featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

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Friday, September 17, 2021

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--AN INTERVIEW WITH BETH CHAMBERS FROM ROMANCE AUTHOR JOSIE MALONE'S THE MARSHAL'S LADY

Today we sit down for a chat with Beth Chambers from romance author Josie Malone’s The Marshal’s Lady, part of her Liberty Valley Love series. 

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings? 

I was working hard to prove I’m as good a homicide detective, or better than the men in the department. They don’t believe we have a serial killer leaving bodies all over Liberty Valley, even if the computer finds an incredible amount of matches. They think it’s some kind of technical glitch, but now my best friend was attacked, and I swear I’m going to bring her assailant to justice.

 

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself? 

I’m not a quitter.

 

What do you like least about yourself? 

I’m not a quitter.

 

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you? 

I was hot on the trail of Gary Smith, a suspected serial killer and yes, he’d stolen a horse and hightailed it into Mount Baker National Forest in Washington State. But after he ambushed me, I’m supposed to believe we’ve gone through some sort of time warp and landed in 1888? Get serious! Time travel is pure fantasy.

 

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about? 

Marshal Rad Morgan, the arrogant lawman who is trying to convince me I’m in 1888. Yes, he’s smart, brave and super sexy, but if he doesn’t stop telling me how to dress and to pin up my hair, I’m seriously considering leaving him in the backwoods to survive on his own. Oops, I can’t do that. He was shot and left to die and as a former Army medic, the patient comes first even if I’m out of patience.

 

What is your greatest fear? 

I may be stuck in the Land Time Forgot – 1888 in Washington Territory is not paradise for a woman.

 

What makes you happy? 

Marshal Rad Morgan, but don’t tell him I said so!

 

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? 

Not having my best friend attacked. 

 

Why? 

I’d still pursue Gary Smith and arrest him for his crimes. It’s my job.

 

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? 

It must be Marshal Rad Morgan. Yes, he rocks my world when we’re in bed, but he also forgets that he’s not the boss of me. He gives me way too many orders and then leaves me behind when he knows he needs me to watch his back. Last time he rode off alone, Smith bushwhacked and left him to die in the middle of nowhere. Rad was lucky I showed up and knew how to deal with a sucking chest wound (lung-shot).

 

Why? 

He’s convinced that I’m here to stay and I know I’m only here to capture the killer I’m after, and then I’m headed home. I want to live somewhere I can take long, hot showers, order in pizza and have a beer while I watch baseball on my flatscreen TV.

 

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? 

Trace Burdette. 

 

Why? 

She’s smart, savvy and kicks butt. She reminds me of the women I served with in Afghanistan. Yes, I can believe she fooled people in Liberty Valley and made them think she was the toughest man around. I know we’ll be good friends.

 

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog? 

Josie Malone lives and works at her family business, a riding stable in Washington State. Teaching kids to ride and know about horses, she finds in many cases, she's taught three generations of families. Her life experiences span adventures from dealing cards in a casino, attending graduate school to get her master’s in teaching degree, being a substitute teacher, and serving in the Army Reserve - all leading to her second career as a published author. Visit her at her website, www.josiemalone.com to learn about her books.

 

What's next for you? 

Letting my family know I’m safe and happy, but they’re in 2018 Liberty Valley and I’m in 1888.

 

The Marshal’s Lady

Liberty Valley Love, Book 3

 

While trailing a serial killer on horseback, homicide detective Beth Chambers finds she has somehow ridden back in time—to 1888! When she comes across injured Marshal Rad Morgan, she has no choice but to try to save his life. Though the handsome marshal believes a lady should stand behind her man, Beth is determined to catch the killer she’s chased through time and prove she’s a capable law enforcement officer in any century.

 

A former Union soldier, Rad has survived the Confederate hellhole of Andersonville Prison—but his toughest challenge is beautiful Beth Chambers. As the headstrong female detective from the future lets him in on why she’s there, Rad becomes convinced that her stubbornness may get her killed. But when he is shot and left for dead, the marshal has no other choice but to put himself in Beth’s hands—and hope they can both survive!

 

Two officers of the law from different centuries chasing the same killer could be a recipe for disaster—especially with the distraction of love!

 

Buy Links

paperback 

ebook 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

HISTORICAL AUTHOR ALYSSA ROBERTS CHANNELS HER LOVE OF SAILING IN HER REGENCY ROMANCE

*Photo 1
Alyssa Roberts writes historical fiction and historical romance. Her historical romances to date are set in Regency England and Wales, and in American Revolutionary War Vermont. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

I’ve always heard you should write what you know. Naturally, that can’t always happen, but sometimes it works out. A lot of us have some entertaining interests, and one of the things my husband and I love is sailing. 

 

My recently released historical romance Duchess Deceived includes sailing scenes inspired by the adventures I have had with my very competent sailor husband. We have raced over the frothy waves to beat a dark, thundering storm behind us. We have battled tides and winds for exhilarating, unexpected rides into safe harbors.

