Posted in Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, mystery on December 4, 2016

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mudder

First Degree Mudder (A Pacific Northwest Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Kensington (November 29, 2016)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages

Synopsis

When a mud marathon champion bites the dust, Meg Reed has to go the distance to make sure a killer comes clean . . .

Back home in Portland, Oregon, Meg is ready to take her career as an outdoor writer for Extreme magazine to the next level. Lesser journalists sling mud—Meg plans to run through it. To train hard for Mud, Sweat & Beers, an extreme 5K mud run, she’s signed on with the Mind Over Mudder team, run by ten-time mud marathon champ—and former drill sergeant—Billy the Tank. But when Meg finds her tenacious trainer dead in the locker room, she has a sinking feeling someone may have been pushed too far. Digging through the hidden secrets at Mind Over Mudder is a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Meg will have to tread carefully, though—or she may soon be running for her life . . .
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Excerpt

FIRST DEGREE MUDDER EXCERPT

Fort Vancouver National Park

Old Army Barracks

My feet squished inside my drenched kicks as I limped through the damp grass. I’d like to give Billy a swift kick in the shins, I thought cranking the volume on my phone to high. Maybe Dean Martin’s “King of the Road” would give me a final boost. Doubtful. I didn’t feel like the king or queen of the road. Quite the opposite.

The rest of my Mind Over Mudder teammates were nowhere in sight. Thank God. I checked behind me twice, just to make sure. I probably could have taken the shortcut straight to the barracks, but I didn’t want to risk being seen. That might have been a mistake. The historic grounds gave off an eerie aura, especially the dilapidated army hospital Building 614, to my left. It was rumored to be haunted. I understood why. Built in 1904 during an influenza outbreak, the three-story brick building had served hundreds of infantry men over the decades.

I shuddered to imagine the torture some of them must have endured. Was that a moan? A prickly feeling ran down my spine.

I think that’s a moan, I said aloud as I glanced up at the broken top story windows. Something ghoulish floated past.

Run, Meg!

I willed myself forward, ignoring the blisters on my heels or the chafing under my sports bra. It felt like I was breathing under water. I didn’t care. I crested the hill and turned onto Evergreen Boulevard.

Relax, Meg. It’s just your mind playing tricks on you. I had read one too many ghost stories when researching the history of Fort Vancouver and its surrounding grounds. The hospital had been abandoned for years, but people swore that things were amiss. Faucets were said to turn on in the middle of the night, bathroom doors banged shut for no reason, faces, like the one I’d just seen, appeared out of nowhere in the windows. The place was haunted. Definitely haunted.

You’re fine now, I told myself, slowing my pace.

I followed the flour on the sidewalk that marked the route of our pre-dawn run. It took us past the Fort’s parade grounds complete with an old-fashioned bandstand and Officer’s Row—a row of stately Victorian officer’s houses. That’s when I saw the creepy old lady again. I’d seen her watching us from her ground floor apartment before. The twenty-two stately mansions that make up Officer’s Row were now used for a variety of purposes. The Grant House had become one of Vancouver’s premier restaurants and the Marshall House a favorite spot for weddings. The remaining properties had been converted into commercial and residential space.

Yesterday when I jogged past the creepy old lady’s apartment she peeled back one lace curtain and watched me and my teammates. It was unsettling to say the very least.

I stopped to tie my shoe under an ancient oak. Its leaves looked parched from summer’s endless sun. My throat commiserated with the tree. I could use an ice-cold glass of water right about now. Pushing myself to standing all the hairs on my arms stood at attention as a creaking sound came from the creepy old lady’s front door. She appeared out of nowhere on the wraparound porch.

Were my eyes playing tricks on me? Where had she come from? I jumped back in surprise. Her glassy eyes bore into me. She wore a faded pink bathrobe and appeared to have been old enough to be one of the original members of the Hudson Bay Company.

“Hi.” I offered a tentative wave.

She didn’t move.

I tried again. “Good morning.”

Her eyes remained locked on me, but she gave no indication that she’d heard my greeting.

Was she a ghost?

I had no intention of waiting around to find out. I plowed ahead, crossing Evergreen Boulevard, and practically hurdling the waist-high wooden fence that ran the length of the grassy parade grounds. My feet revolted as I stumbled down the hill. It felt like someone was sanding my heels with sandpaper.

Pick up the pace, Meg.

The only thing that kept me upright was the promise of a hot shower and the fact that a ghost might be in hot pursuit. I needed to get to the barracks and get out of these shoes. Mud and sweat oozed from every pore. Thankfully, I’d learned my lesson after the first day on the training course and ditched my cute pink tank top and capris for old raggedy sweats and a t-shirt. Everything ended up discolored from the mud. There was no point in trying to look cute while under Billy the Tank’s watchful eye and blaring bullhorn.

I cut through the grass, something Billy definitely frowned on. “Reed!” he bellowed in his bullhorn when he caught me sneaking around the back of the barracks last week. “When you take a shortcut you’re only cheating yourself.”

That was fine by me. I happily owned cheating on myself.

There was a single light on in the otherwise deserted collection of buildings down the hill. The reserve encompassed three hundred and sixty-six acres of land. It included Fort Vancouver, Pearson Airfield and Museum, the barracks, Army hospital, Red Cross building, Officer’s Row, an old chapel, stables, and non-commissioned officer’s houses. The grounds are considered the Pacific Northwest’s most important historical site. And this morning I couldn’t shake the feeling that there were whispers from the past surrounding me.

My target was the barracks’ building where the single light glowing golden yellow looked like a welcoming beacon. Billy and his business partner Dylan had leased the barracks to use as base camp for their three-week intensive training class Mind Over Mudder. They promised that by the end of the session (If you survived, which at the moment looked doubtful for me) that not only would you be in “fighting shape” to finish a mud run, but that you’d also drop pounds and pant sizes. So far the scale hadn’t budged when I stepped on it, and I was so exhausted at the end of the day that I felt like dropping dead.

Using the wooden railing, I placed one hand over the other and slowly hauled my body up the ramp. The rotting wooden slats buckled. Please hold, I said a silent prayer to the Universe. The last thing I needed was to crash through the ramp.

Compared with the other buildings the barracks were in great shape. Everything had sat empty since the army abandoned its post in Vancouver decades earlier. The National Park, along with a trust, had begun renovations on the massive site. The barracks were first on the list, and Mind Over Mudder the first and only tenant at the moment. A sharp splinter lodged itself in my palm. It protruded from my mud-chapped skin. I stopped and yanked it free. Ouch!

Yet another reason to love this training program, I sighed as I opened the front door and stumbled inside. Every muscle in my body quaked. Billy had promised us that muscle pain was a sign that our metabolism was revving up and we were replacing fat with muscles. “Embrace the quakes” was his motto. Easy for him to say. Billy aka “the Tank” was the fittest person I’d ever met. That was saying a lot given that I write for Northwest Extreme Magazine and am constantly surrounded by hard bodied adventure junkies.

