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.

Enter to win a print copy


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

>>> Enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card! <<<

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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Ava Mallory’s free and 99 cent cozy extravaganza ends tomorrow

>>> Sixty hand-picked cozy mysteries, free or 99 cents <<<

Download great October reads from Ava Mallory, Julie Mulhern, Shéa MacLeod, Maggie West, Carolyn Dean, Amy Metz, Alannah Rogers, Larissa Reinhart, and more. And it’s not too early to grab The 12 Slays of Christmas, a 12-book Christmas box set for 99 cents!

Graphics from freepik.com

Hurry–this promo ends October 8, and many books will be going back to their regular price.

See all the books here


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

>>> Enter to win $10 PayPal credit <<<

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

Links


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New Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery: The Ninja’s Illusion by Gigi Pandian

>>> Enter to win a signed copy and a set of book-themed recipe cards <<<

A fabled illusion performed by a stage magician who claims to possess real supernatural powers. A treasure from the colonial era in India when international supremacies vied for power. A phantom trading ship lost over 200 years ago. And a ninja whose murderous intentions in present-day Japan connect the deeds of a long-dead trader who was much more than he seemed…

A lost work of art linking India to the Italian Renaissance. A killer hiding behind a centuries-old ghost story.When Jaya travels from San Francisco to Japan with her stage magician best friend Sanjay—a.k.a. The Hindi Houdini—for his Japanese debut, she jumps at the chance to pursue her own research that could solve a tantalizing centuries-old mystery.With the colorful autumn leaves of historic Kyoto falling around her, Jaya soon loses sight of what’s real and what’s a deception. A mysterious ninja attempts sabotage on Sanjay’s trick, along with Japan’s most controversial magician, Akira. Ancient folklore blurs the lines between illusion and reality when a magician’s assistant appears to be a kitsune, a mythical fox spirit. As tricks escalate to murder, Jaya and her friends must unravel secrets hidden in the ancient capital of Japan, before one of their own becomes the next victim.The Ninja’s Illusion is #5 in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series. Available at Amazon  | B&N | kobo

Other books in the series:
•FOOL’S GOLD (prequel novella in OTHER PEOPLE’S BAGGAGE)
ARTIFACT (#1)
PIRATE VISHNU (#2)
QUICKSAND (#3)
MICHELANGELO’S GHOST (#4)


About The Author

USA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian spent her childhood being dragged around the world by her cultural anthropologist parents, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s the author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series (Artifact, Pirate Vishnu, and Quicksand) and the Accidental Alchemist mysteries (The Accidental Alchemist and The Masquerading Magician).

Gigi’s debut mystery was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant, the follow-up won the Left Coast Crime Rose Award, and her short fiction has been short-listed for Agatha and Macavity awards. A breast cancer diagnosis in her thirties taught her two important life lessons: healing foods can taste amazing, and life’s too short to waste a single moment.

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New scrapbooking mystery: Crepe Factor by Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran

>>>Enter to win a print copy of Crepe Factor (U.S. only) <<<

Author Laura Childs is a superb writer and is now joined in writing this series with another of my favorite authors, Terrie Farley Moran! They make a perfect fit for sure. Reading the books, you’d never know two writers were contributing. The quality storytelling in CREPE FACTOR is of a standard that many authors can only hope to achieve.
~Lisa Ks Book Reviews
CREPE FACTOR is not only a fun, madcap romp through New Orleans and the bayou with memorable characters, the book provides inspiration and tips for scrapbooking along with several delicious recipes.
~Cinnamon, Sugar and a Little Bit of MurderThis is a lively read. Carmela and Ava are fun characters, and I loved their scenes together. The dialogue is sharp and quick, and really moves the story along.
~View from the BirdhouseLaura was my first cozy mystery author I read and it was this series I started with. She is who got me hooked on cozy mysteries and why I keep coming back to them.
~A. Holland ReadsCrepe Factor is quirky, fun, and entertaining. It is well written by seasoned authors, and their dual contribution flows seamlessly.
~The Power of WordsThe descriptions of this New Orleans community makes the reader feel like they are right there…I did enjoy the book, well written with a touch of humor.
~CelticLady ReviewsI found this book a delight!…The mystery was lots of fun.
~I Wish I Lived In a Library

I have followed this series from the start and when you put both of these authors together , their writing styles go so well together that you get an outstanding read.
~Shelley’s Book Case