*Photo 2

Duchess Deceived includes a wild sail across the Bristol Channel as our hero and heroine race against time. The Bristol Channel’s tides can be compared to the similarly huge tides in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia where within hours boats go from bobbing peacefully on the water to being moored on the sand! I have been lucky enough to see the strength of the Bay of Fundy tide as it comes in—and goes out. The moving water held me spellbound, just staring as it came in fast enough to cover a stone in minutes. It inspired me so much, I was determined to capture that power in my debut romance.

 

Our heroine in Duchess Deceived, Juliana, does not want to go anywhere near the Bristol Channel because, as the result of an event in her childhood, she fears the water. The wild ride in this book helps Juliana overcome that fear. That result might sound unlikely, but when I faced my first storm on a sailboat, I was pretty scared. I found, though, that riding out a storm with someone who knows what they are doing, is careful and attentive about it, and actually enjoys themselves while doing it helped me overcome my fear. Later, when we raced ahead of a different storm, we ended up having a rollicking good time. 

 

In writing this book, I used what I saw of the Bay of Fundy (although I did not sail there), but I would love to also see the Bristol Channel. Has anyone been to the Bristol Channel? To the Bay of Fundy? Both? Do you have any great stories about either—or both?


*Photo 1: This is a picture taken near Brier Island, which is far south in the Bay of Fundy, so does not even experience the full extent of its tides, yet a boat is resting on the bottom – and the water is far out.


*Photo 2: This picture of a pier shows how high they must be built to accommodate the tides. Again, this is not even at the northern end of the Bay of Fundy! 


Duchess Deceived

Widowed duchess Juliana Barrington fears that men who covet her son’s title are trying to kill him. When greedy relatives discover her whereabouts, she flees her seaside hideout. Will she be running forever? 

Ransom Wolfe Hawkins, a Royal Navy officer in hiding, wants to protect Juliana and her son, but fears he'll lose her trust if she learns he's been accused of murder. Will he have to choose between clearing his name and protecting the woman he loves? 

Or will he deceive the Duchess?

 

Buy Link 

 

Monday, September 13, 2021

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--DEBUT MYSTERY AUTHOR LIZ BOEGER ON HOW WRITING A MYSTERY IS LIKE BEING A CRAFTER

Crayola's box of 64, 1958. Notice the randomness of the
crayon placement. Still makes me twitch!
(Wikipedia-4 September 2021)
Today we welcome award-nominated debut mystery author Liz Boeger who writes the Moccasin Cove Mysteries. She describes them as mysteries with a cozy edge, a hint of Southern snark, and always a happy ending. Learn more about Liz and her books at her blog.

I don’t remember being a particularly crafty kid, nor was I a wannabee writer, despite reading most of the Nancy Drew series as a preteen. However, I can trace my concrete-sequential origins back to coloring in the lines and to sorting my box of 64 Crayolas into the proper order before I could even consider any doodling. I had the same issue with LEGO. 

Luckily, my artsy side emerged when I was in high school. I was drafted to spray-paint the school’s mascot on the football field before home games. Think of it as a flat mural on grass with thirty cans of spray paint. I still have a couple of watercolor trays from my art classes, both good as new 40+ years later. My artsy interests morphed from painting, to crafting dolls, and stitching needlework in my twenties and during the fraught young parenthood years. That’s also when I discovered the traditional mystery and series that kept me sane. 

 

In retrospect, I think my fabric and books fetishes may be genetic. My maternal grandmother was a single, city girl working in a bookstore before she become a farmer’s wife. During snowy midwestern winter evenings she honed her needlecraft and quilting skills, stitching lovely textiles for her children, and later for her fourteen grandchildren. I still have a few of her unfinished quilt tops and the log cabin quilt she made me for my eighteenth birthday. 

My early experimentation with cross stitch was probably inspired by her pillowcases. But the quilting eventually wiggled its way into my creative corner and by the time I was in my mid-forties, I had a full-blown addiction to fabric and freestyle quilting. I say freestyle, because I am not disciplined enough to perfectly match my corners or make my points pointy. 

 

I also took a happy detour into scrapbooking when the craze hit—what better way to enjoy the gazillion photos of our son and family outings. Many years past my son’s childhood, my current project is a collage quilt featuring a sea turtle I am planning for my future daughter-in-law. The planning stokes my creative muscle between writing stints.


So, what does all this chatter about my artsy-craftsy-quiltsy endeavors have to do with the publication of my first mystery? Crafting and quilting were largely self-taught, like my writing. The creative process gave me the courage and fortitude to experiment. Being a crafter requires risk, and planning, and thinking step by step from start to finish. Just like writing a mystery. The mental and emotional benefits of being a crafter are so tangible, that I’ve instilled some of these talents in my main character Ana Callahan. 

