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Friday, September 29, 2023


Luke Murphy is the International bestselling author of two series: The Calvin Watters Mysteries and The Charlene Taylor Mysteries. He also played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. In addition, he writes an award-winning sports column and has also worked as a radio journalist. Check out Luke’s website for more information about him and his books.

Right from day one, The Cradle Will Fall had a different feel, and boy what a ride it’s been—from the original plot idea to the research, and then the unsuspected release day changes. This novel has been a wild card.


The idea for the plot started formulating back in 2019, after I released Rock-a-Bye Baby (Book #2 in the Charlene Taylor series). The initial story featured only Charlene Taylor as the protagonist.


The idea of a baby-selling ring was first put into play in Rock-a-Bye Baby, and I ran with it, as it continued to develop and branch out. I was even surprised at how far it ended up taking me.


When I wrote Red Zone in 2020, a novel featuring both of my main characters, Calvin Watters and Charlene Taylor, I had no expectations of where it would take me. I had no intention of writing multiple books including these characters but look at us now.


It’s all because of my readers. The amount of positive feedback I received after Red Zone, how excited they all were with Calvin and Charlene working together, summed up the possibility of another novel featuring the two. So, I added Calvin to this novel.


The idea of a baby selling ring is not your everyday topic. I interviewed a lady I knew who had gone through the adoption process, adopting a baby from overseas. I took the information she relayed to me, and I ran with it. Of course, I used my creative freedom, and took it to a whole new place.


The plot is a continuation from Rock-a-Bye Baby, when I left cliffhangers to indicate that the case wasn’t over, and questions still remained. Readers continued to want more, so I hope I fulfilled their desires by filling in the gaps.


The release of this book certainly is interesting. The Cradle Will Fall was originally scheduled for a 2022 release, but…since the story takes place in the Ukraine, and with everything going on over there concerning the war with Russia, I decided to postpone the original release date. I waited and watched, tracking the war, and wondering when an appropriate time would be to introduce this book to the world. I don’t know if there is ever a right time, especially with everything that Ukrainians are going through right now, but I sensed it was as right a time as it will ever be. So, I took a chance.


I hope you enjoy The Cradle Will Fall and my interesting story behind how the book came to be.


The Cradle Will Fall 

A Charlene Taylor and Calvin Watters Mystery, Book 3 


A rogue cop...


When the FBI refuses to acknowledge the disappearance of Agent Matt Stone during a covert investigation overseas, Detective Charlene Taylor has no choice but to go on the hunt. The Ukraine can be unforgiving to outsiders, but the detective has no idea just how deep the corruption runs.


A renegade PI...


There is only one person Charlene can turn to. Trusted friend and former leg-breaker, Calvin Watters, is a protector, and the only man who can go head-to-head with the danger that awaits them. Charlene must put her faith in Calvin, and hope that, together, they can find a way to uncover the truth surrounding the missing Americans.


Can Charlene and Calvin team up one more time to overcome an evil syndicate of corrupt cops, and a government conspiracy covered-up by an entire country?


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Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Award-winning author Kathleen Donnelly has been a handler for Sherlock Hounds Detection Canines—a Colorado-based narcotics K-9 company—since 2005. She lives near the Colorado foothills with her husband and four-legged coworkers. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

The Challenges of Incorporating a K-9 Into a Mystery

I’ve been a K-9 handler for a private narcotics dog company called Sherlock Hounds Detection Caines since 2005. As I wrote my first book, Chasing Justice, and my second book in the series, Hunting the Truth, I knew I wanted to make the K-9 character and the dog work a major piece of the story. I am in awe of a dog’s ability to help solve crimes, not only in fiction, but also in real life. I thought as a handler that it would be easy, but I soon discovered that creating suspense and incorporating K-9 work into a mystery was a challenge.


This was mainly because I wanted to keep the K-9 work realistic. That meant that my fictional K-9, Juniper, needed to be a breed commonly used for law enforcement. I chose a Belgian Malinois because they do their jobs well and are very protective of their handlers. The decision to partner my main character, Maya Thompson, with a Malinois was straightforward, but then came incorporating the K-9 work into the story.


Many law enforcement K-9s are trained to find narcotics, track, apprehend, and find evidence. There are other jobs for K-9s in law enforcement such as bomb detection, but for my series, I decided Juniper would be a typical patrol dog. I found as I wrote that I had to think about each scene and how Juniper could help Maya. On the flipside, characters must face conflicts—even K-9 characters.


