New Jade Blackwell Mystery: Murder over Medium by Gilian Baker

Former English professor turned blogger, Jade Blackwell, is enjoying her predictable routine when trouble comes knocking in the form of an old friend and colleague. Unbeknownst to Jade, Gwendolyn Hexby is no longer the successful academic she once knew and trusted—she is now following a new calling as a psychic medium, a contentious career that flies in the face of the logic and deductive reasoning Jade values.

At first, Jade welcomes the visit, but things soon turn bizarre as Gwendolyn brings only disorder danger and disruption. When a murder is prophesied, and a beloved pillar of the Aspen Falls’ community winds up dead, Gwendolyn becomes Sheriff Ross Lawson’s prime suspect.

To get Gwendolyn out of hot water, and more importantly, out of her house, Jade attempts to prove her friend’s innocence. Jade believes she’s finally discovered the truth, but is soon brought back to reality when she learns all is not as it seems in the realm of the metaphysical. Not even murder.

Return to the Jade Blackwell Cozy Mystery Series in Murder Over Medium, as Jade jumps into the fray of a territory not governed by logic or reason—in either this world or the next.


Interview

Gilian, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?

Jade Blackwell is a former English professor who got out of academia while she was still (mostly) sane. She’s now an online entrepreneur—a blogger and ghostwriter. She uses her natural inquisitiveness, analytical skills, and finely-tuned B.S. meter (from years of teaching college students) to solve murderers in the village of Aspen Falls, Wyoming. Born and raised in Aspen Falls, she married her high school sweetheart, Christian. They are happily married and have a daughter, Penelope (Ellie) who is away at college. She’s a sassy homebody who lives in her head.

She loves murder mysteries, especially Agatha Christie. Hercules Poirot is her mentor, and she describes herself as a much younger, better-looking Miss. Marple. She loves her cats, Tommy and Tuppence, but hates cleaning up hairballs.

How alike are you and Jade? 

As with many first-time authors, Jade is much like me in the first book Blogging is Murder. But as I continue to get to know her and as I develop as a writer, she is becoming her own distinct personality. So, while we do have a great deal in common, such as our former profession and a dislike for cooking, she is her own woman.

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

We’d have a blast hanging out together! We could talk literary theory, slow cooker recipes, and of course, murder.

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

My protagonist does for sure. Jade is currently considering a new business challenge as she’s grown bored with blogging and ghostwriting. Now, she just needs to decide what challenge to take on, which she will do in the next book.

As an example, in the latest book, Murder Over Medium, we see Jade struggling to come to terms with the many changes in her friend and former colleague, Gwendolyn Hexby. Jade still finds solace in logic and data, but Gwendolyn has moved from the world of academia to superstition as a psychic medium. Very slowly throughout the book, we watch Jade soften to the belief in a mystical energy source to some extent. At the end of each book, she’s learned a valuable lesson that she takes with her into her next adventure.

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 killed off a particular person, but many years ago, when I was a potter, I realized what a great murder weapon a clay cutting tool would make. It’s perfect for garroting someone. It even has handles on the ends so you can pull it tight without cutting yourself—much better than piano wire. I must admit it was jolly great fun to put that idea to good use in Book 2, A Time to Kiln.

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

I spent a lot of time determining the setting. The village of Aspen Falls, Wyoming is fictitious, but its situation in a real location. Since Jade was a college professor just a few years ago, the location needed to be near a university. Not too many in Wyoming, so that really narrowed the field. It needed to be near a mountain range too because I wanted that kind of feel to the setting. So, it ended up being around an hour from Laramie, WY.

Many people have asked me why Wyoming of all places. All I can say is that I tried to move Aspen Falls to Colorado at one point, but Jade wouldn’t have it. I thought since Colorado is so much more populated, it would be easier to write about. Nope. I’d try to write, but Jade wouldn’t show up. I only got a serious case of writer’s block. But as soon as I gave up and went back to Wyoming, all was well again.

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

This is the hardest question you’ve asked. I’m not familiar with American actors since I only stream British TV. And a few of these choices would take a miracle to accomplish, but here goes:

An older Honeysuckle Weeks as Jade Blackwell

 

Michelle Dockery as Gabrielle Langdon and Joanne Froggatt as Deputy Crystal Metcalf

 

 

 

A living Geraldine McEwan as Phyllis Buckley

 

A younger Michael Kitchen as Christian Blackwell

 

Emma Watson as Penelope (Ellie) Blackwell

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard?

Worst advice: Don’t bother. You can’t make a living as a writer.
Best advice: If you’ve got stories in you, write. Just start and learn as you go. Be the best you can be, and keep getting better as you learn the craft. The rest will take care of itself if you write great stories.


