Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Mysteries

Author Spotlight of Mary Lawrence, author of the Alchemist of Lost Souls, a Bianca Goddard Mystery

I’m pleased to have author Mary Lawrence from Limington, Maine here to chat about her writing and her cozy mystery, The Alchemist of Lost Souls, a Bianca Goddard Mystery, that’s on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Nice to have you here, Mary 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.

The Alchemist’s Daughter came out in 2015.  Kensington publishes the Bianca Goddard Mysteries. There are 4 books in the series with a 5th to come in 2020. Death of an Alchemist (2016), Death at St.Vedast (2017), The Alchemist of Lost Souls (2019).

Some interesting titles. Tell us a 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 Bianca Goddard Mysteries are set during the final years of King Henry VIII’s reign. Bianca is the daughter of an infamous alchemist and a neighborhood white witch who combines her knowledge of plants and rudimentary chemistry to make medicines and also to solve murders. Instead of a historical series set in the Tudor court, I concentrate on the stories and struggles of commoners. My forthcoming book, The Alchemist of Lost Souls released on April 30. I’m currently finishing work on the fifth and final book in the series, The Lost Boys of London.

Sounds like you are quite productive. 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 few ideas for new books, but haven’t decided which to do first. Probably, I will concentrate on writing a standalone novel set in Tudor London, since I’ve created a niche for myself and people familiar with my writing are expecting more Tudor stories. Basically, I will just sit down and keep writing.

That’s a great plan. What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

Readers who like my series have an interest in historical fiction and are open to me mixing in a little superstition and creepiness. My work is often described as ‘atmospheric’ and that folks feel immersed in the time, like they have been dumped on the streets right alongside Bianca. I hope to stretch people’s imagination and entertain at the same time.

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

Learn to deal with rejection. Enter contests and learn to sift through critiques to figure out what is helpful, then ignore the rest. Never think you are a special flower.

I’m sure that’s good advice. What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

I wrote for over 25 years before I got picked up by a traditional publisher. I was rejected by 86 literary agents before I found one who believed in me. He sold the book to the second publisher who saw it. I thought after all this time and struggle, finally I had arrived. You know what? A writer never arrives. A writer must always try to improve.

Wow! That sure is inspiring especially to writers like me who are still trying to find an agent and large publisher, and I agree that writers must always strive to improve the quality of their books.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I don’t belong to any writing circles, but I do belong to several organizations that have been great resources for me. Namely, the Historical Novel Society, The Author’s Guild, Mystery Writers of America, and the International Association of Thriller Writers. I would also give a shout out to the Romance Writers of America. They have wonderful chapters throughout the US and sponsor contests and workshops.

Those are great groups. I’m a member of International Thriller Writers and a few other groups including Sisters-in-Crime which you didn’t mention but is also a terrific group for female mystery authors.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I run a berry farm with my husband and we make specialty jams from our own fruit. It’s a business, but I love being outside and taking care of my ‘children’—180 blueberry bushes, raspberries, plums, etc. I also took up piano a few years ago, and I listen to political podcasts.

The berry farm sounds delightful. I love berries and just attended a strawberry festival. I’ve also played some piano but sadly haven’t done so for many years.

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

What I like most, is that rare moment when I feel really happy with what I’ve written. When I’m finished with a manuscript and can say, ‘Yup, that’s pretty damn good.’ I’m very critical of my writing so, like I said, it’s pretty special when I feel that.

What I hate the most is writing under a deadline. I put a lot of pressure on myself anyway, so a deadline feels like I’m sitting in a pressure box trying to be creative. I’m not a fast writer.

I think the toughest challenge is reminding myself that I can do this. Everyday I have to give myself a pep talk.

I also get a rush when I finish a book I’m particularly happy with such as my latest release, Sea Scope, which really came together very well in my opinion.  I can understand why you hate deadlines and have to give yourself a pep talk. I think most authors feel that way.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I don’t think of my series as a cozy series per se. There are cozy elements to it, like having an amateur sleuth and a returning cast of characters. I do enjoy working out the cast of characters and involving them in the unfolding plot.

I feel that way about my books. I didn’t feel the first one in my series was a cozy. I thought of it more like romantic suspense but, as I continued the series, it’s become cozier. I consider Sea Scope a psychological mystery. It definitely isn’t a cozy because of the themes it contains, but it has a few cozy elements.

Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title?

Meddybemps tried cajoling her out of silence. “What are you making?” the girl had a generous helping of black bile coursing through her veins at any given time, and the best way to squelch its influence was to get her to talk about her latest experiment.

“This isn’t for market. It is for me.”

“You? I daresay you rarely need your remedies.”

“I do now.”

Meddybemps tipped his head. “What secret do you keep? Prithee, what ails?”

With the blade of her knife, Bianca swept the herbs into a pan. “It is no illness, but a condition. One that shall pass in time.”

Her hint fed his curiosity and the iris of his errant eye appeared to skip. Taking a moment to study her, he asked, “Are you with child?”

Bianca checked the firebox of her stove and craped out the ashes.

“Go to!” said Meddybemps. He danced a little jig, his bony elbows and knees jutting all akimbo like a skeleton. He took hold of Bianca’s hands and danced her around the room, twirling her once and making her smile. He looked so foolish, how could she not?

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

I think if folks are open to a fast, fun, read with a bit of history and creep thrown in, then they will enjoy the series. I touch a few nerves with these stories and reactions run the gamut. There is some mild explicit language and a little bit of squish.

Thanks, Mary. That concludes our interview, and I’ve enjoyed chatting with you. I’m including more information about your blog tour below. Best wishes on your new release.

The Alchemist of Lost Souls
(A Bianca Goddard Mystery)
by Mary Lawrence

About the Book


The Alchemist of Lost Souls (A Bianca Goddard Mystery)
Historical Mystery
4th in Series
Kensington (April 30, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1496715314
ISBN-13: 978-1496715319
Digital ASIN: B07G6R99SR

A dangerous element discovered by Bianca Goddard’s father falls into the wrong hands . . . leading to a chain of multiple murders.

Spring 1544: Now that she is with child, Bianca is more determined than ever to distance herself from her unstable father. Desperate to win back the favor of King Henry VIII, disgraced alchemist Albern Goddard plans to reveal a powerful new element he’s discovered–one with deadly potential. But when the substance is stolen, he is panicked and expects his daughter to help.

Soon after, a woman’s body is found behind the Dim Dragon Inn, an eerie green vapor rising from her breathless mouth. To her grave concern, Bianca has reason to suspect her own mother may be involved in the theft and the murder. As her husband John is conscripted into King Henry’s army to subdue Scottish resistance, Bianca must navigate a twisted and treacherous path among alchemists, apothecaries, chandlers, and scoundrels–to find out who among them is willing to kill to possess the element known as lapis mortem, the stone of death . . .

About the Author

Mary Lawrence lives and farms in Maine and worked in the medical field for over twenty-five years before publishing her debut mystery, The Alchemist’s Daughter (Kensington, 2015). The book was named by Suspense Magazine as a “Best Book of 2015” in the historical mystery category. Her articles have appeared in several publications most notably the national news blog, The Daily Beast. The Bianca Goddard Mystery series also includes Death of an Alchemist, Death at St. Vedast, The Alchemist of Lost Souls, and the fifth title for 2020.

