Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour

Author Spotlight of Loretta Marion, Author of House of Ashes, a Haunted Bluffs Mystery

I’m pleased to have author Loretta Marion from Bristol, Rhode Island here to speak about her writing and new release, House of Ashes that’s on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

My current book, HOUSE OF ASHES, releases on November 13th and is published by Crooked Lane Books.

My debut novel, THE FOOL’S TRUTH, was independently published through a company I set up, Time at Last Books. (Fall of 2016)

Very nice. Congratulations!

Tell us a little bit about your books — if you write a series, any upcoming releases or your current work-in-progress. If you have an upcoming release, please specify the release date.

HOUSE OF ASHES is the first in the Haunted Bluffs Mystery series that takes place in the fictional town of Whale Rock on Cape Cod. The story centers on Cassie Mitchell, a thirty-seven-year old painter who is about to lose her beloved family home to mounting debt. The mystery involves the disappearance of two young people who happen upon Cassie’s property and end up staying for a while to help her out of her bind. Interwoven into the present-day story is the account of Cassie’s great-grandparents and the century-old curse that still threatens the Mitchell family. That the spirits of these ancestors still inhabit The Bluffs adds another element of mystery to the story. Why are they still there and what do they want of Cassie?

HOUSE OF ASHES has the upcoming release date of November 13, 2018. The next book in the series will be published in the fall of 2019.

THE FOOL’S TRUTH is a twisty mystery with whispers of romance, following Cordelia Richmond, a desperate young mother who becomes stranded in the backwoods of Maine. Dark secrets, deceit and danger emerge when she and her young daughter are taken in by a witch-like hermit living off the grid. THE FOOL’S TRUTH received the following awards: Finalist in two categories (Mystery & Suspense) IAN 2017 Book of the Year Awards, Honorable Mention New England Bookfest, Literary Titan Gold Book Award

Both books sound fantastic.

Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

I’ve never been a goal-oriented individual, but simply put, I hope to continue to write books that entertain, to hone my craft and to build a readership following for my writing,

I was told early on, the more you write, the better you become. I intend to keep writing.

That’s a great goal in itself.

What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

As a mystery with elements of the paranormal and a touch of romance, HOUSE OF ASHES has a lot to offer. It would appeal to readers of mysteries, romantic mystery, romantic suspense and paranormal mysteries. With a main character who struggles with hardships – many brought upon herself – and evolves to become more resilient, I think the story would also be appealing to fans of women’s fiction.

Sounds like there’s a large audience for your book.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

Make sure you are submitting a very clean and polished manuscript to agents and editors. Continue to learn about the craft and be open to constructive suggestions. Attend writing conferences and learn how to pitch your book. Be persistent but patient and realistic. Not every book has a Cinderella story attached to it.

Good advice.

What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

Probably my greatest struggle was in determining if my writing would attract a following, which is difficult to assess until you are actually published. I struggled with the decision of whether to take one of my books to the market independently to make that determination. I ultimately took that route with my first book, which was quite a journey and a long learning curve. But I’m glad for the experience as it helped me better understand the publishing world as well as my own personal expectations.

All publishing journeys are educational.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

Not at present but I’m looking into which would be a good fit for me and my writing.

There are many to choose from, some are better than others.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I love to travel as well as outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and kayaking. My quiet hobby is knitting, and I especially enjoy making baby blankets and scarves – nothing too complicated please!

A nice variety of interests besides reading and writing.

What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

I enjoy entertaining people with my stories and feel fortunate to have the opportunity to do so. It’s wonderful to be able to spend time with my characters. At the beginning of a project they are mere acquaintances, by the end they’ve become a part of me.

What I like the least are deadlines. It’s a different process when you are writing to serve someone else’s timetable.

The toughest challenge is probably book promotion. Although I’m proud of my writing, it’s not easy for me to tout my work. Also, finding a good balance between the writing, the promotional aspects and life can be a challenge.