About the Author

 

Gilian Baker is a former English professor who has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger, ghostwriter and cozy mystery author to her C.V. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain murder mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder for her Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggling with her husband watching British TV or discussing literary theory with her daughter.

Gilian lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder.

Webpage – http://gilianbaker.com/blogging-murder-first-chapter/

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

Amazon –  http://amazon.com/author/gilian-baker

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16252646.Gilian_Baker


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Book Blast and Giveaway: Seashells, Spells, and Caramels

Enter to win two books by Erin Johnson
Imogen’s spent her twenties in Seattle, saving every penny and missing every party, to follow her dream of opening her own bakery.When that dream goes up in flames, she accepts a spot in a mysterious baking contest—one she doesn’t remember entering. She travels to a bustling, medieval village off the coast of France and discovers an enchanting world of magic and mystery, and learns that she, too, possesses powers.

Unable to so much as cast a spell, Imogen struggles to keep up with the other witches and wizards who have come from all over the magical world to the Water Kingdom’s big competition. She juggles relationships with a sweet new friend, a snarky baking fire, and a brooding, handsome baker. As Imogen falls for this bewitching world, she fears she won’t master her magic in time to win the job of Royal Head Baker, and will be forced to return to the shambles of her non magical life.

It only gets worse, when a competitor drops dead in the middle of the big white baking tent, and Imogen’s the prime suspect. Now, she’ll not only have to survive the vampire and psychic judges, but also clear her name by finding the real murderer, before they strike again.

With a killer on the loose, a missing prince, and the Summer Solstice Festival fast approaching, Imogen will have to bake like her life depends on it- because it just might.

Find Erin Johnson’s books at her website, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

 


About The Author  

A native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh. In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).


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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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New from Maggie Toussaint: Dadgummit

>>>Enter to win  your choice of book from Maggie Toussaint’s Backlist <<<

Amateur sleuth Baxley Powell is on vacation at Stony Creek Lake in the north Georgia mountains. Her parents, best friend, and ten-year-old daughter are camping with her. Almost immediately, a young man’s body is found beside the lake. Strangely, there’s no apparent cause of death. The local police have heard about Baxley’s skill at closing unusual cases, and at their urging she agrees to help.

 

Her psychic sleuthing leads the police to a halfway house. There they encounter eight comatose victims and an odd man named Jonas, who also has supernatural abilities. Baxley senses Jonas cruelly drained their life force energy. Jonas escapes, taking the sheriff as a hostage. Deputy Sam Mayes, a Native American, leads the manhunt, and he keeps Baxley close, knowing she’s the key to capturing this powerful criminal.

Baxley’s paranormal talent of dreamwalking, which she uses to traverse the veil of life, draws the unwanted attention of beings believed to be Cherokee folklore. Jonas stole a treasured artifact from them, and they want it back. They hold Baxley’s best friend and two others because they know Baxley can help them. As the clock ticks, Jonas taunts this crime-fighting duo and proves to be a wily adversary.

With the body count rising, Baxley and Mayes realize they are up against an entity who appears to be invincible. Do they have the power to subdue an energy vampire, turn the tide of evil, and save the day?


Death and taxes are not certain
By Maggie Toussaint

Psst. I have news.
My amateur sleuth Baxley Powell became a widow when the army declared Roland, her soldier husband, dead a few years ago. The trouble is Baxley doesn’t believe them. After all, a wife would know if her guy was gone, and she more than most.
Baxley’s dreamwalker talents allow her to search for spirits among the dead. She’s looked and looked, but Roland’s not in the afterlife. Since he isn’t dead, she concludes he must be alive. But where? And why isn’t he coming home to her and their ten year old daughter Larissa?
That uncertainty and lack of closure haunts her days and nights. A few guys ask her out after she legally became a widow by she refuses them. She can’t possibly date anyone when there is a chance Roland lived.
Meanwhile, her days are full of caring for pets and plants, raising Larissa, dreamwalking, and police consulting. With summer drawing to a close, her entire family goes camping in the Georgia Mountains.
Two very different and very troubling things occur once a young man is found dead of no apparent means, and Baxley is asked to consult on the case. First, she’s paired with Deputy Sam Mayes, a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. Second, they are kidnapped by entities straight out of myths and legends. Both encounters rattle the foundations of Baxley’s world.
Sam Mayes, in addition to being ruggedly handsome and a rock solid cop, is another dreamwalker. He understands the challenges Baxley faces as she seeks justice for the dead using her extra abilities. In essence, he speaks her language.
Their kidnappers are known to Mayes. He’s visited the Nunne’hi before, seeking wisdom. This time though the Nunne’hi have their own agenda. They expect Baxley to contact her Other World mentor who will then punish the man who stole a precious artifact from them. To ensure her cooperation, they keep several adults, including Baxley’s best friend, hostage.
While these actions are upsetting on several levels, Baxley is exposed to the concept of multiple realms between the living and the dead. It occurs to her that her missing husband could somehow be trapped in an interim realm, and she renews her pledge to find and rescue him.
As the case wraps up in the Georgia Mountains, Baxley realizes she enjoys working with Mayes. She isn’t ready to say goodbye. Turns out, he feels the same way. Mayes makes it known that he wants to date her, and when she declines a romantic relationship, he says he’ll be her friend instead.
Death and taxes aren’t certainties in Baxley Powell’s world. The only certainty in her world is change. Things continue to change, no matter what she does. These changes seem to be for the good. She has a new idea about where to search for her missing husband and another powerful dreamwalker to help her.
For more about Baxley’s adventures camping in the mountains, check out Dadgummit, book 4 of the Dreamwalker Mystery Series.