This book really pulled you in wanting you to figure out who killed him and why. I loved going on the adventure with them.
~Community Bookstop

This was an entertaining and fun read. It had the right amount of humor in it that made me chuckle at times.
~Melina’s Book Blog

I love the setting of New Orleans. One of America’s most fascinating places. I love the friendship between Ava and Carmela. And I love the scrapbooking store setting.
~MysteriesEtc

I enjoyed main characters, Carmella and Ava. They were fun, quirky, and full of adventure. I appreciated that I could come into book fourteen as a new reader and not feel left behind in the series.
~Grace, Gratitude, Life

The Winter Market in the French Quarter is in full swing, but murder isn’t taking a holiday in the latest from the New York Times bestselling author of Parchment and Old Lace…
 
The holidays are a busy time for scrapbook shop owner Carmela Bertrand—but not so hectic that she doesn’t have time to enjoy browsing the booths at the Winter Market with her best friend Ava. The last thing the ladies expect to see is a lurching man stabbed by a serving fork, dying in front of them.

The victim is loathed restaurant critic Martin Lash, who posted his scathing reviews on the Glutton for Punishment website. And the prime suspect is New Orleans restauranteur Quigg Brevard—who was seen giving the critic a tongue-lashing minutes before someone stuck a fork in him. An old flame of Carmela, Quigg asks for her help, which does not please her current beau, Detective Edgar Babcock, to say the least.

Before her relationship is the next victim, Carmela needs to find a murderer who had no reservations about punishing the culinary curmudgeon…

Scrapbooking tips and recipes included! 


Character interview

Meet Carmela Bertrand, scrapbook guru, New Orleans habitué,
and main character in Crepe Factor by Laura Childs.

Carmela, welcome to Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a New Orleans girl through and through. A few years ago I opened a little scrapbook shop called Memory Mine in the French Quarter and it took off like a bottle rocket. Now we’ve evolved into creating invitations, memory boxes, rubber stamping, Paperclay earrings, handmade books, altered teacups, and all sorts of fab crafts. What you might not guess is that I was once married to a rich playboy from a fine old New Orleans banking family – the operative word being was. One day, Shamus (my ex) slipped into his boogie shoes and left me flat. It’s a good thing I’m resourceful and not afraid of hard work!

Who’s the character in Crepe Factor that you get along with the best, would you say?

That would be my BFF Ava Gruiex. Ava’s a self-proclaimed hottie-patottie who wears leather pants, a push-up bra, and owns Juju Voodoo in the French Quarter. Mostly she sells love charms made from herbs and plays my partner in crime when I try to solve a murder mystery. Which, for some reason, happens a lot in New Orleans. Hey, what can I say? We’re the Big Easy, home of Mardi Gras, crazy above ground cemeteries, haunted bayous, Cajun spiced food, great architecture, and bad behavior.

Anyone you don’t get along with so well?

I hate to admit this, but my soon-to- be fiancé Detective Edgar Babcock goes bonkers when I get involved in police business. For example, at the Winter Market, the food critic Martin Lash was murdered – skewered with a serving fork. And just because Lash had a fiery argument with my old boyfriend Quigg Brevard, Babcock rushed in and grilled poor Quigg like a pig on a spit. Then, when I decided to get involved (I call it a shadow investigation) to help Quigg, it evolved into a second murder and a wild and wooly romp where Ava and I gobbled fine foods, flaunted fashion, and ran for our lives through the bayou! Fun, huh?

Just between you and me, what do you really think of your author, Laura Childs?

Well, she’s pretty hard working for one thing. I mean, she’s banged out over 40 mysteries in the last fifteen years and most of them hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. So I guess that’s something.

What’s next for you?

Mardi Gras is coming up and that means another raucous adventure where a Mardi Gras float explodes and a fat cat finance guy who’s riding on the float is killed. When my ex-husband Shamus (aka the rat) is accused of murder, he begs me to help him. Needless to say, this evolves into my snooping at parties, in Mardi Gras float dens, and old French Quarter mansions. You can read all about it in Glitter Bomb when it comes out next year.