 

Ana is a veteran school principal who spent her entire career moving from one troubled school to another, attempting to turn their failures into success stories. She has a heart for children in impoverished communities, and luckily, her hard work has paid off. But in her demanding career, she’s never had time for relationships nor time to mend her broken heart. Her limited leisure time was devoted to quilting and the occasional dabbling in watercolors. Neither hobby takes up much space and is easily portable for her frequent interstate moves.

 

By the time she makes her way back home to Florida to turn around the troubled school of her childhood, she’s still single. Then, an interesting man captures her heart, just as she finds herself investigating a murder. But as any school principal will tell you, progress does not come easily. Ana is confident she can save the school but solving a murder and mending a broken heart are not in her skillset.

 

As an author I felt badly about layering on Ana’s troubles, but that is my job. So, I thought I’d soften the plot blows I’d inflicted by giving Ana time to build a scrapbook and take out her watercolors to ease her pain. In future books I am certain her quilting will emerge, probably with more skill than mine. Such is the stuff of fiction. I wish you happy crafting and hope you have a chance to get to know Ana and the kind folks of Moccasin Cove.

 

ChainLinked

A Moccasin Cove Mystery, Book 1

 

Principal Ana Callahan knows a thing or two about turning around troubled schools, but she can’t fix the grief constricting her own heart. Now she must do both…while solving a murder.

 

Ana Callahan’s life fell apart, so she went out to save the world, one failing school at a time. Fifteen years later she’s back home in Florida, working her magic on the floundering elementary school of her childhood. But Moccasin Cove is not the sunny, middle-class beach town she left behind. With one eye on her school rescue plan and the other on her exit plan, Ana gets to work and chalks up a few small victories. 

 

Her confidence falters when a school contractor is killed, and a friend is implicated in the murder. An ambitious journalist tries to link Ana’s tragic past to the crime, and a powerful charter school corporation seizes on the political chaos by threatening a takeover of Ana’s school. Adding “investigate murder” to her lengthy to-do list, Ana finds herself paired with the school district’s handsome new security chief. The disturbing secrets they uncover about her friend and the killer’s twisted motives force Ana to admit she has a lot to learn about murder

 

Buy Links

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ebook 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--MYSTERY AUTHOR SUSAN OLEKSIW'S LOVE OF INDIAN EMBROIDERY

Susan's Hut and Palm Tree Indian Scene

Mystery author Susan Oleksiw writes the Anita Ray series along with the Mellingham series, set on the New England coast. Her short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and numerous anthologies. She is a co-founder of Crime Spell Books, which will continue the tradition of publishing Best New England Crime Stories with Bloodroot, due out in November 2021. Learn more about Susan and her books at her website and blog.

Rediscovering Embroidery

When I lived in India in the 1970s and again in the 1980s, I discovered much that was unexpected. Almost everyone knows about the gorgeous silks Indian artisans produce, or the finely crafted silver or gold jewelry. For my marriage, an Indian friend of my mother’s sent me a piece of red silk threaded with gold (red is the traditional color of wedding saris in North India) and a shawl threaded and tasseled with real gold. From my grandmother I inherited a shawl, probably owned by her mother-in-law, woven and embroidered in the Kashmiri durokhu style, in which the shawl is embroidered on two sides with the same design in different or the same colors. 


Durokhu Embroidery

But the handwork that surprised me was that produced by Catholic women at a local nonprofit overseen by my landlady. The women made various crafts for sale, including handkerchiefs embroidered with Indian women in various traditional costumes in one corner, replacing a monogram. I bought loads of them to give to friends, along with other goods.

 

When I returned to the States I brought with me a new love of needlework beyond sewing (and my attempts as a child), and began doing needlepoint, again to give to family and friends, and later embroidery. My first project, however, was a free-hand image. One night in the middle of winter, I was sick of the cold, the gray, the general gloom of January in New England and pulled out a frame and fabric, and went to work. (see above Indian scene) I missed Kerala. 

 

I don’t claim any great skill. But I’m always willing to learn and try something new, including mastering various stitches. During the pandemic I’ve been working sporadically on a sampler. Sometimes I think of this as a way to decompress from the stress of the pandemic, or a way to let my mind wander while I’m in the middle of a novel or story that isn’t going well. But lately, I’ve had the same image come to me while I’m working, and now I think I know what it is. Look for Anita Ray to solve a murder using a hotel guest’s embroidery. 


Susan's Sampler


Until that story is written and published, look for the fourth book in the Anita Ray series, When Krishna Calls, soon to be available in trade paperback and ebook.

 

When Krishna Calls

An Anita Ray Mystery 

 

Anita is dismayed when an employee disappears and is later accused of murdering her husband, who was involved with a loan shark. But things get worse when she learns that Auntie Meena has taken out a crushing loan and tried to keep it a secret. How far will Anita go to protect her aunt and her home, and to rescue an innocent woman?

 



Hardcover Buy Link 

(trade paperback and ebook coming soon!)

Friday, September 3, 2021

WHO WANTS TO BE A CHARACTER?