Billy instructed us to call him Tank on the first day of training. He looked like a tank. His stout body bulged with muscle mass. There wasn’t an ounce of fat on his body. Let’s just say that he was a bit intimidating when he sounded the whistle around his neck, wearing skin tight army shorts and a sleeveless shirt specifically designed to show off his enormous muscles.

I scanned the dimly lit hallway to make sure the Tank wasn’t there. By my estimate the rest of my teammates should be on the course for another thirty minutes. That should give me ample time to shower, soak my aching soles, and hightail it out of here before anyone was the wiser. I clicked off my music, tugged my earbuds out, and clutched my phone in the hand without the splinter.

The barracks have an ominous vibe even when they’re packed with my teammates and coaches. Shuffling down the long empty hallway made it feel even creepier. Like the army hospital the barracks are said to be haunted. The top floor was used for gun testing. There are still bullet holes in the walls upstairs, and it was said that you could hear phantom gun shots.

A loud thud sounded below.

I jumped and let out a scream.

My heart pounded in my chest. Relax, Meg. Maybe one of my teammates had the same idea.

I continued on, checking over my shoulder to make sure no one was behind me. The locker rooms were located in the basement. Not exactly where I wanted to be at the moment, but I hobbled down the hardwood stairs anyway.

When I was a few feet away from the locker room doors, they swung open nearly smacking me in the face.

I jumped again.

Was it the ghost? How were the doors opening? One of the rumors that I’d heard about the haunted buildings was that doors were known to open and close at will.

I backed up.

At that moment someone barreled through the doors and knocked me off my feet.

“Hey!” I caught myself on the wall.

The guy leaped over me and raced down the hallway before I could get a look at his face. I had a pretty good guess who it was. Tim Baxter, one of my fellow teammates. I recognized his bulk and black hooded sweatshirt. What was he doing in the locker room and why was he in such a hurry?

I pushed to standing. “Tim, where are you going?”

He paused at the front doors.

I noticed a package under his right arm. “Tim!” I called again. “What’s going on?”

He froze. I thought maybe I’d made a mistake. My contacts were thick with sludge. I don’t see distances very well even when my contacts are perfectly clear. Dirt had formed a thick filmy layer, making my vision blurry. I blinked twice.

The door slammed shut. Tim, or whoever had run into me, was gone

Weird.

I brushed myself off and continued into the locker room. Steam enveloped the front area where three massage tables sat empty. Long mirrors stretching the length of the room were completely fogged over. It smelled like stale sweat, moldy wood, and eucalyptus. Someone, probably Tim, must have left the steam room doors open.

Using my hands as I shield to avoid tripping over a bench I made my way past the massage tables and into the shared steam, sauna, and whirlpool room. Doors on either side of the room lead to the men’s and women’s changing rooms and showers. Originally the barracks only housed men, so when Mind Over Mudder renovated the basement locker room they’d had to get creative with the design. The actual changing areas and showers were private and on opposite sides of each other, but the steam room and hot tub were coed, which meant that bathing suits were always required.

My cheeks burned with heat. Muddy sweat dripped onto the floor. The wet air filled my lungs, making me cough.

I fumbled through the dense layer of steam. My hands landed on the cedar steam room door, which was indeed wide open. Someone had propped it open with one of the locker room benches. Really weird. I pushed the bench away. It made a sound like nails on a chalkboard on the tile floor.

My feet slid across the wet floor. I landed on my tailbone as the steam room door swung shut. Awesome. Two falls in a matter of a few minutes. That had to be a new record for me. At least my phone was safely secured to my arm. I just got a new phone after a little accident with my old phone. Smart phones aren’t cheap, especially for a girl on a tight budget. I couldn’t risk damaging this one, so I undid the Velcro strap around my arm and placed my phone and earbuds on a bench nearby.

Steam billowed from underneath the door. It reminded me of dry ice on Halloween. Whoever turned it on must have cranked the heat to full blast. I braced myself as I opened the door to shut it off.

I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, but I knew where the dials controlling the heat and steam were. The steam room and I had become besties over the past few days. Nothing soothed my training aches and pains like the moist warm air.

I found the thermostat and switched it off. I know I shouldn’t have, but I climbed onto the cedar slatted bottom bench and drank in the steam. Billy would be furious if he caught me wearing my muddy clothes in the hot humid room, but I couldn’t help it. I was freezing. Just five minutes, Meg, I told myself as my breathing steadied and I sunk onto warm bench. This is exactly what I needed, I could almost feel my muscles begin to relax.

Within minutes the steam began to evaporate and the air began to thin. I opened my eyes. My contacts were like glue. Blinking as hard as I could, I tried to loosen their grip. It didn’t work. They felt like sand. I might have to ditch them, I thought as I stood up.

The small cedar room came into soft focus. Someone else was in here with me. I blinked again. “Billy?”

Billy was laying on his back on the top bench with his eyes closed. Why hadn’t he said anything? He must be pissed that I snuck out early.

“Listen, Tank, I’m really sorry I took the shortcut. My feet are killing me this morning. I have like a thousand blisters.”

Billy didn’t respond.

“Tank, I’m a reporter, remember. I’m here for a story. It’s not like the rest of my teammates.” I stood. Spots danced in my vision.

Again Billy didn’t respond. I moved closer. Suddenly, I knew why he wasn’t responding. Billy wasn’t resting.

As I came closer, a horrific sense of dread came over my entire body. Billy was dead.

About the Author

Kate Dyer-Seeley writes the Pacific Northwest Mystery Series for Kensington Publishing, featuring a young journalist, Meg Reed, who bills herself as an intrepid adventurer in order to land a gig writing for Northwest Extreme. Only Meg’s idea of sport is climbing onto the couch without spilling her latte.

She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and son, where you can find her hitting the trail, at an artisan coffee shop, or at her favorite pub. Better yet—at all three.

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check out the other great blogs on this tour

November 28 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

November 28 – Grace. Gratitude. Life. by Marie McNary – REVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

November 28 – Queen of All She Reads – SPOTLIGHT

November 29 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

November 29 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

November 30 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

November 30 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW

December 1 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW

December 1 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

December 2 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

December 2 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST

December 3 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 4 – Community Bookstop – INTERVIEW

December 4 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 5 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW

December 5 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 6 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 7 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

Posted in Cozy, mystery, Spotlight on December 3, 2016

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Better Off Thread (Embroidery Mystery)
Series: Embroidery Mystery (Book 10)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley (December 6, 2016)
ISBN-13: 978-0451473851
E-Book ASIN: B01CZCW26A

Santa finds himself in a stitch of trouble in the tenth in the series from the national bestselling author of The Stitching Hour…

Marcy is busy helping her customers make hand-crafted ornaments at her embroidery shop, the Seven-Year Stitch. But despite the yuletide bustle, when her friend Captain Moe asks for her help, she can’t refuse—especially when the favor is to play the elf to his Santa for sick children at a local hospital. Despite the ridiculous outfit, Marcy finds herself enjoying spreading cheer—until the hospital’s administrator is found murdered.