My books are set in the Colorado mountains where one of the real-life challenges is the weather. Temperature, humidity, wind and terrain can all affect a scent. If I wanted to make it easy on Juniper to track or find narcotics, I could make the weather an enjoyable day with little wind and some humidity. If wanted to make a track difficult, then I could make the weather windy, cold, or hot and keep the humidity low. I’ve enjoyed playing with different scenarios.


As I outline, I like to think about how Juniper can help in each scene. At times, this can be difficult. I don’t want there to always be drugs. Or to have Juniper track a criminal and easily find them. So along with weather, I play with the factor that there’s a human at one end of the leash and we can make mistakes. 


I enjoyed writing and showing Maya and Juniper bonding as well as Maya learning to trust her dog. Juniper is a typical Malinois, smart, playful, and extremely high energy. She likes to test Maya and see what she can get away with.


Incorporating all of this into the storyline along with plotting out a mystery, what evidence Maya and Juniper might find and even creating conflicts like losing a human track has been fun but challenging. I’ve enjoyed learning more about K-9s and bringing these amazing dogs to life in my series. 


So now I’m curious, do you love reading about K-9s, seeing how they can help solve crimes and learning about their jobs through fiction? 


Hunting The Truth

A National Forest K-9 Mystery, Book 2


“Hide, Maya. Don’t let the bad people find you.”

Those are the last words Forest Service law enforcement officer and K-9 handler Maya Thompson ever heard her mother say.

Returning to the Colorado mountains, ex-soldier Maya is no longer a scared little girl. She’s here to investigate her mother’s cold case, but fear creeps in when it comes to her personal life—things are getting serious with sheriff deputy Josh Colten.

After new DNA evidence surfaces, both her beloved grandfather and Josh warn her away from the case, suspecting that she could be the next victim. But Maya doesn’t listen.

Instead, Maya and her K-9 partner, Juniper, track a suspect deep into the forest and directly into grave danger…


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Monday, September 25, 2023


A Colonial Tavern (The one in the story would have been more rustic.)

Today we sit down for a chat with Antoinetta (Etta) Rutledge from author A.M. Reade’s historical mystery 
A Traitor Among Us: A Mystery of the American Revolution, Book 2 in the Cape May Historical Mysteries. 

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

Before Amy started pulling my strings, my life was very much like that of other young women my age in 1777. Most of us help with the household and farm chores. I have added work to do, too, because our house is also an inn for travelers, and my father runs a tavern attached to the house. My mother and sister and I do almost all the work in the inn, and we work every night in the tavern.


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

I am devoted to my family. My younger sister, Prissy, has never spoken, and I’m good at sensing and knowing what she is trying to communicate.


What do you like least about yourself?

Once I grievously misunderstood something Prissy was trying to say, and I wish that had never happened. 


And one thing that I don’t like (though it has little to do with me and much to do with my community in 1777) is this: I wish I could join the men in the tavern when they discuss all kinds of things, like the war and local goings-on and other stories in the broadside (that’s our newspaper.) I think they might be surprised to learn that I have strong and articulate opinions about many issues.


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

Can you believe she made me go to the barn by myself one morning and find a body? The least she could have done was have one of my brothers go with me, but I suppose that would have changed the story.


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

I try not to argue with Amy. At least, not out loud. But I can be crafty, so sometimes I wriggle into her thoughts and make suggestions about other characters’ actions and words. I’m pleased to report she almost always listens to the thoughts I put in her head.


What is your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is that one of my brothers will leave our home and join the fight against the British in the War for Independence.


What makes you happy?

It makes me happy when my sister and brothers and I are all together in one place, be it the tavern or the house or the farm. We four are very close. 


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

I need to think about that. 


I suppose it would be the time my mother … but wait a moment. If I tell you that, I’ll be giving away part of the story. Amy might not appreciate it and I like to stay on her good side.


Let me just say this: in my story, just as in every story, bad things happen. There are times I wish they didn’t, but then there would be no story. Isn’t that correct?


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

That is an easy question: Elijah Webber. He is infuriating, rude, and insufferable. There is something that draws me to him, though, and try as I might, I cannot dislodge thoughts of him from my head. 


