Posted in Authors, Reviews

Review of Love and Ruin, A Historical Fiction Novel of Ernest Hemigway’s Third Wife, Martha Gellhorn, by Paula McLain

****4-stars

Popular historical fiction novelist, Paul McLain, who previously wrote about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife in The Paris Wife, tells the story of Hemingway’s third wife, Martha “Marty” Gellhorn. This book, however, isn’t just a love story. It is also a war story because we follow Marty who, after writing an unsuccessfully-reviewed novel, finds her niche as a war correspondent covering the news for Colliers with her famous husband as her rival.

Marty is courageous, driven, and determined to document the atrocities of the several wars she’s lived through including World War II. While devoted to Ernest, she needs to make her own name among journalists.

I found this novel a riveting, fast-paced, and interesting look at the horrors of war and the personal glimpses into the life of one of America’s most famous novelist. As a writer myself, I related to Marty’s struggle making a name for herself in a competitive field that, at that time, was predominated by male authors. I highly recommend this read to those interested in history, biographies, and realistic fiction.

Paula McLain’s photo from her website

About the Author: From Paula’s website:

Paula McLain is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels, The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun. She now introduces her latest title, Love and Ruin.

Paula McLain was born in Fresno, California in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents, she and her two sisters became wards of the California Court System, moving in and out of various foster homes for the next fourteen years. When she aged out of the system, she supported herself by working as a nurses aid in a convalescent hospital, a pizza delivery girl, an auto-plant worker, a cocktail waitress–before discovering she could (and very much wanted to) write. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996.

She is the author of The Paris Wife, a New York Times and international bestseller, which has been published in thirty-four languages. The recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, the Cleveland Arts Prize, the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, she is also the author of two collections of poetry; a memoir, Like Family, Growing up in Other People’s Houses; and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives with her family in Cleveland.

Connect with Paula on

Facebook

Instagram

Website

Posted in Authors, Cozy Mysteries, Interview

Interview of Maggie Toussaint, author of Seas the Day, A Seafood Caper Mystery

I’m pleased to speak with author Maggie Toussaint from Tolomato Island near Georgia, Darien, about herself and her new release, Seas the Day.

Welcome Maggie. Nice to have you with us.

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.

Hi, Debbie. I’m a hybrid published author by choice and necessity. My first book came out in 2006, so I’ve been at this for a while now. I’ve published over twenty books in romantic suspense, mystery, and science fiction. A listing follows:

Romantic Suspense

House of Lies, The Wild Rose Press and now Muddle House Publishing (MHP)

No Second Chance, The Wild Rose Press and now MHP

Muddy Water, The Wild Rose Press and now MHP

Hot Water, The Wild Rose Press and now MHP

Rough Waters, The Wild Rose Press and now MHP

Seeing Red, Freya’s Bower and now MHP

Cozy Mystery

In For a Penny, Five Star and now MHP

On the Nickel, Five Star and now MHP

Dime If I Know, Five Star and now MHP

Murder in the Buff, Muse It Up Publishing and now MHP

Death, Island Style, Five Star and now MHP

Gone and Done It, Five Star and now MHP

Bubba Done It, Five Star and now MHP

Doggone It, Five Star and now MHP

Dadgummit, Camel Press

Confound It, Camel Press

Dreamed It, Camel Press

All Done with It, Camel Press (coming Aug 2020)

The Lyndsey & Ike Novella Mystery Series, MHP

Seas the Day, Henery Press

Science Fiction, writing as Rigel Carson

G-1, Kindle Scout winner (Kindle Press) and now MHP

G-2, MHP

G-3, MHP

NonFiction, writing as Margaret Toussaint

Remembering, MHP

The Descendants of Ann Margaret Atwood, MHP

Wow! That’s very impressive. 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.

I have written series in multiple genres. Seas the Day is my first book in my brand new Seafood Caper Mystery Series, featuring amateur sleuth and caterer, River Holloway. This is my first culinary cozy, and I’m so pleased with how it came out. In addition, I have another current series, the Dreamwalker Mysteries, and the last book in that series, All Done With It, will release August 11, 2020.

That’s great. Congratulations!

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 keep writing and publishing books, but in these perilous times, it’s hard to be sure of anything. There are two more books written in the Seafood Caper Mysteries, and I will be bringing them out myself since my publisher, Henery Press, will only be publishing book one.

Good luck to you with that. I know these are tough times for everyone.

