First in a new cozy series: Murder of a Good Man by Teresa Trent

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When Nora Alexander drives into Piney Woods, Texas, to fulfill her dying mother’s last wish, she has no idea what awaits her. First she is run off the road, then the sealed letter she delivers turns out to be a scathing rebuke to the town’s most beloved citizen and favored candidate for Piney Woods Pioneer: Adam Brockwell. Next thing you know, Adam has been murdered in a nasty knife attack.

Suspicion instantly falls on Nora, one of the last people to see him alive. After all, everyone in Piney Woods loved him. Or did they? Nora learns that her mother had a complicated past she never shared with her daughter. Told not to leave town by Tuck the flirty sheriff, Nora finds a job with Tuck’s Aunt Marty trying to get the rundown Tunie Hotel back in the black. The old hotel was Piney Woods’ heart and soul in its heyday as an oil boomtown. Now the secrets it harbors may be the key to getting Nora off the hook. She’s going to need to solve the mystery quickly to avoid arrest, or worse: becoming the killer’s next victim.


Character Interview: Nora Alexander

Nora, welcome to Island Confidential. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?  

My name is Nora Alexander and I have recently lost my mother. Upon her death I found a letter she had written to a man in Piney Woods, Texas. Texas? Really? Anyway, I took off for a state I had never been to and tracked this man down. From what I could figure, it must have been a love letter, because why else would it concern my mother in her final days?

Who’s your favorite character in Murder of a Good Man?

Luckily, when I hit town, I found a room at the Piney Woods Bed and Breakfast and met Tatty and Ed Tovar. They are the owners of the B&B and Tatty has a wonderful gift of smoothing things over.  Having Tatty and her husband Ed around has provided a home away from home for me.

Anyone you’re not so fond of?

 Tuck Watson is the law around this town and he is determined to arrest me. For what, I can’t tell you right now, but the man is infuriating, and handsome, but infuriating!

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

So, she writes my scenes and then rewrites them and then rewrites them again. Some days I feel like I’m on a loop that can’t stop repeating. I guess I like the scene better when she’s finished, but gee whiz, some days I want her to just give it a rest!

What’s next for you? 

Well, I have some big changes in this book,  and I can’t tell you too much without giving it away…but…it has a lot to do with cats.

 


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

 


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

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

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


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

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

How alike are you and Callie?  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Watson

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

Young George Clooney

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

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

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


About the Author

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

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

Author Links

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

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

Twitter – https://twitter.com/mehughesauthor


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King Harald’s Snow Job: A new canine cozy and interview with author Richard Audrey

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It’s early December and Andy Skyberg is itching to blow town for a weekend of holiday cheer with old friends—including a date with an attractive divorcée who thinks he’s hot.

But first, Aunt Bev needs a teensy bit of help. She’s managing the Girls’ Weekend Out event at the Beaver Tail Resort and could use some extra muscle. Andy figures he can spare a few hours before hitting the road.

Mother Nature, though, has other plans.

 

A giant blizzard makes an unexpected turn. Andy and his pooch King Harald find themselves snowbound—in a hotel full of hard-partying women, stranded travelers, a hockey team, a man-eating novelist, a belligerent blogger, and one violent, devious jewel thief.

Before you know it, man and mutt are up to their noses in another case. It’s a winter wonderland of fast-paced fun and merry madness, as the sleuthing duo dig out from King Harald’s Snow Job.


Aloha Richard, and welcome back again to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about Andy, the (human) protagonist? 

Andy Skyberg is about forty—a good-natured, easygoing sort of fellow. Unfortunately, his wife runs off with her Pilates instructor…his business tanks…and he goes into a deep funk. Lucky for him, his sister has a job for him back in their hometown of New Bergen, working in her restaurant. As soon as he moves back, he goes looking for a dog. He finds a big ginger-colored mutt called King Harald at the animal shelter and it’s love at first sight. What Andy doesn’t bargain for is Harald’s unexpected talent for sniffing out crime and landing his “boss” in the doo-doo.

How much do you and Andy have in common?

Other than being a middle-aged white guy from the upper Midwest, not a lot. He has more energy and more courage and a better work ethic. I’m actually a little envious of Andy.

Have your characters evolved throughout the series?

When the series starts, Andy is a little beaten down and easily manipulated by his sister/boss and his aunt. My intention, however, is for him to become more independent of these ladies. Of course, a lot of the books’ humor depends on Andy getting tossed into trouble, especially by his Aunt Bev. It will be a tricky balance, but I’m game to try. And, of course, I’ll keep throwing him curves in his love life, but eventually he’ll find the girl of his dreams.

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 anybody, but I have depicted a few real people (under fictional names, of course) who I thought were jerks or idiots.

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

A: Andy lives and works in the tourist town of New Bergen, a couple of hours up the Interstate from “The Cities.” It’s located in Beaver Tail County. Both places are fictional, but not unreasonable facsimiles of real locales in the Upper Midwest. However, a real rural county is not likely to have all the perquisites and amenities that I give Beaver Tail. In a way, I hope to make it like Midsomer, with a whole potential universe of eccentric characters and criminal possibilities.

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

Jared Padalecki

A: If he were younger, Jeff Bridges would be the ideal Andy. Though maybe a little too handsome, Jared Padalecki (of Supernatural and Gilmore Girls fame) would make a fine Andy.