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

I would never trade places with anyone, but if I could be someone else for just one day, I would choose Thaddeus Marshall. He often plays the fiddle at our tavern, and I can tell from watching him how much fun he has. He loves playing music because it makes him happy, and it makes everyone else happy. Well, almost everyone. My father disapproves of music and dancing, so my brothers and sister and I are not permitted to join in the fun. Just once, I would love to make music like that.


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

Amy lives in New Jersey. In fact, she lives just a quarter mile from where my story is set—there has been an inn, tavern, hostelry, or other place of hospitality standing on that site since 1736, years before I was born. 


She likes to travel, which is something I’ve never done. And, of course, she loves to read. She even fancies herself a gardener, but to be frank, she’s not. I am a far better gardener than she is. 


Readers can find her at www.amymreade.com. (I, of course, have no idea what that means, but she told me to write it down for you.)


What's next for you?

Alas, though Amy is writing more books set in Cape May County, the next novel has nothing to do with me or my family. It will take place at the Cape May Lighthouse in 1821, forty-four years after my own story.


However, I’m told she may write a short story about me. I hope so because I like talking to her readers. Amy says they are the best readers anywhere in the world.


A Traitor Among Us

A Cape May Historical Mystery, Book 2


September, 1777

The war for American independence rages just seventy miles away from the country inn and tavern owned by the Rutledge family in southern New Jersey. Tensions are running high between those who support the Continental Army and those who remain loyal to the English crown.


When Etta Rutledge stumbles upon the body of a ne’er-do-well British sympathizer on her family’s property, unsettling questions regarding her older brother, Jesse, begin to arise. What was his connection to the victim and why was he keen to keep it hidden?

Another shocking death, this time much closer to the heart of the family, draws Etta ever closer to unlocking the secrets swirling around her—secrets that someone will go to any length to protect...


Will Etta survive the discovery of the traitor in their midst?


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Friday, September 22, 2023


Award-winning mystery and thriller author J. D. Webb, served in the Air Force in Viet Nam and the Philippines as a Chinese linguist, as a corporate transportation manager, then shoe repair and sales shop owner, before becoming an author. Learn more about JD and his books at his website.

What, Me a Success?

Authors’ egos are easily bent/damaged. We are constantly rejected and reminded that we are inadequate.Over these past few years, I’ve taken heart after hearing the stories of famous authors and their rejections.Then comes a question from a friend: Are you disappointed that you have not yet become a name like King or Patterson? Well, after wrestling away depression, I started thinking. Am I successful? Where do I draw the line? First answer – darn right I am. Then another bout with doubt. Why am I writing, and am I satisfied with my career?


After I had toiled in the corporate world for twenty-five years, the company decided they no longer needed me—or even my job. Cripes - rejection. I promoted myself to cobbler and owned my own business for eleven years. When the economy for shoe repair went south (predating the economy for others), I closed my business. Rejection number two.


I became a full-time author in 2002. Since that time, I’ve had six mystery novels published by small, respected electronic publishers. Each of these submissions paralleled the process for publication by the big guys: queryletter, first three chapters and then the entire manuscript. 


I’ve had several short stories published with one winning an international award. My novels have garnered awards and wonderful reviews. So I considered myself successful. At least until the question from my friend.


Holding that first printed copy of my book was the realization of a life-long dream. Finally, at age 65, my book was published. I’d always wanted to be an author, writing short stories all my life, and had the some-day dream of writing a novel. My very first goal was merely to finish a book. I had no inkling or thought about getting it published. I’d read enough about authors to know that every one of the famous names has a first novel stashed in the back of a desk drawer. 


A second book followed. An author friend in my writing group encouraged me to submit it to her publisher. I had already placed a bright red rejection folder in my file cabinet. With my track record, rejection seemed to be a forgone conclusion. I should be ready for it. To my astonishment, they wanted to publish the book. Well, the bug had dug its teeth in. I thought, “Hey, I have another book done, why not send it as well?” And three months after the first was in print, the second came out. I had no qualms saying I was a success. I even sold a bunch of them. Not thousands of copies, but actual people were reading my books. And liking them. I was in the library. Presto, I was a success. More books came.


But the question continues to taunt. Am I a success?  I ponder. And yes, by golly, at the moment, I am a success. I’m doing what I believe I was meant to do--tell stories. I’m giving pleasure and smiles to readers and enjoying every minute of the journey, even the dreaded promotion and business side of writing. And editing. I have a wonderful writing group who help me overcome my grammatical ineptitude. And my “job” allows me time to volunteer and give back to my community. 