Although the deceased had plenty of people willing to fill her stocking with coal, evidence pins the crime on Moe. Now it’s up to Marcy, with the help of her police officer boyfriend Ted and her Irish Wolfhound Angus, to stitch together the clues to clear Moe’s name—before someone else winds up crossed off Santa’s list for good…

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About the Author

gp3Gayle Trent (and pseudonym Amanda Lee) writes the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating series and the Embroidery Mystery series. The cake decorating series features a heroine who is starting her life over in Southwest Virginia after a nasty divorce. The Embroidery Mystery series features a heroine who recently moved to the Oregon coast to open an embroidery specialty shop. She also writes the Down South Café Mysteries as Gayle Leeson.

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Posted in Cozy, mystery, Review on December 2, 2016

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A Killer Location: A Home Sweet Home Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Alibi (November 22, 2016)
ASIN: B01AQNZQB8

Synopsis

As this captivating cozy mystery series featuring real estate agent Sam Turner continues, a dream home turns into a crime scene when murder intrudes on an open house.

Thanks to a few sales and a self-help book on becoming a super-agent, Sam Turner is well on her way to becoming real estate royalty in Arlinda, her eccentric hometown on the Northern California coast. And after settling into her new house with her teenage son, she’s finally a homeowner, too. Sure, things aren’t perfect—for example, her sister still doesn’t know that Sam is dating her ex, police chief Bernie Aguilar—but perfect is boring. And Sam’s life is never boring.

When Sam’s boss, Everett Sweet, assigns her an open house in Arlinda’s most exclusive neighborhood, she brushes up on her super-agent tips, hoping to wow potential buyers. But there’s nothing in the manual about stumbling upon the owner’s dead body halfway through the tour. When suspicion falls on her boss, Sam and her co-workers are suddenly out of work, their real estate licenses suspended. Now, with her job on the line and a mortgage to pay, Sam will need every trick in the book to clear Everett’s name.

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Review

Sam, a still newish realtor, somehow keeps stumbling across dead bodies and body parts!

As with the first book, I am always intrigued when the profession of the amateur sleuth is something I am able to relate to, and in this case my husband is a realtor so I hear all kinds of stories. The author does a good job of setting up the career path of Sam and nothing stuck out as being inaccurate. I even liked how she had other real estate brokers/agents that appeared not as “ethical” as perhaps they should be because this happens in any business.

Sam has a lot to deal with in her personal life, and I felt like that makes her very relatable because we all have children or crazy family members to deal with in our lives. It is nice to see her relationship with her son continue to grow because he is 15 and that can be an awkward time. She also has a personal relationship with her sister’s ex-husband but is afraid to say anything to her sister because she thinks her sister wants him back.

The mystery itself kept me guessing. I never suspected who the killer was and how it all linked together. I think some of the clues were there but I didn’t put them together.

As a side note, there are 2 f* bombs in the book. They are not necessary but just a heads up in case you don’t like seeing that word in your books.

We give this book 4 paws up.

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About the Author

SARAH HOBARTSarah Hobart is a real estate agent and former newspaper reporter in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and two children in a majestic fixer-upper overlooking State Highway 101.

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check out the other great blogs on this tour

November 21 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

November 22 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW will be added soon.

November 22 – Readsalot – SPOTLIGHT

November 23 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW will be added soon.

November 23 – Books,Dreams,Life – REVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

November 24 – THANKSGIVING U.S.

November 25 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

November 25 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

November 26 – Booklady’s Booknotes – REVIEW

November 26 – LibriAmoriMiei

November 27 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

November 28 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW

November 28 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

November 29 – Readeropolis – INTERVIEW

November 30 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – Cassidy Salem Reads & Writes – REVIEW

December 1 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

December 2 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT

December 3 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery, Spotlight on December 1, 2016

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Murder at the Moonshine Inn: A Hazel Rose Book Group Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd Series
Koehler Books (November 15, 2016)
Paperback: 288 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1633932814
E-Book ASIN: B01LXL1VXD

Synopsis

When high-powered executive Roxanne Howard dies in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premiere redneck bar, the victim’s sister enlists Hazel Rose to ferret out the killer. At first Hazel balks—she’s a romance writer, not a detective. But Brad Jones, Rox’s husband, is the prime suspect. He’s also Hazel’s cousin, and Hazel believes in doing anything to help family. Never mind that Brad won’t give her the time of day—he’s still family.

Hazel recruits her book group members to help with the investigation. It’s not long before they discover any number of people who feel that a world without Rox Howard is just fine with them: Brad’s son believes that Rox and Brad were behind his mother’s death; Rox’s former young lover holds Rox responsible for a tragedy in his family; and one of Rox’s employees filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her. The killer could be an angry regular from the Moonshine Inn—or just about anyone who ever crossed paths with the willful and manipulative Rox. When a second murder ups the ante Hazel must find out who is behind the killings. And fast. Or she may be victim #3.

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Guest Post

Research: Writing What You Don’t Know

Write what you know. What author hasn’t heard those four words countless times? But sometimes we’re writing what we don’t know. Historical fiction is a case in point. And what if your sleuth needs to investigate a murder at a redneck bar? What if she has never set foot in a redneck bar?

In Murder at the Moonshine Inn, Hazel Rose agrees to investigate the murder of Roxanne Howard, a high-powered executive who died in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, one of Richmond, Virginia’s most notorious redneck bars. Hazel immediately has two questions: who killed Roxanne? And why had the woman spent her leisure time sitting on a barstool at the watering hole, having loud fights on her phone with her husband?

To answer these questions, Hazel needs to go to the bar—undercover. How does she act? How does she dress? How does she speak? What does the bar look like?

That’s where I step in. I needed to visit a redneck bar that would become the model for the fictitious Moonshine Inn (not undercover, though.).

My friend Marie served as my consultant. She assured me that she was an expert on redneck culture. She advised me on dress, dialog, and any number of details. She sent me links to databases of redneck baby names. There is a wealth of online sources for redneckiana (not a real word, but perhaps it should be).

Vince, Hazel’s husband and undercover partner, admires his wife’s disguise:

“Wow!” His appreciative look said he liked the redneck me.

“It’s just for tonight. This is way too much work.”

“It’s the top I like. Hair’s for the birds. Literally.”

