Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery

Author Spotlight ofJudy Penz Sheluk, Author of Past and Present, a Marketville Mystery

I’m pleased to have author Judy Penz Sheluk from Alliston, Ontario, Canada here to speak about her writing and new release, Past and Present, a Marketville Mystery.

Welcome, Judy. Please tell us how long you’ve been published and what titles and/or series you write

My first short story, “Sylvia’s World,” was published in the Spring 2004 issue of THEMA, a New Orleans-based literary journal. My first novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose: A Glass Dolphin Mystery (#1) was published by Barking Rain Press in July 2015. The sequel, A Hole In One, was published in March 2018. My second novel, Skeletons in the Attic: A Marketville Mystery (#1), was first published by Imajin Books in August 2016, and re-released by Barking Rain Press in November 2017. The sequel, Past & Present, is being published on September 21, 2018 by Superior Shores Press, which is my own publishing imprint, established earlier this year. I also have two short story collections (Unhappy Endings and Live Free or Tri) and a few stories published in anthologies. Three of my books (Noose, Skeletons, Live Free) are also available in audiobook on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

Very nice.

Tell us a little bit about your books — what genre you write, 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.

With the exception of my three short stories (literary fiction) published by THEMA, I’m mystery/suspense all the way. As noted earlier, Past & Present will be out today, September 21st. It’s currently on pre-order in trade paperback and at a special introductory price of $2.99 on Kindle. http://authl.it/afj.

I’m currently working on book 3 on both my series (Glass Dolphin and Marketville).

That sounds wonderful. Good luck to you.

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 have a lot of ideas. I’d like to put together an anthology of mystery stories under the Superior Shores Press umbrella and I’m now in the planning stages for that. I’ve started researching a non-fiction novel (not a mystery). I have a rough outline for a novella prequel for Marketville, and another rough outline for a standalone suspense. How am I going to reach those goals? Hard work. The harder I work, the luckier I get.

I love your positive thinking.

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

My mysteries don’t contain overt violence, sex or bad language so they can be read by any age. They can be classed as “cozy” but there are no cats, crafts, or cookie recipes. I like to categorize them as “amateur sleuth with an edge.”

Interesting. There are so many subgenres of mysteries including cozies.

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

Don’t give up. The Help by Kathryn Stockett was turned down 61 times and it’s brilliant. Hire a professional editor – developmental and copy. Your English teacher, best friend, spouse, writing group etc. are all great resources, but they cannot replace a professional. Consider the amount spent an investment in yourself – much like a college course. Accept constructive criticism and learn from it. Write every day, even if you only have 15 minutes to do it.

Excellent advice. It saddens me to think of all those writers who gave up and had so much to offer readers.

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

I’d been a freelance writer/editor for 10 years when I started shopping around The Hanged Man’s Noose. I thought that my reputation, especially my role as Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal, would help. It didn’t. But I didn’t give up, and Barking Rain offered me a contract in 2014. I’d had about 18 rejections before that. It’s a humbling business.

That it is.

Have you taken any writing or publishing classes? If so, please provide information about them and if you feel they helped you further your professional skills.

Absolutely. My first Creative Writing Workshop led me to writing the short story in THEMA and I’ve taken a few Creative Writing workshops early on. I also have a Creative Writing Certificate from Winghill Writing School (2003), and a Fiction Writing Certificate from Gotham Writers (2013).

I’m sure you’ve benefitted from all of those.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I’m a passionate, if poor, golfer, and belong to two ladies leagues. Of course, our season is short – May to October. I used to be an avid runner, but now I’m more of a distance walker, though I still run 3 miles a couple days a week. I love to read and my goal is 40+ books this year. Reading is the best teacher.

I agree. As a librarian, I have my choice of books which is like being a kid in a candy store. Unfortunately, working full time and writing, I can’t read as much as I’d like to.

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

I love just sitting down and writing, letting the words flow and surprise me. I don’t love marketing but it’s part of it. The toughest challenge is finding the time to do everything I want and need to do. It’s a question of balance.

That’s so true. I also love to see where my characters lead me in my books. As for marketing, most writers find it a challenge and have difficulty fitting it into their tight schedules

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. and include some book cover graphics and author photos if possible.

Website: http://www.judypenzsheluk.com

Facebook: https://business.facebook.com/JudyPenzSheluk/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8602696.Judy_Penz_Sheluk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JudyPenzSheluk

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/judypenzsheluk/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/judypenzsheluk/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/judy-penz-sheluk

Blurb for Past & Present

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…

It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?

Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.

Past & Present is available for pre-order in trade paperback and at a special introductory price of $2.99 on Kindle. http://authl.it/afj. Publication date Sept. 21, 2018.

Thanks so much for the interview, Judy, and best wishes on your new release and future books.

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Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery

Author Spotlight of Marilyn Levinson aka Allison Brook, Author of Read and Gone, a Haunted Library Mystery

I’m pleased to have Marilyn Levinson (aka Allison Brook), fellow Long Island and cozy mystery author from Holbrook, NY here to speak about her writing and new release, Read and Gonethat is on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Welcome, Marilyn. Please tell us how long you’ve been published and what titles and/or series you write.

My first published book was AND DON’T BRING JEREMY, a novel for kids, in 1985 (Holt) and was a nominee for 6 state awards. Other books for kids written around that time: NO BOYS ALLOWED, THE FOURTH-GRADE FOUR, A PLACE TO START and RUFUS AND MAGIC RUN AMOK.