When I listen to my characters talk to me and drive me to the finish line, I am in heaven on earth. I sometimes read what I have written and wonder where the heck that came from. I’ve made myself laugh and cry. Isn’t that what life is supposed to be about? Joy and sorrow? I thank you, God, for giving me the talent and tenacity to keep going. I am a success. Just ask me.


Bayou Chase

Chase Anderson, a war hero wounded in Afghanistan, gets a rebuilt knee, and falls in love with his surgeon. They marry, but nine months later, she’s raped and murdered the day she planned a meal to let Chase know he would soon be a dad. The Chicago Police Department compromises the killer's DNA left at the scene resulting in only a one-year sentence for breaking and entering. That’s too much for Chase to accept. He leaves no evidence when Chase drowns the killer in the man’s bathtub. The killer’s twin brothers, who work for a Chicago crime boss, identify Chase and travel to Louisiana for revenge, where Chase is recovering from his loss. Now, not only Chase, but his in-laws are swept into a fight for survival.


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Wednesday, September 20, 2023


Jake, the inspiration for Blitz

Today we sit down for an interval chat with Raely Mynor Videc from
Ghost Tamer by author Meredith R. Lyons.

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

I'll be honest, it was pretty normal. I had a job, I had a best friend, I didn't see any ghosts, I didn't even think about ghosts. I never even considered whether or not I believed in ghosts. Now I’m up to my neck in ghosts. They’re like… a regular life thing.

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

I have to say my sense of humor. I enjoy comedy, I enjoy making people laugh, and the world is a lot sometimes, and it's way better to laugh at it than cry about it.

What do you like least about yourself? 

I have a bit of a temper sometimes, and it's not a good look. 

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

I mean—and I’m sorry, I’m trying really hard not to swear—I feel like events got strange from the get-go. I was instantly involved in an elevated train crash. There hasn’t been one of those in Chicago since 1977. I guess the whole psychic finding-my-essence thing was the freakiest. I somehow lost two hours of time.

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

Casper says I argue with everyone. I just have opinions is the thing. And I’ll be real: I was not in my best place when this story started. So I was kinda resistant to everything. I didn’t want to move forward, I didn’t want to grow or learn things. I just wanted to go back. So I probably argued a lot more than I think I did.

What is your greatest fear? 

Whew. That’s a tough one. I feel like it’s already happened. I mean, my best friend died, and I couldn’t do anything. I guess if something happened to my mom or my cat, Blitz. But wait, don’t give her any ideas.

What makes you happy? 

Wine is pretty nice. And White Cheddar CheezIts. They actually pair really well with red wine from one of those big bottles. And my cat. And hanging out with my mom is always nice. My friends at the comedy club. There's one guy named Luck who's pretty cool.

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

I would not have Joe die. He was such a good person, and he was just getting started. He would have been so much better at all of this ghost stuff than I am. He was better at everything. It was a waste. A waste of a super good person.

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

Um Dylan. For sure. And I am positive that I am not alone on this.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why? Sometimes I wanted to trade places with Joe, which I know sounds bad, but I just feel like he was doing so much more than I was. He had so much to live for and was such a great person. Other than that, I'd trade places with Blitz. Especially during a Chicago winter. What could be better than being an indoor cat all curled up in the warm all the time?

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

She's like, eeeeeeeeeverywhere. Her website is meredithraelyons.com and her blog is at the same place with /faster. She's on all the social medias @meredithrlyons. She lives in Nashville with her husband and two cats and has a lot of book events planned around that area this fall. Those are all on her website, too.

What's next for you? 

Honestly, I'd like to chill for a while? Just get used to being a ghost tamer or whatever. Learn about it from Lovonia. Get used to being on stage again. I'm still probably grieving a bit, too. Okay, I am definitely still grieving. So I should probably give myself time for that. Although she keeps talking about a sequel. I kind of hope she bothers some other people for a few months though. Honestly.


Ghost Tamer

Death is one thing, it's what you do afterward that matters. 


Aspiring comedian Raely is the sole survivor of a disastrous train wreck. While faced with the intense grief of losing her best friend, she realizes that someone is following her—and has been following her all her life. Trouble is, no one else can see him. For a ghostly tag-along, Casper’s not so bad. He might even be the partner Raely needs to fight the evil spirit hell-bent on destroying her.