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

I love readers who appreciate an ensemble cast of small town characters, who love Southern settings, and who appreciate pets, smart women, cooking, and recipes.

Sounds like you have a wide audience.

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

The only thing you can control is the quality of book you produce. Keep writing your best stuff and good things will happen.

I agree with that. I’m currently polishing my eighth novel and am taking my time with it because I want it to be up to par with my other titles.

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

The hardest challenge was to keep believing in myself as the submission process went on for years.

Yes, that is very difficult. Authors sometime give up because they are tired of waiting for an acceptance and aren’t interested in self publishing.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I am currently a past chapter president of Mystery Writers of America, Southeast Chapter, and a founding member of LowCountry Sisters in Crime.

Nice. I belong to Sisters-in-Crime, the online guppies chapter because my area doesn’t have a local chapter. I’m currently taking a plotting class offered through them which I’m finding very helpful.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I teach yoga, take photographs of nature, sing in a choir, and play guitar. I’m fond of puzzles of all kinds, and I enjoy sewing. I’ve always loved going to the beach because it’s the right blend of activity and peacefulness.

You have a nice variety of hobbies.

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

I love to sit at the computer each day and distill lines from the story ether onto the computer screen. I dislike busy weeks when I have to scramble to meet my writing goals at non-optimum times for writing. My toughest challenge is realizing that the market acts like a living being, most of the times like a cat.

As a cat lover, I find that a very interesting observation. I agree that the market can be very fickle.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I enjoy having an amateur sleuth who has insider knowledge delve into homicides and manage to figure out who the killer is before the cops zero in on the right suspect. I’ve always rooted for the underdog to win and this is another aspect of that philosophy.

I enjoy that aspect of cozies, too.

Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title?

Here’s a snip from Seas the Day:

“My Chili’s gone,” Estelle Bolz sobbed in my ear. “You gotta help me, River. You can find anything. Please, please find my son.”

Gone?” Oh, no. I needed his fresh fish for tonight’s Holloway Catering client. Still holding the phone, I stepped away from the pie crust bowl, moved to the kitchen window, half-expecting to see Chili sauntering across my lawn. “I don’t understand. He left town?”

“You tell me. His keys are on the hutch. His truck was parked at the house until the cops took it. His boat’s in the slip. He hasn’t called me since Tuesday morning. I can’t lose another son.”

My heart went out to this woman who’d been through so much. Her youngest son perished at sea last year. Having another missing son was my late mother’s bridge partner’s worst nightmare.

I switched the phone to speaker and reached for pen and paper. “When did you last see him?”

“Monday. Around dinnertime.”

“Did you notify the cops?”

“I did. A deputy is looking for Chili, but he’s made no progress all week. I rode over to the Law Enforcement Center for three days in a row. They say there’s no sign of foul play and he’s an adult. Meanwhile, Chili hasn’t called in three nights. This is not right.”

Today was Friday. “I ordered sea bass from Chili on Tuesday morning, right after I booked a catering job. Nobody’s heard from him since Tuesday?”

“Nope. He wouldn’t take off like this and leave me to worry about where he is. That’s why he calls every night. I’m tied up in knots.” She sniffed loudly into the phone. “You’ve always been like a daughter to me, and I know this is a lot to ask. Please help me find Chili.”

I felt uneasy being asked to find a missing person. That was much different from finding misplaced keys or a lost dog, but Chili was my friend. He must be in trouble if he wasn’t calling his mom. Estelle’s rapid breaths filled my ear like a huffing freight train. “I’ll help you. First, sit down and breathe deeply. We’ll sort this out together.”

“Thank you,” Estelle said. “I just didn’t know where else to turn.”

“That’s it. Deep full breaths. In and out.” My breathing calmed too. I started with the easy questions: “Have you tried his friends? Did he find a new girlfriend after he and Trina broke up?”

“After his brother died at sea, Chili kept to himself. That no-account Trina lasted six minutes past Kale’s funeral. Chili’s all I got left in the world. When I consider possibilities of why he’s missing, my gut aches so bad I can’t stand up straight. Something’s horribly wrong. I’m terrified he’s hurt or worse, and I need to do something. We need to do something.”

I felt for her, I truly did. Mr. Bolz died of a heart attack long before the family moved here. Estelle supported her family with a dry cleaning business, with only her sons and friends for companionship. My mother died last year, a few months after Kale was lost at sea. It was hard enough to lose one relative, but to lose two so close together would be devastating.