Vince referred to my Harley Davidson two-sizes-too-Vince referred to my Harley Davidson two-sizes-too-small tank top that revealed an impressive display of cleavage. I had a Victoria’s Secret contraption that I employed for the thankfully few occasions when I wanted to play up my assets. The jeans that I’d slashed in strategic places molded my bottom half, and Eileen’s boots fit well with the help of thick, albeit unsexy, socks. As for the hair, I may have gone overboard with teasing and spraying my chestnut waves into something like an exploded mushroom—or a birds nest. But, as long as I fit in, that was the main thing: frosted blue eye shadow and plenty of it streaked across my eyelids, and my nails sparkled with scarlet polish.

Back to me and my research. My own husband and I visited three bars and I combined the three in to one for my story. I tried to capture the essence and Marie helped. Between these visits, Marie, online sources, and my vivid imagination, I put together a passable chapter.

When Hazel arrives at the Moonshine Inn with Vince, she gives an Oscar-worthy performance as a redneck queen, she meets some very interesting people, and picks up information that may prove valuable in nailing Roxanne Howard’s killer.

 

Excerpt

IF ONLY I could learn to say no, I wouldn’t be perched on a barstool in a redneck bar, breathing secondhand smoke and pretending to flirt with men sporting baseball caps and Confederate bandanas, their eyes riveted on my Victoria’s Secret-enhanced cleavage. I wouldn’t be tricked out in a bizarre hairstyle, frosted blue eye shadow, painted-on jeans with strategically placed slashes, and a two-sizes-too-small Harley Davidson tank top.

I hit the rewind button on my life and stopped a few days earlier, at the point where Phyllis Ross threw a cup of coffee in Nina Brown’s face. How that led to this undercover assignment—finding out who killed a middle-aged drunken woman in the parking lot of the Moonshine Inn—is quite a tale.

***

When I walked into one of the many Panera restaurants that dotted the Richmond, Virginia landscape I didn’t spot any rednecks. Perhaps they were traveling incognito. The Panera denizens wore standard summer garb: shorts, capris, sandals, T-shirts, with a baseball cap here and there. They sat hunched over laptops or swiping the screens of their smartphones. Some retro types chose to absorb the day’s news on paper.

Trudy Zimmerman’s long white mane made her easy to spot in a booth that overlooked Panera’s patio and the parking lot beyond. When I took the seat next to her, she introduced the woman sitting across from us as Nina Brown.

Nina Brown. Where had I heard that name? Trudy pronounced Nina like the number nine followed by a short a—Nine-ah. Short and long vowels brought back memories of long-ago school days: were vowels still a part of the teaching curriculum?

Nina’s appearance spoke volumes about her health. A heavy layer of makeup didn’t hide the shadows under her dark eyes. Vertical lines bracketed her mouth like parentheses. I wondered if she suffered from depression, perhaps brought on by a serious health condition or recent trauma.

She extended her hand. “Nice to meet you, Hazel,” she assured me in a surprisingly strong and melodious voice, one I associated with telephone sales or disc jockeys.

Trudy had called me the night before, saying she had a friend who needed a favor that apparently only I could grant.

“What sort of favor?”

“I can’t say. She made me promise not to.”

“Huh? What is this, some kind of spy operation?”

“I think you’ll be intrigued by what she has to say. Please, Hazel. Do this for me.”

“For you, huh? Who is this woman? How about a hint?”

“I can’t. I’m sworn to secrecy. Just come and hear her story. You can always say no.”

I’d laughed. “Yeah, just say no.” One would think that at my age I would have learned to say no. But I suspected I’d be filing for Medicare without mastering that useful skill. Oh well, I had two years to work on it.

“Okay, I’ll listen to what she has to say. I’ll say ‘yes’ to that.” We decided on Panera at Stony Point at eight the next morning.

Introductions made, Trudy looked at me and said, “Why don’t you get something and then we’ll chat.” I noted her party hostess tone and gave her a look.

When I returned to the booth with coffee and croissant in hand, Trudy stood to let me slide into the booth. “I might have to leave early. We have a staff meeting at nine-thirty.”

“We” referred to the library where Trudy worked. Great, I thought. I hoped Nina got her tale told before Trudy deserted me.

Nina smiled and started with an icebreaker. “So Hazel, Trudy says you two are in the same book group.”

“Yes, for, what is it, ten years now?” Trudy nodded.

Nina sipped her coffee, bleached by a heavy dose of creamer. “And you’re a writer?”

“Yes, I write romance novels for baby boomers.”

“How many books have you published?”

“Six, so far.”

“A lot of people like your books.”

I smiled. “So, what kind of work do you do?”

“Oh, nothing much right now. I help out at my . . . my sister’s non-profit.” She inhaled heavily and grabbed my arm, startling me. “I have something to ask … a favor.”

“Why, Hazel Rose and Trudy Zimmerman. Fancy meeting you here.”

“Hi, Phyllis.” In one voice Trudy and I greeted Phyllis Ross,another member of our book group. Phyllis fixed her attention on Nina—not on us. Her do-I-know-you look was a little too probing, but Phyllis wasn’t known for her subtlety.

Trudy put down her egg sandwich and wiped her mouth before making introductions. “Phyllis Ross, Nina Brown. Nina—”

“So it is you! I can’t believe it.” Phyllis pointed a shaky finger at Nina.

Nina looked alarmed. “Who are you?” she asked.

“Who am I? I’m Phyllis Lassiter Ross. Charlie Lassiter’s sister.”

“Oh! I didn’t recognize you.”

Phyllis glared. “Well, it’s been twenty years.”

I could understand why Nina didn’t recognize her. I’d seen pictures of Phyllis from her younger days and the years hadn’t been kind to her. Likely her love of the sun had accelerated the aging process.

Her face darkening with anger, Phyllis leaned over the table, hovering over Nina. Her brown-going-gray hair fanned out around her head and I covered my mug with my hand lest a stray hair invade my coffee.

“Charlie loved you, may he rest in peace,” Phyllis railed. “But you dumped him like he was yesterday’s garbage. After taking his money for that pyramid scheme.”

“Charlie died?”

“Yes, two years ago.”

Charlie Lassiter had suffered a massive heart attack. At his funeral I’d met his current wife, former wife, his children and grandchildren. I felt sure he was long over Nina. So, why was Phyllis pinning his demise on her?

“Phyllis, I’m sorry he died, but I had nothing to do with it. I hadn’t seen him in years. As for the money, I paid him back.”

“Not according to him you didn’t. Two thousand dollars to invest in nutrition supplements.” Phyllis gave Nina the once-over. “Obviously a poor investment.”

Trudy and I looked at each other, not sure if we should intervene. But I felt like I had to do something. “Phyllis, please—” I started.

Phyllis ignored me. I hoped she wouldn’t follow in her brother’s footsteps and have a cardiac event. Could one of the device-addicted customers be a doctor? Eyes flashing, she continued to challenge Nina. “So tell me, how many children did you have?”

Nina opened her mouth as if to answer, then closed it.

