspiration for her books, all which include appearances by the wildlife she shares her life with.

Visit Kathi Daley:

Blog – http://kathidaleyblog.com

Facebook at Kathi Daley Books, www.facebook.com/kathidaleybooks

Kathi Daley Teen – www.facebook.com/kathidaleyteen

Kathi Daley Books Group Page – https://www.facebook.com/groups/569578823146850/

Kathi Daley Books Birthday Club- get a book on your birthday –https://www.facebook.com/groups/1040638412628912/

Kathi Daley Recipe Exchange – https://www.facebook.com/groups/752806778126428/

Webpage – www.kathidaley.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7278377.Kathi_Daley

Twitter at Kathi Daley@kathidaley – https://twitter.com/kathidaley

Tumblr – http://kathidaleybooks.tumblr.com/

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/kathidaley/


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A new Chloe Ellefson Mystery: Mining for Justice by Kathleen Ernst

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Chloe Ellefson is excited to be learning about Wisconsin’s Cornish immigrants and mining history while on temporary assignment at Pendarvis, a historic site in charming Mineral Point. But when her boyfriend, police officer Roelke McKenna, discovers long-buried human remains in the root cellar of an old Cornish cottage, Chloe reluctantly agrees to mine the historical record for answers.

She soon finds herself in the center of a heated and deadly controversy that threatens to close Pendarvis. While struggling to help the historic site, Chloe must unearth dark secrets, past and present . . . before a killer comes to bury her.


Character Interview with Chloe Ellefson

Chloe, welcome to Island Confidential. Can you tell our readers something about yourself? 

I work as curator of collections at a huge outdoor museum, Old World Wisconsin. As you would guess, I am passionate about history. My special focus is on the 19th-century immigrant experience, especially involving women. I love shining a little lamplight on long-gone everyday women who left no handy diaries or breathtaking folk art behind, but faced and survived extraordinary challenges.

What might come as a surprise is that I attended forestry school at West Virginia University, majoring in environmental education. My background is unusual in the history world, but it helps me understand early settlers within the context of their physical environment. Oh – and it also left me with a blue ribbon in a Jack-and-Jill crosscut saw competition! I’m pretty proud of that.

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

That’s an easy one:  my special guy, Officer Roelke McKenna. He’s a beat cop in the Village of Eagle, close to Old World Wisconsin. He’s nothing like the man I imagined settling down with. He’s a few years younger than me, doesn’t have any particular interest in history, can be a wee bit intense when focused on police work. He’s still working on managing his temper when dealing with bad guys. He also is a man of enormous integrity, who’d do anything to protect someone in need – especially people he loves. In the beginning we didn’t always get along so well…but we grown a lot since then, and I can’t imagine life without him.

Which character do you not get along with so well? 

Equally easy! My boss, Ralph Petty. Petty is a misogynistic megalomaniac with a graduate degree in micromanagement. He’s been on my case since the day I started my job at the site. I try to protect the seasonal employees from the worst of his wrath. I also do my best to protect program integrity in the face of his often-bizarre ideas. He’s already tried to fire me once. I’m committed to Old World Wisconsin, and to living with Roelke at his family farm nearby, so every day at work is like walking a tightrope.

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

For the most part, she does a pretty good job. I sometimes wish she didn’t write about my quirks and personal challenges, but I guess she has to be true to the stories. She doesn’t depict me as some stereotypical ever-brave heroine, but as a real person who tries to do the right thing in sometimes difficult circumstances.

What’s next for you?

Since Ralph Petty’s favorite sight is my tail lights disappearing in the distance, he’s always finding reasons to send me off on special assignment. I’m about to leave for a week’s gig as volunteer curator at another historic site. I’ll be studying the immigration history of an ethnic group that’s new to me, so I’m excited. But I can’t say more than that!


About The Author  

Kathleen Ernst is a social historian, educator, and author. Her Chloe Ellefson mysteries reflect the decade she spent as a curator at a large outdoor museum, and feature historic sites in the Upper Midwest.  Library Journal says, “Ernst keeps getting better with each entry in this fascinating series.” Kathleen has also written many mysteries for young readers.  Honors for her work include a LOVEY Award and Agatha and Edgar nominations.  Kathleen lives and writes in Wisconsin.