Website: www.marylawrencebooks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marylawrence.author/

Twitter: @mel59lawrence

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/84420.Mary_Lawrence

Purchase links: Amazon Barnes & Noble

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

June 3 – I’m All About Books – GUEST POST

June 3 – Reading Reality – REVIEW

June 4 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 4 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT with EXCERPT

June 5 – The Editing Pen – REVIEW

June 5 – The Book’s the Thing– SPOTLIGHT with EXCERPT

June 6 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

June 6 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT with EXCERPT

June 7 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 7 – Kelly P’s Blog – SPOTLIGHT

June 8 – Readeropolis – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 9 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 9 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

June 10 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

June 11 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

June 11 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

June 12 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

June 12 – Ebook Addicts – REVIEW

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Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Mysteries

Author Spotlight of Kate Young, Author of Southern Sass and Killer Cravings, A Marygene Brown Mystery

I’m pleased to have author Kate Young from Cartersville, Georgia here to chat about her writing and her cozy mystery, Southern Sass and Killer Cravings that’s on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Nice to have you here, Grace. 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.

This will be my first traditionally published series. Southern Sass and Killer Cravings the first in the Marygene Brown Mystery series is published by Kensington Publishing Corp. and is releasing May 28, 2019.

Congratulations! Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

I’ve self-published 16 fantasy/romance novels. The commonality in all my work including Southern Sass and Killer Cravings is that I write novels with strong female leads with a dash of humor.

Sounds great. Tell us a little bit about your books.

I write the Marygene Brown Mystery Series about a Southern belle foodie, Marygene Brown, who is haunted by her mother’s spirit, making her a magnet for murder and mayhem. Marygene discovers that her sleuthing grit is her saving grace. Southern Sass and Killer Cravings is releasing on May 28, 2019. Book 2 Southern Sass and A Crispy Corpse is with my editor and my current WIP is book 3, Southern Sass and A Battered Bride.

Very nice. They sound wonderful. Please describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years?

My goal as a writer is to give readers a chance to escape, relax, and be entertained with a good chuckle or two. I also hope to continue the Marygene Brown Series. I love Marygene and the Peach Cove gang! Along with Southern Sass, I’m always working on other proposals for more stories that I hope will see the light of day.

Peach Cove sounds like the southern version of my upstate New York Cobble Cove where my series takes place.

What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

Just keep writing.

A perfect goal.

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

Anyone who enjoys Southern culinary mysteries with a twist of supernatural will enjoy my cozy series. Anyone who enjoys a good whodunnit will enjoy Marygene’s escapades.

I’m sure you will attract a large group of readers.

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

Never stop writing and never give up.

That says it all. I’m still working towards being traditionally published.

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

I suppose the transition from being an indie author to a traditionally published author. That meant I needed an agent. Securing the right one proved to be daunting process, but so worth the effort. I had to learn to become comfortable with rejection (not an easy task) until I finally signed with the right fit.

I can certainly identify with that, as I’m sure many readers of this blog will.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I belong to Sisters in Crime and the Guppy Chapter. I’ve learned so much from this wonderful organization and highly recommend joining to any mystery author.

I second that, as I’m also a member of this same great group.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I love to cook, read, and travel.

Great pasttimes for an author.

What do you like most and least about being an author?

I love the writing. The toughest challenge by far is marketing. Finding the correct advertisement channels can be a challenge with so many amazing titles on the market.

Those feelings are shared by many authors including myself.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I love the charming settings, the wonderous islands, the picturesque towns with hosts of shops and diners you wish you could visit. The warm characters that by the end of the story they feel like our closest friends, or we wish they could be. And then there’s the mystery, the gripping mystery that keeps us guessing write up till the very end. There’s something satisfying about solving a crime along with your favorite amateur sleuth. And it thrills me to be able to write and join the delightful genre with the Marygene Brown Mystery Series.

I agree completely. Cozy mysteries are a delightful genre to write and also read.

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

“Wake up!” Mama shouted at my ear.

“I’m tired,” I groaned, rolled over, and pulled the blankets over my head.

“Marygene Francis Brown, I’m not telling you again,” Mama said.

I jolted upright, suddenly aware my mama meant business. Wait a minute, Mama was dead. I rubbed my face with my hand, feeling the grittiness of dried mascara. “Lord help me, what a nightmare.” Mama was about to bless me out for something or another. In her mind, I had always been guilty of something.

“This isn’t a dream child,” Mama flipped on the lamp next to her. She was sitting in the beige Queen Anne chair across the room, wearing her yellow dress with white daisies and matching yellow belt. Her brown hair was curled and styled closed to her head like she always wore it.

 “I see I have your attention.”

I didn’t speak, completely amazed with how vivid this dream was.

“I don’t have much time, so I’ll be brief.” That was Mama all right. She was efficient. “There’s going to be a murder at the diner tomorrow.” She leaned forward. “Close for the day.”

“What? Close the diner?” I covered a yawn with my hand. Am I really seeing this?

“Listen to me, young lady! Neither you nor your sister needs to go to work tomorrow.” She faded away.

I hard blinked and stared at the empty chair.

Excellent. Thank you for sharing that intriguing excerpt.

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

Hmm, well an interesting tidbit that Marygene Brown and I have in common is that we both bake when we’re stressed.

It’s always fun to share something in common with your protagonist. I know I share a few habits with Alicia, who is a librarian like me.

Thanks so much for the interview, Kate, and I’m sharing your blog tour below. Best wishes on your new release and series.

Southern Sass and Killer Cravings
(Marygene Brown Mysteries)
by Kate Young

About the Book

Southern Sass and Killer Cravings (Marygene Brown Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Kensington (May 28, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
ISBN-10: 1496721454
ISBN-13: 978-1496721457
Digital ASIN: B07H1VWGBS

Life has always been sweet on Georgia’s Peach Cove Island, but a case of murder has Marygene Brown down in the pits . . .

For generations, the women of the Brown family on Peach Cove Island have been known for their Southern sass and sweet homemade desserts at their beloved Peach Diner. Since their mother’s passing two years ago, Marygene has been stuck in Atlanta while her sister Jena Lynn has been running the family business. Now Marygene has left her husband and returned to her hometown, where she can almost feel Mama’s presence.

But all is not peachy back home. Marygene has barely tied on an apron when a diner regular drops dead at the counter. When it turns out the old man’s been poisoned, Jena Lynn is led away in handcuffs and the family eatery is closed. Now, to save her sister and the diner, Marygene must find the real killer. With some startling assistance from her Mama’s spirit, Marygene will be serving up a special order of just desserts . . .

Includes Seven Recipes from Marygene’s Kitchen!

The author is hosting a pre-order giveaway!
CHECK IT OUT HERE!

About the Author

Kate Young writes humorous southern mystery novels. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Guppy Chapter. Kate lives in a small town in Georgia with her husband, three kids, and Shih Tzu. When she is not writing her own books, she’s reading or cooking.

Author Links

Website – https://www.kateyoungbooks.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKateYoung/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KAYoungBooks

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6527572.Kate_Young

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kate-young-b3339e9c-d2e4-482d-a637-5afd7b064d73

Purchase Links Amazon B&N Kobo Indie Bound ibooks BAM
TOUR PARTICIPANTS

May 18 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

May 18 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

May 18 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 18 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

May 18 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

May 19 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

May 19 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

May 19 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW, RECIPE POST WITH PICTURES

May 19 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

May 20 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

May 20 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

May 20 – ⒾⓃⓉⓇⓄⓈⓅⒺⒸⓉⒾⓋⒺ ⓅⓇⒺⓈⓈ – SPOTLIGHT

May 20 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

May 21 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

May 21 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

May 21 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 21 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT

May 22 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

May 22 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 22 – 4covert2overt ☼ A Place In The Spotlight ☼ – SPOTLIGHT

May 22 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – RECIPE POST WITH PICTURES

May 23 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 23 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW

May 23 – ❧Defining Ways❧ – RECIPE POST WITH PICTURES

May 23 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

May 24 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

May 24 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

May 24 – Brooke Blogs – RECIPE POST WITH PICTURES

May 24 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

May 24 – Elizabeth McKenna Romance Author – SPOTLIGHT

May 25 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – REVIEW

May 25 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW

May 25 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

May 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

May 26 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW

May 26 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – That’s What She’s Reading – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Mysteries

Author Spotlight of Grace Topping, Author of Staging is Murder, a Laura Bishop Mystery

I’m pleased to have author Grace Topping from Northern Virginia to chat about her writing and her cozy mystery, Staging is Murder, that’s on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Nice to have you here, Grace. 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.