By Lois Winston


Stitch, Bake, Die!, the tenth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, is now up for pre-order with a release date of October 4th. In celebration of the upcoming release, I’m running a contest for a chance to become a character in the next book in the series. I can’t tell you what the plot of that book is yet because the idea is still incubating in my gray matter. However, I have dropped a few hints about the overall theme of Book 11 in Book 10.

 

I’ve periodically run a naming contest in the past and have found that readers love them. Some even ask to be the victim or the killer! If you’d like to place your name in the running, all you have to do is sign up for my newsletterThe next issue, which will come out Sept. 7th, will give directions for entering. Of course, I hope you won’t unsubscribe once the winner—or winners—are chosen. I may even wind up choosing more than one name. The winner(s) will also receive a paperback (U.S. residents only) or ebook copy of the book once it’s published next year and be mentioned in the Acknowledgments.

 

Stitch, Bake, Die!

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 10

 

With massive debt, a communist mother-in-law, a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and a photojournalist boyfriend who may or may not be a spy, crafts editor Anastasia Pollack already juggles too much in her life. So she’s not thrilled when her magazine volunteers her to present workshops and judge a needlework contest at the inaugural conference of the NJ chapter of the Stitch and Bake Society, a national organization of retired professional women. At least her best friend and cooking editor Cloris McWerther has also been roped into similar duties for the culinary side of the 3-day event taking place on the grounds of the exclusive Beckwith Chateau Country Club.

 

The sweet little old ladies Anastasia is expecting to find are definitely old, and some of them are little, but all are anything but sweet. She’s stepped into a vipers’ den that starts with bribery and ends with murder. When an ice storm forces Anastasia and Cloris to spend the night at the Chateau, Anastasia discovers evidence of insurance scams, medical fraud, an opioid ring, long-buried family secrets, and a bevy of suspects. Can she piece together the various clues before she becomes the killer’s next target?

 

Crafting tips included.

 

Pre-order Links

Paperback (available 10/4)

Kindle 

Kobo 

Nook

Apple Books 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

MYSTERY AUTHOR LEV RAPHAEL ON HOW RESEARCH CAN BE MURDER

Lev Raphael is the author of 27 books ranging from mystery to memoir. He edits manuscripts, teaches writing workshops, and coaches writers at Write Without Borders. Learn more about Lev and his books at his website.  

Research Can Be Murder

In Department of Death, the latest Nick Hoffman mystery set in the wilds of academia, Nick has become chair of his university's English Department--but nobody reading the series could have predicted that would ever happen. It's definitely not something that Nick ever wanted. 

 

I introduced Nick to mystery readers in Let's Get Criminal as an English professor who wasn't respected in his Midwestern department for way too many reasons. To start with, he was a spousal hire, which meant he got his position only because the university wanted to hire his partner. Giving him a job, too, sweetened the deal.

 

Spousal hires at a university can arouse a lot of animosity in their new colleagues even when they're well-qualified, because they're basically just part of a package deal. In most cases, they would never have been hired on their own at that point in time. Other professors will feel they're intruders, unworthy of joining the rarified club whose membership they guard so zealously. And let's face it, it doesn't take much to anger highly combustible professors anyway in an environment where grudges flourish like feral hogs, walking catfish, Burmese pythons, and other invasive species that are ruining the Everglades.  

 

Nick was also looked down upon because he enjoyed teaching the most basic course the department offered: composition. His peers would do anything to avoid being stuck with it. That kind of course put him at the level of graduate assistants and adjuncts, and liking the hard work involved in helping students strengthen their writing skills created suspicion and even contempt: who was he trying to kid?

 

And then there was his scholarship: Nick is a bibliographer. A bibliographer of Edith Wharton. That means that he's not only read every single book, story, review, and essay that Wharton wrote, he's read everything that's ever been written about her. In every language. The project took him four solid years. He's annotated each item and created multiple indexes for the bibliography which is a splendid guide for anyone doing research about the American author who was the first women to win a Pulitzer for Literature.

 

That might sound significant, but to his new colleagues, it's grunt work, uninspiring--and worse than that, his book is useful. Unlike their own books which are written in abstruse critical jargon that only appeals to miniscule audiences.  

 

I chose this focus for Nick's scholarship because my college writing mentor was a Wharton bibliographer and I wanted to honor her years of research. And it appalled me how that book did not get her promoted to full professor when she should have been.

 

Nick has had a different path, pockmarked by murders of course. He did get promoted to full professor; a visiting authors' fellowship was established in his name by a grateful student who struck it rich; and through a bizarre twist of fate in the 10th book of the series, he's heading up a department filled with people who loathe him more now than ever.

 

He regrets having agreed to become chair before the first week in his new position is over. What happens? Nick is unexpectedly privy to a bribery scandal that threatens to blacken the name of the university. Nick himself is the object of intense administrative harassment and spying. And of course, he becomes involved in yet another murder. 