About The Author  

Formerly a contract scientist for the U.S. Army and a freelance reporter, mystery and suspense author Maggie Toussaint has thirteen published books. Her recent mystery releases include Gone and Done It, Bubba Done It, Death, Island Style, and Dime If I Know. Her latest mystery, Doggone It, is Book Three in her dreamwalker series about a psychic sleuth.

Maggie won the Silver Falchion Award for Best Cozy/Traditional Mystery. Additionally, she won a National Readers’ Choice Award and an EPIC Award for Best Romantic Suspense. She was twice nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award and finaled in the Beacon and the Readers’ Crown Contest.

Maggie lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows. Visit her at www.maggietoussaint.com.

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Murder with a paranormal twist: New Sins for Old Scores

Murder, like history, often repeats itself. And, when it does, it’s the worst kind of murder.
Detective Richard Jax was never good at history—but, after years as a cop, he is about to get the lesson of his life. Ambushed and dying on a stakeout, he’s saved by Captain Patrick “Trick” McCall—the ghost of a World War II OSS agent. Trick has been waiting since 1944 for a chance to solve his own murder. Soon Jax is a suspect in a string of murders—murders linked to smuggling refugees out of the Middle East—a plot similar to the World War II OSS operation that brought scientists out of war-torn Europe. With the aid of a beautiful and intelligent historian, Dr. Alex Vouros, Jax and Trick unravel a seventy-year-old plot that began with Trick’s murder in 1944. Could the World War II mastermind, code named Harriet, be alive and up to old games? Is history repeating itself?Together, Jax and Trick hunt for the link between their pasts—confronted by some of Washington’s elite and one provocative, alluring French Underground agent, Abrielle Chanoux. Somewhere in Trick’s memories is a traitor. That traitor killed him. That traitor is killing again. Who framed Jax and who wants Trick’s secret to remain secret? The answer may be, who doesn’t?


T.J., thanks for stopping by Island Confidential.  Can you tell us a little bit about your lead characters, Richard and Trick?

 T.J.:Richard Jax and Trick McCall are some of my fav characters from my mysteries! Jax is a Special Agent with the Virginia Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI)—the state’s version of the FBI. He’s a likable, hardworking guy who runs afoul of his fiancé and best friend—Kathleen Cullen and Special Agent Leo Carraba. Let’s just say he trusts the wrong people. Jax has a few quirks, too, like reciting movie quotes and characters when he gets nervous. His favorite is old firm noir from the 1940’s like Charlie Chan.  Then there’s Trick. When Jax is ambushed and nearly killed, he’s saved by the spirit of long-dead World War II OSS—Office of Strategic Services—operative, Captain Patrick “Trick” McCall. Trick was murdered in 1944 and is hunting his own killer, now. But being the pragmatic investigator he is, Jax thinks he’s losing his mind and not seeing a ghost—despite the help Trick gives him. When Jax has to face his own failures with his fiancé and Carraba, he begins to question his own sanity and wonder if his being the prime suspect in Carraba’s murder is for good reason. Was he to blame? Did he actually kill his best friend?

While Jax is pragmatic and often too serious, Trick is a fun-loving, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants adventurer who pushes and cajoles Jax along the way to solving the murders. Together they must find the truth behind a WWII traitor and a treacherous plot that has lasted for over 75 years. As they do, Trick has to come to terms with being a 1940’s man suddenly thrust into 2011. The people and advances are unnerving to him and he uses humor and sarcasm to make his place in this world.