I know exactly how you feel. Characters definitely grow on an author. As far as book promotion, most authors struggle with that. I certainly do.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

Though a mystery, HOUSE OF ASHES would not be considered a cozy. Most of my writing involves a mystery in some form, though I didn’t start out with that intent. I was originally headed in the direction of Women’s Fiction, but that element of mystery kept insinuating itself into my writing. I must admit, there is something uniquely satisfying about plotting out the intricate threads of a mystery and then weaving them together to reveal unexpected results.

I write different types of mysteries in addition to my cozy mystery series. I also love to read them.

Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?

Since the book interweaves two stories, I’ll share excerpts from both the historic and present-day accounts.


Eighty years ago ~ Whale Rock, Massachusetts ~ Cape Cod Bay

Friday, December 13th

The fire bell was ringing, and someone yelled in through the tavern door, “There’s a fire up on the north end! Battersea Bluffs. We need all the hands we can get!”

“No, it can’t be,” Percy whispered. The Bluffs was his home. He leapt from the barstool and ran for the street, bumping into a stranger as he passed through the tavern door. The man’s eyes were ominously familiar to him, but with more pressing concerns, there was no time to bring to memory why. He had to get home to Celeste.

It sickened him to see the flames as his Ford pickup rounded the top of Lavender Hill. How hard he and Celeste had worked to build this house, a grand Victorian with a widow’s walk and a proud front porch facing out to sea. Fire trucks were already there, and men he’d known these many years were working hard to contain the blaze.

As he ran toward the house, it came to him who the stranger in the tavern had been, and later one of the firefighters would recount that Percy had screamed: “Damn that lighterman’s curse. Damn you to hell, Robert Toomey!” Nobody was quick enough to keep Percy Mitchell from entering the inferno. Moments later he emerged, his clothing and hair afire, carrying a charred human form. Any man would have been delirious from the pain, but as the firefighters looked on in shocked disbelief, Percy walked with a purposeful bearing and a swift gait toward the bluffs. A few men chased after their friend, but before anyone could stop him, Percy reached the ledge and cried out, “I am not finished!”

And then, with his already dead wife in his arms, he hurled them both into Cape Cod Bay.


Present day ~ Whale Rock, Massachusetts ~ Cape Cod

September ~ three days since the disappearance

Back at home, I took a good look at my beloved Battersea Bluffs, with its towering widow’s walk, double chimneys, and impressive wrap-around porch. It had become part of Whale Rock’s lore that the majestic Victorian sitting high above the cliffs on the craggy northern end of town was possessed by the spirits of my great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, its original owners. The legend evolved from a rumor initiated by my father when he was trying to take back his rightful home. It had been a successful strategy, but he could never have guessed how prophetic his fable would become—or maybe he’d already sensed the mysterious aspects of the old house. To be fair, Papa and I had never discussed the lurking scents and sounds presented by the spirits sharing our home.

I unlatched the gate, to a warm greeting of soft whimpers and an exuberant tail.

“You’re missing them too, aren’t ya, buddy?” I reached down to stroke the German shepherd’s glossy black fur, those usually erect ears momentarily relaxed. I widened the gate.

I followed the dog to the ledge of Percy’s Bluffs, so named after my great-grandfather’s dramatic leap from the cliffs overlooking Cape Cod Bay. I stared down to where the waves were crashing against the rocks below. Through the years, this spot had become my refuge, where I’d come to contemplate decisions or brood over troubles. Exhausted and numb, I sank to the ground and idly fingered an abandoned champagne cork, probably left here the night Vince and Ashley moved in with me. We’d brought a bottle down to the cliffs to toast our new alliance and the home they were going to help me save. I closed my eyes to bring to memory the feel of the fizzy liquid against my tongue, the first I’d tasted in years.  There’d not been much to celebrate in recent times. But that night, a sense of hope had returned to me.

Excellent excerpts. You’ve got me hooked.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?

My desire to become a writer of fiction evolved from the unlikely world of hospice. As a volunteer, I started a Legacy Story program for the patients who were still able to tell their stories. It was an incredibly meaningful experience. I credit the courage demonstrated by those patients who were facing their grim realities for inspiring me to be bold enough to step out onto that path that may or may not lead to publication. I’ll be eternally grateful for how those patients’ stories touched my heart and for the journey that resulted from the experience.