For Aunt Bev, I nominate Sally Field.

Sally Field

For Thor Hofdahl, I’d go with Gerald McRaney or Terry O’Quinn.

Gerald McRaney

Finally, for Becky Reingold, Kristin Wiig or Amy Adams.

Kristen Wiig

 

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

A: The best advice was to write novels because you love doing it, not to make money. How true. The worst advice was to keep trying different genres to find the one that sells for you. Well, the problem with that is that genre readers often won’t read a freestanding book. They tend to not be interested unless there’s a series. So series (one canine cozy, one historical, one middle grade fantasy) are what I’m working on.


Richard Audry is the pen name of D. R. Martin. As Richard Audry, he is the author of the King Harald Canine Cozy mystery series and the Mary MacDougall historical mystery series. Under his own name he has written the Johnny Graphic middle-grade ghost adventure series, the Marta Hjelm mystery, Smoking Ruin, and two books of literary commentary: Travis McGee & Me; and Four Science Fiction Masters.

Visit D. R. MARTIN & RICHARD AUDRY BOOKS|Richard Audry on Facebook

 


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A new Potting Shed Mystery and interview: The Best-Laid Plants by Marty Wingate

USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate’s Potting Shed series continues  

A trip to the English countryside turns into a brush with death for Pru Parke, the only gardener whose holiday wouldn’t be complete without a murder to solve.

Pru and her husband, former Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse, are long overdue for a getaway. So when Pru is invited to redesign an Arts and Crafts garden in the picturesque Cotswolds, she and Christopher jump at the chance. Unfortunately, their B&B is more ramshackle than charming, and the once thriving garden, with its lovely Thyme Walk, has fallen into heartbreaking neglect. With the garden’s owner and designer, Batsford Bede, under the weather, Pru tackles the renovation alone. But just as she’s starting to make headway, she stumbles upon Batsford’s body in the garden—dead and pinned beneath one of his limestone statues.

With such a small police force in the area, Christopher is called upon to lead the investigation. Pru can’t imagine anyone murdering Batsford Bede, a gentle man who preferred to spend his time in quiet contemplation, surrounded by nature. But as her work on the garden turns up one ominous clue after another, Pru discovers that the scenery is more dangerous than she or Christopher could have anticipated.

Marty Wingate’s Potting Shed series can be enjoyed together or separately, in any order:

THE GARDEN PLOT | THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE | BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE | THE SKELETON GARDEN | THE BLUEBONNET BETRAYAL | BEST-LAID PLANTS


Marty, welcome back to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Pru? 

Life took a turn when Pru Parke had her 50th birthday. That’s when this single, middle-aged American gardener from Dallas, Texas picked up and moved to England to live in her mother’s homeland. Now, in Best-Laid Plants – only three years after her arrival, she’s confident in her profession and her relationships. For the most part.

Are you and Pru alike at all?

Pru has a lot of me in her (as does the protagonist in my other series – Birds of a Feather – although they are entirely different characteristics). I’m a gardener, I love England. Pru doesn’t cook, and I do – that’s a huge difference, and one I have fun with.

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

Indeed they do! (See above comment about Pru not cooking.) That’s an integral part of a series to me – I believe the recurring characters need to change in some way. So Pru’s life situation has changed, and she’s gained more confidence in some areas. She’s met some of her own goals for moving to England, and I’m proud of her for doing that.

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

The thing about my victims – and my murderers, too – is that I like them. Even the bad ones! To me, they all have some redeeming quality. And remember – the murderer always thinks he/she is the hero of the story. However, I do, enjoy taking someone I know or have known and adding a few (more) quirky characteristics and sticking that person in a story. No one ever recognizes him or herself!

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

Totally realistic! That’s my excuse for traveling to England and Scotland, in order to carry out research for my mysteries. Now, having said that, Glebe House (in Best-Laid Plants) is not a real place, but it’s based on a famous Arts and Crafts garden and I’ve even used part of the real garden’s history and woven it into my own story. So, I suppose you could say I weave threads of fiction into real places. What fun!

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

A: This is the perennial debate, isn’t it? I’m open to suggestion for Pru, but I’d like Clive Owen for Christopher (he’s a year or two shy, but by the time he signs the contract, it’ll be fine).

My first choice is Michael Kitchen (from Foyle’s War), but unfortunately he’s a bit too old now. But many readers see that certain quiet, steely, sexy quality in Christopher Foyle as they do Christopher Pearse. And that’s no accident.

But Pru? I’m stuck – although Reese Witherspoon has come to mind (again, she needs only a few more years on her).

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

The absolute worst advice is when an author (beginning or not) gets told how to write. “You must start with an outline!” “You must write a zero draft and never look back until you’re finished!” “You must use sticky notes on a white board!” It’s up to each author to find the right method for her. I am constantly going back over what I wrote the day before – it primes the pump for me, so that I can go on. It’s my way, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be everyone’s way.


 

 

About The Author  

is the author of the Potting Shed mysteries and the Birds of a Feather Mystery series. Wingate is a regular contributor to Country Gardens and other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. More Potting Shed and Birds of a Feather mysteries are planned.

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

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

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

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

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Why I Write Cozies
by Marilyn Levinson/Allison Brook

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


About the Author

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

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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

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


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


About The Author  

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

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

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

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 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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