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16 Millimeters: A new Maizie Albright mystery from Larissa Reinhart

 

16 Millimeters: A Maizie Albright Humorous Mystery
by Larissa Reinhart

October 10 & 11, 2017

Release Date – October 17, 2017

16 Millimeters: A Maizie Albright Humorous Mystery
Cozy Mystery/Romance
2nd in Series
Past Perfect Press
Print Length: 320 pages
Kindle ASIN: B074TW9MZ8

#StillAWannabeDetective In continuing her career-makeover quest as a for-real detective, ex-teen and reality star Maizie Albright has a big learning curve to overcome. A sleuthing background starring in a TV show— Julia Pinkerton, Teen Detective—does not cut the real life mustard. It doesn’t even buy her lunch, let alone extra condiments. Her chosen mentor, Wyatt Nash of Nash Security Solutions, is not a willing teacher. He’d rather stick Maizie with a safe desk job and handle the security solution-ing himself. But Maizie’s got other plans to help Nash. First, win Nash’s trust. Second, his heart.

Wait, not his heart. His respect. His hearty respect.

So when a major movie producer needs a babysitter for his hot mess starlet, Maizie eagerly takes the job. But when her starlet appears dead, and then not dead, Maizie’s got more than an actress to watch and a missing corpse to find. Body doubles, dead bodies, and hot bodies abound when the big screen, small screen, and silent screams collide. Maizie’s on the job, on the skids, and on thin ice, hunting a killer who may be a celebrity stalker. And Maizie just might be the next celebrity who gets snuffed.

Pre-Order Links

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About The Author

Larissa is a 2015 Georgia Author of the Year Best Mystery finalist, 2014 finalist for the Silver Falchion and Georgia Author of the Year, 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, 2012 The Emily finalist, and 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. Her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit, have been living in Nagoya, Japan, but once again call Georgia home. See them on HGTV’s House Hunters International “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya” episode. Visit her website, LarissaReinhart.com, find her chatting on Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads, or join her Facebook street team, The Mystery Minions.

 

Website: http://larissareinhart.com/

Official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/RisWrites

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

Instagram: http://instagram.com/larissareinhart

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LarissaReinhart

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/LarissaReinhart/

Goodreads: http://smarturl.it/LarissaGoodreads

Newsletter: http://smarturl.it/larissanewsletter

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/larissa-reinhart

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/LarissaReinhart

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A New Halloween Cozy and chance to win: Halloween is Murder by Carolyn Arnold

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Beware of all that goes bump in the night…
Sean and Sara McKinley are excited about the haunted house they’ve set up as a Halloween charity fund-raiser, but things take a ghoulish turn when the reporter covering their story is found dead. With the media keeping mum about how she died, Sara’s curiosity is piqued, and she convinces Sean to take on the investigation through their PI firm.


But this case is not without its challenges. The police are actively investigating it, as well, and it’s not even clear that the woman was murdered. It will take a little cloak-and-dagger, dress-up, and finesse for the McKinleys to get to the bottom of it, but they aren’t the kind to give up.
As they troll for leads and work through the skeletons in the reporter’s closet, they unearth a few suspects, but they’ll need to carve out the whole truth if they’re going to find her killer. If they do so fast enough, there might even be time for a little trick-or-treating.


About The Author  

CAROLYN ARNOLD is the international bestselling and award-winning author of the Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher, and McKinley Mystery series. She is the only author with POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town, but that never kept her from dreaming big. On par with her large dreams is her overactive imagination that conjures up killers and cases to solve. She currently lives outside Toronto with her husband and two beagles, Max and Chelsea. She is also a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

For more information and a FREE book offer, visit her website:
http://www.carolynarnold.net

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A Celestial Romantic Comedy: Divinely Yours by bestselling novelist Karin Gillespie

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Skye Sebring is a hospitality greeter inside the pearly gates of an unorthodox Heaven, where carefree and lusty angels get tipsy in the Live A Little Lounge, practice cloud art, and are guided by a brassy female deity who sounds and looks like Bette Midler.

During the course of her duties, Skye meets lawyer Ryan Blaine, who has a brush with death due to a motorcycle accident.

It’s not Ryan’s time to die yet, so he returns back to Earth, but Skye can’t get him out of her mind. Why does Ryan seem so familiar to her and why does she feel an unexplainable attraction to him? She begins spying on Ryan’s life from her perch in heaven and even manages to follow him down to Earth. There she finds a world very different than Heaven, where drinking too much champagne results in hangovers, roses can prick fingers, and hearts are capable of being broken. All seems lost until she remembers that most of life’s lessons can be learned from the lyrics of five Beatles songs and one of the Fab Four’s songs might actually help win her the love of a lifetime.

Divinely Yours is a celestial romantic comedy about a love that crosses all dimensions.


Guest Post: My True Hollywood Story

All my life I’ve had stars in my eyes. When I was nine, after a successful turn as the lead in a local theater production of Alice in Wonderland , I told my mother she needed to take me to California immediately where I could fulfill my destiny as an actress. She refused (there was a little matter of leaving my father and two brothers behind). Thus, for years, my only connection with the limelight was my weekly purchase of People magazine.