Gerry Schmitt, who writes under the pen name Laura Childs is now adding two more series that are harder-edged Wednesday February 26, 2014 in Plymouth. (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

 

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fund raising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

Laura’s Links:

Webpage – http://www.laurachilds.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/laura.childs.31


terrie-farley-moran

Short-listed twice for The Best American Mystery Stories, Terrie Farley Moran is delighted to introduce mystery fans to the Read ’Em and Eat café and bookstore, which debuted with Well Read, Then Dead. followed by Caught Read-Handed and Read to Death released in July of this year.  The only thing Terrie enjoys more than wrangling mystery plots into submission is playing games and reading stories with any or all of her grandchildren.

Terrie’s Links:

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/terrie.moran.9

Blog:www.womenofmystery.net

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/23186092-terrie-moran

Purchase Links:

      Amazon    B&N    Goggle Books    IndieBound


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New Southern Paranormal Cozy from Tonya Kappes: Ax to Grind

>> Enter to win a mystery tote full of swag! <<<

Southerners keep their secrets swept under the rug, but what happens when that rug goes up for sale?

Bestselling author Berlye Stone, the most famous citizen to ever come out of Cottonwood, Kentucky, has died and put all her worldly possessions up for auction, but not without leaving one more manuscript behind. A hidden tell-all about Cottonwood that’s got more gossip than a ladies’ luncheon.

When Beryle’s assistant turns up with an ax in her back and the only witness is in a coma, Sheriff Kenni Lowry reckons someone in town will do anything to keep the manuscript from seeing the light of day. Her poppa’s ghost returns to help piece together the life of the Beryle he once knew, but his memory’s a little foggy, and any misstep could cause them a world of trouble. With the help of Deputy Finn Vincent, can Kenni sort through the secrets buried in Beryle’s books, or will this be her final chapter?


Character Inerview

Name: Kenni Lowry
Job: Sheriff of Cottonwood, Kentucky
Gender: Female Age: 28
Residence: Cottonwood, Kentucky

Officer Lowry, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself? Maybe something people might not already know?

I’m the first woman sheriff in our small town of Cottonwood, Ky. And…I know people don’t know that I have a third deputy. The ghost of my grandfather, former Sheriff Elmer Sims.

Which character in Ax to Grind do you get along with the best?

Definitely  Finn Vincent, my deputy and real boyfriend. I can rely on him to always be there for me professionally and personally.

Anyone you have a conflict with?

Lordy beeeee…that’s be my own mama, Vivian Lowry. She still can’t wrap her head around me being the sheriff. She’d love to see me be a debutant, a wife and homemaker. She wears me out.

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

She’s crazy! You won’t tell her I said that, will you? But seriously. She puts me in these crazy situations and I tell her all the time, granted it’s probably at 3 a.m., but I tell her that I don’t want to do that. Then she makes me.

What’s next for you?

Even though the author is a bit nuts…she’s kept me alive and well with readers. Ax To Grind is the third book published about my life, but I’m currently telling her my story in the sixth book and we have at least four more to go!


About the Author

For years, USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes has been self-publishing her numerous mystery and romance titles with unprecedented success. She is famous not only for her hilarious plotlines and quirky characters, but her tremendous marketing efforts that have earned her thousands of followers and a devoted street team of fans. Be sure to check out Tonya’s website for upcoming events and news and to sign up for her newsletter! Tonyakappes.com

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A new traditional mystery from R. Franklin James: The Bell Tolls

Hollis Morgan has survived imprisonment, received a pardon and persevered to finally become a probate attorney. Tough as she is, her newest case will further test her mettle. She discovers her client, Matthias Bell, is a deceased blackmailer whose last wish was to return the damaging documents letting his victims off the hook. It falls to Hollis to give them the good news. But it becomes apparent that Bell was murdered, and the victims of “Bell’s tolls” are now suspects.

Hollis’ white-collar criminal past has left her with keen survival instincts. A gifted liar, she knows a liar when she sees one. A lot of people in this case are lying and one is a killer.

On top of that, she’s also representing a dying stripper, a wealthy widow whose estranged daughter spurns her attempts at reconciliation, but whose husband sees the potential inheritance as mending all wounds.

Clients aside, Hollis is defensive and wary. Her mother, who hasn’t spoken to her for years, needs a kidney, and Hollis is a match, but neither are ready to put away the past. With Hollis’ fiancé and emotional support off on an undercover mission for Homeland Security, she must count on her own survival instincts. She is swept along on an emotional roller coaster as her absent love and her family’s coldness take their own toll.