About seven or eight years ago I started publishing mysteries and romantic suspense: A MURDERER AMONG US and MURDER IN THE AIR –my Twin Lakes mysteries; DANGEROUS RELATIONS, GIVING UP THE GHOST, MURDER A LA CHRISTIE and MURDER THE TEY WAY – my Golden Age of Mystery Book Club mysteries; DEATH OVERDUE and READ AND GONE – my Haunted Library mystery series written as Allison Brook

More novels for kids: GETTING BACK TO NORMAL and THE DEVIL’S PAWN

You are quite a prolific and versatile writer. I also like to write other genres in addition to my cozy mystery series.

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.

READ AND GONE, the second book in my Haunted Library series, is just out with Crooked Lane Books. My sleuth, Carrie Singleton, works in the Clover Ridge Library in Clover Ridge, CT as head of programs and events. She can see and communicate with the ghost of a former library assistant who sometimes helps her solve mysteries and lives with Smoky Joe, the library cat. I am currently writing the third book in the series.

I read your first and really enjoyed it. I hope to read the new one soon. As you know, as a librarian, I’m a bit partial to librarian sleuths and library cats, as I feature them in my books, too.

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 plan to keep on writing mysteries. I’d like to write another series and to add a few books to the series I’ve already begun.  I also want to write the third and final Rufus book in my Rufus trilogy for readers ten to twelve.

I’m publishing the fourth book in my series soon and have an unpublished first of a cozy series I’m currently querying to agents. I’d like to continue the Cobble Cove books and am already planning the 5th.

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

I’m hoping to attract readers that like mysteries, unraveling secrets, and reading about my characters’ relationships with one another. I think readers who like a library setting, novels that include animals, and paranormal elements in their mysteries would love reading my books.

I hope to attract the same readers as you. Besides the paranormal theme in your books, mine feature all the others that you do. I have a standalone paranormal romance, Cloudy Rainbow, that just came out and is on blog tour with a giveaway right now.

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

Keep on writing; belong to a critique group to give and receive input from other writers; join writers’ organizations; attend a few conferences if you can; be active in social media but don’t let it overtake the time you should be writing.

Keeping social media time down is tough especially when one works full time. Critique groups can be helpful as well as writer organizations. I’ve attendedf a few conferences and hope to attend more, but many times they are given when I’m working.

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

I received many rejections.

I think all authors do, but they need not take them personally but use them as motivation to keep trying.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I belong to Sisters in Crime and the Guppies.

Me, too. They’re great.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I read, knit, do crossword puzzles and Sudoku. I enjoy traveling and dining out.

I used to crochet. I like logic puzzles but have never tried Sudoku. I also like to travel when I have the time and money, but I’m eating out less to keep to my diet.

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

I enjoy hearing from readers, especially when they tell me they’ve loved reading my books and look forward to the next in the series.

Least, I suppose, are the things I can’t control. Like the rare, unfair negative review.

My toughest challenge is finding the necessary time to write. I wish I wrote faster.

I agree that time is one of the biggest challenges for authors and the more you publish, the more time you need to promote your books. I also enjoy hearing from readers and fans of my series. It gives me a reason to keep writing.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I love writing about characters that appear in a series—their lives in a small town, their concerns, and their relationships with one another. I enjoy the way my sleuths have to figure out clues and gather information to solve the mystery without the use of a forensic lab at their disposal.

Yes, characters are most important in mysteries especially cozies.

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. and include some book cover graphics and author photos if possible.

website: http://www.marilynlevinson.com
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Marilyn-Levinson/e/B001KHVLUU/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1521576336&sr=1-2-ent
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.levinson.10?ref=ts&fref=ts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/161602.Marilyn_Levinson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarilynLevinson
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marilev/

To join Marilyn’s rafflecopter for her blog tour, follow the link here. http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/02887792759/?

Thank you so much for the interview, Marilyn, and continued success with your series, new release, and blog tour. I hope you drop by the library again, so we can chat or maybe do lunch. I may also see you at another LI event.

Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery

Author Spotlight of Susan Boles, Author of Death Said the Gypsy Queen, a Lily Gayle Lambert Mystery

I’m pleased to have author Susan Boles from Olive Branch, Mississippi here to speak about her writing and new release, Death Said the Gypsy Queen that’son blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Welcome, Susan. Please tell us how long you’ve been published and what titles and/or series you write.

My first book was published in March of 2016. It was a standalone romantic suspense called Fated Love. My next book was published in August 2016. That was Death of a Wolfman — which is the first book in the Lily Gayle Lambert mystery series. There are four books in that series including my newest release Death said the Gypsy Queen. They are all published by Argent Ocean Publishing which is my boutique publishing agency.

Very nice. Tell us a little bit about books.

I write the Lily Gayle Lambert mystery series. Book 4, Death said the Gypsy Queen was just released on September 5th. The series takes place in the fictitious town of Mercy, Mississippi. If it were on a map, it would be just south of Memphis, Tennessee. The main character, Lily Gayle Lambert, is a seamstress and genealogist. She makes costumes for people who are re-enactors, participate in renaissance fairs or just want a period costume for any reason. As her side hustle, she ‘helps’ her cousin solve local murders. Her cousin, Ben Carter, is the county sheriff.