Estelle needed an advocate. Without her boys, she was all alone. Mom’s friend needed an insider who knew her son. However, there must be a reason the cops weren’t getting anywhere.

“Chili needs your help,” Estelle continued while I mulled things over. “I’m begging you. Find my son.”

I stated the obvious. “If he left Shell Island, I don’t have the resources to find him. The cops do. Convince them to expand their search. I’ll go with you to the station if you like.”

“Don’t get me started on the po-lice. The sheriff has his eye on reelection and that new deputy thinks I’m an alarmist. It’s so frustrating.”

Estelle paused for so long I thought she must be crying, then she began again. “Your mother, bless her heart, used to brag on you all the time, especially how good you were at solving puzzles. I trust you, River, not the people who hand out speeding tickets. Those outsiders don’t know my family. They don’t understand why Chili wouldn’t leave. Not on purpose. We rely on each other. I-I-I can’t make it without him. Please, River.”

I’d known the Bolz family most of my life. Chili was two school grades ahead of me, Kale a school grade behind. Like my family, they worked several jobs to make ends meet because money was scarce here.

“I’m flattered by your faith in me, but I’m not a detective. I don’t have a network of professional investigators like the sheriff does. If I ask around, will you keep the pressure on the cops? They can put out a notice that he’s missing and it will go all over the state. Did you think about going to the newspaper, radio, or TV with your story?”

“Heavens, no,” Estelle shrilled. “Chili doesn’t want everybody and his brother spying on him. He’s a private person. First, I thought he must’ve fallen off the wagon and gotten tangled up with Mr. Jim Beam again.” She sighed. “I looked, and there’s not a drop of booze in his place or in his trash. He isn’t on a bender. I want somebody I trust on the case. I’ll pay you too.”

“I won’t take your money. I’m hesitating because if he’s in dire straits, you need more than me helping you.”

“Tell you what, I’ll keep the pressure on Sheriff Vargas, if you’ll question the younger crowd,” Estelle countered. “They’re more likely to talk to you than a stranger anyway.”

I was relieved she sounded calmer. “I am very concerned about Chili and wish I could drop everything and start searching right now. But my livelihood depends on successful catering events. Tonight I’m booked for the Robertson’s anniversary dinner. I’ll be busy all afternoon prepping the meal. They eat at seven and it will be after nine before I get home.”

“Do what you have to do and ask everyone about Chili. We have to find him.”

“I’ll do my best. If I learn anything, I’ll call you. When you spoke to him on Tuesday, what did he say?”

“He cancelled on our regular lunch at the Sunset Buffet. It’s unlike him to miss the meatloaf special. That boy loves his meatloaf. If I’d’a known that when I had him, I’d’ve named him Meatloaf.”

“Did he say why he cancelled?”

“Nope. Said something came up. I didn’t actually speak to him. He left me a message.”

“Did you play it for the cops?”

“Deputy Hamlyn said it wasn’t helpful. I’m out of my mind worrying about Chili. You’ll find him, won’t ya?”

“I hope so.”

Great excerpt. Thanks for sharing.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books? I love to hear from readers.

Sign up for my newsletter on my website if you’d love to hear from me: https://maggietoussaint.com

I hope my readers will do that. I’m also sharing your blog tour and giveaway. Thanks again for the great interview, and best wishes on your new release.

Seas the Day (A Seafood Capers Mystery)
by Maggie Toussaint

About Seas the Day


Seas the Day (A Seafood Capers Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Henery Press (April 21, 2020)
Hardcover: 282 pages
ISBN-10: 1635115868
ISBN-13: 978-1635115864
Paperback: 282 pages
ISBN-10: 1635115833
ISBN-13: 978-1635115833
Digital ASIN: B0844K2Q4D

Caterer River Holloway cooks like a dream and is known on Shell Island as a “finder” of things. Which is why a desperate mother begs River to track down her grown son, Chili Bolz, who’s vanished.

Deputy Lance Hamlyn can’t find the missing man, so he teams up with River. The missing person case boils over into something frightening when Chili’s mother falls victim to a brutal assault. Worse, her dying words incriminate River’s friends in both kidnapping and, now, murder. River soon finds herself caught in an unsavory recipe for disaster.

Despite catering events and the return of her absentee boyfriend, River finds the number of suspects growing longer than her food shopping list. Along the way she befriends a black cat who becomes her crime-solving partner. River must locate Chili and discover who killed his mother before her own goose is quite literally cooked.