Work is her salvation. The specter of a killer keeps her focused. Hollis has always had to rely on her wits, but now she finds that others who don’t have her well-being in mind are relying on them as well.


Interview with protagonist Hollis Morgan and Author R. Franklin James

Island Confidential Interview

Ms. Morgan and Ms. James, thank you both for stopping by Island Confidential. Ms. Morgan, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, so our readers can get to know the protagonist a little better?

I’m called Hollis Morgan, I used the word “called” because due to life circumstances I ditched my first name, moved my middle name up front, and retook my maiden name after dropping my married one. I am not your usual protagonist. I was born and raised in California (that’s not the unusual part). Like many families mine is more dysfunctional than most. I’ve been told I’m an attractive woman with thick auburn hair and brown eyes, although at five foot three, I refuse to wear stilettos to compensate. When you catch up to my story I’m just finishing my fifth year off of parole (now, that’s the unusual part).

Yep, I’m an ex-con. I spent 18 months of a three year sentence in a California prison for insurance fraud. I was studying in law school when my then husband set me up to take the fall for his criminal activities. His logic was that as a first time offender, I would never do time—tell it to the judge that sentenced me.

From the frying pan, into the fire is how I would describe my marriage. I married my college sweetheart. The first year of our marriage was heaven, the second year was like purgatory and the third year was hell.  I divorced him from prison and I swore to myself that when I got out I would get my life back. And I stuck to my word, once on parole, I buried my trust muscles deep in my heart and set out to get a judicial pardon, finish law school, take the bar and get my life back on track. I found work as a paralegal, which at that time, was as close to the law as I could get.

I was doubly dumped when my family, a conservative self-conscious bunch, literally turned their backs on me when I left the courtroom to start my sentence. That wasn’t a real surprise, I knew they would never forgive me for embarrassing them, My family resembled strangers who were stuck on the same piece of real estate. We never went on vacations because that would require a certain amount of closeness we didn’t have. Emotions were frowned upon and conversation discouraged.

In the meantime my parole officer, Jeffrey Wallace, introduced me to the Fallen Angels Book Club. The Fallen Angels were former white-collar crime parolees of Jeffrey’s who were trying to re-integrate themselves back into society.  Most had changed their names, all had maintained the paranoia and lack of trust that comes from having your life turned upside down, and all of us loved books.

I admit I’m more paranoid than the others. I have a special talent, I can spot a liar within seconds and as a result I’m an excellent prevaricator. I enjoy the book club because I can be myself and talk about my favorite pastime, reading a good book. But my resolve was broken when one of the Club members was murdered like an antagonist in one of our monthly selections. It doesn’t take the police long to identify our Club as their viable pool of ex-con suspects. The police are even more convinced when a second member is murdered, similar to another book club selection. Why would a member do such a stupid, obvious crime?

I feel as if I’m in the early stages of drowning. In addition to being a murder suspect and losing my freedom–again, it appears my eagerness to solve the killings may have put me in line as the next murder victim.

Ms. James, you’ve brought Hollis Morgan to life–how much do you have in common with her? 

I’m not as courageous or self-composed as Hollis. But I do connect with her sense of fairness and being able to read people fairly quickly. And of course I love books. If I met her in real life – I would want to be her friend.

Do your characters change and evolve?

Yes. It’s taken Hollis years and several relationships (not all romantic) to trust again and to forgive again—starting with herself.

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

I haven’t thought of killing a real person, but I have thought of killing a person “type”.  Cruel and ignorant people are at the top of my “Do Away With” list.

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

My series takes place in northern California, but in a made-up city. It allows me to sprinkle in real places, personalities and events, without having to be out of date with new developments and locale changes.

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

Natalie Portman is Hollis, James Marsden as John Faber (boyfriend), Emily Blunt as Stephanie Ross (girlfriend), Sydney Park as Rena Gabriel (girlfriend)  and Jessica Lange as Hollis’ mother, Ava Morgan.

 

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

The best advice I ever received as an author, was to read my manuscript out loud before I delivered it to my publisher.

The worst advice I ever received was from a couple of beta readers who suggested to cut a character because he was a distraction. I resisted because his voice was in my head. That character became the most beloved and lasted throughout the series.

 


About the Author

R. Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. From there she cultivated a different type of writing—legislation and public policy. After serving as Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles, under millionaire Richard Riordan, she went back to her first love—writing, and in 2013 her debut novel, THE FALLEN ANGELS BOOK CLUB was published by Camel Press. Her second book in The Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, STICKS & STONES, was followed by THE RETURN OF THE FALLEN ANGELS BOOK CLUB, and THE TRADE LISTTHE BELL TOLLS, book five was released in June 2017.