Congratulations on your new release. Your books sound like interesting mysteries. Your main character, Lily, has an interesting profession. My family and I enjoy attending renaissance fairs upstate and just came back from one a few weeks ago.

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?

This year has been a fantastic year for me when it comes to goals. In August I made it to the USA Today Bestseller list and also the Wall Street Journal Bestseller list. Talk about exciting!! To hit those goals has really made my year. I’m hoping to hit the New York Times Bestseller list next. And I want to make it to the USA Today and WSJ Bestsellers lists again. I’ll be continuing to write and publish the Lily Gayle Lambert books and I’ve also begun writing as a contributing author to the Brotherhood Protectors World books. The Brotherhood books are romantic suspense books that take place in Mercy and involve a younger set of characters along with being more romance oriented than the Lily Gayle books. I plan to continue to write books that readers love and build my reader base in order to reach my goals.

That’s wonderful. You’ve set and achieved some great goals.

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

I hope to continue to attract cozy mystery readers for the Lily Gayle Lambert books. I think they offer great entertainment along with having a really good cast of characters. With the Brotherhood Protectors books I want to attract romantic suspense readers. These books are a bit more gritty than the Lily Gayle books and also focus on a romance between the main characters.

Those are two popular genres.

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

Don’t give up. It’s a hard road. One that will seem all uphill a lot of the time. It’s a lot of work, but doing something you really love takes a bit of the sting out of it. I won’t say it doesn’t seem like work if you love it because that’s not true. Also, look into self-publishing. Find a great cover designer, a great formatter and a great editor. Those are essential to putting your best work forward.

Good advice.

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

When I first began writing, self-publishing was not yet around. Other than vanity presses and I didn’t want to go that route. So, in the beginning, my biggest challenge was trying to get an agent. Because, back then, very few publishing houses accepted unagented manuscripts. I got away from writing for a long time for family reasons. When I came back, self-publishing had become a real thing. So, now I self-publish through my boutique agency. I have a professional editor and a professional book cover designer and learned to format myself.

It looks like persistence paid off for you.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I love doing genealogy. And spending time with friends and family. I also enjoy DIY. I have tiled my own kitchen backsplash and around the vanity area in one bathroom.

Those are all very creative pursuits.

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

I love having my books available for others to enjoy. There is such a feeling of accomplishment when I see them on the internet and also in paperback. The part I like least is marketing. I’m a bit of an introvert and you have to put yourself out there to sell books. That was something hard for me to learn.

I feel the same way.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I love that they are fun and all the gore takes place off stage – so to speak.

Very true.

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

This is from the opening chapter of the newest book in the series, Death said the Gypsy Queen.

As they watched, the curtain on the front window of the brightly painted caravan twitched to the side and a gnarled hand motioned them to come closer. Lily Gayle felt Dixie slide closer to her and admitted, silently, to a bit of fright herself.

“Do you think we’ve wandered into some kind of movie set up?

“I don’t see any cameras.” Dixie answered, as her head swiveled side-to-side surveying the area. “Wouldn’t there be cameras if there was some kind of filming going on?” She paused, then pointed. “Oh lord. Is that a crystal ball on that table?”

Lily Gayle followed the pointing finger to see that a small table with an embroidered cloth sat a few feet away from the caravan. And, sure enough, there was a clear glass ball on it.

The hand beckoned again.

Intriguing.

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

I truly appreciate every person who takes the time to read my books. And who take the time to leave a review and/or reach out to message me via my website. You are all a treasure beyond value.

I’m sure your readers appreciate that sentiment.

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. and include some book cover graphics and author photos if possible.

Website: https://www.susanbolesauthor.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14866595

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Susan-Boles-Author

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/susan-boles

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusanBAuthor

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Bol.

Thanks. I hope you get many new followers, and best wishes on your new release and future publications. I’m including the link to your rafflecopter for those who wish to enter. https://bit.ly/2M22XvX

Posted in Author Spotlight, New Releases, Solstice Publishing

Author Spotlight of KateMarie Collins, Author of Guarding Williams, book 3 of the Waystation Guardians Series

I’m pleased to have author KateMarie Collins, a suburban Seattle resident, here to speak about her writing and new release, Guarding William. KateMarie also happens to be the Chief Operating Officer of Solstice Publishing.

Hi, KateMarie. Please tell us how long you’ve been published and what titles and/or series you write.

I just released my 21st title, ‘Guarding William’ – book 3 in The Waystation Guardians series. All of my titles are through Solstice Publishing.

Guarding William:

Amber has a roommate. William’s curious, kind, and intelligent. He’s also gorgeous

Wanting to do something to help him connect his past life with now, she takes him back to Toulouse, France. Where he was born over 900 years ago.

What starts as an impulsive vacation becomes something far more sinister.

The full moon is coming again. Amber must be back to do her job as Guardian. Will she make it in time?

And what if that means leaving behind the man she’s starting to love?

Congratulations, KateMarie! Your new book sounds incredible. As you know, I also publish with Solstice Publishing. They’re wonderful! Can you please tell us how long you’ve been working as Chief Operating Officer and how you came to be in that position?

I’ve been with the company for 5 1/2 years, started about a year after my first book came out. Melissa Miller, the CEO, emailed me a job offer out of the blue. I asked her once why she offered me the job. She said it was because I was “real” online and knew I wouldn’t tell her what she wanted to hear, but what she needed to hear.

What a great story. Tell us a little bit about your books — what genre you write, 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.