 

Can his research skills and his love of crime fiction help him out of this tangle of problems? They always have, no matter how little respect they've earned him from his colleagues.

 

In classic mystery form, the murderer and motive are revealed at the very end of the book amid a scene of crazy academic chaos unlike anything Nick has ever witnessed or dealt with before. 

 

Department of Death

A Nick Hoffman Mystery, Book 10

 

Nick Hoffman has been unexpectedly installed by his dean as chairman of his English department. It's a wildly unpopular choice and Nick is now the focus of more animosity from his colleagues than ever before. He can't seem to make anyone happy and can't get a handle on his myriad new responsibilities as an administrator, a position he never wanted. Tragedy strikes when someone seeking his help is murdered, and Nick becomes a prime suspect. Hounded by campus police, the local press, and social media, Nick wonders if this could finally be the end of his career—and if he can manage to stay out of prison. Department of Death is Lev Raphael's most blistering satire yet of the perversities of academic life.

 

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Monday, August 30, 2021

AUTHOR S. LEE MANNING WRITES A THRILLER WITH A UNIQUE SETTING

Award-winning author S. Lee Manning is a reformed attorney who now writes full time. Her novels reflect a lifelong interest in espionage and in Russia. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

The Perfect Street

A number of years ago - I'd prefer not to disclose just how many  - my family went on a vacation in a little town in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, just north of the Vermont border. It was a pleasant vacation, except that the water in the house we'd rented smelled like rotten eggs and the house had been falsely advertised as being on the lake. It wasn't. But we managed to get ourselves to the lake; we practiced our French, and we had a lot of great meals. 

 

A bonus: my husband and I found an intriguing street in the town of Beebe Plains, close to where we were staying. One side of the street is in Vermont, and the other side is in Canada. Driving down the street, I could see US flags and Canadian flags waving at each other from yards on either side. Farther down, in neighboring Stanstead, is a library that straddles the two countries. The entrance is in the United States. The parking lot - Canada. Inside the library, a black line marks the border.

 

I talked with border agents, and then drove slowly from Beebe Plains to Stanstead, noting where the houses stopped and the fields began.

 

Border agents told me that neighbors couldn't even cross the street to say hello without checking in at the station. If you drive along the street, you're in Canada, but if you pull into a driveway on the Vermont side - unless it's been cleared, you'll get a visit from a US patrol very quickly.

 

Previously, goods of various sorts were frequently smuggled across the border, usually cheaper American products like jeans, sometimes drugs, but with 9/11 and increased security, smuggling became less frequent. It still happens - it just takes a little more skill not to get caught. 

 

I write spy thrillers, and I was fascinated - what a perfect location for something nefarious.

 

Canada is an easy drive from our home in Northern Vermont, where we moved a few years after that vacation. Before the world shut down, my husband and I would visit the Quebec towns near the border every few months. We found small and wonderful restaurants and kind people willing to endure our pathetic attempts at speaking French.

 

We also revisited the area that I had marked down for a future novel. Eventually, I wrote a description. I just didn't yet have the story to go with it. Of course, the story would have to involve smuggling - but what was being smuggling, who was smuggling it, and why - wasn't clear to me -  yet.

 

Fast forward: last year, I wrote Nerve Attack, the sequel to my award-winning novel, Trojan Horse. I needed to accomplish several things in this novel. Aside from the usual list of intricate plotting and in-depth characterizations, my protagonist Kolya Petrov, who had resigned at the end of the first novel, had to be enticed back into the spy game. Could I do all the above, and still use that fascinating street in Beebe Plains?

 

I came up with an idea: What if a smuggler brought something that could kill many innocent people - a poison - into the United States and what if the only person who had the contacts to stop the attack refused to work with anyone but Kolya? I had the perfect person to demand Kolya's return: Dmitri - Kolya's childhood best friend, whom he'd put in prison ten years earlier. 

 

I had the beginning of the plot and the perfect reason to insert Beebe Plains into Nerve Attack.

 

It took several drafts and eight months, but everything came together, plot, characters, locations. While Beebe Plains only plays a small role in the novel, it sets the tone - and I finally got to use the description I'd written.

 

Now that the border is finally open again, I can't wait to go back.

 

Nerve Attack

A Kolya Petrov Thriller, Book 2

 

Former U.S. intelligence operative Kolya Petrov, struggling with the physical and psychological aftereffects of kidnapping and torture, is drawn back into the game when Dmitri, his childhood best friend, holds the key to stopping an attack by terrorists armed with a deadly nerve agent. Working with Dmitri, however, is complicated. While their friendship had been forged during their years in an abusive Russian boys' home, the two men's lives took very different paths. Dmitri had headed the North American branch of a Russian gang until Kolya, working undercover, put him in prison. Ten years later, Dmitri's cooperation is essential to finding the smuggler of the nerve agent, and he refuses to work with anyone but Kolya.