STAGING IS MURDER is my first book, which is being released on April 30 by Henery Press. It is the first in the Laura Bishop Mystery Series. I don’t have any self-published books.

Congratulations on your debut book.

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 Laura Bishop Mystery Series is about a woman who decides midlife to change careers and become a professional home stager. She realizes that the work could be murder, but she never expected it to include a body. When a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at her feet, flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her home staging duties. The first in the series, STAGING IS MURDER, is being released April 30. I am in the middle of writing the next book in the series, which will be coming out next year about the same time.

Sounds interesting and a unique occupation for your sleuth.

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?

It took me ten years from the time I started working on STAGING IS MURDER to the time it is being published. My goal was to learn how to write a mystery, improve my writing, find an agent and a publisher, and successfully promote my book. Now that I’ve achieved that, my goal is to complete the other two books in my contract. To reach these goals, I plan to stay connected to the writing community through writing organizations such as Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Also I plan to take additional courses to improve my writing and plotting skills. I also hope to learn from reviews of STAGING IS MURDER what worked and what didn’t for readers.

Nice goals. It sounds like you’re determined to meet them, so I’m sure you will. I’m also a member of Sisters-in-Crime by the way.

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

My book is a cozy mystery. I wrote a cozy because cozies don’t include violence, sex, or bad language. So I hope to attract readers who are looking to be entertained, not horrified. I hope to attract readers who like the concept of home staging and hope to learn something about it through my books, and to make readers laugh occasionally. At least I hope they will.

I enjoy writing cozies for that same reason, although my latest book, Sea Scope, is a psychological mystery. I still don’t include a lot of violence, sex, or bad language because I feel that they detract from a good plot.

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

The most important thing is to learn the craft of writing. If you don’t have good grammar skills, get books on grammar. Agents and publishers expect books submitted to them to be well edited. They will not take a book and make it better. If you don’t know how to write dialogue, take online classes. If you need to strengthen your plotting skills, study books on plotting. Libraries have lots of books on writing fiction. When I decided to write a mystery, I took an online course through my community college on how to write a mystery. Best thing I ever did. I came out of it with the complete outline for my book. Then apply all the things you learn to your manuscript. During my ten years of working toward publication, every time I learned something new, I applied it to my manuscript, creating a new version. By the time I had a publishing contract, I had written 38 versions of my book. I was too stubborn to give up. Be willing to learn as you go, and don’t give up.

What a great story. All the authors I speak with agree that being stubborn is an important quality for an author to possess. Thanks also for recommending library books. I’m a librarian as well as an author, so I know that there’s a wealth of information for those seeking publication in the writing books in a library’s collection.

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

As I mentioned above, I had to learn about writing fiction and improve my drafts with each new thing I learned. But the biggest lesson I had to learn was that having no agent is better than having an agent who isn’t working for you. I wasted five years with an agent who kept me dangling. I was afraid to leave her and have no agent. Worse thing I could have done. Once I developed enough courage to nicely sever my contract with her, I found another agent who was able to sell my book in two months.

That’s a good point. I’m still looking for the right agent myself, although I haven’t signed with any yet.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I belong to the National Sisters in Crime (SINC), the Chesapeake Chapter of SINC, and to the online chapter of SINC, the Guppies (short for the great unpublished). I don’t think I would be published today without the help and support of the Guppies. I am also a member of Mystery Writers of America.

I’m also a member of Sisters-in-Crime and the Guppies chapter, and I agree that they are a wonderful and very supportive group for women who write mysteries.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

My favorite activity is reading, and I belong to two book clubs. When I’m not involved with reading, writing, or promoting my book, I volunteer with my church.

Reading is important for authors. I wish I had more time to do it because I have so many books in my to-be-read pile. As far as your church volunteer work, I’m also very involved in my church.

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

One of the things that I like most is being a member of the mystery writing community. Writers are very supportive, and I’ve made hundred of friends through writers’ groups and attending writing conferences. I particularly enjoy helping to promote other authors. I conduct interviews with mystery writers about twice a month for the Writers Who Kill group blog (www.writerswhokill.blogspot.com). The interviews give the authors an opportunity to talk about their books and for readers to discover them.

The thing I like least is sitting in a chair for long periods of time. It isn’t the best activity for staying fit, and I find that I sit a lot trying to meet deadlines.

My toughest challenge is juggling the activities required to promote STAGING IS MURDER with finding the time to write the second book in the series. And it truly is a juggling act.

I feel the same way about the things you mentioned. I’ve also made a lot of author friends both online and through local events. Sitting for long periods isn’t good, so I try to get up and walk around and stretch every 15 minutes or so. My Apple watch helps with that. It tells me when to stand for 5 minutes. As for juggling activities of promoting my books while trying to write more, you’re so right it’s a tough juggling act. I have 7 now, so you’ll see it gets harder having to write, promote, etc. the more books you publish.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I like telling a story that will hopefully entertain readers and not horrify them—stories lacking in violence, sex, and bad language. I would be uncomfortable including violent scenes, and I would be embarrassed writing about sex. And since I don’t use bad language in my everyday life, I won’t put it in my characters’ mouths. I love that cozy mysteries focus on solving the puzzle of the mystery, the characters, and the main character’s business or interest (the hook) of the story.

We certainly have a lot in common, Grace. I love creating characters and books with twists and also don’t feel comfortable writing ones that are too explicit.

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

From STAGING IS MURDER

There, behind the desk and holding the purple-covered Louiston High School yearbook in his hands, stood Warren Hendricks.

“Warren,” I gasped. “What are you doing here?”

“Stay right where you are, young man,” Mrs. Webster said sternly. “Laura here knows karate, and she’s not afraid to use it.”

I sighed and positioned myself in what I assumed might be a karate stance.

“Please, Laura, I’m sorry. I don’t intend to harm anyone. Let me explain,” Warren pleaded.

“Sit down.” Mrs. Webster pointed to a brown leather sofa. “Laura, get one of those fireplace instruments over there.” She turned to Warren. “If you move, Laura will bop you a good one.”

Warren, all six feet of him, plopped onto the sofa, with tiny Mrs. Webster looming over him. His Adam’s apple bobbed and he kept clearing his throat.

“Okay, now fess up,” Mrs. Webster demanded.

“How did you get in?” I’d carefully locked up when I left the house earlier.

“I climbed in through a small window in the pantry. The window’s ancient and wasn’t hard to wiggle open. Though, getting through it was a bit hard.” Warren picked at a small tear on his jacket sleeve and grimaced. “I may have ruined my jacket.” A smart dresser, he probably regretted that more than being caught red-handed going through the Denton library.

“What were you searching for?” Mrs. Webster voice was steely cold. She wasn’t feeling any sympathy for him or his jacket.

Very nice. Thanks for sharing that.