I write fantasy! Everything from high/dark/epic to urban. I love exploring the different subgenres. I have a few series out. Most recently, I’ve been concentrating on The Waystation Guardians. I didn’t expect the first book, ‘Guarding Charon’, to morph into a series but it has. The second book, ‘Guarding Amber’, was released in January of 2018. ‘Guarding William’ came out in August of 2018. And I’m plotting out the 4th book now.

Excellent. I also like writing in different subgenres and different genres, as well. My mystery series features cozy books, but I also have a standalone thriller, Reason to Die. In addition, my latest Solstice book, Cloudy Rainbow, is a paranormal romance.

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?

My goal is to not just entertain readers, but to grow as an author. I always want the next book to be better than the last. I believe that books should challenge readers to think about what’s possible. For both the characters and themselves.

Nice goals. I feel the same.

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

I’m always hoping to get a reader who is wanting to ask why characters do what they do. Most of mine have motivations that I know but don’t always get conveyed on the page. I put them through some interesting situations, but there’s always a reason why.

I like to read books that make me think and question and try to write those, too.

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

Be ready to do the work! Being published isn’t a get rich quick scheme. It takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you’re new to the job. Don’t play at being a diva, be willing to take criticism, and do the work.

I never realized until I was published how much work for little monetary reward was involved in writing, but it pays off if you persist and build a following. Like you, I’m working on that.

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

I was raised in an environment where creativity wasn’t encouraged. I was told by everyone from teachers to my parents that I’d never be good enough…someone else would get the shot….so it wasn’t even worth trying. By the time I started high school, I thought my talent was nothing more than an ability to b.s. my way through an essay on a test. The biggest struggle for me was getting the courage to share that first story, and then submit it to publishers. What drove me was not wanting my children to grow up with the same mindset I’d had. The best way to teach them that the risk was worth taking was for them to watch me do it.

Interesting. I’m lucky that my parents and teachers all supported my interest and talent in writing. I’m glad you were able to overcome those initial challenges.

Have you taken any writing or publishing classes? If so, please provide information about them and if you feel they helped you further your professional skills.

I took a creative writing course through our city’s parks and recreation department for about a year. And I also participated in an online writing group. Both taught me how to look objectively at my work and accept criticism with an eye of how to improve things.

I believe writing courses are helpful. I took several online Gale publishing courses and attend a writing workshop at my library. I also just became involved in an online critique group with Sisters-in-Crime.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I’m a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and spend weekends recreating the middle ages. I’m also a huge movie buff. Star Wars is my fandom of choice.

My daughter loves to attend Renaissance Fairs, and I find them fun, too.

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

Most has to be the feeling of accomplishment I get with each new release. It’s a constant reminder that I am so much more than what people around me gave me credit for as a child. Toughest is the constant promotion. It’s hard to get on Twitter and stay positive when sales are down. But I do it, because that’s part of the job.

I think social media marketing and in person promotion are the hardest challenges for authors.

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. so readers can connect with you.

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/KateMarie-Collins/e/B008I67BBE

Twitter:  @DaughterHauk

FaceBook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/KateMarie-Collins/217255151699492

My blog:  http://www.katemariecollins.wordpress.com

Thanks so much for the interview, KateMarie, and best of luck on your new release and series.

Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery

Author Spotlight of Janice Peacock, Author of To Bead or Not to Bead, A Glass Bead Mystery

I’m pleased to have author Janice Peacock from Lafayette, California here to speak about her writing and new release, To Bead or Not to Beadthat is on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Welcome, Janice. Please tell us how long you’ve been published and what titles and/or series you write.

I originally self-published High Strung, the first book in the Glass Bead Mystery Series in 2014.  Then I found a publisher called Booktrope that republished High Strung, and then published the second book in the series, A Bead in the Hand. The following year Booktrope went out of business and returned the rights to the books to me. I decided at that point to return to self-publishing. In 2016 I republished my first two books.  In 2017 I published the third book in the Glass Bead Mystery Series—Off the Beadin’ Path and just last month published to Bead or Not to Bead.

Congratulations! I applaud your persistence. I just signed the 4th book of my Cobble Cove mystery series. I published the first book with another publisher before I sold the second to Solstice, and I’ve been publishing with them ever since. They’ve been in business more than a decade now. I’m lucky to have found them, but I know that other authors like yourself are doing well publishing on their own.

Tell us a little bit about your books.

I’m currently writing the cozy Glass Bead Mystery Series.  Its main character is a glass beadmaker, which is an unusual profession.  (I am also a glass beadmaker, writing what I know, which is a good thing.) Jax lives in Seattle next door to her wacky neighbor Val who always has something funny going on in her life.  In the latest book, Val is trying new diets—the Werewolf Diet is my favorite.  Jax’s best friend Tessa also lives in Seattle and together they stumble across a few murders which they must solve to clear the names of either themselves or their friends.  Add to the mix a stern detective who just might have the hots for Jax, and a cast of quirky craft-loving characters, plot twists, and a catnip addicted cat, and you pretty much have the basics of what my books are about.

My most recent book, To Bead or Not to Bead, was released on June 29.  I’ve received a lot of positive feedback, I’m happy to report. Readers can learn more about my new book, and all the rest of the books in the series at janicepeacock.com.

Sounds like a fun and interesting series. I have an interest in glassblowing, although I have no experience with it. My main character is a librarian like I am, and there’s also a cat in my books.