 

Kolya reluctantly agrees to undertake one more mission, but to succeed, he must come to terms with the past. Can he trust Dmitri not to take revenge for the betrayal of their friendship? Can he rely on his own judgment and abilities, despite a leg injury and ongoing PTSD, to survive an elaborate plot that threatens his life and that of his fiancee, as well as the lives of hundreds of innocent people?

 

Buy Links

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ebook 

Friday, August 27, 2021

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--CRIME FICTION AUTHOR LUKE MURPHY ON RESEARCHING MURDER

Luke Murphy is the international bestselling author of The Calvin Watters Mysteries and The Charlene Taylor Mysteries. Murphy played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. His sports column, “Overtime” (Pontiac Equity), was nominated for the 2007 Best Sports Page in Quebec, and won the award in 2009. He has also worked as a radio journalist (CHIPFM 101.7). He is also a teacher and lives in Shawville, QC with his wife and three daughters. Learn more about Luke and his books at his website. 

Crime Research

A lot of people ask me about where I get my book ideas from, and to be honest, there isn’t one sole place where I retrieve my ideas. I’m constantly listening, speaking with people, observing behavior, and monitoring stories in the news. The majority of my ideas stem from a story I’ve heard or, even though my books are fiction, something that has happened in real life.

 

I always knew that I wanted to continue the Calvin Watters series. Calvin has become such a fan favorite character since I published the first book of the series, Dead Man’s Hand, in 2012. People seem to have a soft spot for the Vegas leg breaker turned private investigator. So writing a new Calvin Watters novel was priority number one.

 

Since I started writing crime novels, I have had many personal chats with my family doctor (he is one of my main resources). We are constantly talking about methods of death, and ways in which people can be murdered, without any proof or evidence left behind (I know, creepy, right?). Sometimes my mind even scares my own wife. LOL!

 

My doctor happened to mention a rare case he’d heard about surrounding a famous American heiress and socialite from the seventies and eighties—Martha Sharp "Sunny" von Bülow. Her second husband, Claus von Bülow, was convicted in 1982 of attempting to murder her by insulin overdose, but the conviction was overturned on appeal. A second trial found him not guilty, after experts opined that there was no insulin injection and that her symptoms were attributable to over-use of prescription drugs. 

 

But it got me thinking. 

 

Once we discussed this case, I started researching the story and it proved to be a very interesting idea. The story was dramatized in the book and movie, Reversal of Fortune. Sunny von Bülow lived almost 28 years in a persistent vegetative state, from December 1980 until her death in a New York City nursing home on December 6, 2008.

 

This got the wheels turning, and the thinking process kicked in.

 

I took this idea of insulin injections and ran with it. In my opinion, it was such a remarkable case, that writing about it became a fun fascination. Of course, as a fiction writer, I had the creative freedom to use my imagination and add to the story. But there were endless possibilities here, and I was able to follow through in developing an entertaining book. Or at least, I hope it’s entertaining for readers.

 

Finders Keepers

A Calvin Watters Mystery, Book 4

 

To beat the streets…

 

Calvin Watters spent three hard years on the Vegas streets, working the depths of the red-light district. When a string of escort murders surfaces and the LVMPD has no answers, they realize that there is only one man they can turn to for help.

 

…you have to know the streets.

 

Calvin vowed to never return to his former life, but this new case pulls him back in. As he hits the streets, his honed survival skills kick in, and the PI must call upon his past experience to outwit a worthy opponent.

 

Caught in the crosshairs.

 

When Calvin killed Derek Baxter, he added fuel to an ever-growing fire inside Baxter’s longtime sniper partner, Jackson North. Now North is out for revenge, but how far will the hitman go to leave his mark on Calvin’s life? 

 

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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

AUTHOR SASSCER HILL ON HOW A HORSE RACE LED TO A BOOK CONTRACT

American Pharoah
Author Sasscer Hill was involved in horse racing as an amateur jockey and racehorse breeder for most of her life. Her mystery-thrillers portray the world of horse racing, and the skullduggery that big money and gambling so often attract. Learn more about Sasscer and her books at her website. 

In June of 2015, the incredible happened! St. Martin’s Press showed interest in publishing my manuscript, Flamingo Road. But the sales and marketing department worried that it would be difficult to sell a horse racing mystery.

 

I found out later that my St. Martin’s editor struggled to secure their permission. In the middle of this, the awesome racehorse American Pharoah was on his way to breaking a drought where no horse had won the Triple Crown in twenty-seven-years.

 

At home, I was on pins and needles waiting for St. Martin’s to decide. On May 16, American Pharoah raced in the final leg of the Triple Crown. When he blasted down the stretch on the lead, I yelled so loud, the dog and cat fled from the TV room. The horse won, and in tears, I turned to my husband and said, “I’m going to get that deal with St. Martin’s!” The next day American Pharoah’s win appeared on the cover of every newspaper, and on every morning TV show. The day after that St. Martin’s sent me a two-book contract for the Fia McKee series. 