“You told my brother you wanted children; you said your clock was ticking. Even though when you met him you claimed you didn’t want them.”

“I changed my mind.”

“So how many little rug rats did you have? Or was it all a ruse to get rid of Charlie?”

“I didn’t have children. I broke up with your dear brother because he was a jerk. God rest his soul, but he was a jerk!”

“He loved you and so hoped to get back together. God knows the whole family told him you weren’t worth it.”

“Yeah, I know. He stalked me for two years. And another thing—he was weird sexually.”

Weird sexually? I privately hoped she’d expand on that item. As a romance writer I was always on the lookout for new material.

Up to then the two women had kept their voices modulated, but now Nina amped up her proclamation about Charlie’s peccadillos, pulling people’s attention from their newspapers and electronic devices. It also put Phyllis over the edge. In less time than it took to blink, she picked up Nina’s mug and tossed the contents into her face, adding a few choice expletives.

Nina sat open-mouthed in shock, face and hair dripping with coffee.

I handed Nina my napkin and Trudy’s. “Are you burned?” Trudy made a dash for the napkin dispenser on a nearby condiment station.

“No, just wet.” Nina wiped her face. No doubt she could thank her over-creaming habit for cooling her coffee enough to save her from injury.

Then several things happened at once. A handsome young man whose name tag read “Todd Makin, Manager” appeared and asked if there was a problem. A member of the waitstaff trailed behind him with a wet cloth in hand.

“I’ll say there’s a problem,” said a woman who had been sitting in the booth behind us. She stood and pulled off her up-to-then pristine white jacket, now splotched with coffee. Droplets of the brew clung to the woman’s blonde curls.

By that time we were all standing and had the attention of the whole restaurant. Phyllis had vanished. Trudy handed Nina more napkins and escorted her to the restroom like she was a young child. As they walked away I noticed that Nina’s clothes hung on her, almost requiring suspenders to hold up her capris. A recent weight loss was my guess.

The irate woman spoke up. “That woman, the one with the wild hair—” she pointed out the window. Phyllis was now headed for the parking lot, her hair and loose-fitting top flowing around her. “She threw a cup of coffee at that woman in the red shirt.” She turned and pointed out Nina, now almost to the restroom.

“We’ll get you all seated at clean booths.” The manager smiled, his voice soothing. He’d make a great diplomat. Or playground referee. His assistant set to cleaning up both booths while Todd transferred our dishes.

That left me standing with the irate woman who wailed, “My beautiful jacket is just ruined!”

“Oh, the stain will come out,” I assured her. “I have the same jacket and once spilled coffee on it. Cold water works like magic. You’d better go to the restroom right away before the stain sets.”

I’m not usually called upon for impromptu performances, but I did a fair job spinning this tale. The woman looked uncertain for a moment, like she suspected a trick. Then she sighed and went to join Trudy and Nina in the restroom.

I sat in the new booth and waited for Trudy and Nina to reappear. When they did, Nina was still a bit damp.

She explained, “They only have automatic hand dryers in the restroom. They don’t dry the rest of the body too well.”

Having never found myself dripping with coffee in a restaurant, I hadn’t considered the limitations of hand dryers. Todd refreshed our beverages and offered any other services he could provide.

We assured him that we’d let him know. When he left, the three of us looked at each other and laughed. We had some “other services” in mind for the attractive Todd.

I said, “Nina, we’re sorry about Phyllis.”

Nina’s shrug suggested that she tangled with enraged women on a regular basis. “It’s okay. Charlie’s whole family hated me. They thought he was so wonderful. But he wasn’t.”

I knew Phyllis had been close to her brother and had taken it hard when Charlie died. Perhaps she had a blind side for her brother. Of course, she hadn’t known him in the same context as had Nina. Or so I hoped.

“You know,” I said, “You could file assault charges. That’s what Phyllis did, assault you.”

“No, no, no, no, no.” Nina waved both hands in front of her like they were windshield wipers. “Let’s just forget about it.”

I waited a beat for Nina to offer anything else about Charlie. When she didn’t, I said brightly, “Well, let’s start over. You said you needed a favor.”

My earlier reluctance to come to this meeting so early on a Monday morning had yielded to an eager curiosity. A woman who caused other women to throw coffee in her face had to be interesting. And a woman with a sexually weird man in the past—well, I was all ears.

Nina bit her lip and set to twisting her napkin. “Um, yes. A favor.” Nina looked around, like she feared someone might overhear her or sneak up behind her. Was she about to confess to a crime? If so, she didn’t need me, she needed a lawyer.

Leaning in close, she lowered her voice. “I want you to find out who killed my sister.”

About the Author

maggie-king-author-photo-72Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries, including the recently-released Murder at the Moonshine Inn. She contributed the stories “A Not So Genteel Murder” and “Reunion at Shockoe Slip” to the Virginia is for Mysteries anthologies.

Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive.

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November 28 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

November 28 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

November 29 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

November 30 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

December 1 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

December 2 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

December 2 – deal sharing aunt – INTERVIEW

December 3 – Book Babble – REVIEW

December 4 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

December 4 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

December 5 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

December 5 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW, EXCERPT

December 6 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – REVIEW

December 7 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

December 7 – Cassidy Salem Reads & Writes – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on November 29, 2016

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cat-got-your-diamonds-rgb

Cat Got Your Diamonds: A Kitty Couture Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (November 15, 2016)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1629538426
E-Book ASIN: B01H082DOU

Synopsis

Grandeur and opulence are everything in the famed New Orleans Garden District where pets are family and no bling is too big. Opening Furry Godmother, pet boutique and organic treat bakery, is Lacy Marie Crocker’s dream come true–until the glitter gun used to make her Shih Tzu tutus becomes a murder weapon. And Lacy becomes public enemy #1.

Now Detective Jack Oliver is hounding Lacy, and her Furry Godmother investor wants out before his name is tarnished by association. To make matters worse, a string of jewel heists with suspicious ties to the murder case has New Orleans residents on edge. To save her dream, Lacy must take a stand, put her keen eyes to work, and unravel what really happened at her shop that night. But can Lacy sniff out the killer cat burglar in time to get her tail-raising designs on the catwalk?

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Review

A great start to a new mystery series!

I’ve read several of this author’s books and truly enjoyed them so wanted to see how this new series would compare. Very enjoyable! Lacy is a strong woman back home in New Orleans and running a couture and bakery for pets called Furry Godmother (love the name!). This is a big business so she should do well. And of course outfitting Llamas, cats, dogs, and other animals just adds to the quirkiness of the characters. I could just imagine some of these animals in the costumes she designed for them. She may come from a wealthier family but wants to do this on her own and is lucky to get the assistance of a local businessman, Mr. Tater (really I swear that is his name!), who pays her rent for a share of the profits.