Maggie Toussaint serves up a fun and captivating read in Seas the Day, the first in her Seafood Capers series.

About the Author

Southern author Maggie Toussaint writes cozy and paranormal mysteries, romantic suspense, and dystopian fiction, with twenty fiction novels published. A three-time finalist for Georgia Author of the Year, she’s won three Silver Falchions, the Readers’ Choice, and the EPIC Awards. She’s past president of Mystery Writers of America-Southeast chapter and an officer of LowCountry Sisters In Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows. Visit her at https://maggietoussaint.com/

Author Links

Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads | LinkedIn | Pinterest | Booklover’s Bench | Amazon Author Central | Website | Bookbub

Purchase LinksAmazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

April 22 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 22 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 23 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

April 23 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 24 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST

April 24 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW

April 25 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

April 25 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

April 25 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – SPOTLIGHT

April 26 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 26 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 27 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW, GUEST POST

April 27 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

April 28 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

April 28 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 29 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

April 29 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

April 30 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 30 – eBook addicts – SPOTLIGHT

May 1 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 1 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here Find Details and Sign Up Today!

Posted in Authors, Cats, Dogs, Guest Post

Guest Post by Fellow Pet Lover and author/Poet Ann Chiappetta

Yes, They All Get Along

By Ann Chiappetta

Eight years ago, a tiny short hair tuxedo kitten entered our lives. My daughter rescued it, hiding the 6-week-old fur ball in her closet.  Unbeknownst to my husband and me, she took her lunch money to pay for formula and saved it’s life.

Looking back, I thought the increased interest in her room by our dogs was odd but dismissed it for wanting to get in the room to scavenge for crumbs and candy wrappers.

I’m sure that by now, dear reader, you are asking, so when did she let the cat, um, kitten, out of the bag, um, closet? 🙂

It was my husband, actually. He asked me to cup my hands and since I am blind, I did not need to close my eyes; he deposited a palm-sized kitten into my hands and all my protestations of “no more animals”,  fell away as I felt his little body  and listened to his kitten cries.

A year later, Papa the cat and my other dogs were ready to meet my new guide dog, Bailey.  I sent out a prayer that it would all work out and walked inside, unharnessed Bailey and told him to sit. My daughter stepped forward with papa. Bailey stood up, straining at his leash. Papa growled. Bailey whined. Papa hissed and Bailey let out a loud bark, which made Papa jump from April’s arms and onto the wall unit where he hid for the rest of the day.

We knew that one day Bailey and Papa would become friends, but it would probably take longer than expected. It was a few years later, after our beagle mix died, that I noticed Papa rubbing on Bailey’s paws and letting Bailey sniff his head. Now the two of them jump in our bed and sleep together. When someone asks if our animals get along, I smile and say, yes.

When writing a short story, I determine if the theme and characters merit the mention of pets or service dogs. It’s about fifty-fifty. In my new short story collection, A String of Stories, From the Heart to the Future C 2020, I’ve managed to sneak in a guide dog and a pet dog and cat. I’m not going to spoil it but below is an excerpt from the short story, Kender.

After dinner, Kiki and Kender are introduced. Abbie sits at the base of the upstairs and has no clue what is going to happen. She is excited and nervous at the same time. Kathlyn sits above her on the carpeted step, brushing her unruly hair. She doesn’t even flinch when there is a knot, being absorbed in watching Dad and Nora bring the dog and cat into the room at the same time. Kender barks, Kiki arches his back, hissing.  Kiki runs up and swats him on the nose. He yelps and jumps away. Dad hangs onto his collar and talks to him. Kiki, hair standing up in agitation, jumps past Abbie and Kathlyn and runs up the stairs, most likely to hide under Nora’s bed.

“That wasn’t too bad,” Dad says, “Doesn’t look like he’s hurt.” Dad pets Kender on the head while looking at the scratch on his nose. He smiles when the dog licks his face.

“We can tie him up outside tonight and try again tomorrow,”

“Tie him up outside?” Nora says, “But I want to keep him in my room tonight,”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea until we get rid of his fleas and clean him up a bit first,” Dad says, “Besides, Kiki wouldn’t be happy about that.”

Nora’s face turns red and she runs upstairs, stomping her feet all the way to her room. She doesn’t slam the door, though. Door slamming is forbidden.

Thanks for reading and love-up those fur-faces!