 

I immediately finished writing The Dark Side of Town and sent the manuscript to St. Martin’s. That book was shortlisted for a Claymore Award.

 

I was thrilled that my lifelong love of horses and my thirty plus years of breeding and training the almost spiritual Thoroughbred racehorse had led me to a publishing contract with one of the “Big Four” publishers, MacMillan who owns St. Martin’s Press.

 

I wanted to base my third Fia McKee novel at Santa Anita Racecourse where HBO filmed the ill-fated series “Luck.” During HBO’s filming, too many horses died from film crew ignorance and mishandling. The show was canceled. Fia McKee would be hired to protect the horses in a fictional horse racing movie. I have friends in the horseracing industry, and since it’s not what you know, but who you know, in 2016, I flew to Los Angeles and headed North to Santa Anita racetrack. I’d obtained an invitation for lunch and a tour by the track’s Special Operations manager, Pete Siberell. 

 

Astonishingly, my lunch companion turned out to be the point man who dealt with HBO when they were filming “Luck.” Pete told me everything I needed to know to write my novel, but sadly, the first two books in the Fia McKee series were not selling well and St. Martin’s dropped me like a hot potato. In April of 2018, Flamingo Road won the $10,000 Dr. Tony Ryan Award for Best Book in Horse Racing Literature, beating Felix Francis’s Pulse. St. Martin’s Press was unimpressed.

 

So, I did what authors often do and started a new series. I completed the novel Travels of Quinn, A Quinn O’Neill Mystery, but my agent barely tried to sell it, saying that my poor sales with St. Martin’s made me a nonstarter. I self-published the book, and in July of this year, it was shortlisted for a Silver Falchion Award for Best Mystery of 2020.

 

Unwilling to give up my Santa Anita novel, I turned it into the fifth book in my Nikki Latrelle series, Shooting Star. It debuted in July and has received great reviews including one from The Midwest Book Review.

 

I do hope mystery readers will take a gamble, give this novel a test ride, and catch a Shooting Star!

 

Shooting Star

A Nikki Latrelle Mystery, Book 5

 

When Nikki’s ex-lover Will hires her to protect the horses used to film a movie at Santa Anita Racetrack, she learns evil is alive and well in Hollywood.

 

Keeping Thoroughbreds safe from a director who doesn’t know a horse from a hamster is tricky. More difficult are the unresolved feelings between her and Will, especially when sexy, young movie star, Jamie Jackson, sets his sights on Nikki.

 

But when a sniper’s bullet shatters the brain of a cameraman close enough that she can smell his blood, Nikki’s need to protect the film crew overrides everything. Her sleuthing unearths a trail of corruption and when she must lie to Will to protect his life, she’s on her own. Can she identify the evil behind the scenes before she and Will become the next victims?

 

Shooting Star is the fifth rocket-paced story in the award-winning Nikki Latrelle mystery series. If you like protagonists with heart and courage, unexpected twists, and a thrill ride to the finish, you’ll love Shooting Star.

 

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Monday, August 23, 2021

AN INTERVIEW WITH COZY MYSTERY AUTHOR GEORGIANA DANIELS

Today we sit down for a chat with cozy mystery author Georgiana Daniels, who claims "Busy" is her middle name. However, if she does find a nugget of free time, she enjoys knitting, reading, and fumbling around on the piano to the dismay of others. Though previously published in romance and women's fiction, she's dipping an anxious toe into cozy mysteries--because she's decided that murder and mayhem are so much fun! Learn more about Georgiana and her books at her website. 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?

First, thank you for hosting me today, Lois! I’m so happy to hang out on your blog.

 

As to when I first realized I wanted to write, the truth is, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t want to pen fun stories. It was probably the summer before 7th grade when I got serious, and that’s when my grandmother gave me a typewriter. (Showing my age here!) It was so cool, because she let me make a little office for myself where I could work whenever I was at her house, and I’d spend hours in that little room writing stories. 

 

However, life took a lot of detours when I became an adult, and it wasn’t until our middle daughter was born that I took up the pen again.

 

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?

Good gravy—it took entirely too long! I spent a few years of serious writing before I landed that first contract, then four more years to get the second, and another four or so to get the third. I turtled along for so many years.

 

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?

Now I’m indie, thankfully. Crumbs of Passion is my first indie project, and I’ll never go back to traditional. I love having full creative control, as well as my own production schedule. There’s a steep learning curve, but the cool thing is, there are so many other authors out there willing to help! 

 

Where do you write?

The question for me is, where don’t I write? Ha! My mobile office is a running joke, but the truth is, I do a lot of my creative work on the road. Since we still have two kids at home, I spend a ton of time zooming here, there, and everywhere for every activity under the sun. Never underestimate the power of a pen and notebook, when all else fails.

 

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?

Silence, silence, silence…and yet…I rarely have that luxury. Man, I need a door on my office! Recently, I invested in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. We’ll see how that goes.

 

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?