So what would be any mystery without a murder? And since it happens in Lacy’s shop and she is suspected of being the killer, of course she has to get involved. There are some interesting twists I didn’t suspect and I thought I knew where the stolen jewelry would be and I was so wrong. Shame too because that would have been a good hiding space. I’m not going to tell you what in case you think along the same lines…you need to be surprised too. Anyway, the murderer is quite the surprise, but there is another surprise twist which shocked me because it wasn’t even something I considered.

And of course there has to be a love interest….or two. The studly Detective Jack Oliver and pro-volleyball player, Chase (brother of her best friend’s husband). Both have their pros and cons and we will have to wait and see who might be her love interest in future books.

We give this 4 paws up.

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About the Author

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

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November 15 – The Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

November 15 – Books,Dreams,Life – REVIEW

November 15 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

November 16 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW, GUEST POST

November 16 – Kaisy Daisy’s Corner – REVIEW

November 16 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

November 17 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

November 17 – Grace. Gratitude. Life. by Marie McNary – REVIEW

November 18 – Melina’s Book Blog –  REVIEW, GUEST POST

November 18 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 18 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

November 19 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

November 19 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too ! – SPOTLIGHT

November 19 – Island Confidential  – INTERVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

November 20 – Michelle’s Romantic Tangle – GUEST POST

November 20 – Readeropolis –  SPOTLIGHT

November 21 – Bea’s Book Nook – REVIEW

November 21 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST

November 21 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

November 22 – Books, Movies, Reviews. Oh my! – REVIEW

November 22 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

November 22 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

November 23 – Book Babble – REVIEW

November 23 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

November 23 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

November 24 – THANKSGIVING

November 25 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

November 25 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 26 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

November 26 – Community Bookstop –  REVIEW

November 27 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, GUEST POST

November 27 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

November 28 – Classy Cheapskate – REVIEW

November 28 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

November 28 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

November 29 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

November 29 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, mystery, Review on November 28, 2016

 

maggie-doves-detective-agency

2nd in Series
Alibi (November 8, 2016)
E-Book ASIN: B01AERZS0A
Approximately 225 pages

Synopsis

As Susan Breen’s compelling cozy mystery series continues, Maggie Dove’s budding detective agency has given her a new lease on life. Only one thing stands in the way of success: her clients—or lack of them.

After catching the killer who shook her small Hudson River town, former Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove stumbled onto an exciting new career and found a way to take her mind off her own tragic past. Now, despite her best efforts to promote the agency, Maggie can’t seem to land any new cases—until Racine Stern, one of the village’s wealthiest residents, offers her a thousand dollars to convince her “evil” sister, Domino, to stay out of town.

While Maggie’s business partner thinks she’s crazy for turning down a potential client, she doesn’t want her agency to get a reputation for accommodating bizarre requests. However, Maggie is soon caught up in the family drama anyway. Racine may fear for her life—and her inheritance—but it’s Domino who takes the fall when she plunges to her death from a tower at Stern Manor. Was it an accident or something more sinister? Maggie’s investigation will test her faith—and her ability to survive.

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Review

This is the second book in the series and I thought there was a great bit of improvement over the first book. The first book was good but seemed to drag on for me, but this book rolled right along and kept me interested in the story and trying to figure out was Domino murdered, did she commit suicide or was it an accident. While I wasn’t surprised at the ending, I did not expect the end result.

There are some interesting characters and I’m not sure about Agnes who is bankrolling the new detective agency. She is all over the board with her emotions and it can be very tiring at times. Hopefully she will settle down in future books.

I liked that we learned more about Helen’s past since Maggie just wants to help her where she can when it comes to Helen’s son, Edgar. He is 6 and a bit rambunctious and I’m surprised there hasn’t been any move to try and get him to be more calm or at least not head butt Maggie in the stomach. Maggie sure does put up with a lot from him but since she is alone, I imagine she loves being looked on as a grandmotherly type for Edgar.

Overall a good book and I’ll be interested to see how this detective agency continues in the future.  We give it 4 paws up

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About the Author

susan-breenSusan Breen is the author of The Fiction Classher debut novel that won the Washington Irving Book Award. Her stories and articles have appeared in many magazines, among them The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Compose, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer. She teaches at Gotham Writers in Manhattan; is on the faculty of the New York Pitch Conference, South Carolina Writers Workshop, and the Women’s National Book Association; and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters-in-Crime. Breen lives in a small village on the Hudson River with her husband, two dogs, and one cat. Her three children are flourishing elsewhere.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on November 23, 2016

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A Composition in Murder (A Cherry Tucker Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Henery Press (November 15, 2016)
Paperback: 266 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1635111132
E-Book ASIN: B01KY3LERU

Synopsis

With a new art teaching gig at Halo House—Halo, Georgia’s posh independent living home—and Halo society scrutinizing her family and her love life, Cherry Tucker needs to stay out of trouble. However, her sleuthing skills are sought by Halo House’s most famous resident: Belvia Brakeman, the ninety-year-old, blind CEO and founder of Meemaw’s Tea. Belvia confides in Cherry that the family tea empire is in jeopardy. The CEO suspects her daughter, the COO, has been murdered and she might be next. Her offer is hard to refuse, but will have Cherry treading on Forks County Sheriff toes, namely her personal Deputy Heartache, Luke Harper.

Amid her town troubles, can Cherry put her reputation, romance, and life on the line for the final request of a sweet tea tycoon? While she juggles senior citizen shenanigans, small town politics, and corporate family scandals, Cherry finds the sweet tea business cutthroat in more ways than one.

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About the Author

larissaAfter seeing Paper Moon as a child, Larissa Reinhart fell in love with stories about confidence capers. QUICK SKETCH is the Cherry Tucker prequel to PORTRAIT in the mystery anthology THE HEARTACHE MOTEL. HIJACK IN ABSTRACT is the third in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series from Henery Press, following STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW (#2) and PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY (#1), a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist. She lives near Atlanta with her minions and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit.

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November 14 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

November 14 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

November 15 – Grace. Gratitude. Life. by Marie McNary – REVIEW

November 15 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

November 16 – THE PULP AND MYSTERY SHELF – INTERVIEW

November 17 – The Broke Book Bank – REVIEW

November 18 – Varietats – INTERVIEW

November 19 – Brooke Blogs – INTERVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

November 20 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

November 21 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

November 21 – The Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT

November 22 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

November 23 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 24 – THANKSGIVING U.S.

November 25 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

November 26 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

November 27 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

November 28 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW

November 29 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on November 22, 2016

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5dog

Five Dog Voodoo (Mae December Mystery) 
Camel Press (November 15, 2016)
Paperback: 266 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1603812481

Synopsis

As Halloween approaches, engaged couple Mae December and Sheriff Ben Bradley have devoted all their energy to Ben’s campaign for reelection as sheriff of Rose County, Tennessee. The race is already too close to call when the sheriff’s office is hit with yet another maddeningly tricky murder case. In recent years the town of Rosedale has had more than its fair share of murders, a fact Ben’s smarmy opponent is all too eager to exploit.