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?

At this point I am shifting gears and starting to write a new series.  I have a draft of the first book, but it needs quite a bit of work before it will be ready for publication.  It’s a bit too early to talk much about that series. I can tell you it will be in the cozy mystery genre and won’t have anything to do with beads.

As for other goals, up until now I’ve been releasing a book a year.  I’d like to increase my productivity and plan to try some new methods for getting my manuscripts ready for publication so I can release more frequently.  I’ve never been a writer who outlines their plots meticulously.  I’m going to try that out and see how it improves my books and the process of writing them.  I’m also interested in speech recognition and dictation for writing, though, so far, I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around that one.

Great goals. I also don’t plot thoroughly and am hoping to give that a shot by taking an online mystery course being given by Sisters-in-Crime in September. Besides my Cobble Cove series, I also like to write standalone mysteries and have written the first book of another cozy series; but, as you know, publishing takes time especially when you work full-time.

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

I think the ideal reader is, of course, cozy mystery readers.  I also think that people who like crafts in general will enjoy my mysteries, and especially those who like to work with beads.  That being said, I’ve found that many people who aren’t crafty have enjoyed the intriguing plots, the fun characters, the fast pace, and the relationships between the Jax and her friends in the series.

You have a good target audience. I also believe that characters are important to books especially cozies.

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

For writers who are trying to figure out what publishing route to pursue, I think that self-publishing is a terrific way to go if you are willing to learn the technical skills needed to create the books yourself.  If you’ve spent a lot of time working with computers in your day job, you can probably have the skills to self-publish.  If you don’t have those skills, you can hire someone to do that work for you.  If you really, really want a publisher, I recommend a smaller publishing house who will give you more attention than one of the large publishing houses.  By small publishing houses, I do not mean a vanity press, but simply a smaller company that puts out few books each year, has a small staff, and will not have a name like Random House. Avoid any publisher who wants money up front to publish your book—that is a sure sign you’ve stumbled upon a vanity press or some a scam.

I agree about good small publishers. I’m very happy with mine, but I still hope to publish with a large publisher one day. I self-published once, paid someone to do it, but I don’t think I’d go that route again. It’s great that authors have so many options to publish today, though.

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

I was given some pretty bad advice when I first got started.  It was recommended to me that I should self publish my first book and when it became wildly popular I could then find a publisher for my second novel.  Sounds like a good plan, right?  Unfortunately, this advice does not apply to series.  Very few publishing houses want to publish the second book in a series, especially if the first book has been self-published.  I was fortunate to find a publisher, Booktrope, that was willing to republish my first book and then publish my second book.  That was great until they went belly up. So, I think if I did this all again, I would have probably stayed with self-publishing and not gone with a publisher.  That being said, I learned a great deal from working with a publisher and met a nice group of people in the industry with whom I am still in touch with today.

I agree that working with a publisher does help you make contacts and network with other authors.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I belong to Sisters in Crime. We have a local group that is quite active, with many presentations coming to the bay area each year. In fact this week we have a special event where we’ll learn about chocolate—think about how many chocolate-oriented mysteries there are. I’m sure it will be inspiring. I also belong to Mystery Writers of America, which also has many great programs presented in my area.   A couple of months ago Jeffrey Deaver spoke to us about his writing process, and that was very eye-opening and educational.

That sounds wonderful. I’m also a member of Sisters in Crime. Unfortunately, my local chapter is no longer active, but I’ve joined their online guppies group and am working with critique partners there.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I like to make glass bead in my torch and also make large cast class sculptures. There are videos about how I make these things on my YouTube Channel (youtube.com/JanPeac.) I like to garden (hint regarding the next series). I like to make quilts though every time I finish one I promise I’ll never make another because of the amount of time they take to complete.  Then, the next time I’m in a fabric store, my head swirls with creative ideas about what I could do with all of the gorgeous fabrics.  Oh, and I should have probably started by saying I like to read.  I love to read cozy mysteries, however when I am hip-deep in writing I often read non-fiction so that I don’t have to think about too many plots at the same time.

You certainly sound like you have great hobbies and are very artistic. I have to check out your YouTube channel. I also find it hard to read while I write, but I still do but at a much slower rate.

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

I love writing the first draft—that is so exhilarating.  Even the second draft is fun, as I start to see the plot and subplots come into focus.  The challenge for me is the tenth draft where I am working on all the picky things that are easy to gloss over in the earlier drafts.  The juggling of all the different aspects of my job as a self published author is also a challenge. Not only do I have to write the very best book that I can, but I need to work with an editor, work with a cover designer, format my books for publication, send out newsletters, update my website, maintain a social media presence, setup public speaking engagements and book signings, and the list goes on.  It’s a lot of juggling, but I love it.

I feel the same and also enjoy it. Although my publisher does the formatting and cover design, I still work with an editor and have to promote my books online and at author appearances.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

Since I love to read cozy mysteries, I love to write them.  If I am going to spend months working on a story, I need to love writing it and that means I need to love reading it over and over as I hone it.  One thing I like about cozy mysteries is that it is often an opportunity to learn something new about a craft or hobby I am unfamiliar with. Also, they are a great escape from the stressors of everyday life.

Very true. I always let my books sit after I finish them (good time to send them to a beta reader). But when I pick them up again, I’m relieved that I look forward to reading the story again.