Since murder is the name of the game now, I really hope there’s nothing drawn from real life. LOL! That said, I suppose there’s always an element of reality, especially in my characters. However, the real-life bits are mostly cobbled together to make Franken-characters. 

 

One element that’s real in the KC Crumb Mysteries is the gang of older women. The same grandmother that gave me a space to work also had a posse of gals, and whenever I’d spend time with Grams, I was also with the gang.

 

Describe your process for naming your character?

Fun question! Sometimes the names just come to me, like KC Crumb. But last week when I was visiting my sister and her family, I asked my nephews who they absolutely couldn’t stand, and I took elements of those names and came up with the victim in my next book.

 

Real settings or fictional towns?

Always fictional, simply for the fact that I know I couldn’t nail down details to get a real town right. That said, I often find inspiration from real places. When developing the town of Beaver Bluff for the KC Crumb Mysteries, I spent a lot of time looking at Oregon coastal towns and hammered some of those details together.

 

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?

Amateur sleuth KC Crumb is relocating from L.A. to her small hometown, where everyone wears plaid and loads and loads of flannel. Meanwhile, KC is rocking summer dresses and heels all the time…and she happens to wield a heel quite well when she has to save herself.

 

What’s your quirkiest quirk?

Tough question! My youngest politely informed me that I’m embarrassingly normal. However, my sister pointed out that I happen to say wildly inappropriate things pretty often, simply because I’m completely ignorant about current slang. Oops!

 

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?

Pride and Prejudice, for no other reason than I’d love to have had Colin Firth play the lead in my enduring novel. It could still happen, though. Right?

 

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?

That’s easy—I would not have switched genres eight thousand times. Seriously, I’ve written everything! Now that I’ve gone indie, I’m going to stick to what I do best, which is light humor. Even if no one else gets my weirdo sense of humor, I have fun cracking myself up.

 

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People who drive slowly where they’re not supposed to. It’s like dude, this isn’t your lane.

 

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?

A trunk full of books, notebooks, and office supplies (with which I have a long-standing love affair), sunglasses, and a bottomless supply of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

 

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?

The worst was the first. I was the salad bar attendant at a chain restaurant, and every time I’d get all the bowls filled up to look nice and pretty, they’d get decimated. It was kind of defeating. 

 

But guess what? I have the coolest job on the planet now! I’m a part-time librarian, and after I graduate with my library and information science degree in December, I hope to eventually work full time. I get to geek out on books and technology all day long. Who could ask for anything more?

 

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

So many to choose from! Funny thing is, the most memorable books I’ve read aren’t even in my favorite genre, which is cozy mystery. Some of my favorites tend toward darker moods and settings. The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova is one of my faves, and one of the only novels I’ve read more than once. And the other one is The Secret History, by Donna Tartt.

 

Ocean or mountains?

Ocean, hands down. The deep salty smell and the sound of the waves rolling in makes my heart go pitter-pat. That said, I’ve lived the majority of my life in the mountains and those are pretty cool too.

 

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?

Oof, tough question. We basically live in the country, but I just got back from visiting the big city and absolutely loved all the amenities. Did you know there are whole stores devoted to paper? I was blown away.

 

What’s on the horizon for you?

So. Many. Things. 

 

I’ll be releasing the second book in the KC Crumb Mysteries, which is called Crumb and Punishment, in the next month or so. And now I’m working on A Crummy Way to Die, which will come out early next spring.

 

Meanwhile, it’s my last year of homeschooling, so we’re working on all the really fun (insert sarcastic grunt) subjects like physics and calculus. Also, I’m down to my last semester for my master’s degree. There’s never a shortage of projects around these parts!

 

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?

I’m super excited about all things reading and literacy, because life is just better with books! I’d love to hang out with your readers wherever they hang on social media. You can find all my social media links on my website

 

I also hope you’ll take a look at Crumbs of Passion. I’ve had a blast writing about KC and the gang. You never know what they’ll do next!

 

Thank you for hosting me today, Lois. It’s been fun!

 

Crumbs of Passion

A KC Crumb Mystery, Book 1


What do you get when you cross a jilted ex, a dead body, and a killer canine named Pooh Bear?


When social media manager KC Crumb is fired from her bougie job in L.A., she returns home to Beaver Bluff, Oregon only to discover a dead body in her new rental. Unfortunately, the body belongs to her philandering ex-boyfriend—a man she publicly threatened before she left town 15 years ago. Now all eyes are on KC, including those of hunky officer Antonio Hamson.

 

With the help of her new best friend, who happens to be a jiu-jitsu expert/librarian, and a gaggle of gung-ho ladies from her aunt’s bakery, KC and Pooh Bear set out to track down the real killer. Half the town is under suspicion, including a shady car salesman and a preening personal trainer, causing the clues to mount faster than the followers on her newly single social media profiles. And when her life is mysteriously threatened, KC has to sniff out the murderer…before the handsome officer hauls her in for homicide.

 

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