 In the end, Jax learns the truth behind Captain Trick McCall, his friends and loves, and why history has once again repeated itself.

Is there any of you in either of the protagonists?   

 T.J.: Moi? Well … a bit but not as much as my protagonists in my other novels. I’m an acquired taste and it’s best to spread the real-me over a few characters and not all in one. As a former government agent now a consultant, Jax’s persona and idiosyncrasies are certainly from me. So are his skill-sets. I’ve run homicide and corruption investigations, chased terrorists, and dealt with the human side of these crimes and adventures. Those things come from my experiences and onto the pages—I hope. I try to capture that human cost—the innocent caught up in the chase, the untold consequences of my character’s actions and inactions. Many other’s thrillers and mysteries are focused on the chase, the clues, and the grand finale. Mine are too, but I try hard to carry along the cost of these events in my stories. With Jax, he loses his friends and loves along the way, and as he makes new ones, there is a larger cost—trust, respect, even his career. I’ve experienced these things myself.

There is certainly more of me in Captain Trick McCall than Jax. I love Trick’s character. He’s an adventurer—that’s how he was recruited into the OSS in the 1940’s. He tries to keep things light and fun and even in the face of danger, keeps his cool with jokes and sarcasm. That’s 110% me. Trick also likes to dissect problems with a little charm and wit—keep the goal in mind but don’t let it consume you. That’s also something I try to do. Not always successfully, but then, Trick isn’t, either.

In my writing, no matter the character, I try to look through their eyes and respond realistically. I’ve been in many real-life adventures and can relate to what my characters endure. Even the bad guys—although it’s a bit harder since I’ve never been a truly bad guy in my life. I have been to murder scenes, autopsies, terror attacks … you name it. I know what holding back bile is like when you first get to a nasty crime scene. I know fear and what it’s like to wonder if you’re going home that night. I also know what it’s like to tell someone their loved one is dead. So those costs in a murder mystery are real to me and I try very hard to make them real to my characters.

So between Jax and Trick, they each have a good piece of me in them. After all, I wrote them so I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a big investment in their lives.

How would you feel about these characters if you met them in real life?

 T.J.: Truth is, I have. Every one of my characters comes from my real-life background and adventures I’ve had around the world. I’ve lived and worked in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, the United Kingdom, throughout the America’s and elsewhere. I’ve known some pretty amazing people and some pretty nasty ones. So when I develop a character, I steal traits from those I’ve known. Bad guys included. Oh, there is no character that is 100% someone, but maybe 50-50 between a couple people I’ve known.  So, if I’d met them now, I’d be right at home.

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

  T.J.:  Absolutely. If they didn’t, who’d read about them? I try to develop a character as close to life as possible—strengths, weaknesses, oddities. Jax can be too pragmatic, loses his confidence, and is no-fun—too focused and driven. As New Sins for Old Scores moves along, Trick begins to break through and pull other traits out of him. Jax lightens up a bit and regains some of his confidence. But since Jax is a victim in this story, too, he has a long way to go to find normalcy again. By the end of New Sins for Old Scores, he’s close but not completely healed up. Trick also continues to go through character development. He begins as an out-of-sorts forties man trying to understand the 21st century. As the story progresses, he begins to hone his own contributions to the story and grows his confidence in this new world of his.

 My characters also have true-to-life failings. As I mentioned, Jax loses confidence and also is too pragmatic to let loose and enjoy sometimes. He struggles with the loss of his friend and fiancé, and that weighs him down. As the story builds, he occasionally finds his feet again but it doesn’t always last—causing him to make bad decisions and fail. As the series moves on, those gains and losses will continue and he and Trick will undoubtedly have to deal with other setbacks, too. It’s those setbacks and challenges that I use to move the stories and the characters forward. Without that, it would be the same old characters, doing the same old investigating. No fun at all.

 One of the big changes in Jax is how he comes to grip with Trick McCall. He gives up trying to decide if he’s a ghost or the byproduct of his near-death injuries. Over time, he treats him like a partner in solving the murders and even allows Trick to “share” him. You’ll have to read New Sins for Old Scores to learn what that means!

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

 T.J.: Well … Did someone say something about me? They can’t prove it!

 In my profession, especially back in the gun-toting days with the government, I often considered the possibility I’d have to kill someone. Part of my mission back then was protecting high-ranking dignitaries from terrorist attacks and investigating terror attacks. While most missions were relatively safe, there were a few that raised the hair on my neck and kept me awake nights. There were lots of times I considered the very real possibility of having to kill someone—or someones.

But to your real question, absolutely. At one of my client offices, I have a very close friend. Every time he gives me trouble, I threatened to make him my next victim. Slow. Maniacal. In a dark basement with leeches and snakes. Yeah, he loves it.