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

Laura Bishop isn’t only an amateur sleuth—she’s a reluctant sleuth, which I think is a bit more realistic that a main character who jumps into a case with both feet, anxious to get working. She knows her skill set, and finding a murderer isn’t among them. But she gives into the plea by elderly Mrs. Webster to help clear her grandson, who is accused of murder. As reluctant as she is to get involved, Laura rises to the occasion.

She sounds quite realistic and someone readers would identify with.

Thanks so much for the interview, Grace, and best wishes on your series and future books. I’m sharing your blog tour below.

Staging is Murder
(A Laura Bishop Mystery)
by Grace Topping

About the Book


Staging is Murder (A Laura Bishop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Henery Press (April 30, 2019)
Hardcover: 268 pages
ISBN-10: 163511490X
ISBN-13: 978-1635114904
Paperback: 268 pages
ISBN-10: 163511487X
ISBN-13: 978-1635114874
Digital ASIN: B07N96J65X

Laura Bishop just nabbed her first decorating commission—staging for sale a 19th-century mansion that hasn’t been updated for decades. But when a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at Laura’s feet, replacing flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her duties.

To clear her young assistant of the murder and save her fledgling business, Laura’s determined to find the killer. Turns out it’s not as easy as renovating a manor home, especially with two handsome men complicating her mission: the police detective assigned to the case and the real estate agent trying to save the manse from foreclosure.

Worse still, the meddling of a horoscope-guided friend, a determined grandmother, and the local funeral director could get them all killed before Laura props the first pillow.

About the Author

Grace Topping is a recovering technical writer and IT project manager, accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Let loose to write fiction, she is now creating murder mysteries and killing off characters who remind her of some of the people she dealt with during her career. Fictional revenge is sweet. She’s using her experience helping friends stage their homes as inspiration for her Laura Bishop mystery series. The first book in the series, Staging is Murder, is about a woman starting a new career midlife as a home stager. Grace is the current vice president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and a member of the SINC Guppies and Mystery Writers of America. She lives with her husband in Northern Virginia.

Author Links

Website – https://www.gracetopping.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/gtoppingauthor

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GraceToppingAuthor

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomgracetopping

Purchase Links – Amazon B&N Kobo

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

Part One

April 25 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

April 25 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

April 26 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

April 26 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

April 27 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 28 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 28 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

April 29 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

Part Two

May 6 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

May 6 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

May 7 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 8 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

May 8 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

May 9 – Carole’s Book Corner – SPOTLIGHT

May 10 – Teresa Trent Author Site – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 11 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW

May 11 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 12 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

May 13 – That’s What She’s Reading – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

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Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Mysteries

Author Spotlight of Connie Berry, author of A Dream of Death, A Kate Hamilton Mystery

I’m pleased to have author Connie Berry from Delaware, Ohio to chat about her writing and her cozy mystery, A Dream of Death, that’s on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Nice to have you here, Connie. 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 debut mystery, A Dream of Death, was published this month by Crooked Lane Books. Wait, wait—did I just say that? I don’t think I’ll believe it until I actually see my book on a library shelf or in a bookstore somewhere. Although I know plenty of wonderful and successful self-published authors, my goal was always to be traditionally published.

Congratulations, Connie. Tell us a little bit about your book.

A Dream of Death is the first in the Kate Hamilton Mystery series. Autumn has come and gone on the Scottish Isle of Glenroth, and the locals gather for the Tartan Ball, the annual end-of-leaf-season gala. Spirits are high. A recently published novel about island history has attracted hordes of tourists to the small Hebridean resort community. On the guest list is American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton. Kate returns reluctantly to the island where her husband died, determined to repair her relationship with his sister, proprietor of the island’s luxe country house hotel. Kate has hardly unpacked when a body turns up, murdered in a way eerily reminiscent of an infamous murder described in the book. The Scottish police discount the historical connection, but when her husband’s best childhood friend is arrested, Kate teams up with a vacationing detective inspector from Suffolk, England, to unmask a killer determined to rewrite island history—and Kate’s future.

The second in the series, A Legacy of Murder, will be published in October of 2019. Currently I’m working on the third in the series, The Chinese Vases (working title).

They sound wonderful.

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?

On a practical level, I hope to continue writing the Kate Hamilton Mystery series. With the third book underway, two more are rough outlined and another two are roaming around in the back of my brain. On an aspirational level, my goal is to continue growing as a writer—honing my skills, adding depth and complexity to my characters and plot, writing beautiful prose. I would love to have my books described as literary mysteries. For the future, I’ve been thinking about a second series set in the UK, maybe an historical.

Terrific goals. Good luck with them.

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

I imagine my readers will be a lot like me—those who enjoy a good mystery and love to be surprised at the end. I hope to attract readers who like vivid characters with gifts and flaws, regrets and dreams. My readers will include fellow Anglophiles and those who like stories set in another country or culture. They will love history and reading about how the present is shaped by the past. I hope they will enjoy learning a bit about the world of fine art and antiques.

That’s great. Sounds like you have a an interesting target audience.

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

My best advice is to read, read, read. Notice how writers use language, setting, dialogue, and characterization. Pay attention to story structure. Take time to learn craft. Attend as many writers’ conferences and workshops as you can afford. Join groups like Sisters in Crime or Romance Writers of America. Connect with other writers. Swap manuscripts. Help others succeed.

That’s very good advice.

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

I didn’t know what I didn’t know. With a master’s degree in English literature and having read hundreds of mysteries, I thought, “How hard could it be?” As it turned out, pretty hard. I struggled with impatience, an unwillingness to stop writing and start learning. It took me years to produce a manuscript I felt confident putting out there. Finally, once I’d done everything I knew how to do, I was fortunate enough to meet my wonderful editor, Faith Black Ross from Crooked Lane Books, and my agent, Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary.

It’s so true that there’s a lot more to writing than what people imagine before they publish.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

Yes. I belong to Sisters in Crime, national, as well as my local chapter, Buckeye Crime Writers. I also belong to the Midwest chapter of  Mystery Writers of America. Some years ago I attended a writers’ workshop called Seascape, hosted by Roberta Isleib, Hallie Ephron, and Hank Phillippi Ryan. Afterwards, a fellow attendee asked me to join a critique group. We’re scattered all over the country—California, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Maine. Three of the four are now published with the fourth not far behind. We exchange manuscripts online and try to meet yearly at the Crime Bake conference near Boston.

I also belong to Sisters in Crime. It’s a great group.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Great question! Life is more than writing. My interests include reading (of course), knitting, my family, our sweet dog, Millie, spending time at our lake cottage in northern Wisconsin, foreign travel with a hint of adventure, and hiking. I attend BSF, International—the class I taught for over twenty-five years. I belong to a book club. And I’m on the board of two organizations—Buckeye Crime Writers and the Great Lakes Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

You certainly are busy.

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

What I like most about writing is re-writing—revising and polishing a manuscript. Once I have words on a page, I relax and begin to enjoy life. What I like least is putting words on a blank page. Because they’re never good. As Ernest Hemingway famously said (quoted in a posthumous article published by Arnold Samuelson), “The first draft of anything is [rubbish].” With that said, one of my toughest practical challenges as a writer is getting enough exercise. This past year—getting my first novel launched and finishing the second—has been brutal on my body. One of my goals going forward is adding regular exercise to my daily routine.