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

Here’s an excerpt from To Bead or Not to Bead in which Jax, the main character, is talking with her neighbor Val.  Val, who is Iowa’s former Miss Junior Pork Shop Queen, is a notoriously bad cook and also loves science fiction.

“Hello, sweet cheeks!” Val said, her faux-leopard clad arms

cradling an oval tureen of soup. “I was hoping you would be home. I have a lot of this soup, and tomorrow’s a full moon, so I’ve got to get it out of my house before I eat it.”

“What? Why?” I asked as Val barged past me and placed the bowl on my kitchen table.

“Didn’t I tell you? I’m on the Werewolf Diet! I’m a teensy-weensy too voluptuous for my Princess Leia costume. I refuse to wear Spanx, so I’m going to drop a couple of quick pounds.” This was news to me. Val had never once mentioned the word “diet” to me, but it certainly wasn’t the first time she’d mentioned werewolves.

“Werewolf Diet? Sounds drastic. Do you have to get bitten by a werewolf to be on the diet? Because if you do it may take some time to find one in Seattle. If you go out to Forks on the Olympic Peninsula, you’d likely find some werewolves.”

“I’ve got news for you, darling, Twilight is fiction, so we won’t find any werewolves out there. But see, this diet, it’s all about the phase of the moon. When there’s a full moon, I can only drink clear liquids, and that’s tomorrow. So, I have to remove all the tempting food from my house. I sent all the cookies home with Rudy.”

Dammit. I would have taken those cookies off her hands, no problem.

“Thanks for the soup. It looks yummy.” I grabbed a ladle, spoons, and bowls from the kitchen and brought them to the table.

“It’s cream of potato,” she said, ladling the soup into the bowls.

I sampled the soup. Holy moly! I’d never tasted so much garlic in my life.

“Wow! There’s a lot of garlic in this,” I said as I choked a little.

“I added a few extra cloves because I adore garlic. Since I don’t have a boyfriend right now, I don’t have to worry about kissing anyone with stinky breath. Oh—but maybe you shouldn’t have too much if you going out with Zachary tonight.”

“Nope. He called to say he was busy with an investigation. It

wasn’t one of our better conversations.”

“I’m  sorry  sweetums,  you  know  he’s  not  always  the  best communicator when he’s stressed, and neither are you. I’m sure you two will work it out.”

Sweat beaded on my forehead as I ate a few more spoonfuls. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish the bowl. I grabbed the sourdough from the counter and cut a slice for each of us. “Here you go, this will be nice with the soup.” I hoped the bread would counteract the garlic.

“Um, Val? You know with all this garlic, I’m not sure you’re going to find a single werewolf to hang out with tomorrow,” I said, teasing her.

“Oh, but you’re wrong!” Val shook her head from side to side, as her red curls bounced right along with her.

“I’m wrong about the werewolves? You’re actually going to hang out with some tomorrow during the full moon?”

“Werewolves don’t care about garlic. It’s vampires who don’t like garlic! What I’ve heard is that werewolves love garlic because it makes their coat nice and shiny.”

I decided it was time to move on. When Val got going on her strange topics, she could go on for hours.

That’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing it, Janice.

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

My books have a lot of humor in them.  Much more than your average cozy mystery.  I don’t think that always comes across in the blurbs about the books, and that’s one thing I’m working on.  I encourage readers to read more than just the first book in the Glass Bead Mystery Series.  High Strung was the first book I’d ever written, and I can honestly say I’ve become a better writer over the last several years.

I feel I’ve improved with each book, too. Humor is a great addition to a cozy mystery. I try to add some to mine.

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. so readers may connect with you.

www.janicepeacock.com

Newsletter sign up:  tinyurl.com/janpeacnewsletter (Occasional, non-spammy)

blog.janicepeacock.com

facebook.com/JanPeac (Please like my page.)

Instagram.com/JanPeac (I love Pinterest!)

twitter.com/JanPeac (I am not very active on Twitter.)

pinterest.com/JanPeac

goodreads.com/JanicePeacock

Thanks so much for chatting with me, Janice, and best wishes on your new release and your new series.

Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery

Author Spotlight of Libby Klein, Author of Midnight Snacks are Murder (a Poppy McAllister Mystery)

I’m pleased to have author Libby Klein from Loudoun County, Virginia here to speak about her writing and new release, Midnight Snacks are Murder that is on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Welcome, Libby. Please tell us how long you’ve been published and what titles and/or series you write.

My first book was Class Reunions Are Murder and it was released February 2018 through Kensington Publishing. Midnight Snacks Are Murder, the second in the series, was releasesd on July 31, 2018.

Congratulations. Tell us a little bit about your books — if you write a series, any upcoming releases or your current work-in-progress.

My humorous cozy series takes place in Cape May, NJ where I grew up, and revolves around Poppy McAllister. She’s a plus sized red head in her early forties who’s recently returned to her home town with her black smoke Persian, Figaro who’s a few fries short of a happy meal. She has the full-time responsibility of keeping Figaro and her elderly Aunt Ginny out of trouble. Restaurant Weeks Are Murder will come out next March and I’m currently writing the fourth book in the series.

Sounds great. I love Cape May. I visited there once with my husband and hope to go again one day. I also love cats and feature them in my books, too, so I think I would enjoy your series.

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?