 In truth, there have been people I’ve known in my past that have already been the bad guys and victims in my books. About five at last count. It’s easier for me to connect with bad guy characters if I mentally connect them to someone. I know their personalities, their dark sides, their mannerisms, etc. I project them into a character. It works well for me.

 And let me tell you, my ex-wife … boy, was knocking her off fun!

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

T.J.: Both. My settings are, for the most part, real places that I take a few liberties with. For instance, the Grey Coat Inn in New Sins for Old Scores is a real place. It’s called something else and is not exactly where I say in the book, but it’s real nonetheless. It also has a deep history as part of the Underground Railroad just as I say in the story. Leesburg is a growing historic town in Virginia, as is Winchester (from my Oliver Tucker series). I try to keep places real so readers can relate, perhaps find and explore them too. I change things that can cause issues—building names (unless they are innocuous to the story) and specific streets, in particular if a murder occurs there or a bad guy lives there.

I am very fortunate to live in Virginia where history and wonderful towns are plentiful. All my mysteries have a historical subplot in them and I love to use the local Virginia culture and history to further those plots. It’s not hard to stay true to life, because in Virginia, history goes back to before we were a country and it has “been-there, done-that.”

I use historical events to bolster my modern-day plots. In New Sins for Old Scores, the historical subplot surrounds Operation Paperclip. This was a real OSS operation during WWII where the US was sneaking scientists and industrialists out of war-torn Europe back to the US. The Soviets and other allies did it as well. In New Sins for Old Scores, I overlaid that famous operation into the modern day and simply asked the questions, “What would happen if someone did that today in the Middle East? What if they did it illegally? What might happen then?” I connected Operation Paperclip, modern day activities surrounding the Middle East conflicts, and poof, New Sins for Old Scores was written.

 Characters are real to life, too, and based on true events. Captain Patrick “Trick” McCall is based on my mentor of 25 years, Wally F. Wally was one of the last OSS Operatives from WWII and a former deputy director at CIA. He worked with me on the characters and history, and in time, became half of Trick McCall. I, of course, was the other half—clearly the better half. The fun half, too. I lost Wally in 2015 to age and a bad heart (he was 92!) and publishing New Sins became even more important to me.

 Still, you might notice it’s not dedicated to him. That’s because I have since written a thriller, The Consultant: Double Effect, about modern day terrorism in Northern Virginia that will be published by Oceanview in May, 2018. In The Consultant, Wally is 100% the character named Oscar LaRue and plays a huge role in this book and the coming sequels. That book is dedicated to him as “the real Oscar LaRue.” I dare say, too, that every story I’ve written and published, Wally has been a main character in some way. In his living years, he begrudgingly loved it. He wasn’t a fan of the paranormal mysteries on the outside, but he loved that he was a main character on the inside.

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

 T.J.:The big question, right?  Today, you have to look a bit deeper into film and TV to find the really good characters. The media shoves the same old names and types at you—Brad Pitt, Jolie, DiCaprio. All stellar performers, no doubt. But there are some really great “others” that I’d go to see before any of them.

I’d love to see Nathan Fillion as Trick. I think he’s a fun-loving, personable actor who could pull off the role of being a man from the 40’s suddenly thrown into the 21st century. I also think Karl Urban from Almost Human would make a great Jax, or perhaps Alex O’Laughlin. Both of them are great actors. They can be focused and serious, but when a Nathan Fillion gets involved as Trick, they would be fun and adventurous, too. Alex, the beautiful historian, would definitely be Hayley Atwell from Agent Carter. She’s beautiful, skilled in action shows, and has that strong, take-charge persona.

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

 T.J.:

Best advice: Keep writing. Don’t quit. It takes years to get where you’re going for most of us, don’t give up or you’ll never get anywhere. It’s the way it is. Unless you’re the 1% of authors, you won’t write a blockbuster for your first book or two or three that will allow you to quit your job and move into the mansion. I’ll never be able to do that but I won’t stop writing and hope my books continue to be published. It takes time. Long hours. Rewrites. Rewrites. Rewrites. Then more rewrites and a hell of a lot of rejection. Don’t quit. Ever.