I make it a point to exercise a half hour a day and take breaks between computer time.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I call my books traditional mysteries with cozy characteristics. There are plenty of non-cozy crime novels out there, and I read them—Ann Cleeves, Tana French, Val McDermid, Elizabeth George. But years ago my thesis advisor recommended picking a topic I loved enough to spend many months with. That applies to writing. Reading a crime novel takes days. Writing one takes months if not years. I choose not to describe violence in graphic detail. I have no wish to venture into other peoples’ bedrooms. I love children and pets too much to describe their harm. And while I admire crime novels based in large cities (especially if the city is London), I’m more interested in the complex dynamics of a village. Perhaps it’s my early exposure to Agatha Christie, but I like nothing better than writing about a small community with plenty of interconnections and conflicts to create havoc—and murder. Writing a mystery with cozy characteristics isn’t a matter of what I do and don’t approve. Wasn’t it Miss Marple who said, “I don’t approve of murder.”

I feel the same about my books. Even when I write my standalones, apart from my Cobble Cove mystery series, I tend to inject cozy elements.

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

The setting is the Tartan Ball. Kate’s self-centered sister-in-law, Elenor, has just announced her engagement to Dr. Hugh Guthrie, a bachelor who cares for his disabled mother, Margaret—the closest thing the Isle of Glenroth has to nobility:

Elenor held up both hands. “Before we celebrate, there’s someone Hugh and I wish to acknowledge.” She turned toward the head table. “Margaret, may I call you Mother now?”

 Every head in the room swiveled toward Margaret Guthrie, sitting like a ramrod in her wheelchair. She looked as if she’d just taken a swig of sour milk. “Even though Hugh and I will no longer be living on Glenroth,” Elenor said, her eyes glittering, “we will always have your welfare uppermost in our minds. Wherever you choose to live—now that Hugh will no longer be able to care for you himself—please remember that we will do everything in our power to make the days you have left happy ones.” I heard a few audible gasps. Guthrie pulled a handkerchief from his inside pocket and mopped his face.

Margaret Guthrie reared up like a cobra in her wheelchair. “You are too hasty, my dear. I am certain my son has agreed to no such plans.” She turned to Hugh. “Take me home now. I’m tired.” The audience held its collective breath. Hugh Guthrie stood motionless, a pile of metal shavings between two powerful magnets. He looked at Elenor, then at his mother, and seemed to quail. Releasing himself from Elenor’s grip, he stepped from the platform and hurried to Margaret’s side. The wheelchair squeaked through the stone archways toward the exit. Moments  later we heard the thud of the heavy front door closing, followed shortly by the roar of an engine and the crunch of tires on gravel. Elenor still held the microphone, her face frozen in a smile. The band began to play “Some Enchanted Evening.” Clearly one of the musicians had a wicked sense of humor.

Excellent excerpt. Thanks for sharing.

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

A Dream of Death involves a contemporary murder and a historical murder from 1810. The two stories are interwoven through the use of excerpts from a novel written in the form of a diary. A list of book club questions will appear shortly on my website (see below). I’d love to meet readers! If you live in central Ohio, check out my scheduled appearances; and if you’re planning to attend Malice Domestic in May, please say hello!

If you’d like to know more about my writing and upcoming events, you can find me at www.connieberry.com. Sign up for my newsletter. Watch for my bi-monthly blog. Follow me on social media:

Facebook and Instagram: Connie Berry, Author

Twitter: @conniecberry

Pinterest: Connie Campbell Berry

Thanks so much, Connie, and best wishes on your release and upcoming books in the series. I’m sharing your blog tour below.

A Dream of Death
(A Kate Hamilton Mystery)
by Connie Berry

About the Book


A Dream of Death (A Kate Hamilton Mystery)
Traditional Mystery
1st in Series
Crooked Lane Books (April 9, 2019)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1683319877
ISBN-13: 978-1683319870
Digital ASIN: B07H7P2KTS

On a remote Scottish island, American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton wrestles with her own past while sleuthing a brutal killing, staged to recreate a two-hundred-year-old unsolved murder.

Autumn has come and gone on Scotland’s Isle of Glenroth, and the islanders gather for the Tartan Ball, the annual end-of-tourist-season gala. Spirits are high. A recently published novel about island history has brought hordes of tourists to the small Hebridean resort community. On the guest list is American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton. Kate returns reluctantly to the island where her husband died, determined to repair her relationship with his sister, proprietor of the island’s luxe country house hotel, famous for its connection with Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Kate has hardly unpacked when the next morning a body is found, murdered in a reenactment of an infamous unsolved murder described in the novel—and the only clue to the killer’s identity lies in a curiously embellished antique casket. The Scottish police discount the historical connection, but when a much-loved local handyman is arrested, Kate teams up with a vacationing detective inspector from Suffolk, England, to unmask a killer determined to rewrite island history—and Kate’s future.

About the Author

Like her main character, Connie Berry was raised by charmingly eccentric antique collectors who opened a shop, not because they wanted to sell antiques but because they needed a plausible excuse to keep buying them. Connie adores history, off-season foreign travel, cute animals, and all things British. She lives in Ohio with her husband and adorable Shih Tzu, Millie.

Author Links: Website –www.connieberry.com

Facebook Author@Facebook.com

Twitter @conniecberry

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18733373.Connie_Berry

Purchase: Amazon Barnes & Noble Indiebound

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

April 15 – The Editing Pen – GUEST POST

April 15 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

April 16 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 16 – I’m All About Books – GUEST POST

April 17 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT*

April 17 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

April 18 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

April 18 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 19 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

April 19 – Book Club Librarian – REVIEW

April 20 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 20 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

April 21 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 22 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

April 22 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

April 23 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

April 23 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 24 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 24 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

April 25 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 26 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 26 – My Devotional Thoughts – SPOTLIGHT

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Click Here Find Details and Sign Up Today!

Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Mysteries

Author Spotlight of Stephen Kaminski, Author of An Au Pair To Remember, A Male Housekeeper Mystery

I’m pleased to have author Stephen Kaminiski from Arlington, Virginia here to chat about his writing and his cozy mystery, An Au Pair to Remember, 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.

I’ve been published since 2012.

 It Takes Two to Strangle, A Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery (Cozy Cat Press, 2012)

 Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk, A Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery (Cozy Cat Press, 2013)

 Murder, She Floats, A Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery (Cozy Cat Press, 2014)

 An Au Pair to Remember, A Male Housekeeper Mystery (Cozy Cat Press, 2019)

Nice. 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.

Between 2012-2014, three books in Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series were published.  In January 2019, I just launched a new series—the Male Housekeeper Mysteries, focusing on charming characters, snappy dialogue, eclectic murders, and cunning confidence schemes.  Here’s a brief overview of the series backdrop and of the first book—An Au Pair to Remember.

To his mind, Cam Reddick has failed—as a husband, as a father, and as a professional. After recognizing that his vanilla credentials didn’t stack up in a big city brimming with overachievers and toiling in drudgery for half of a decade, an emotionally raw Cam returns to his childhood hometown—the quaint and quirky village of Rusted Bonnet, Michigan. He’s determined to resuscitate relationships marred by youthful immaturity, most importantly those with his ex-wife Kacey Gingerfield (who doubles as the village’s Deputy Chief of Police) and their first grader, Emma. Armed with striking looks and an endearing proclivity for mixing metaphors, but saddled by “momma’s boy” tendencies, Cam takes the helm of his mother’s housekeeping business—Peachy Kleen. Access to homes across the village facilitates Cam’s penchant for amateur sleuthing as Kacey’s aide-de-camp. Surrounded by Kacey, his sophisticated mother Darby, garrulous senior housekeeper Samantha, and recuse fish cum confidant Bait, Cam’s circuitous journeys to solving murders and unravelling complex cons hasten his struggle down the path of self-healing to self-respect. And there’s hope that—just maybe—he can rekindle the romance he once had with Kacey.