The paranormal aspect of HOUSE OF ASHES was inspired by my own experience with an otherworldly visitor.

How interesting. It’s not uncommon for authors to weave their own personal experiences into their books, and that makes them more realistic.

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc.






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I’ve enjoyed answering these interview questions. Thank you for your interest in my spotlighting my writing!

My pleasure. I’m just sorry I posted your interview late. I’ve been preparing for an author talk at my library and got caught up. I wish you the best of luck with your new release and your future mysteries.

House of Ashes: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery
Supernatural Mystery
1st in Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 13, 2018)
Hardcover, 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1683318439
ISBN-13: 978-1683318439
Digital Details Coming Soon

A family patriarch’s dying proclamation, an enigmatic disappearance, and a century-old curse converge in the shadows of a majestic home on Cape Cod’s craggy coast.

Thirty-seven-year-old painter Cassandra Mitchell is fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, a brooding Queen Anne home originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies that have swept the generations. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it’s by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter―but now she stands to lose her beloved home to mounting debt and the machinations of her dream-weaving ex-husband.

Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property with the promise of companionship and much-needed help―until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what’s happened to the young couple…even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police―as well as an FBI agent who pushes the boundaries of professionalism―Cassie can’t help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family’s dark curse destroys everything in its path?

About the Author

An author of fiction, Loretta Marion’s writing bridges the genres of mystery and suspense and women’s fiction, always with hints of romance and humor, sometimes delving into the psychological and paranormal. She creates strong but flawed and struggling characters as appealing as the rich atmospheric settings in which the stories take place.

Loretta is a true bibliophile and has loved reading and creating with words since she was a young girl. And that affection for the written word followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she put pen to paper crafting marketing and advertising copy, educational brochures, and newsletters. But her passion for writing fiction evolved from the unlikely world of hospice. As a volunteer, she set out to establish a Legacy Story program to honor and preserve the rich heritage of the fascinating people who were soon to leave this world. The meaningful experience inspired her to create her own interesting characters and stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, was a twisty and suspenseful mystery with whispers of romance. Her newest novel, HOUSE OF ASHES – A Haunted Bluffs Mystery, is the first in a series published by Crooked Lane Books.

Though born and raised in the Midwest, Loretta fell in love with New England and has made it the setting for much of her writing. When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey, and their beloved Mr. Peabody, a sweet, devoted and amusing “Corgador” (Corgi-Labrador cross). (

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Guest Post and Blog Tour for Death, Diamonds, and Freezer Burn, a Grime Pays Mystery, by Tricia L. Sanders

My To-Do List or What’s on My Horizon

Making lists is second-nature to me, and I love putting check marks next to the entries. I’ll make a list for almost anything, and if I can color-code it and turn it into a spreadsheet, even better. I have more highlighters on my desk than I have ink pens. And don’t get me started on sticky notes. My top, left desk drawer is dedicated to my sticky note collection. Not kidding! I have them in every shape, size, and color. The notes with flamingos are my favorite.

For this post though, I thought I’d share my to-do list for the next 12 months. Maybe if I get it out there in the blog-o-sphere, it will help me with accountability. Procrastination is my middle name, so the more people who know what I have on tap, the better my chances of actually getting my list completed. And yes, it is in spreadsheet form and color-coded on my laptop. Keep in mind, this is my writing to-do list. My personal to-do list is a beast all to itself.

*Book 3 in the Grime Pays Series. This is the top item on my list. It’s in rough draft stage, needs editing, and still needs a title. It’s the continuation of Cece Cavanaugh’s story and picks up the week before Thanksgiving with… a murder, of course. There’s an unexpected love twist, an ex expires, and Cece’s mother comes to visit. Oh, and someone gets a big surprise.

*Video Book Trailer for Book 2 in the Grime Pays Series, Death, Diamonds, and Freezer Burn. I put together one for Murder is a Dirty Business and love it so much, I want to get one together for Book 2.

*Marketing two Christmas Anthologies – Candy Canes and Corpses and Sleigh Bells and Sleuthing (coming to Amazon soon.) I have stories in both, and the stories are prequels to two new series ideas.