Worst Advice: So many I can’t pick. Here are a couple of small pieces of advice that nearly threw me before I realized they were not for me:

  1. Never mix first-person with third-person in the same novel. Oh please, it’s done all the time and while I’m a new author, it works for me just fine.
  1. Start with self-publishing to get your work out. If you’re really, really good at editing, covers, marketing, and all the things no one tells you about publishing, then this might work. For me, I went to traditional publishing first. I wanted to make my bones (establish myself) before I even considered any other path. I felt, and this is not true for everyone, that getting an agent and traditional publisher first would prove to myself that I was good and could “do this.” I can always self-pub later after I develop my work and an audience. To me, it was a means of proving myself in the market. Now, having said that, many authors find happiness and a good platform doing it exclusively on their own. There are some that have best sellers and have made a huge career on their own. I am in awe of them. One day, maybe. The truth is, there are so many publishing paths today. Self-publishing is just one. There are some amazingly good micro-presses and indie presses that even if you can’t get into one of the big houses, there are great options for more traditional publishing. Black Opal Books, who published New Sins for Old Scores, is among the best of these indie presses.

In my case, I’m extremely lucky that I have three publishing houses. My first series, the Oliver Tucker Gumshoe Ghost mysteries (God, I hate that tag line) has three books with Midnight Ink, a smaller publisher under Llewellyn publishing. New Sins for Old Scores is with a great indie, Black Opal Books. My new thriller, The Consultant: Double Effect is with Oceanview Publishing, a larger, great house right up there with the biggies. I’m thrilled with all the deals my agent put together and each one moves me farther ahead. Had I stopped early on and went solo in self-publishing, I’m not sure I’d have had the ability to get even this far along.

 So, my advice? Look around. Do your research on your options. And above all, don’t be afraid to take a risk.


About The Author  

Tj O’CONNOR IS THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE 2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARDS (IPPY) FOR MYSTERIES. He is the author of New Sins for Old Scores, from Black Opal Books, and Dying to KnowDying for the Past, and Dying to TellHis new thriller,The Consultant, will be out in May 2018 from Oceanview Publishing. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York’s Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children. Dying to Know is also the 2015 Bronze Medal winner of theReader’s Favorite Book Review Awards, a finalist for the Silver Falchion Best Books of 2014,and a finalist for the Foreword Review’s 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.

Learn about Tj’s world at:

Web Site    Facebook     Blog     Goodreads


 

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First in a new paranormal cozy series: Magick & Mayhem by Sharon Pape

>>> Enter to win a copy of Magick & Mayhem (An Abracadabra Mystery) by Sharon Pape <<<

What’s in a murderer’s bag of tricks?
Twenty-something Kailyn Wilde has learned to embrace her unpredictable life as a descendant of small-town New Camel’s most magickal family. She just didn’t expect to inherit her mother and grandmother’s centuries-old shop, Abracadabra, so suddenly. The surprises keep coming when Kailyn goes to finalize the estate at the local attorney’s office—and stumbles over the body of her best friend Elise’s husband . . .
As a brash detective casts the blame on Elise, Kailyn summons her deepest powers to find answers and start an investigation of her own. What with running a business, perfecting ancient spells, and keeping up with an uninvited guest of fabled origins, Kailyn has her hands full. But with the help of her uncanny black cat Sashkatu and her muumuu-clad Aunt Tilly, she’s closing in on a killer—who will do anything to make sure she never tests her supernatural skills again!


About The Author  

I started writing stories as soon as I learned how to put letters together to form words. From that day forward, writing has been a part of my life whether it was my first attempt at a novel in seventh grade or the little plays I wrote for my friends to perform for neighbors and family. After college, when I was busy teaching French and Spanish to high school students, I was also writing poetry — some of it in French.

After several years, I left teaching to be a full time mom, and when my two children started school, I went back to writing. To my delight I found that the muse was still there, still waiting patiently for me to come around. My first novel, Ghostfire, was published at that time. It went on to be condensed in Redbook magazine (the first paperback original the magazine had ever condensed.) Then came The God Children and The Portal. Redbook also published my first short story, which was subsequently sold to several foreign magazines. With two great kids, a golden retriever and a loving, supportive husband (whom I’d met at the beach when I was fourteen — but that’s a story for another day), I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be in my life. But fate had another plan for me, and it went by the name of “breast cancer.”

Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was that the cancer was discovered at such an early stage, but at the time it was all very overwhelming. Once I was back on my feet, I wanted to help other women who were newly diagnosed, worried and afraid. I became a Reach to Recovery volunteer for the American Cancer Society and went on to run the program for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. A number of years later, with the help of my surgical oncologist and two other volunteers, I started Lean On Me, a nonprofit organization that provides peer support and information to breast cancer patients. When Lean On Me celebrated its tenth anniversary it no longer required as much of my time, and I once again found myself free to pursue my first love — writing.