In An Au Pair to Remember, Cam’s plan for a quiet return to Rusted Bonnet is dashed when a beautiful German au pair, Greta Astor, is found dead in Dutch McRae’s foyer with all signs pointing to a hastily disassembled trip wire at the top of the stairs. When Kacey learns that Cam was cleaning the McRae home the previous afternoon, she confides to him that Chief Bernie Leftwich is set on arresting Dutch for the murder—either alone or in tandem with Greta’s bartender boyfriend. But she worries that Bernie’s been duped. And later, when his mother Darby becomes a suspect, Cam inserts himself into the investigation and stumbles through a series of ostensible incongruities—a thief swallowing a cache of stolen diamonds, a snack food distributor laundering money, and a Cash-for-Gold scam. Meanwhile, Peachy Kleen’s young African housekeeper has disappeared with one of the company vans. All the while, Cam finds himself flirting with his new neighbor and struggling with his complicated feelings for Kacey.

Your new series sounds like it’s off to a great start.

 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 goals are to excite and entertain.  My writing is light and I simply want readers to enjoy themselves.  In the next twelve months I’d like to finish the next book in my Male Housekeeper Mystery series.

Excellent!

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

Anyone who enjoys quick-witted dialogue and a lighthearted approach to murder will enjoy my books—basically the antithesis of hardboiled crime.

There’s certainly an audience for that among cozy readers.

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

Write and submit, write and submit, write and submit.  Then take constructive criticism to heart and follow advice that publishers offer.

Good advice.

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

I think the biggest challenge was figuring out my style.  My first manuscript for It Takes Two to Strangle (in 2012) was about 30,000 words longer than what eventually was accepted for publication.  I was trying to mold my writing into what I saw most often on library and bookstore shelves without realizing that a shorter and snappier version of my writing style was perfect for the cozy genre.  Thankfully, Cozy Cat Press saw my potential and took the time to and work with me.

It takes time for authors to develop their special style of writing. I’m sure it was helpful to work with your publisher to develop it.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

Unfortunately, not—between a demanding full time job, child care responsibilities, and writing, I haven’t been able to participate in any groups.

I can understand that.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

When I’m not writing, I’m typically reading, cooking (but not baking!), exercising, and playing the vital roles of chauffer and wallet-on-legs for my teen-aged daughter.

Lol. I know what you mean about wallet-on-legs for teenagers. I have a 14-year old daughter.

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

What I like most is the sense of calm it brings me.  My favorite time to write is very early in the morning with a cup of black coffee in hand and a blanket on my lap.  Quiet evenings with a candle or two and a glass of red wine or three are almost as rewarding.  I also enjoy writing things that I think will make readers laugh or bring them a sense of joyful bewilderment as they twist and turn through the plot.

I can relate. I get a lot of enjoyment from my writing, and I also like to write early in the morning before work.

 The toughest challenge is getting stuck.  All writers get stuck at times and it’s very challenging to work through.  For me, it often happens when I need to get “from A to B,” but I can’t figure out a way to do it in a way that’s engaging to the reader.

I find that often happens midway in a book, but then if you take a break and go back, something fresh usually pops up to add to the story.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I can be corny and cheeky, which fits my personality well.  I can spin the plot lines in a manner that’s sends a reader every which way, but then all comes together at the end.  I can create some characters who are clever and others who have their heads-in-the-clouds.  And in all of my books, in addition to the murder, I embed a number of clever cons for the reader to sink her or his teeth into.

Sounds interesting.

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

Leaving Samantha with her suppositions at the Laundromat, Cam took a detour past Becka Blom’s living quarters—the basement apartment of a historic Victorian. The red-, green-, and white-colored home featured a striking array of dormers, gables, and turrets. Cam stepped onto the portico and rang the bell.

A gray-haired man sporting an Einstein-inspired mustache and a knit sweater fraying at the cuffs opened the door.

“Good evening, sir,” Cam said. “Is Ms. Blom home?”

“I wouldn’t know for certain,” the man said convivially. “She has a separate entrance around the back. But I haven’t seen her car all day.”

“It’s at my office.” Cam explained that Becka worked for his cleaning company and hadn’t been seen since early in the morning.

“That doesn’t sound like Becka. Come on inside. Let me get my wife and see if she’s spoken with her.”

Cam followed him into a formal living room decorated in a French provincial style. While the man went off to find his wife, Cam looked down at his sweatshirt and jeans, feeling out of place.

“Please sit down,” a woman’s voice commanded with the authority of a general.

The mustachioed man immediately sat on a sofa.

“I wasn’t talking to you, Reg,” she said sternly and extended her hand toward a high-backed chair. Cam sat as directed.

She introduced herself as Diane Archambault. Pronounced Dee-Ahn, she was as put together as her husband was disheveled. “Reg tells me that Ms. Blom works for you. Is that correct?”

Cam nodded. The mistress of the house stood over him, her sapphire blue eyes piercing his.

“I heard her car back out of the drive at seven thirty this morning,” Diane said crisply. “I assumed she was going to work. Did she arrive?”

Cam told her she had, then ran off in one of his cleaning vans and hadn’t returned any of his messages.

“That certainly is worrisome.” Diane took a step back. “The girl came to the United States four years ago,” she offered. “Just she and her father. He was a shipbuilder from South Africa.”

“Why did they move to Rusted Bonnet?” Cam asked.

“I don’t know,” Diane said. “Ms. Blom’s father passed away two years ago. That’s when she moved in here.” She paused, then added, “I thought she worked for a woman.”

“That was my mother,” Cam explained. “I took over when she retired.”

Diane folded her hands and sat on the edge of the sofa next to her husband. Her fingernails were flawlessly manicured.

Suddenly a clank came from directly below the living room floor. Cam’s eyes shot open wide and he jumped to his feet.

“Sit back down,” Diane ordered sharply. “I don’t have her locked up in the basement. The girl has a cat, always knocking about down there.”

A disturbing thought flashed into Cam’s head. Becka was twenty-four, almost the same age as Greta. Was this mismatched couple sitting in front of him murdering young women in the village?

But Reg Archambault mitigated his fears by asking, “Should we call the police?”

“My ex-wife is the deputy chief here in Rusted Bonnet,” Cam said. “I spoke with her earlier this evening. She told me that the police don’t spend time looking for adults who leave under their own power.”

“Too bad,” Reg said. “Why don’t you try that friend of hers?”

“Missy?” Cam asked. “I’ve tried.”

 Reg stifled a sneeze. “Sorry, darn moustache hair is always getting up in there.”

Diane shook her head with apparent disgust. “That’s the only one who comes around now and again.” She stood and motioned for Cam to rise and take his leave. At the door, Diane added, “I won’t say that Ms. Blom is like a daughter to me, because we don’t have that kind of relationship. But I certainly hope she hasn’t run off. She’s a good tenant and a proper young lady.”

Cam returned home, then laid awake all night, envisioning Becka Blom tied to a chair in the Archambaults’ basement.

Great excerpt.

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

I think your mystery-loving readers might be interested to know that in my professional life I handle all things poison!  I’m the chief executive of the association that represents the country’s poison control system—55 centers made up of medical professionals who answer about 3 million calls to poison control every year.  While our centers regularly handle opioids abuse and accidental ingestions of household products, if there’s ever a place to expertly advise on hemlock, strychnine, or belladonna exposures, it’s our centers and their toxicologists.

Very interesting. I’m sure that helps you planning some of your murder mysteries.