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

>>>Enter to win an e-copy<<<

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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New from Ellen Byron: A Cajun Christmas Killing

>>>Enter to Win a hardcover copy of A Cajun Christmas Killing (plus swag)<<<

Maggie Crozat is back home in bayou country during the most magical time of the year. In Pelican, Louisiana, Christmastime is a season of giant bonfires on the levee, zydeco carols, and pots of gumbo. Except, this year, the Grinch has come to stay at the family-run Crozat Plantation B&B. When he floods travel websites with vicious reviews, Maggie thinks she’s identified him as rival businessman Donald Baxter. That is, until he’s found stabbed to death at Maggie’s workplace. And Maggie and her loved ones become top suspects.

The Crozats quickly establish alibis, but Maggie’s boyfriend, Detective Bo Durand, remains under suspicion. With Bo sidelined during the investigation, Maggie finds herself forced to work with an unlikely ally: longtime family enemy Rufus Durand. Her sleuthing uncovers more suspects than drummers drumming, and lands her in the crosshairs of the murderer.

The sleigh bells are jingling, and the clock is ticking for Maggie and Rufus, who must catch the killer or it will be the opposite of a Joyeux Noël in A Cajun Christmas Killing, the recipe-stuffed third installment of USA Today bestselling author Ellen Byron’s Cajun Country mysteries.

 


Interview with Innkeeper and amateur sleuth Maggie Crozat

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

Maggie Crozat: I’m an artist, but I help out at my family’s Louisiana plantation-turned-B&B. I also have a part-time job working at another plantation, one my mother’s family owned but donated to the state. I have to – I mean, get to – wear one of those fake antebellum ball gowns. Honestly? Not my style. I’m a jeans and t-shirt kinda gal.

I’m 5’4” and have hazel eyes, but I’ve always wanted to be 5’7” and have one blue and one green eye. I’m an artist and I have a fantasy of seeing the world blue through the blue eye and green through the green eye. Does that sound crazy? Yeah, it sounds crazy. But I don’t care, it’s true!

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

I’m very close to my parents and have fantastic friends, but I’d have to say I get along best with my grand-mere. She’s smart and has a great sense of humor, and only plays the Southern grand dame card when she has to. But when she plays it, Katie, bar the door. That’s something she would say. I also have an extremely hot boyfriend. Like, “what’s he doing with me and not a super model?” hot. Just thought I’d mention that.

Which character do you have a conflict with?

Oh, that’s easy. Rufus Durand. His family’s hated mine for 150 years, ever since my great-great-great-grandmother dumped his great-great-great-grandfather for cheating on her during their engagement. But there’s been a thaw in our relationship. Stay tuned! (Translation: read book three, A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING.)

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

She’s very bossy – always telling me what to do. And I think she’s mean for not making me 5’7” and not giving me one green and one blue eye. And for stuffing me into those wretched antebellum ball gowns. Do you know what it’s like suffering through Louisiana’s legendary humidity wearing twenty yards of polyester? Hashtag brutal!

What’s next for you?

I love Christmas in Cajun Country. They build these giant bonfires all along the levees near my hometown of Pelican, Louisiana, and light them on Christmas Eve to guide Papa Noel to the houses of Cajun children. But those bonfires can be dangereux, especially if a murderer is on the loose. You can read about how one of those psychopaths almost got me in the previously mentioned  A Cajun Christmas Killing. After putting me through that, my author better get me something nice for Christmas. Like one blue and one green eye.


About The Author  

Body on the Bayou, the second in Ellen’s Cajun Country Mystery series, won the Left Coast Crime Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and was nominated for a Best Contemporary Novel Agatha Award. Her debut book in the series, Plantation Shuddersmade the USA Today Bestsellers list, and was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Ellen is also a recipient of a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant from the Malice Domestic Convention. Her TV credits include Wings, Still Standing, and Just Shoot Me, as well as network and cable pilots. As a journalist, she’s written over 200 magazine articles for national publications. Her plays, published by Dramatists Play Service, include the popular Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. A native New Yorker and graduate of Tulane University, Ellen lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, daughter, and the family’s spoiled rescue dogs.

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