About Ann

Ann Chiappetta M.S. author and poet.

Making meaningful connections with others through writing.

Ann’s nonfiction essays have been printed in Dialogue magazine, among others. Her poems are often featured in Poesis, The Pangolin Review, the Avocet, and Magnets and Ladders. Her poetry is also included in Breath and Shadow’s 2016 debut anthology, Dozen: The Best of Breath and Shadow.  Her    first two books, a poetry collection, UPWELLING: POEMS C 2016 and memoir, FOLLOW YOUR DOG A STORY OF LOVE AND TRUST C 2017, are available from all eBook sellers in electronic and print softcover, and as audio books from Audible.

Ann’s third book WORDS OF LIFE: POEMS AND ESSAYS  C 2019 can also be purchased in all eBook formats and in softcover. The Audible audio book will be released in Fall 2020. Ann’s newest title, A String of Stories: From the Heart to the Future C 2020, is also available as an eBook and softcover.

Ann’s blog: http://www.thought-wheel.com. Ann’s personal website: www.annchiappetta.com

Ann’s author page: www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/

Posted in Authors, Cozy Mystery

Author Spotlight Interview of Maria DiRico, Author of Here Comes the Body: A Catering Hall Mystery

It’s great to have author Maria DiRico (Ellen Byron) here today from Los Angeles, California, to talk about herself and her new release, Here Comes the Body: A Catering Hall Mystery.

How long have you been published, Maria?

My first mystery came out in 2015. Before that I was a playwright and television writer for series like WINGS and JUST SHOOT ME.

Interesting.

What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher?

The Cajun Country Mystery series: Plantation Shudders, Body on the Bayou, A Cajun Christmas Killing, Mardi Gras Murder, and Fatal Cajun Festival. All as Ellen Byron for Crooked Lane Books

The Catering Hall Mystery series: Here Comes the Body, as Maria DiRico, for Kensington.

Great. 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.

Here Comes the Body, the first book in my Catering Hall Mystery series, launched February 25th. Here’s a little bit about the series: After being cleared as a person of interest in her husband’s presumed death, Mia Carina moves back home to Queens, where her father Ravello, a capo with the Boldoni crime family, has been tasked with running a rundown banquet hall that was surrendered to him by a broke gambler. Mia has always wanted her father to go straight and she’s determined to help him run the place, with its view of Flushing Bay and the LaGuardia Airport runway, as a legitimate business. Who knew working for a catering hall could be as dangerous as working for the Mob? The Catering Hall Mysteries offers up a mystery series you can’t refuse.

Sounds 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?

I hope to continue both series and then launch two more that I’m excited about. I’d also like to get a draft of a stand-alone mystery I wrote in great shape, and then send it out in the world for publication, I hope, I hope. How do I plan on reaching these goals? Work, work, work!

As a fellow author, I know how much work it takes to meet those goals. Good luck!

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

Honestly, I’m happy to attract anyone who enjoys diving into a cozy mystery where anything ugly happens off the page and justice always prevails.

I’m sure that covers a wide range of readers.

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

Learn how to listen to and distill feedback. Notes and critique are invaluable when they’re good. Keep working on becoming the best writer you can be and keep plugging away at finding an agent and a publisher. Don’t jump into self-publishing too fast. Doing it really well is much, much harder than it looks.

I can relate to that, as I’m still looking for an agent and a larger publisher.

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

Even having won a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic grant, and with my many TV and playwriting credits, it took me nine months to find a literary agent and then my first book never sold. That was a rough year-plus. Not giving up was a struggle. I’d been a professional writer for years and it felt like I was starting from scratch. Luckily, while the first book was out on submission, I wrote a second mystery, Plantation Shudders, and that sold.

You’re an example of how persistance pays off for authors.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

Not a critique group. I’m a member of the WGA West (Writers Guild of America); TAG (The Animation Guild); MWA (Mystery Writers of America), and Sisters in Crime.

We are fellow Sisters in Crime members.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Reading, of course! I also adore needlepoint. It’s my go-to hobby. I do a couple of other crafts, like decoupage and jewelry making, but those are more sporadic. And I live for our little doggy, a chihuahua mix who’s the light of my life.

Awww. I’m a fellow animal lover. My three cats are my babies, although I also have a teenage daughter.