Thanks for chatting today, Stephen, and best wishes with your new release and series. I’m sharing your blog tour below.

An Au Pair to Remember:
A Male Housekeeper Mystery
by Stephen Kaminski

About the Book


An Au Pair to Remember: A Male Housekeeper Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Cozy Cat Press (January 27, 2019)
Paperback: 260 pages
ISBN-10: 1946063703
ISBN-13: 978-1946063700
Digital ASIN: B07NCBZ23L

From the author of the award-winning Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series comes the Male Housekeeper Mysteries, focusing on charming characters, snappy dialogue, eclectic murders, and cunning confidence schemes. To his mind, Cam Reddick has failed—as a husband, as a father, and as a professional. After recognizing that his vanilla credentials didn’t stack up in a big city brimming with overachievers and toiling in drudgery for half of a decade, an emotionally raw Cam returns to his childhood hometown—the quaint and quirky village of Rusted Bonnet, Michigan. He’s determined to resuscitate relationships marred by youthful immaturity, most importantly those with his ex-wife Kacey Gingerfield (who doubles as the village’s Deputy Chief of Police) and their first grader, Emma. Armed with striking looks and an endearing proclivity for mixing metaphors, but saddled by “momma’s boy” tendencies, Cam takes the helm of his mother’s housekeeping business—Peachy Kleen. Access to homes across the village facilitates Cam’s penchant for amateur sleuthing as Kacey’s aide-de-camp. Surrounded by Kacey, his sophisticated mother Darby, garrulous senior housekeeper Samantha, and recuse fish cum confidant Bait, Cam’s circuitous journeys to solving murders and unravelling complex cons hasten his struggle down the path of self-healing to self-respect. And there’s hope that—just maybe—he can rekindle the romance he once had with Kacey.

In An Au Pair to Remember, Cam’s plan for a quiet return to Rusted Bonnet is dashed when a beautiful German au pair, Greta Astor, is found dead in Dutch McRae’s foyer with all signs pointing to a hastily disassembled trip wire at the top of the stairs. When Kacey learns that Cam was cleaning the McRae home the previous afternoon, she confides to him that Chief Bernie Leftwich is set on arresting Dutch for the murder—either alone or in tandem with Greta’s bartender boyfriend. But she worries that Bernie’s been duped. And later, when his mother Darby becomes a suspect, Cam inserts himself into the investigation and stumbles through a series of ostensible incongruities—a thief swallowing a cache of stolen diamonds, a snack food distributor laundering money, and a Cash-for-Gold scam. Meanwhile, Peachy Kleen’s young African housekeeper has disappeared with one of the company vans. All the while, Cam finds himself flirting with his new neighbor and struggling with his complicated feelings for Kacey.

About the Author

Stephen Kaminski is the author of An Au Pair to Remember, the first installment of the Male Housekeeper Mystery series. He also writes the award-winning Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective books. Stephen is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School and serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the trade association representing the United States’ poison control system and its fifty-five centers. He lives with his daughter and rescue kitty in the Washington, DC area.

Author Links

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43834065-an-au-pair-to-remember

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DamonLassard/

Purchase Links – Amazon KindleAmazon Paperback

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

March 18 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

March 19 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

March 19 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

March 21 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 21 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 22 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 23 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 23 – The Broke Book Bank – REVIEW

March 24 – My Journey Back – REVIEW

March 25 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 26 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 27 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 28 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW

March 28 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here Find Details and Sign Up Today!

Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Mysteries

Author Spotlight of Linda Hope Lee, Author of Murder Between the Pages, a Nina Foster Mystery

I’m pleased to have author Linda Hope Lee from Edmonds, Washington to chat about her writing and her cozy mystery, Murder Between the Pages, that’s on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Nice to have you here, Nina 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.

I’ve published 28 books of contemporary, romantic suspense, and mystery. One is these, Treasures of the Heart, is self-published. Murder Between the Pages is my first cozy mystery.

Wow! That’s quite a writing career.

Tell us a little bit about your books.

Early books were written as Hope Goodwin. Now I’m using my legal name, Linda Hope Lee. Murder Between the Pages, the Nina Foster Mystery Series, Book 1, was released in Dec. 2018. Book 2, Secrets to Die For is in production but no pub date yet.

Something to look forward to.

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 want to write more books in the Nina Foster series. I am currently working on Book 3.

Sounds great.

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

Readers who like cozy mysteries.

Those are very popular today.

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

Not original advice but I can think of nothing better than to keep writing and sending out your work.

That can’t be emphasized enough.

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

Juggling a full-time job with writing.

I think most writers struggle with that. I know I do.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I belong to RWA, Greater Seattle, Evergreen, and Faith, Hope and Love Chapters; Sisters in Crime.

I also belong to Sisters in Crime. It’s a great group.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Watercolor painting and photography.

Other creative pursuits.

What do you like most and least about being an author?

Like the most: making up stories. Like the least: Marketing. What is your toughest challenge? Marketing

Most authors dislike marketing. It’s one of my least favorite parts of publishing, too.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

Working along with the amateur sleuth while she puts together the puzzle pieces and solves the crime.

That certainly is fun.

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

From Murder Between the Pages, P. 116.  Nina visits the murder victim’s bookstore, Bergman Books:

Next to the reading area, a wrought iron spiral staircase led to the second level, where…a domed skylight allowed light to beam on the lower level…. The skylight was the main reason Wildeen chose this building for her bookstore. She wanted customers to sit and enjoy the books under the dome’s natural light.

     “Aren’t you afraid people will only read and not buy?” Nina had asked.

     “Not at all,” Wildeen replied. “Books are like clothes. You have to try them on to see if they fit.”

Very nice excerpt. Thanks for sharing it.

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

I love writing stories and feel so lucky and privileged to have had my books published.

I feel the same. It was a pleasure to have you here on Ruff Drafts, and I wish you success with your new cozy mystery series. I’m sharing your blog tour below.

Murder Between the Pages
(The Nina Foster Mystery Series)
by Linda Hope Lee

About the Book

Murder Between the Pages (The Nina Foster Mystery Series)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
The Wild Rose Press, Inc. (Crimson Rose) (December 19, 2018)
Paperback: 264 pages
ISBN-10: 1509223673
ISBN-13: 978-1509223671
Digital Print Length: 190 pages
ASIN: B07JKZT5TM

It’s a sad day for librarian Nina Foster when she discovers her good friend, bookstore owner Wildeen Bergman, dead on her office floor. Worse yet, another friend, romance writer Zelma Duke, becomes the police’s prime suspect. Nina knows Wildeen had something on Zelma. Was it enough to warrant murder? Handsome Stephen Kraslow, owner of the local newspaper, joins forces with Nina to find out the truth. The quest takes them on a dangerous journey of twists and turns before they reach the final outcome.

About the Author

Linda Hope Lee had written contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and mysteries. Other pursuits include watercolor painting, photography, collecting children’s books and anything to do with wire-haired fox terriers. She makes her home in the Pacific Northwest.

Author Links

Website http://www.lindahopelee.com

Twitter: @lindahopelee

Facebook: facebook.com/lindahopelee

Goodreads: goodreads.com/lindahopelee

Purchase Links

Amazon B&N

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

March 11 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 11 – Books Direct – GUEST POST

March 12 – FUONLYKNEW – REVIEW

March 13 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW

March 14 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

March 14 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

March 15 – Book Club Librarian – REVIEW

March 15 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 16 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW

March 17 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

March 17 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

March 18 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW

March 18 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here Find Details and Sign Up Today!

Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Mysteries

Author Spotlight of Kathleen Valenti, author of As Directed, A Maggie O’Malley Mystery by Kathleen Valenti

I’m pleased to have author Kathleen Valenti from Bend, Oregon (a.k.a. paradise) to chat about her writing and new release, As Directed, that’s on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Great to have you here, Kathleen. 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.

The Maggie O’Malley Mystery Series, published by Henery Press, has been out for about a year and a half. My first book, PROTOCOL, debuted in September of 2017. It was followed by 39 WINKS in May of 2018. I’m excited for the launch of the series’ third book, AS DIRECTED, which releases this month.

Nice. I featured a spotlight on 39 Winks and am happy to feature your new title.

Can you please tell us a little bit about your books?

In the Maggie O’Malley Mystery series, sometime pharmaceutical researcher Maggie O’Malley cures mysteries with wit, the scientific method, and her wise-cracking best friend, Constantine. The first book in the series, PROTOCOL, was nominated for the prestigious Agatha and Lefty awards and was followed by fan favorite, 39 WINKS. AS DIRECTED, released on March 12, 2019.

Congratulations for publishing the latest of what sounds like a wonderful series. Alicia’s friend Gilly in my Cobble Cove mystery series might be a lot like Maggie’s friend Constantine.

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 hope to introduce more readers to Maggie by reaching out to them through outlets like this (thank you for hosting me!) and via my social media channels. Please come say hello on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kathleenvalentiauthor

I already “like” your page and hope that readers of this blog will do so, too.

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

I’m looking for readers who love books with suspense, twisty plots, and witty dialogue.

A good target group.

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

Keep at it! It’s a tough business to break into, but don’t lose hope. If you continue to hone your craft and write the best book you can, you’ll find people who believe in it as much as you do.

Wise advice.

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

There are so many great avenues for getting a book out into the world these days, but I decided I wanted to go the traditional route. More than ever, that means securing an agent. For me, that was by far the most difficult and daunting part of the process. The rejection rate of agents responding to queries is 99%. 99%!! That’s where the perseverance I mentioned above comes in. While searching for the right agent, I made sure I had the right book. It took an enormous amount of time, energy and effort, but it was absolutely worth it.

I’m still trying to find an agent, but I’m happy that I’ve been published with several publishers, although I hope to publish with a large one eventually.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I belong to Sisters in Crime, a fantastic organization that supports sisters (and misters!) who write crime fiction, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. I’m also a blogger on two multi-author blogs: Chicks on the Case and Mysteristas.

I agree Sisters in Crime is a wonderful group. I belong to them, too, as well as International Thriller Writers. I must check out the blogs you mentioned, and I hope my readers will, too. They sound great. I also blog on a multi-author, blog, Pens, Paws, and Claws and my character cat, Sneaky the Library Cat, has his own blog.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Of course reading is near the top of the list. I also love to snowmobile, camp, hike, run and Jazzercise.

It’s good you stay active when you’re an author and have to spend a lot of time at the computer writing. As a librarian, I love to read, too, but I make it a point to exercise daily. I enjoy the Leslie Sansone walking videos. I imagine Jazzercise must be fun.

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

I love the puzzle of writing a mystery. The toughest challenge is marketing. There are so many wonderful books out there that it can be difficult to be seen and heard in the marketplace.

I know exactly what you mean.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

My books actually aren’t cozies. They’re traditional mysteries with a medical angle. I love the traditional mystery genre for its ability to create interest and intrigue while engaging the reader.

While I have a cozy series, I have written a traditional mystery, Reason to Die, and have just signed with another publisher for my psychological thriller, Sea Scope.

Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title o?

Here’s an excerpt from AS DIRECTED:

Claudia Warren took too long to die.

She should have been dead when her lungs stopped inflating, when her brain stopped communicating with the rest of her body. But her heart kept beating, even as her cells began to necrotize and the blood pooled in her muscles.

Claudia couldn’t even die right.

Then again, she’d never been murdered before, so maybe that was to be expected.

Claudia died alone, as she did most things. She came home from the grocery store, carefully inserted her key into the deadbolt, jiggling it up and down to engage the tumblers, then tossed her purse on the counter next to yesterday’s mail. She deposited white plastic grocery bags on the counter—she couldn’t be bothered with toting around cloth ones—and began to unpack the fruits of her Pick-N-Save foraging.

A pack of single-serving puddings.

A box of single-serving juices.

An array of Lean Cuisine entrées, the accent capping the “e” an attempt to catapult the food from TV dinner to culinary experience.

Single serving food for her table-for-one life.

Not that she minded living alone. She relished it. She had her rescue cat, Todd, a fat tabby who bumped her chin with his head when she bent to fill his dish, and her work as an advertising account exec, which followed her home every night like a stalker.

Human beings? She found them overrated. They were too critical of her missteps. Too overbearing in their suggestions. Too there.

And yet the moment she knew something was wrong, very wrong, she had a sudden and intense urging for that thereness.

Her cheating ex-husband. Her meddling mother. The woman next door who pilfered coupons from her mailbox. It didn’t matter. She would’ve taken any of them. She needed help. She needed someone there. She needed someone to stop her heart from stopping.

Exciting excerpt. Thank you for sharing. I’ve added you to my TBR author list.

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

When I’m not writing mysteries, I work as an advertising copywriter, writing ads for everything from banks and healthcare to athletic apparel and transmissions. Really!

Interesting. You certainly are a wordsmith, Kathleen.

Thanks so much for a great interview. I’m sharing the information about your blog tour below. Best wishes on your new release and future mysteries.

Thank you again for having me!

As Directed
(A Maggie O’Malley Mystery)
by Kathleen Valenti

About the Book


As Directed (A Maggie O’Malley Mystery)
Mystery
3rd in Series
Henery Press (March 12, 2019)
Hardcover: 286 pages
ISBN-10: 1635114705
ISBN-13: 978-1635114706
Digital ASIN: B07LB6N22B

In the shadow of a past fraught with danger and tainted by loss, former pharmaceutical researcher Maggie O’Malley is rebuilding her life, trading test tubes for pill bottles as she embarks on a new career at the corner drugstore.

But as she spreads her wings, things begin to go terribly wrong. A customer falls ill in the store. Followed by another. And then more.

The specter of poisoning arises, conjuring old grudges, past sins, buried secrets and new suspicions from which no one is immune.

As Maggie and her best friend Constantine begin to investigate, they discover that some of the deadliest doses come from the most unexpected places.

About the Author

Kathleen Valenti is the author of the Maggie O’Malley Mystery Series, which includes her Agatha- and Lefty-nominated debut novel, Protocol. When Kathleen isn’t writing page-turning mysteries that combine humor and suspense, she works as a nationally award-winning advertising copywriter. She lives in Oregon with her family where she pretends to enjoy running. Learn more at www.kathleenvalenti.com.

Author Links

https://www.kathleenvalenti.com/

https://www.facebook.com/kathleenvalentiauthor/

https://twitter.com/KathyValenti1

https://www.instagram.com/kathleen_valenti/

https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomkathleenvalenti

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kathleen-valenti

Purchase Links

Amazon Barnes & Noble iTunes Kobo

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

March 1 – Babs Book Bistro – GUEST POST

March 1 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

March 2 – Mythical Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 3 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 4 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

March 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 6 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – GUEST POST

March 7 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 7 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

March 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 9 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT

March 10 – The Book Diva’s Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 10 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW

March 11 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

March 11 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 12 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – REVIEW

March 12 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

March 12 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 13 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 14 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

March 15 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 15 – The Montana Bookaholic – SPOTLIGHT

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here Find Details and Sign Up Today!