*Book 4 in the Grime Pays series is partially outlined. Finishing that outline is a priority.

*Outlining Book 1 in the Mattie and Mo Mystery series. This is the story that has a prequel in Sleigh Bells and Sleuthing. The series will focus on retiree couple Mattie and Mo. He’s a former Police Chief, and she’s a certified snoop.

*Outlining Book 1 in the Tropical Cozy Mystery series. This is the story prequel in Candy Canes and Corpses. This series will focus on a mother/daughter, Grace and Shelby Rutherford who inherit what they think is a working plantation but turns out to be a rundown house which includes a coffeeshop and bookstore along with a snow cone truck on an island off the coast of Florida.

As you can see, I have a busy year planned. Oh, and I’m helping my daughter relocate to the U.S. after living abroad for 4 years. That will definitely be more work than anything on my to-do list. And a lot more fun.

What’s on your agenda?

About the Book

Death, Diamonds, and Freezer Burn (Grime Pays Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Soul Mate Publishing, Inc.
Release Date – October 24, 2018
Approximately 254 pages

An unwelcome visitor, an unrequited love, and a dead body create chaos in a middle-aged woman’s plan for a productive summer.

Despite a looming divorce, an empty checkbook, and a struggling cleaning business, Cece Cavanaugh is determined to land on her own two feet. Adamant about staying a safe distance from the handsome detective who has her fantasizing about violating the morals clause in her prenuptial agreement, Cece dives headlong into her work.

Even though she has no free time to spare, Cece finds herself guilted into cleaning a hoarder’s home. Her discoveries in the condemned house are too shocking to ignore. Diamond-laden pachyderms, a secret cache of money, and a dead body lure Cece into launching an investigation that places her in direct contact with the one person she’s desperate to avoid–hunky Detective Case Alder.

With clues in hand, Cece runs down leads and eliminates suspects one by one. Her conclusion and brave accusation put a friend’s life in peril forcing Cece to hatch a plan to outsmart the killer. A daring move could either save Cece and her friend or lead to their demise.

About the Author

Tricia L. Sanders writes cozy mysteries and women’s fiction. She adds a dash of romance and a sprinkling of snark to raise the stakes. Her heroines are humorous women embarking on journeys of self-discovery all the while doing so with class, sass, and a touch of kickass.

Tricia is an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, so don’t get between her and the television when a game is on. Currently, she is working on a mystery series set in the fictional town of Wickford, Missouri. Another project in the works is a women’s fiction road trip adventure.

A former instructional designer and corporate trainer, she traded in curriculum writing for novel writing, because she hates bullet points and loves to make stuff up. And fiction is more fun than training guides and lesson plans.

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Posted in Freebies and Special Offers, Written in Stone

FREE BOOK – November 1st and 2nd


My Cobble Cove mystery, Written in Stone, is free on November 1 and 2. You can download it here:

Alicia McKinney is confused . . . .

Was the strange email her husband received from the fictional detective in their mystery series a threat? Did the killer mistake the woman shot in the library for Alicia or the victim’s twin sister?

Cat vs. Dog . . .

After Sneaky goes missing from the library, will he turn up before a young girl becomes ill with worry over his disappearance? And will he return in time to outsmart Fido by being first to find the perpetrator’s smoking gun?

Alicia is worried . . .

While waiting for the killer’s next move, Alicia has other concerns. An old flame of John’s is in town and her friend, Gilly, has adopted the role of Miss Marple to aid her sheriff boyfriend in his investigation.

When all clues point to one of her co-workers, Alicia joins Gilly in searching for the answers to the mystery.

Will they survive . . . .

or is their ending written in stone?

Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Mardi Gras Murder, a Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron


Hi there, y’all, I’m Tug Crozat. You’re probably more familiar with my daughter, Maggie, but I thought I’d drop by and fill you in on what all’s going on these days at Crozat Plantation B&B.

Mardi Gras is a huge deal in Louisiana. Maggie once bought me a joke Christmas sweatshirt that said, “Happy Almost Mardi Gras.” Yup, that’s kind of how we think of it around here. The part of the year that isn’t Carnival Season basically serves as a lead-up to Carnival Season.

