A New Keepsake Cove mystery and Author Interview: A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes

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Callie Reed makes a long overdue visit to her aunt Melodie, who lives in a fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, home to a bevy of unique collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Just as they’re beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt’s body on the floor of her music box shop. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can’t accept Melodie’s death being called accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she there in the middle of the night?

As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn’t careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie’s collection.


Mary Ellen, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us about your protagonist, Callie? 

Callie Reed is a young woman in the process of making big changes in her life. She was on the verge of leaving a downward-spiraling relationship and got the push she needed when her aunt died and left her a music box shop and the charming little cottage behind it on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She’s struggling, though, with the official “accident” ruling on her aunt’s death and starts to search for what really happened.

How alike are you and Callie?  

Though I tried my best to create someone totally new, I suspect some of me crept into Callie. Or maybe some of the wishful me. I don’t think I’d be as brave in certain situations as she is. But it’s fun to write and watch the situations from afar.

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

I think I’d like Callie if I met her. She’s smart, despite the wrong life choices she made when she was younger, and she has a pretty good heart.

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

A Fatal Collection is the first book in the Keepsake Cove series, but I intend to have the characters grow. In my previous series (Pickled and Preserved mysteries and Craft Corner mysteries) the characters’ relationships progressed in a pretty natural way, I’d say.

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

I’ve thought of it but have never done it. I don’t put entire, real people into my books. I’ll mix and match various attributes to create someone new who will do what I want them to do.

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

I’ve created a fictional town. Keepsake Cove is a section of Mapleton filled with shops that each carry particular collectible items. Callie’s has collectible music boxes. Then there’s collectible cooking items, vintage toys, jewelry, etc. But the town is on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, a real area that I describe accurately as the characters move about.

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

From your lips to God’s ears! Hmm. If I had total control (in my dreams!) I’d like Emma Watson for Callie, partly because she seems to have grown up pretty well from her Harry Potter role as Hermione.

Emma Watson

George Clooney, unfortunately is a little too old to play Callie’s potential love interest, Brian, who runs the Keepsake Café across the street from her shop. But, hey, who wouldn’t want George on the set? We could darken his hair a little, right?

Young George Clooney

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

One piece of advice that might be both the worst and the best is “write what you know.” A beginning writer might take that as sticking to what they already know and writing only about things they’ve experienced. That, of course, could be severely limiting and possibly quite boring.

What it really means is to know what you write. In other words, do your research, learn about your subject if you don’t already know about it, or learn a lot more about it if you do so that you can write accurately as well as drop in the little tidbits that flesh out a scene or a character so nicely for the reader.


About the Author

Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries (Penguin), the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. A Fatal Collection is her debut with Midnight Ink. A Wisconsin native, she has lived most of her adult life in Maryland, where she’s set many of her stories. Visit her at www.MaryEllenHughes.com.

Get A Fatal Collection on Amazon,  B&N, or  kobo

Author Links

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

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/mehughes13/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/mehughesauthor


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New Tarot Mystery and Guest Post: 3 Tips for Writing with a Partner

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Reformed con artist-turned-tarot reader Alanis McLachlan gets paid for predicting the future—too bad she didn’t see all the trouble in hers. First a figure from her past tries to drag her back into the life of crime she thought she’d left behind.

Then a new suitor tries to sweep Alanis off her feet, forcing her on-again, off-again romance with hunky teacher Victor Castellanos to hit the skids. And then there’s the little matter of the client who gets an ominous reading from Alanis . . . and is promptly murdered. Danger is in the cards for Alanis, and she’ll need all her skill at reading people and reading tarot if she’s going to survive.


4 Tips for Writing with a Partner

by Steve Hockensmith

I’m an original kind of guy. One glance at the way I dress myself would tell you that. (Which isn’t to say I’m a fashion plate. It means I don’t play by the same rules as other people…because I can barely understand what the rules are. Most mornings I have to model what I’ve picked out for my wife and ask, “Do these things go together?” And most mornings the answer is “No.” If they made Garanimals for Men, my closet would be filled with it.)

Here’s a surprising thing I just realized about myself, though: In one way or another, I’ve never written a book on my own. My newest novel, the “tarot mystery” Give the Devil His Due, was produced in partnership with tarot reader extraordinaire Lisa Falco. The books in my first series, the “Holmes on the Range” historical mysteries, are set in the same universe as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales. I wrote the official prequel and sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which means I was working with characters and premises created by both Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. My “Nick and Tesla” middle-grade books, which combine mysteries with do-it-yourself science projects for kids, were a collaboration with science educator “Science Bob” Pflugfelder. (And because I didn’t use the word “science” enough in that previous sentence, here it is again: SCIENCE!) And the “Secret Smithsonian” graphic novels I’ve worked on were a team effort with co-writer Chris Kientz and illustrator Lee Nielsen.

So I guess you could say I’m an expert on writing with a partner. Just call me “Collaboration Steve” Hockensmith! Or don’t, because that’s really clunky. Just call me “Collaboration.”

What has your old pal Collaboration learned about collaboration? Well, it’s funny you should ask, because I need a topic for a guest post. Looks like I’ve got one now. Thanks!

Collaboration Tip #1: Work with Dead People

Sir Arthur and Miss Austen have been great collaborators — inspiring, enlightening and never critical. And not litigious, which helps, too. (The public domain is a beautiful thing.) What more could you ask for in a partner? Other than, you know, life?

Collaboration Tip #2: Work with Friends

If you absolutely, positively must work with a living partner, choose someone you get along with. Both Lisa Falco, my tarot mystery collaborator, and Chris Kientz, my “Secret Smithsonian” co-creator, were my pals before we started writing together. And because we have clear delineation of duties — Lisa does the tarot stuff, I do the mystery stuff; Chris and I take turns writing scripts — we never disagreed on anything enough to become non-pals.

Collaboration Tip #3: Work with People Who Don’t Give a $%&@

If you absolutely, positively must work with a partner who is alive and whom you don’t know well, make it someone who’s too distracted to meddle with your work. Seth Grahame-Smith, who did the first Pride and Prejudice and Zombies “mash-up” novel, is now a much sought-after screenwriter and producer, which means he’s too busy cashing checks to concern himself with anything I get up to. And though “Science Bob” did give a $%&@ about our “Nick and Tesla” books, he was running around teaching kids, doing media appearances and inventing time machines in his basement on the East Coast while I was writing out West. (I don’t know for sure that “Science Bob” was inventing time machines in his basement, but what else do you think someone named “Science Bob” is going to get up to on the weekends?)

Collaboration Tip #4: Be Efficient

Map things out with your partner so there’s no wasted effort. And split up duties whenever possible. Like, for instance, when promoting a new book. Only one of you needs to work on a guest post for a blog. And it should be short and to the point and end the second you’ve run out of things to say.


About The Author

Steve Hockensmith’s first novel, Holmes on the Range, was a finalist for the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony and Dilys awards. He went on to write four sequels as well as a pair of bestselling follow-ups to the international publishing sensation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. More recently, he wrote (with collaborator “Science Bob” Pflugfelder) the middle-grade mysteries Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab and Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage.

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