Raely and her friend must learn why this demonic spirit is haunting Raely and how she can stop him before he destroys her life—and her soul. Which, much to her chagrin, means she needs the help of a psychic (although she’s sure they are all charlatans) and must rid herself of the pesky ghost hunter who’s interested in exploiting her new abilities.


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Monday, September 18, 2023


Today we sit down for a chat with Julia Kogan from author Erica Miner’s Julia Kogan Opera Mystery Series. 

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

It already was difficult. I was born in New York City. My mother died when I was 5 years old, which left my dad to raise me. He started me on the violin, which he played but never professionally. He showed his love by trying to mold me into the best violinist possible, and he asked his friend, the famous opera conductor Abel Trudeau, to mentor me. But it was very pressured to live up to my dad’s standards. Then, when I was 10, Dad was killed trying to save me from a stray bullet during a bank robbery. I was devastated to lose him, and suddenly became an orphan. But after that, Abel took me under his wing and found me a foster home with a Korean family whose daughter, Katie, also played violin. Katie and I were like real sisters, which I really appreciated, since I had been an only child. She was a good sport about our competing with each other at the Juilliard School of Music, and she did not resent when I won the audition for a first violin position in the orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera, where Abel conducted. Then, on the night of my debut…well, that’s when my author started pulling my strings—literally.


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

I’m very disciplined, both in my violin practice and also in keeping myself physically in tune.


What do you like least about yourself?

I tend to overreact to stressful or emotional situations. I can be very calm and focused and then, boom, I freak out.


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

In the first book of the series, she had me fall for a real lothario. Honestly, aren’t I smart enough to know better? I cringe when I think of it.


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

Doesn’t every protagonist argue with her author? We argue mostly about all the dangerous situations she puts me in. Just when get myself out of one difficult scrape, she puts me in another. And yes, I know that’s what authors are supposed to do. But honestly, don’t I deserve some down time?


What is your greatest fear?

Losing someone else I love. I’ve had so much loss in my life. After losing Dad, then Abel, I was afraid to let anyone even touch me, let alone get close to me. Until Larry came along. But as you will see when you read my Opera Mystery series, he is unique.


What makes you happy?

When I play a difficult violin solo, and the conductor is pleased, then it just makes my day.


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

I would have kept my dad alive. To lose him at such a young age…well, no 10-year-old should have to go through that. He was my rock, my biggest supporter. Even if he was overly insistent on perfection, he still showered me with love. I miss him every day.


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

Stewart Blatchley, the conductor and music director of the Santa Fe Opera, pretty much makes my life miserable. He’s so exacting, so demanding, relentlessly critical. He only finds fault with how I perform, never acknowledges when I play something well. Abel was critical, too, but he also praised me when I did something right. But Abel was extraordinary. I can’t tell you how much I miss him.


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

That would be Stella Peregrine, the Santa Fe Police Department detective. She’s so smart, so savvy, so self-confident. And physically, she’s strong, powerful. Solidly built. You don’t mess with this lady. I wish I were as tough as she is. I’ve found myself in some pretty dangerous situations lately, and I’d feel a lot better about getting out of them intact if I had more of her forcefulness.


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

If I had a choice of author, Erica Miner would be the one. Even though she makes my life difficult, she is an award-winning author and screenwriter who was a violinist at the Met Opera for 21 years. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Erica balances writing reviews and interviews of real-world musical artists with her fanciful plot fabrications that reveal the dark side of the fascinating world of opera. Not only does she know all the secrets about what goes on behind the scenes at an opera house, she also knows how to make words sparkle, and I’m grateful to her for creating my Opera Mystery series, even if she constantly places me in tough situations—after all, that how you build character, right? By the way, the first book in the series, Aria for Murder, was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards. Erica continues to show her opera expertise by lecturing on opera for some of the world’s most prestigious venues. There’s more about Erica and her books on her website


What's next for you?

Psst, keep it under your hat, but the San Francisco Opera has offered me the position of concertmaster—that’s the first of the first violinists, a very important post—for an upcoming summer season. That works perfectly since the Met is on hiatus in the summer. Plus, the last time I was in San Francisco I was a baby, and of course I don’t remember anything about it. And my great uncle Alex lives there, too. It’s such a great city, great opera company, and…well I could go on, but I don’t want to give too much away!