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

I love writing. I can’t not write. I heard an author once say she’d retired. I can’t see me ever doing that. I’m always writing, if not on paper than in my head. The toughest challenge is staying focused when I’m powering through a draft. I set a word count for the week that I force myself to meet. But the internet is dangerous siren, always sending a come-hither wave from my computer. Very distracting!

I can relate to that, too. It’s very hard to find the time to deal with social media, promotion, and writing.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries? I can’t write a sex scene to save my life. And when I’m writing cozies, I don’t have to!

Lol. I’m with you. I feel very uncomfortable writing those type of scenes.

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

I adore writing them. I hope you adore reading them! And do sign up for my newsletter at ellenbyron.com. I send it out monthly, and it always includes some fun stuff and a recipe. I also do contests a few times a year.

I’m sure my readers will consider that, as will I.

Thanks so much for the interview. I’m sharing your blog tour and giveaway for Here Comes the Body below:

Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery)
by Maria DiRico

About Here Comes the Body


Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Kensington (February 25, 2020)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 page
ISBN-10: 1496725344
ISBN-13: 978-1496725349
Digital ASIN: B07R8WYLSC

After her philandering husband’s boat went down, newly single Mia Carina went back to Astoria, the bustling Queens neighborhood of her youth. Living with her Nonna and her oversized cat, Doorstop, she’s got a whole new life—including some amateur sleuthing . . .

Mia is starting work at Belle View, her father’s catering hall, a popular spot for weddings, office parties, and more—despite the planes that occasionally roar overhead on their way to LaGuardia and rattle the crystal chandelier. Soon she’s planning a bachelor party for a less-than-gentlemanly groom. But it goes awry when the gigantic cake is wheeled in and a deadly surprise is revealed . . .

Since some of her family’s associates are on the shady side, the NYPD wastes no time in casting suspicion on Mia’s father. Now, Mia’s going to have to use all her street smarts to keep him out of Rikers Island . . .

Italian recipes included!

About Maria DiRico

Maria DiRico was born in Queens, New York, and raised in Queens and Westchester County. She is a first-generation Italian-American on her mother’s side. On her father’s side, her grandfather was a low-level Jewish mobster who disappeared in 1933 under mysterious circumstances. She also writes the award-winning, bestselling Cajun Country Mystery series under the name Ellen Byron.

Website – https://www.ellenbyron.com/catering-hall-mysteries

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

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ellenbyronla

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ellen-byron

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maria-dirico

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

February 24 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, EXCERPT

February 24 – This Is My Truth Now – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 24 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

February 25 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

February 25 – Ascroft, eh? – GUEST POST

February 25 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – REVIEW

February 26 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

February 26 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

February 26 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

February 27 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

February 27 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 27 – Jane Reads– GUEST POST

February 28 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 28 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW, RECIPE

February 29 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

February 29 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW

March 1 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 1 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE

March 2 – That’s What She’s Reading – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE

March 2 – TBR Book Blog – REVIEW, EXCERPT

March 3 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, RECIPE

March 3 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

March 4 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 4 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here Find Details and Sign Up Today!

Posted in Authors, Books

Why Writers Shouldn’t Give Up

I’m participating in the Writing Contest: You Are Enough, hosted by Positive Writer. The idea behind the contest is to write a blog post to inspire other authors to keep writing. In this crazy, competitive field, it’s very easy to become discouraged. Like other authors, I’ve gone through spells of depression and dissatisfaction with myself and my work. There were numerous times I was prepared to throw in the towel, chuck my writing, spend more time with my family and friends, and only write for myself if I felt the need. But this feeling passed when I reminded myself of how far I’ve come and the way I’ve touched readers’ lives by sharing my words with them.

I’ve been writing professionally for over thirty years. Because I’m an animal lover, and it’s always a good idea to write what you know or at least what you can research, I started by publishing articles in pet magazines. My first two articles about my cats enabled me to become a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association. A few years later, my first mystery story, “Stitches in Time,” appeared in the anthology, Cat Crimes Through Time.  In 2008, after my cat Floppy passed away, I self-published my first book, Cloudy Rainbow, a paranormal romance about a woman who participates in a virtual seance to save the man she loves. I featured Floppy as a character and the backstory included fictional details from my college days as an editor on the student newspaper at Long Island University/C. W. Post campus. I had no idea how to market the book, so I didn’t sell many copies, but I got a copy on the shelf at the library where I worked as a librarian.