My professional goals are to grow as a writer and improve my style and storytelling abilities. My personal goals are to make my readers fall in love with Poppy, Aunt Ginny, and Figaro and laugh their butts off while reading about their antics. I want to bring joy to every reader who picks up one of my books. It’s my dream to one day be nominated for an Agatha. I’m willing to beg.

Nice goals. I wish you luck.

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

Readers who enjoy a light hearted, humorous cozy will especially love the Poppy McAllister Mysteries. Bonus points if you like a side of romance with your sleuthing. Themes in my series include being a plus sized gal in a skinny beach town and living with an autoimmune disease that requires you to be gluten and dairy free. If you’re on the paleo diet or like to bake gluten free goodies, you’ll love the recipes at the end of my books.

Interesting. Most readers enjoy recipes in cozies, and I think most people like some humor and a bit of romance in their books.

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

Read well. Keep writing. Join a critique group of serious writers. Grow a thicker skin. Follow Manuscript Wish List online. Don’t ever give up.

I agree and am doing those things right now.

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

I wanted to cry over every rejection letter. After a few piled up I thought I had made a horrible mistake and wasted years of my life. I considered setting my manuscript on fire.

Wow! I bet your glad you’re didn’t. I know how you felt, though. I’ve had similar moments of doubt about my writing, too.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I belong to Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

I’m also a member of Sisters in Crime and belong to their Guppie Chapter even though I’m already published. I’m still hoping to find an agent and publish with a larger publisher one day.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

My favorite hobbies are things I can do while drinking coffee. I love reading, baking and travel.  I love hanging out with friends and laughing for hours.

Sounds like hobbies your are quite enjoyable.

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

I love writing. And I love when a reader sends me a note telling me they enjoyed my book and that it meant a lot to them. The toughest part about being an author are negative reviews. I’ve been very fortunate that I haven’t had many, but the couple I’ve had still sting. I find it very challenging trying to juggle writing my current piece of work while promoting books that have been released.

I agree and relate to all of that completely.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I love writing about a small town like Cape May where the characters all know entirely too much about each other and the situations are so often hilarious. I appreciate that cozy mysteries avoid graphic language, violence, and sex. You can read a cozy mystery with your grandmother and not be uncomfortable.

That’s so true.

Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title?

This is the first page of Midnight Snacks Are Murder

Chapter 1

            Mischief and Mayhem were running amuck in South Jersey. Mischief, or as I called her, Aunt Ginny was on the warpath flanked by her first in command, Mayhem, also known as my black smoke Persian, Figaro the instigator. Today their battleground was the kitchen and the enemy was knee deep in the hoopla installing pearl gray cabinets and black and silver granite counter tops.

            Aunt Ginny barked out orders like Patton leading the allied forces through France. “If any one of you puts so much as a single scratch on my Romba cuckoo clock there will be hell to pay! My first husband Lovell brought that home from Germany in 1945. It’s survived three wars, a fire, and Hurricane Sandy. I’ll be darned if its going down because of a slipshod kitchen remodel.”

            I’d been stranded in Cape May with my eighty-ish great aunt ever since I was lured up here to attend my twenty-fifth high school reunion a few weeks ago and was voted most likely to kill a cheerleader. I’d never wanted to return to the birthplace of my most painful memories, but after spending the past few weeks reuniting with old friends, enemies, and lovers, I’d come to accept that Cape May had a certain charm. One that I’d call “better than a sharp stick in the eye.”  I’d been away long enough to forget that Aunt Ginny teetered on the edge of crazy. Long enough not to know about a recent plot to stuff her away in a nursing home. So long that I was the only McAllister left to inherit the Victorian Manor. Now it was my job to look after this rickety old rattletrap… and the house. With two red-heads under the same roof, and one of them having just bought a wakeboard on xtremesports4seniors.com, I think twenty years in the women’s prison would have been easier.

Very nice.

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

I love connecting with my readers, so be sure to send me a note, friend me on Facebook, follow Figaro on Twitter. And I love to visit book clubs! They’re so much fun!

I’ll share that message for you.

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. and include some book cover graphics and author photos if possible.

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/libbykleinbooks/

Cozy Mystery Crew – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1757692634274149/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16834863.Libby_Klein

Bookbub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/libby-klein

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LibbyKleinBooks

Website – https://libbykleinbooks.com/

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

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/libbykleinbooks/

Amazon – amazon.com/author/libbyklein/

Thanks so much, Libby. I enjoyed chatting with you and wish you all the best on your new release and future books of your fun cozy mystery series. I’m also including the link to your rafflecopter for those who would like to enter your giveaway:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/02887792745/?widget_template=56d5f80dbc544fb30fda66f0

Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery

Author Interview of Victoria Gilbert, Author of Shelved Under Murder, A Blue Ridge Library Mystery

I’m pleased to have author Victoria Gilbert from North Carolina here to speak about her writing and new release, Shelved Under Murder, that is on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Welcome, Victoria. Please tell us how long you’ve been published and what titles and/or series you write.

My first book, CROWN OF ICE, written as Vicki L. Weavil, was published in Sept. 2014. It is a fantasy – actually a fairytale retelling of H. C. Andersen’s The Snow Queen. I republished that title, as well as its companion title, SCEPTER OF FIRE – a “mash-up” retelling of Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling and The Steadfast Tin Soldier – as books one and two in the Mirror of Immortality Series in the spring of 2017 with my self-publishing co-op, Snowy Wings Publishing.