Author Links

Webpage | Facebook |  Pinterest | Twitter | Amazon | B&N

 


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New Southern Paranormal Cozy and #Giveaway: Southern Fried by Tonya Kappes

In the South, it’s better when the food is fried and the secrets kept buried…

After the dead body of a beloved Cottonwood resident is found tangled up in an electric fence, Sheriff Kenni Lowry has a hunch that somethin’ ain’t right. Her investigation heats up with a fierce cook-off competition, a euchre game where the intel is sweeter than the brownies, and a decades old family recipe that may just be the proof in the pudding.

The icing on the cake: Kenni is fighting an attraction to her recently sworn-in deputy sheriff, and election season is hot on her tail. When the killer comes after who she holds most dear, even her poppa’s ghostly guidance might not be enough to keep her and her own out of the frying pan.


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

About Me: There’s one thing you should know…I love my Poppa. He was the reason I went to the police academy. He was the sheriff of our small town of Cottonwood, Kentucky and a great one at that! When I was a child and until the day he died, we did a lot of back and forth on the small crimes that happened in and around our small town. We loved to banter back and forth about what if this happened and this is why or all the other fun details we’d come up with on why someone did the crime. I always felt like I was his unofficial deputy. Of course there was never a murder…until I became sheriff after the passing of my Poppa.
I live in my Poppa’s old house on free row, really Broadway Street. We call it free row because most people who live on my street are on commodity cheese or check the system in some way. There are junker cars on cement blocks and broken washing machines on the porch, but deep down their good ole folk. And with the sheriff living on the street, they aren’t going to do much harm. My best friend is Jolee Fischer and my bloodhound Duke. And…I just might have a hankerin’ for my new deputy, Finn Vincent. Have you seen him???

Be sure to check out the exclusive website for the Kenni Lowry Mystery Series where you can take a virtual vacation in Cottonwood. Check out the recipes and adult coloring sheets! There’s so much fun in Cottonwood. Click here!


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

Blog | Twitter | Facebook| Website | Amazon

 


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New paranormal cozy and interview: Pressed to Death by Kirsten Weiss

>>>Enter to Win a Print Copy of Pressed to Death by Kirsten Weiss<<<

Paranormal museum owner Maddie Kosloski thinks she has the perfect paranormal exhibit for the harvest festival—a haunted grape press. But when she’s accused of stealing the press, and her accuser is found murdered, all eyes turn to Maddie.

Maddie knows well the perils of amateur sleuthing and is reluctant to get involved. But her mother insists she investigate. Does her mom have a secret agenda? Or is she somehow connected to the murder?

Facing down danger and her own over-active imagination, Maddie must unearth the killer before she becomes the next ghost to haunt her museum.


Kirsten, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Maddie Kosloski?

KW:  Maddie’s greatest strength and weakness is her big imagination. It serves her well coming up with promotional schemes for the paranormal museum she manages. But it gets her into trouble too, because she tends to blow threats out of proportion. This makes her great fun to write.

How much do you have in common with Maddie? 

KW:  I returned to California after working abroad for years and really floundered, trying to figure out where I “fit”. It didn’t help that it was a tough economy, and I had a hard time finding work. But I got creative and eventually figured it out, becoming a full-time writer. In the first book in the series, The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, Maddie is in the same situation – she’s back from overseas, can’t find work, and is really struggling. So we definitely shared that situation.

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

KW:  Definitely! Stagnant characters are boring. Over the course of the series, Maddie’s arc involves both figuring out what she truly wants and becoming part of a community. The people around her grow as well. Her mother re-learns how to relate to her grown daughter. Her friend, Adele, learns to lighten up. They’re still the same people, but they’re evolving, and I think that keeps things fresh.

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

KW: What mystery writer hasn’t? But I’ve managed to resist it so far.

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

KW:  I based the setting on Lodi, California, though I made up a town for the series called San Benedetto, because I wanted some freedom to make changes. If you’ve been to Lodi, you’ll probably recognize quite a bit in the books – like the adobe arch that marks the entrance to downtown, the landscape, and especially the Wine and Visitors’ Center.

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

KW:  My dream is to get this cozy series onto the Hallmark Mystery channel! But I confess I haven’t visioned much beyond that to who plays the parts. That said, I could easily see Isaiah Mustafa as Detective Slate.

 

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

KW:  Best advice: keep writing. Worst advice: replace the word “said” with other dialog tags. Yes, the word “said” is used a lot in a novel – he said this, and she said that. But people’s eyes glide write over it. I’m not averse to occasionally switching it up. But ironically, it’s when you frequently switch it out for other words like, “he growled” or “she groaned” that it starts to jar on the reader. I heard someone tell a budding author that recently and winced.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

kirsten-weiss

Kirsten Weiss grew up in San Mateo, California. After getting her MBA, she joined the Peace Corps, starting an international career that took her around the fringes of the defunct USSR and into the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.