I didn’t write again until 2015 because I thought I was too busy with work and family obligations. That was an excuse. I now realize that I stopped because I’d lost faith in myself and my ability to write because I hadn’t sold many copies of my first book. I came out of this funk when a patron at my library who’d read Cloudy Rainbow encouraged me to keep writing. She told me she believed I had talent and that I should follow my dream of being an author. I was hesitant to listen to her, but her words finally got through to me. I was inspired to write another book. This time, instead of self publishing the book, I began to look for a publisher. Having become involved in social media, I entered a Twitter competition called #Pit2Pub. It was through this competition that several small publishers contacted me and asked to read my complete manuscript. I ended up signing with one of them for A Stone’s Throwthe first book of what would become my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series that now totals four books.

Although I was thrilled to have landed a publisher, albeit a small one that focused on publishing eBooks, things didn’t turn out the way I’d envisioned them. I wasn’t paid an advance, and my royalties often totalled less than two digits. However, I’d met other authors, both those who wrote for my publisher and those who belonged to online Indie author groups, who showed me that they were in the same boat as I was. I no longer focused on making money but on reaching readers. It made my day when someone wrote a 5-star review for my book on Amazon or told me in person at the library that they loved the characters and the twist at the end of my book.

I was feeling better about myself and my writing until my publisher turned down the second book of my series. I was devastated. I thought my writing career was over before it really began. Then I saw an announcement for another #Pit2Pub competition. I figured that I had nothing to lose by entering, but I was worried that no one would want the second book of a series. As it turned out, I heard from a different publisher, Solstice Publishing, and signed a contract with them for Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceAlso, after getting my rights back from my first publisher, Solstice reprinted A Stone’s Throw with a new cover and updated edits. They also reprinted Cloudy Rainbow as a tenth-anniversary edition. I currently have six books and several stories published by them and have signed for two holiday eBook stories that will be published this December.

Last year, I found a second publisher, Creativia, now known as Next Chapter, through another author. I had an unpublished psychological mystery, Sea Scope, that I’d been shopping around to agents hoping to publish it with a larger publisher. I was attracted by Next Chapter because of its marketing approach, attractive covers, and the formats in which its booked were published. In May 2019, Sea Scope was published in paperback, eBook, and large type editions. The audio was released afterwards on Audible, and hardcover copies are scheduled soon.

Despite my success and experience with seven published books and three publishers, I still haven’t achieved my dream. I’m still seeking an agent and traditional publisher. I know that this dream is possible, but I also know that agents receive tons of queries. It’s hard to stand out in the current competitive book market, but that’s no reason to stop trying. I truly believe that whatever your writing dream is, you can achieve it as long as you don’t give up.

Posted in Authors

A Beautiful Day at Long Island’s Local Author Fair

Debbie De Louise at her author’s table at Long Island’s Local Author Fair. Photo by Richard Meyer

On Saturday, April 6, I joined fellow Long Island authors from three writing groups at the Tilles Center on the C.W. Post Campus for the first Long Island’s Local Author Fair. The event was hosted by Long Island Authors Group, Long Island Romance Writers, and Long Island Children’s Writers and Illustrators. Author tables were set up in the Atrium, and author presentations, panels, and readings took place in the Founders and Patriot Lounges.

Roland Allnach, President of the Long Island Authors Group Photo by Lisa Diaz Meyer

The day started with an opening address by Roland Allnach, President of LIAG (Long Island Authors Group). After Roland gave information about his group, Patty Blount from Long Island Romance Writers and Linda Maria Frank from Long Island Children’s Writers and Illustrators each spoke about their associations. The keynote speaker, author Steve Israel, a former Congressman who grew up on Long island, told of his experiences as an author and representative. He compared writing to politics, pointing out several similarities. Regarding rejection, he noted a difference between the two, saying that a writer’s rejection is much more personal than someone running for office. He also gave some humorous but true anecdotes about participating in book fairs that the authors who were present were able to identify with.

Debbie De Louise speaking in the Founders Lounge about her mysteries. Photo by Lisa Meyer

After the opening speeches, authors returned to their tables and took turns speaking in the Founder’s Lounge. Some also participated in panels and readings in the Patriot’s Lounge. My turn to talk was at 4:40 p.m. I hadn’t viewed the Founders Lounge before and expected it to be a more formal room. I was surprised and pleased to see that, instead, it was set up with comfortable chairs and provided a casual atmosphere to discuss my writing and books.