I also had a YA scifi – FACSIMILE, written as Vicki L. Weavil — that was published in 2016, but that book is currently out-of-print.

My first mystery, which was written as Victoria Gilbert, is A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS. It was published in December 2017 by Crooked Lane Books.

Very nice. It’s great that you’re experienced writing different genres.

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.

The Blue Ridge Library Mystery series is a three-book series. (It may include additional books, but I’m waiting to hear about that).

Book One, A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS, was published in hardback and eBook by Crooked Lane Books on December 12, 2017. The audiobook version from Tantor Media released in April, and the paperback edition was published by Crooked Lane on June 12th.

Book Two, SHELVED UNDER MURDER, was published in hardback and eBook by Crooked Lane – along with the audiobook from Tantor – on July 10th. The paperback edition will release in Jan. 2019.

Book Three, PAST DUE FOR MURDER, will be published in hardback and eBook by Crooked Lane in Feb. 2019, along with its accompanying audiobook from Tantor. There will also be a paperback edition that will be published later.

These sound like great books. As a librarian and also an author of a series featuring a librarian, I think I’d enjoy reading these.

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 simply want to keep writing until the day I die. Hopefully that will include publication of all the books I write! Over the next few years I hope to develop, write, and publish additional cozy and/or light mysteries, as well as to continue my current series (if my publisher requests more books). To accomplish that goal, I plan to write at least two books a year, work on enhancing my promotional efforts, attend pertinent conferences and conventions, and keep improving my craft.

Those are great goals. I’d love to meet you at a conference one day.

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

As I am a very eclectic reader myself, I would be happy to attract anyone who enjoys reading.

As far as who might be most interested in my books, I would say anyone who likes cozy or light mysteries, anyone interested in a small-town setting in a mystery, anyone who enjoys some (clean) romance in their books, and anyone who likes historical mysteries mixed in with contemporary crime-solving.

Now I’m sure I’d be interested in your books.

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

Experiment and try new things, especially if you are feeling “stuck” or unfulfilled with where you are now. I started out in one genre, and while I did get published in that genre, I discovered that my real strengths as a writer lay elsewhere. Experimenting with writing mysteries, a genre I always loved but wasn’t certain I could write successfully, opened up a new world to me. I learned that my style and interests fit the mystery genre – something I would never have known if I hadn’t attempted to write in a new and different genre.

That’s a great tip.

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

To be honest, I faced more challenges AFTER being first published than before. I really don’t wish to go into details about that, but I will say that all my experiences have taught me a great deal about the publishing business, which I think is always beneficial.

I feel the same. You learn so much after you publish. It’s like on-the-job training compared to going to school.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I am a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America. I am also involved in my local Sisters in Crime chapter, Murder We Write.

You belong to most of my own groups except for Mystery Writers of America and the Murder We Write chapter of Sisters in Crime. I joined the Guppie chapter because I don’t have an agent or large publisher yet. I may look into the Murder We Write chapter, too, if I’m eligible to be a member.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I love reading, of course. I also enjoy gardening, walking, traveling, drawing and painting, listening to music, attending theatre and dance performances, and watching films.

You have a nice variety of interests that I’m sure also help you with your writing.

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

What I like most is the creative process and bringing my characters to life. I also enjoy developing plots and honing my words into something that can make me feel proud. (Even though my writing is never perfect and I am still learning). In addition, I love hearing from readers who have enjoyed my books.

My toughest challenge, and what I like least, is promotion. I am not a natural salesperson so dealing with the marketing aspects of the business are much more of a challenge for me than the creative side.

I think most writers feel the same. I know I do.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

As someone who is not fond of reading books that include graphic violence, language, or sex, I enjoy writing in a genre that doesn’t include those things. I also enjoy being able to focus on characters and everyday life while still being able to include action and adventure. In addition, cozies are fun – something I think we need more of in this world.

I totally agree. As a librarian, even though I need to order books that contain the elements you mentioned, I steer away from them for my own reading because I find they detract from the plot.

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

From: SHELVED UNDER MURDER by Victoria Gilbert:

The rest of the body was revealed as we stepped around the table. Crumpled on her side, with her knees drawn up in a defensive posture, was a middle-aged woman. Her eyes were closed and her thin face partially veiled by locks of curly dark hair. I gripped Richard’s fingers tighter. As my mind attempted to process the scene, I noticed that the fingertips of the artist’s other hand brushed a palette knife that glistened as if it had been soaked in the oil and wiped clean.

The woman lay there so quietly, it was as if she were merely napping. For a moment I could imagine her grasping the knife and rising to her feet to resume work on the canvas sitting on the easel. But the crimson stains blossoming like roses against her white painter’s smock told another story.

Rachel LeBlanc would not finish her latest work. In fact, she would never complete a painting again.

Intriguing excerpt. Thank you.

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

I would like them to know that I am happy to engage with readers on social media or via my website contact form and would also love to talk to them if we meet at any conferences, signings, or related events. So readers – don’t hesitate to connect with me!

I’m adding your social media links below to help readers find you and also the rafflecopter link to your blog tour. Thanks again for the interview, and I wish you the best of luck on your new release and future books and series.

Website/blog: http://victoriagilbertmysteries.com/

Facebook author page:  https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaGilbertMysteryAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VGilbertauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/VictoriaGilbert

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/victoriagilbertauthor/

Rafflecopter: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/02887792739/?widget_template=56d5f80dbc544fb30fda66f0