Prelude to Murder

A Julia Kogan Opera Mystery, Book 


Having survived her entanglement in a murder investigation at the Metropolitan Opera, violinist Julia Kogan and NYPD detective Larry Somers head to the Santa Fe Opera, where Julia has been engaged as concertmaster, or first of the first violinists, for the summer season. Julia is excited but anxious about the high-pressured job and worried about how she will survive in a strange new desert environment, a magnificent outdoor theatre set between two mysterious mountains ranges in the “Land of Enchantment.” 


But these difficulties are minimal compared to the murderous activities that plague the opera performers onstage and off, as famous singers get picked off left and right, and ghostly apparitions mysteriously appear. Julia again becomes embroiled in a behind-the-scenes investigation as she joins forces with steely SFPD detective Stella Peregrine to stop the unseen menace from wreaking further havoc. But this killer is both ruthless and exceedingly cunning, and in the end Julia finds herself in a confrontation from which there seemingly is no escape—until she draws on a self-defense technique taught her by a fight director to save her own life.


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Friday, September 15, 2023


Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers began in May of 2010. Hard to believe we’ve been around for nearly fourteen years! At first, we posted new content five days a week. A few years ago, we moved to three posts a week. Beginning in October, we’ll be transitioning to once a week with fresh content appearing on Wednesdays.


Hosting a blog takes a lot of time, and as life has unfolded over the last few years, time has become a precious commodity. So we’ve decided it’s time for a change. 


The upside of this is that our guest authors will now get an entire week of exposure. The downside for me? It gives my author more time to wreak havoc in my life. Even though this is my blog, I’m beholden to Lois Winston to do all the work. As an imaginary character, I rely on her to book our guests, send out reminders, and upload their posts.


Lois promises she’ll occasionally pop in on a non-Wednesday to post, especially when she has exciting news about future books and other projects. Or maybe if she just has something she’d like to contribute. As will I. 


Change can be exciting or frightening. I’m not sure which this is, but I guess we’ll soon find out. And that’s the interesting thing about change. It’s not necessarily permanent. We can always change back or tweak the change.


Meanwhile, if you haven’t signed up for Lois’s newsletter, featuring all things about me, as well as special subscriber-only giveaways, you’re missing out on a fun monthly read. And you can also always catch Lois every seventh Thursday at Booklover’s Bench and the fourth Wednesday of every month at The Stiletto Gang.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023


Today we sit down for a chat with Samantha Davies from author S.A. Kazlo’s Samantha Davies Mysteries.  

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

Murderless- lol. Okay, so I made that word up. I was a happily divorced woman penning what I hoped to be a successful children's story, Porkchop the Wonder Dog, starring my faithful dachshund, Porkchop.


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

My loyalty to my family and friends. I'll stick with them through thick and thin, guilty or not of murder.


What do you like least about yourself? 

I'm pretty happy with myself now that I'm shed of my cheating ex- George, although we still co-own a funeral parlor together, the Do Drop Inn Funeral Parlor, but my stubbornness can get me in a pack of trouble at times. I really hate to be wrong.


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

I'd say going along with Candie and posing as Cagney and Lacey when we were questioning a young man about a possible murder suspect. Of course, he was too young to even know who those characters were.


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

Oh, my, do we ever. Mostly about the situations she wants to stick me in. Doesn't she realize that investigating murders can be dangerous?


What is your greatest fear? 

I guess my greatest fear is anything happening to the ones I love, especially since I tend to get myself into some pretty hairy situations often involving them, too.


What makes you happy? 

Being with my boyfriend Detective Hank Johnson, my dachshund, Porkchop and of course anything chocolate


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

Maybe it would have been listening to my dog, Porkchop, when he didn't cotton to my ex George. Porkchop was smarter than me when it came to George. I should have shed myself of George way before I did. Porkchop would growl whenever George came into the room.


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

Sergeant Joe Peters. He'd love to arrest me and throw away the key. Joe and I have a long history, going all the way back to kindergarten. You see, one day at recess I saw him using the sand box as his personal pee-potty.  So, shoot me- I reported him to the teacher. I mean who wants to play in a sand box after he's christened it. He's held that against me ever since.


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

My Southern Belle cousin, Candie. I love her strong personality, She's bold, bright and beautiful. She sparkles as brightly as the rhinestones she adores. 