Investigator Dory Clarkson and her friend, Counselor Evangeline Bon Temps, are visiting the mysterious Voodoo village when a resident tells them her granddaughter, Zoé Canja, is missing. Her dog, a Weimaraner nursing four pups, escapes the house and finds the young woman’s body in a shallow grave. Evangeline becomes Sheriff Ben Bradley’s unofficial consultant because her grandmother in Haiti and later her mother in New Orleans practiced Voodoo. A threatening symbol is left on the pavement by Dory’s front door, effectively banning her from the case. Evangeline and the sheriff’s office ask too many questions, and Evangeline soon wears out her welcome. Voodoo curses aside, Ben’s job is at stake, and no one associated with the case is safe until the killer is found.

Book 5 in the Mae December Mystery series, which began with One Dog Too Many.

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Guest Post

Writing with my Daughter, Lisa

 one-dog  two-dogs  three-dog  four-dog  five-dog

 

Question 1: Many people ask us where the idea came from for our first book? The initial idea for what became “One Dog Too Many” came from an article my co-author and daughter Lisa read about widening a local lane—a historic scenic road near her home. The Road Commissioner was intent on broadening the roadway in the wake of one too many minor accidents. In a local newspaper article, he stated that he had delayed his retirement once and would do so again if necessary to achieve his goal. One of the women who lived on the lane had been fighting the project by filing injunctions and lawsuits.

“This is interesting,” Lisa handed me the newspaper. “Take a look.”

“I read a lot of murder mysteries,” I said after reading the article, “and if this was the plot of a mystery, someone would bump lady off.”

“Mom,” Lisa’s eyes were sparkling, “let’s write it!”

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We sat down that day and began the creation of the characters of the book. Both of us were interested in writing a mystery, but one with a low violence factor, much like the old Agatha Christie mysteries. We didn’t even know at the time that this genre of mystery is called a “cozy.” We began by creating our protagonist. Lisa wanted to call her May December as a play on words, but we spelled it Mae, which is short for Maeve. We are both animal lovers and we gave Mae a business boarding and breeding dogs. We also came up with our victim, Ruby Mead Allison, the daughter of a prominent family who had inherited a large piece of valuable property that bordered on the street we decided to call Little Chapel Road. Mae finds Ruby’s body while out exercising her boarding dogs. One of her feet is bare and on the other she’s wearing a red boot.

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We realized early on that the “small town mystery” of Agatha Christie fame would not work set in today’s world where sheriff’s offices are comprised of well-trained officers and labs for analyzing trace evidence and even DNA. So having one civilian solve the crime was not feasible. We needed a partnership between our protagonist and law enforcement. In time that partnership becomes a romantic one and in “Four Dog’s Sake,” Mae and Sheriff Ben Bradley get engaged.

Question 2: How do two people living in different states ever write a book together? Thank the Lord for email! We take turns writing a chapter or two and then sending them to the other half of Lia Farrell, who continues the process. We were about half-way through the first book, “One Dog Too Many” when we realized we were each thinking different people committed the murder! After that we decided we needed to agree on the general plot and the perpetrator in advance. We also decided to have four people tell each story and Lisa writes the chapters told by Ben Bradley, the sheriff, and Mae December, the protagonist. Each book features a different fourth character and I write that person as well as Chief Detective Wayne Nichols.

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Question 3: How did we get published? There are so many avenues for getting published these days that you need to decide whether you want to be traditionally published or indie published. For those not completely in the know, traditionally published means getting a literary agent who then obtains a publisher. Indie publication normally refers to what used to be called self-publishing. There is an excellent indie publishing option by Amazon called Create Space. It’s completely free and you can get your book in your hands in about a week. I have used it for four of my YA (Young Adult) fantasy books. The end product is terrific and you can design your own covers.

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If your dream is to have a traditional publisher, you need to search first for a literary agent. And put your big girl panties on before starting. Literary agents are overwhelmed today by the volume of submissions and they normally reject 96% of them. Plus, you often have to wait months for your rejection. We found our agent, Dawn Dowdle from Blue Ridge Literary, using an on-line resource called Publisher’s Marketplace; a search engine for agents and publishers. It costs $25 per month so it adds up quickly. Once you have an agent and get a contract (the agent takes 15% of the profit from book sales) s/he looks for a publisher for you. I recommend asking your agent to send you all the rejections. They usually come with feedback you can use to strengthen your submission. We were lucky our agent got us a three-book contract (extended to six after publication of our first book) with Camel Publishing and they have done a superior job for us. However, even the big publishers these days expect authors to do most of the marketing. So prepare to switch from writing to selling. You will need a web site, a presence on social media, options for presenting at bookstores, monthly newsletters and willingness to sell books at art fairs.

Question 4: Why did you use the penname Lia Farrell? Both of us, Lyn Farquhar and Lisa Fitzsimmons, have the same initials. We decided we didn’t want two names on the cover. Some authors do, but to us it looked busy. So we decided on a penname using the initials L.F. and Lia Farrell was born.

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About the Authors

Lia Farrell is the nom de plume for a mother/daughter duo of writers. Mom Lyn Farquhar and Daughter Lisa Fitzsimmons have been collaborating on the Mae December mystery series for four years.

ABOUT LYN

lynLyn Farquhar taught herself to read before starting school and honed her story telling abilities by reading to her little sister. Ultimately, her mother ended the reading sessions because Lyn’s sister decided she preferred being read to over learning to read herself. She fell in love with library books at the age of six when a Bookmobile came to her one-room rural elementary school. The day the Bookmobile arrived, Lyn decided she would rather live in the bookmobile than at home and was only ousted following sustained efforts by her teacher and the bookmobile driver.

Lyn graduated from Okemos High School in Michigan and got her college and graduate degrees from Michigan State University. She has a master’s degree in English literature and a Ph.D. in Education, but has always maintained that she remained a student for such a long time only because it gave her an excuse to read. Lyn holds the rank of Professor of Medical Education at Michigan State University and has authored many journal articles, abstracts and research grants. Since her retirement from MSU to become a full time writer, she has completed a Young Adult Fantasy trilogy called Tales of the Skygrass Kingdom. Volume I from the trilogy is entitled Journey to Maidenstone and is available on amazon.com. Lyn has two daughters and six step children, nine granddaughters and three grandsons. She also has two extremely spoiled Welsh Corgi’s. Her hobby is interior design and she claims she has the equivalent of a master’s degree from watching way too many decorating shows.

ABOUT LISA

lisaLisa Fitzsimmons grew up in Michigan and was always encouraged to read, write and express herself artistically. She was read aloud to frequently. Throughout her childhood and teenage years, she was seldom seen without a book in hand. After becoming a mom at a young age, she attended Michigan State University in a tri-emphasis program with concentrations in Fine Art, Art History an Interior Design.