The literal translation of “Mardi Gras” is “Fat Tuesday.” It’s the last day you really get let loose before Lent starts. Let me tell you a little about how we celebrate here in our little village of Pelican, Louisiana. (Town motto: “Yes, We Peli-CAN!”) Yes, we have a parade with floats and throws like beads and doubloons. We also have several Courir de Mardi Gras. That means “Mardi Gras Run.” Folks dress up in these colorful costumes and wear handmade masks. Each courir has a capitaine, who keeps the group in line as much as possible as they go from house to house to cajole ingredients for a communal gumbo out of agreeable residents. The Mardi Gras – yup, here it’s a proper noun as well as a holiday name – sing, dance, and beg to get those ingredients. Then everyone comes together at one location where the communal gumbo is made and served. (Nowadays, a lot of the ingredient-gathering is purely ceremonial because the gumbo’s pre-made by local cooks to save time.)

In Pelican, we have a big Mardi Gras party once the Courirs show up with their ingredients. There’s a pageant queen, dancing, and my favorite part of the whole deal – the Gumbo Cookoff. Yup, in addition to the communal gumbo, there’s a whole contest for making it. A lot of men in our village love to cook, and the only thing we like cooking better than jambalaya is gumbo. I always make mine a big old cast iron pot that’s so important to me I store it in our family safe between competitions. It’s been handed down to Crozat men from one generation to another. Nobody knows how old it is, but boy, do I love that baby. Maggie, who’s an only child, jokes that while some of her friends had to compete with a sibling for attention, she had to compete with a black pot. (That’s what we call them – black pots.)

I always spend the week before Mardi Gras fixing up batches of my gumbo, making sure I have the right ingredients handy, doing a little fine tuning of the recipe, which I also keep in the safe. Like the black pot, that recipe’s been handed down through the family for generations, and Crozat men have won the Pelican Mardi Gras gumbo contest more times than I can count. I got my eye on the prize again for this year.

I can’t imagine anything going wrong. Can you?

Mardi Gras Murder: A Cajun Country Mystery
by Ellen Byron

About the Book

Mardi Gras Murder: A Cajun Country Mystery
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Crooked Lane Books (October 9, 2018)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 168331705X
ISBN-13: 978-1683317050
Digital ASIN: B078LZ5W3H

Southern charm meets the dark mystery of the bayou as a hundred-year flood, a malicious murder, and a most unusual Mardi Gras converge at the Crozat Plantation B&B.

It’s Mardi Gras season on the bayou, which means parades, pageantry, and gumbo galore. But when a flood upends life in the tiny town of Pelican, Louisiana—and deposits a body of a stranger behind the Crozat Plantation B&B—the celebration takes a decidedly dark turn. The citizens of Pelican are ready to Laissez les bon temps rouler—but there’s beaucoup bad blood on hand this Mardi Gras.

Maggie Crozat is determined to give the stranger a name and find out why he was murdered. The post-flood recovery has delayed the opening of a controversial exhibit about the little-known Louisiana Orphan Train. And when a judge for the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen pageant is shot, Maggie’s convinced the murder is connected to the body on the bayou. Does someone covet the pageant queen crown enough to kill for it? Could the deaths be related to the Orphan Train, which delivered its last charges to Louisiana in 1929? The leads are thin on this Fat Tuesday—and until the killer is unmasked, no one in Pelican is safe.

A simmering gumbo of a humorous whodunit, Mardi Gras Murder is the fourth piquant installment in USA Today bestselling author Ellen Byron’s award-winning Cajun Country mysteries.

About the Author

Ellen Byron authors the Cajun Country Mystery series. A Cajun Christmas Killing and Body on the Bayou both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery and were nominated for Agatha awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. Plantation Shudders was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Mardi Gras Murder launches October 9th. Ellen’s TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly OddParents. She’s written over 200 national magazine articles, and her published plays include the award-winning Graceland. She also worked as a cater-waiter for the legendary Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing.

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