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

My author is a retired Home Ec teacher. Since she hates cold weather, she retired to Upstate NY with her husband and two dachshunds. Go figure. See what I'm dealing with. When she's not writing, watching her three grandchildren, or voraciously reading cozy mysteries, she loves to rug hook. Her website is www.sakazlo.com


What's next for you? 

Syrl already has me involved in another murder. Geez, and I thought I lived in a nice quiet town in Upstate New York. At least I did until she got involved in my life.


Pups, Pumpkinss and Murder

A Samantha Davies Mystery, Book 4


When Samantha Davies finds a murdered man—crushed beneath a 2,000 pound pumpkin!—her upstate New York fall suddenly turns very chilly. And when her good friend and owner of the local cafe becomes the police's prime suspect, Sam takes it up on herself to find the real killer. With her faithful dachshund, Porkchop, by her side, can Sam get to the truth... before the killer gets to her?


Preorder (available 9/19)

Monday, September 11, 2023


Rosalie Spielman is a mother, veteran, and retired military spouse. She was thrilled to discover that she could make other people laugh with her writing and finds joy in giving people a humorous escape from the real world with her cozy mysteries. Learn more about Rosalie and her books at her website.

Hallo-waiian Shirts

The detective in the Aloha Lagoon mysteries, shared by all the authors who write for the series, is Detective Ray Kahoalani. The series sleuths are often initially confused by his causal "Island Time" lack of urgency and his Hawaiian-print shirts, but he is still a professional who gets his job done. Our sleuths just sometimes help a little!


Kiki Hepburn, the protagonist and amateur sleuth introduced in Death Under the Sea, is a dive tour leader in Aloha Lagoon, a resort town in Kauai. She has settled into a comfortable life living with Auntie Akamai and dating Dex Kokoa, and occasionally solving murders.


In our most recent visit to Aloha Lagoon, Hallo-waiian Murder Mystery, Kiki is hanging out with Auntie Akamai and her friends in a rousing pre-Halloween game of mahjong, when one of them collapses, presumably from an allergic reaction. Kiki performs first aid, and the friend is sent off to the hospital, where they later find out she has died. When Detective Ray shows up, Kiki and Auntie Akamai realize it was not an allergic reaction, but murder.


While Ray is questioning Kiki, she notices his shirt:


Ray's usual Hawaiian shirt was dominated by orange flowers and had a black background, so I couldn't help but smile that he was wearing Halloween colors. At least until I saw the tiny lime green skulls between the flowers. 


And in a later scene:


Tonight, his Hallo-waiian–print shirt had a purple background with grinning jack o' lanterns scattered amongst fuchsia hibiscuses and teal surfboards.


I wrote this, thinking myself quite clever and not realizing that shirts like this actually existed. But I'm thrilled to see that they do! A simple internet search will show you a world of alternatives to the colorful surfers, sunsets, and hibiscus shirts we usually picture, including Halloween-themed ones.


I didn't find exactly what I had pictured, but some on Amazon.com came close. I will fully admit to then falling down a rabbit hole of Hawaiian shirts. I've found shirts for enthusiasts of many different things, like cats, Sasquatch, Star Wars, cows, cartoon characters, dinosaurs, and…capybaras. You can even get a custom shirt with pictures of yourself or your pet, nestled among Hawaiian-type foliage.


But my absolute favorite find, the Inception of festive casual wear: The Hawaiian shirt of…Hawaiian shirts.


You should fully expect to see that one in my fourth Aloha Lagoon book!


Hallo-waiian Murder Mystery

An Aloha Lagoon Mystery, Book 20

It's Kiki Hepburn's first Halloween in Aloha Lagoon, and she doesn't know exactly what to expect. Between working at the busy Aloha Lagoon Dive Shop and living with the eccentric Auntie Akamai, life is always unpredictable. But one thing Kiki definitely didn't expect is the sudden death of Auntie Akamai's life-long friend, Celine Suzuki! And when the island's Homicide Detective Ray shows up, Kiki knows the death is not an accident—it's murder.

Now Auntie Akamai's friends are all suspects in the death. Was it Oliana Harris, the Pineapple Princess, and heiress to a pineapple fortune? Margaux La Roux, a transplant from New Orleans? Or Stella Keawe, Akamai's gossipy goose of a neighbor? They're all acting suspiciously. And each is hiding something. But is what they're hiding worth killing over?