One day, however, I was thrust out of my humble, ordinary existence. One afternoon, out of the blue, I had a close encounter with one of the beautiful people.

It was a typical workday for me: Stare blankly at the computer monitor. Type a couple of words. Check e-mails. Eat chocolate. Repeat.

The phone rang. Generally I screen my calls so as to not distract myself from my daydreams and chocolate consumption, but for this afternoon I answered on the second ring.

“Hello! This is James Woods,” said the voice on the other end of the phone. “The movie actor. Do you know who I am?”

I was momentarily befuddled. First of all, I have to admit that movie stars don’t call me every day. In fact, this was my very first call from a movie star. Secondly, I couldn’t figure out why he was calling me. Was he trying to sell me something? Was James Woods the actor now James Woods the telemarketer? Had I missed news of his downfall?

“My mother was reading the large-print edition of your book Bet Your Bottom Dollar,” he continued, “and she was laughing so much that I asked her if I could read it, too. After I finished, I thought it would make a great movie. Have you ever thought about who would play some of the characters in your book?”

Finally. My chance to be in the spotlight.

“Mr. Woods. It just so happens that when I was eight, I starred in Alice in Wonderland …”

“Actually, I was thinking Meryl might be ideal for one of the parts,” he interrupted. “We’re friends from way back; I’ll call her.

“Meryl? As in Meryl Streep? Well, yes, I suppose she is probably a little more experienced.”

Long story short, James Woods’ people got in touch with my agent and the papers were drawn up for the movie option. After it happened, friends kept asking me when I was buying a Greek island. Truthfully the money would only purchase a few Greek salads, but I had big dreams. How much was Crete going for, I wondered.

After the papers were inked, James Wood called me on the phone and we had a long talk about his vision for the film. He also sent me a dozen red American Beauty roses; the card read, “Can’t wait to make a film with you, Best wishes, Jimmy.”

That was it. I never heard from him again. My Hollywood hopes dashed like a dinghy on the merciless rocks of a craggy shore.

Not really.

I’m a practical sort and had always seen as the film option as a fun story more than an actual reality. Since then Hollywood has sniffed around my door several times. I had a flurry of interest in Divinely Yours,  the story of a greeter in Heaven who falls in love with a mortal, but nothing came out of it…

Buy Divinely Yours on Amazon or B&N


About The Author  

Karin Gillespie is the national-bestselling novelist and has also written for the New York TimesWashington Post and Writer Magazine. She has an MFA from Converse College and lives in Augusta, Georgia and is a recipient of a Georgia Author of the Year award.

Visit her on her web site, her FB page or on Twitter. She is also on Good Reads.


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

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

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

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


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

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

How much of you is in Julia?  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About The Author

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

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

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

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

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


Author Interview with Julie Chase

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

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

Are you and Lacy alike? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ashley Benson as Lacy Marie Crocker

Ian Somerholder as Detective Jack Oliver

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

Emma Stone as Scarlet Hawthorne (Lacy’s BFF)

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

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

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

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

 


About The Author

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

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

 

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New Bird Lover’s Mystery and #Giveaway: Chickadee Chickadee Bang Bang by J.R. Ripley

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Ruby Lake, North Carolina, might be the perfect place to go birdwatching during autumn, but it’s also a habitat for murder . . .

As Birds & Bees owner Amy Simms guides a halfhearted birding group around Ruby Lake, rumors soon start flying about the annual Fall Festival’s classic car and tractor show. Local eccentric Chick Sherman—boasting the hottest ride in town—has ruffled feathers by mysteriously entering the contest, and curious Amy hatches a plan to sneak a glimpse at the phantom automobile before the big event kicks off . . .

But competition turns deadly when Amy finally spots the sleek ’56 El Morocco—and it’s on top of Chick’s very dead body. With her neighbor and business partner framed as the murderer and priceless Audubon prints suddenly missing from Chick’s home, only Amy can identify the telltale markings of a killer before another hapless victim is plucked from the flock . . .


About The Author  

J.R. Ripley is the pen name of Glenn Meganck, the critically acclaimed author of the Tony Kozol mystery series. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, he has chaired the Edgar committee for Best Original Paperback novel and served on the Best Short Story Committee. As a member of the International Association of Crime Writers, he has served on the Hammett Award committee for Best Novel. When not writing books, Glenn is writing songs, often singing them to the consternation of his audience and neighbors, or involved in one of his many passions, none of which have involved any of the dead bodies that seem to keep cropping up in his mysteries. For more information about him, visit JrRipley.net

Author Links


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