She writes paranormal mystery and suspense, blending her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of magic and mayhem.

Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking good wine.

Follow her on Twitter @KirstenWeiss, on her Facebook page, or at her blog.
Buy Pressed to Death at Amazon or B&N


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New Southern Paranormal Cozy from Tonya Kappes: A Ghostly Mortality

Only a handful of people know that Emma Lee Raines, proprietor of a small-town Kentucky funeral home, is a “Betweener.” She helps ghosts stuck between here and the ever-after—murdered ghosts. Once Emma Lee gets them justice they can cross over to the great beyond.

a-ghostly-mortality

But Emma Lee’s own sister refuses to believe in her special ability. In fact, the Raines sisters have barely gotten along since Charlotte Rae left the family business for the competition. After a doozy of an argument, Emma Lee is relieved to see Charlotte Rae back home to make nice. Until she realizes her usually snorting, sarcastic, family-ditching sister is a . . . ghost.

Charlotte Rae has no earthly idea who murdered her or why. With her heart in tatters, Emma Lee relies more than ever on her sexy beau, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross…because this time, catching a killer means the Raines sisters will have to make peace with each other first.

Get A Ghostly Mortality on Amazon


Q: Tonya, welcome back to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little about the protagonist of A Ghostly Mortality?

A: Emma Lee is an undertaker that inherited the family business–only she sees dead people she’d put six feet under that’s been murdered and she has to help them find their killer before they can cross over.

Q: How much of you is in Emma Lee? 

A: Very little! She’s an undertaker that sees dead people. She’s not close with her parents like me but she’s close to her grandmother. She wasn’t close with her sister and that’s why I’m knocking her sister off in this book…hint, spoiler! I’m super close with my sister.

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

A: Yes. There has to be character development or I think she’d fall flat and be so boring!

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

A: Hahhaa! Well….YES! The Dr. who misdiagnosed my son…or the dentist who messed up my teeth when I was 12 years old…revenge is sweet!

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

A: The landscape of Kentucky is very realistic. Some of the buildings are from historic places that I’ve made into different shops or landmarks. I have another series, Kenni Lowry Mystery Series, that is completely based on my hometown of Nicholasville. The streets are exactly the same.

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

A: I think Jen Lilley would make an excellent sleuth for the series. OR any of my series for that matter!

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve received as an author?

A: Write the next book! And that’s what I do.


About The Author 

Charming Fatality Tonya 5

Tonya Kappes is a USA Today Bestselling Author.

I write fun humorous fiction, some with romance and some with a little mystery.

More than anything I love to connect with readers! I’m a huge fan of them and LOVE getting to know them. Making readers smile, and remembering not to take life too seriously is how I like to write. I’m addicted to coffee, McDonald’s Diet Coke, and Red Hots Candy!

When I’m not writing about quirky characters and even quirkier situations, I’m busy being the princess, queen and jester of my domain which includes my BFF husband,  three teenage boys, two dogs and one ornery cat.

 Author Links

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New Paranormal Cozy and #Giveaway: Color Me Dead by Teresa Trent

Artist Gabby Wolfe has the ability to see not only the beauty of the living, but the despair of the dead.
When she returns to her childhood home in Henry Park Colorado, she is forced to bring along her younger brother Mitch. He is on a “break” from college where he was majoring in wine, women and song. If that isn’t enough they also have Mitch’s rambunctious beagle Luigi along who prefers to spend his days wallowing in junk food. When Gabby draws the death of a young woman before it happens, she knows she must tell someone and risk a new job and her professional credibility. Will she reveal her secret in time to save the woman in the water or will it be too late?


Teresa Trent lives in Houston, Texas and is an award-winning mystery writer.  She writes the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series, is a regular contributor to the Happy Homicides Anthologies. Teresa is happy to add her Henry Park Mystery Series to her publishing credits with Color Me Dead, the first book in the series. Teresa has also won awards for her work in short stories where she loves to dabble in tales that are closer to the Twilight Zone than small town cozies. When Teresa isn’t writing, she is a full-time caregiver for her son and teaches preschoolers music part-time. Her favorite things include spending time with family and friends, waiting for brownies to come out of the oven, and of course, a good mystery.

Author Links

FACEBOOK:   https://www.facebook.com/teresatrentmysterywriter

TWITTER:   https://twitter.com/ttrent_cozymys

BLOG:   https://teresatrent.wordpress.com/

WEBSITE:   http://teresatrent.com

Color Me Dead at Amazon


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