Instead of enjoying her first Hawaiian Autumn under the waves, Kiki's investigation takes her to gardens of flowering poisonous plants, an over-the-top animal shelter, a prickly pineapple plantation, and a zombie theme "Hallo-wedding." With time running out and "something" stalking her every move, will Kiki live to see her Halloween treats? Or will this year end in a "trick" Kiki won't come back from?

Preorder (available Oct. 3rd)

Friday, September 8, 2023


St. George's Market in Belfast
J. Woollcott is a Canadian author born in Belfast, N. Ireland. She is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers and BCAD, University of Ulster. Her first book, A Nice Place to Die won the RWA Daphne du Maurier Award, was short-listed in the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence in 2021 and a Silver Falchion Award finalist at Killer Nashville 2023. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

When my Canadian husband and I were first married, we would take holidays to N. Ireland. For me it was a way to stay close to a country I had left behind, to see friends and family I’d missed. For hubby, it was a nice cheap holiday with lots of fun, laughs and pubs. Fantastic scenery too of course and rain. What we didn’t expect was fine dining. And we weren’t disappointed.


Food at home years ago was not fine. It was good, filling and basic and––dare I say it, a bit bland. Luckily, back then we weren’t looking for fancy. We stayed with friends and family mostly, except for times we went off on trips and stayed in B&Bs. This brings me to my first traditional N. Irish dish. The Ulster Fry. Usually made for breakfast, it can be adapted for all day dining. I describe it in my new book, Blood Relations. Ryan and his on-again, off-again girlfriend Bridget are having an Ulster Fry for dinner…


“…is it okay to have wine with an Ulster Fry?” Bridget got busy in the kitchen.


Ryan set the table, and they tucked into plates of bacon, eggs, fried tomatoes, fried bread, and mushrooms. Thankfully, no black pudding, which he wouldn’t allow in the house. Bridget was appalled, but let it go. They had a bottle of red wine with the meal. “This has to be breaking a few cosmic rules,” he said as they finished.


Fried bread, or a ‘dipped piece’ as we called it, was thick white bread, placed in the pan used to cook the bacon, then fried to a nice crisp brown colour on both sides in the bacon fat. So bad for you, yet so delicious.


Black pudding. Well, let’s not go there. People back home love it. I hate it, hence my hero DS Ryan McBride hates it too. Pig’s blood, that’s all I’m saying.


Nowadays, there has been a resurgence of sorts and N. Ireland’s restaurants, bars and hotels enjoy a fantastic reputation for fine dining. Lots of food shops, too, and markets to service the restaurants. St. George’s, in the middle of Belfast, is a fine example of that, and a great place to visit. Lots of farm-fresh vegetables and meats plus baked goods and cakes. Fresh cheeses and fish. All used by local bars and restaurants and everyday shoppers getting away from supermarket produce.


I didn’t want my policeman hero to have a major interest in cooking. He loves to eat but doesn’t have much time. He’s too busy solving murders. I decided his sister Erin would be the one to provide a little bit of culinary interest to the book.


I have Erin as a food blogger, a wonderful cook, and in Blood Relations she’s about to open a specialty food store. A few years ago that wouldn’t have done so well, now Belfast is bursting with them. Here are some photos of a terrific shop in the middle of Belfast, the kind of place I see Erin starting.


As an author and reader I’m always a tiny bit disappointed when I read a book and there’s no mention of food or eating, especially if it’s set abroad. What do you think, do you like reading about meals and visits to restaurants and pubs?


Blood Relations

A DS Ryan McBride Novel, Book 2


Belfast, Northern Ireland: early spring 2017. Retired Chief Inspector Patrick Mullan is found brutally murdered in his bed. Detective Sergeant Ryan McBride and his partner Detective Sergeant Billy Lamont are called to his desolate country home to investigate. In their inquiry, they discover a man whose career with the Police Service of Northern Ireland was overshadowed by violence and corruption. Is the killer someone from Mullan’s past, or his present? And who hated the man enough to kill him twice? Is it one of Patrick Mullan’s own family, all of them hiding a history of abuse and lies? Or a vengeful crime boss and his psychopathic new employee? Or could it be a recently released prisoner desperate to protect his family and flee the country? Ryan and Billy once again face a complex investigation with wit and intelligence, all set in Belfast and the richly atmospheric countryside around it.


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