Lisa, with her husband and their two children, moved to North Carolina for three exciting years and then on to Tennessee, which she now calls home. She has enjoyed an eighteen year career as a Muralist and Interior Designer in middle Tennessee, but has always been interested in writing. Almost five years ago, Lisa and her mom, Lyn, began working on a writing project inspired by local events. The Mae December Mystery series was born.

Lisa, her husband and their three dogs currently divide their time between beautiful Northern Michigan in the summertime and middle Tennessee the rest of the year. She and her husband feel very blessed that their “empty nest” in Tennessee is just a short distance from their oldest, who has a beautiful family of her own. Their youngest child has settled in Northern Michigan, close to their cabin there. Life is good.

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November 9 – Readeropolis – REVIEW

November 10 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

November 11 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

November 12 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

November 13 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

November 14 – T’s Stuff – REVIEW

November 15 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

November 16 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

November 17 – 3 Partners in Shopping,Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – REVIEW

November 18 – fuonlyknew – REVIEW

November 19 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – GUEST POST

November 20 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

November 21 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW, GUEST POST

November 22 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, Monday, mystery on November 21, 2016

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yankeetenacity2

Yankee Tenacity (Mayson-Dickson Mystery Series)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Wrench & Quill (September 15, 2016)
Paperback: 216 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1537480329
E-Book ASIN: B01LW9AWB3

Synopsis

Following the latest cryptic message that might lead them to the truth about their parents, Emme Mayson and Jackie Dickson are pulled into another murder investigation when a man dressed in a kilt falls from the sky onto their truck.

As if a dead body isn’t enough, FBI Special Agent Chris Meechum and sexy caretaker Sam Fender try to rein in their sleuthing, but the sisters are determined to solve this murder. Men in kilts, Renaissance Faires, and a few mobsters in all the wrong places complicate the case.

Emme Mayson is a Southern charmer from Alabama. Jackie Dickson is a straight-forward professional from Boston, they aren’t exactly a match made in heaven. The only thing keeping them from starting another war between the states is the mystery surrounding their parents, and their own lives.

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Guest Post

Hey all!  Today Jocie is tell us about the Mason Dixon line…I may live in Texas but I was born up north and not sure where my allegiance lies, but loved reading the history on the Mason Dixon line and what it truly represents.

The REAL Mason – Dixon Line

When people hear Mason – Dixon and they immediately think of it as a line between the Northern states and the Southern states.  While that has become an accepted fact, it is not historically true.

Way back in 1632 when land grants were being given to the American colonies by Britain, that line moved a bit here and there. Of course, it wasn’t yet known as the Mason-Dixon line. When things got testy between the colonies of Maryland, Delaware,  Virginia, and Pennsylvania, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, were changed with surveying the area and ending the cat fight between those states.

There was a political dispute (political disputes go WAY back) and Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore in an agreement with the heirs of William Penn, said he renounced his claim to land in Delaware. A short time later, he said he didn’t say that. (Sound familiar?)

This lead to a little known war – Cresap’s War erupted between settlers in the contested areas, complete with property disputes, law enforcement issues, and I’m sure, who paid taxes to what colony. The militia was called in. Things got so bad King George II had to get involved and order a cease fire to end the bloodshed, because who wants to be in Delaware when you could be living in Maryland. This was when Mason-Dixon were enlisted to survey the line. They surveyed the entire area between 1763 and 1767. There was a lot of area to be surveyed.

However, it wasn’t until 1779 that Pennsylvania and Virginia finally agreed to the line. “To extend Mason’s and Dixon’s line, due west, five degrees of longitude, to be computed from the river Delaware, for the southern boundary of Pennsylvania, and that a meridian, drawn from the western extremity thereof to the northern limit of the said state, be the western boundary of Pennsylvania forever.” And we thought legalese was a new thing!

masondixonmarker

Image of the Mason Dixon Marker

During the Civil War, the line approximated the separation of slave states and free states, which lead to its popular usage as the most recognizable term for North versus South. Which leads me to segway into my mystery series, Mayson-Dickson.

Following the latest cryptic message that might lead them to the truth about their parents, Emme Mayson and Jackie Dickson are pulled into another murder investigation when a man dressed in a kilt falls from the sky onto their truck.

As if a dead body isn’t enough, FBI Special Agent Chris Meechum and sexy caretaker Sam Fender try to rein in their sleuthing, but the sisters are determined to solve this murder. Men in kilts, Renaissance Faires, and a few mobsters in all the wrong places complicate the case.

Emme Mayson is a Southern charmer from Alabama. Jackie Dickson is a straight-forward professional from Boston, they aren’t exactly a match made in heaven. The only thing keeping them from starting another war between the states is the mystery surrounding their parents, and their own lives.

About the Author

jocie-mckade-picJocie McKade is an award winning, Amazon bestselling author of twelve books and novellas. She writes romantic comedies, and humorous cozy mysteries, and has been accused of making readers laugh out loud at inappropriate moments.

Besides writing fun fiction, Jocie pens articles for national publications. The senior news editor for a reader’s news blog, she is part of an award winning production team where she writes video scripts, press releases, and blog posts.

When not writing, she is plotting military maneuvers against hostile dust bunnies.

Facebook Author Page * McKade’s Mavericks FB Fan Page * Amazon Author Page * Twitter * Goodreads Author Page * Pinterest

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November 17 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

November 17 – deal sharing aunt – INTERVIEW

November 18 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

November 18 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

November 19 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

November 20 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

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November 22 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST, SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on November 19, 2016

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The Invasive Species: (Professor Molly Mysteries Book 4)
File Size: 855 KB
Print Length: 242 pages
Publisher: Hawaiian Heritage Press (April 30, 2016)
ASIN: B01E6WR8RK

Synopsis

Professor Molly Barda is thrilled to be included in a grant to investigate attitudes toward biotechnology. But she immediately finds herself embroiled in the deadly fight between big biotech and anti-GMO activists. When Molly and her best friend Emma Nakamura stumble onto the scene of a brutal murder, they realize that everyone has something to hide–and there are some questions you don’t ask.

The Professor Molly mysteries are the first campus murder mysteries set in Hawaii.

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About the Author

frankie bowLike Molly Barda, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, a loving family, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining.

In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.

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November 16 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

November 17 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – INTERVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

November 18 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

November 19 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 20 – Jane Reads – REVIEW, GUEST POST

November 21 – Sleuth Cafe – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

November 22 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

November 23 – T’s Stuff – CHARACTER INTERVIEW, SPOTLIGHT

November 24 – Thanksgiving – U.S.

November 25 – deal sharing aunt – INTERVIEW

November 26 – Jemima Pett, Author – REVIEW

November 27 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, GUEST POST

November 28 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

November 29 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST, SPOTLIGHT

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