For me, attending this event was like a homecoming to Post, my alma mater, where I earned a Bachelors in English and a Masters in Library Science in 1989. It was also where I worked as a Features Editor on the Pioneer, the student newspaper. That’s why I was especially glad to meet Carolyn Schurr Levin, Assistant Journalism Professor at C. W. Post, who dropped by my table to introduce herself. Her students had interviewed Roland Allnach for a story, and she said some would come by to also meet me.

Authors Debbie De Louise, Lisa Diaz Meyer, and Rekha Valliappan Photo by Richard Meyer
Debbie De Louise by her poster at Long Island’s Local Author Fair Photo by Richard Meyer
Debbie De Louise outside the Tilles Center Photo by Lisa Diaz Meyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was also great to see many familiar faces of fellow LIAG members and those who I’ve met at various local book fairs and author talks. My friend Lisa Diaz Meyer was seated in back of me. We took a few breaks to step outside into the beautiful spring day to view the campus and get some fresh air. This brought back many happy memories of my time at Post.

View across the LIU/Post Campus from outside the Tilles Center Photo by Debbie De Louise
Authors Debbie De Louise and Lisa Diaz Meyer outside the Tilles Center Photo by Richard Meyer
Posted in Authors, Books, local author event

Don’t Miss Long Island’s Local Author Fair

This Saturday, April 6, I’ll be attending Long Island’s Local Author Fair with fellow members of LIAG (Long Island Author’s Group) and other local writing associations. This event will take place at the Tilles Center on the LIU/C.W. Post Campus. Admission is free, and it runs from 3 to 8 pm. There’ll be over 50 authors participating, keynote speaker, Steve Israel, panels, and book signings. I’m looking forward to a great day meeting and chatting with authors and readers. If you’re in the Long Island area, enjoy reading and meeting authors, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

Check out this list of author presentations that feature a wide variety of genres. I’ll be speaking about my Cobble Cove mystery series and other books as well as my upcoming psychological mystery release at 4:39 pm in the Founders Hall. Please come by to see me at that time or at my table any time during the event.

 

Posted in Authors, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Murder Gone Missing by Lida Sideris

This post was contributed by author Lida Sideris. Her cozy mystery, Murder Gone Missing, is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas Escape into a Good Book. 

Rustling Up Characters

I’m often asked where I find my characters. Are they based on people I know? Nope. But they are based on people I don’t know. For instance, in a subplot in my first book, heroine Corrie Locke is hired by basketball superstar, Ty Calvin, to find his missing lucky charm. I’ve never known any professional sports stars. But I did have a brush with one. It was enough for me to want to base a character on him.

A few years ago, I waited on the first tee of a local golf course with my junior golfer son. Basketball superstar Alonzo Mourning approached us from behind and asked if he could play through. In golf speak, that’s, “Mind if I go first? I’m in a little bit of a rush.” He asked so politely, so kindly, that he left me with a lasting impression. Of someone who treated others well, of an animal lover, a gentle role model, one who was bent on doing the right thing. I have no idea what Mr. Mourning is really like. But I had a strong notion of what my basketball player creation would be like. Kind, thoughtful, generous, and yes, an animal lover who would go to great lengths for his animal and human friends. Would I have created the character without that brief encounter? Probably not.

Sometimes, a character idea will arise from viewing a photograph or a movie. For instance, I was watching a 1947 Bogart film, Dead Reckoning that co-starred an actress I wasn’t familiar with: Lizabeth Scott. I’d never seen or heard of her, but her mannerisms were enough to inspire me to create a lanky murder suspect, patterned after her character in the movie. I used her in Book Two. Ms. Scott’s expressions, the way she spoke and walked, her hair and her clothes in that particular film, helped me to get a sense of the character I was seeking to create. Ms. Scott has a very unique voice and every time, my character, Alyce Scerbo, opened her mouth, I thought of Ms. Scott.

Basing characters on my impressions allows my imagination to run around and figure things out. It helps me to hear them speak and move…and eventually breathe between the pages.

Murder Gone Missing: A Southern California Mystery
by Lida Sideris

About the Book


Murder Gone Missing: A Southern California Mystery
Cozy Mystery/Soft Boiled Mystery
2nd in Series
Level Best Books (April 10, 2018)
Paperback: 262 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1947915046
Digital ASIN: B07BHCBX51

Newly minted lawyer Corrie Locke has taken a vow of abstinence. From PI work, that is. Until her best friend Michael finds his bully of a boss stabbed in the back after confronting him earlier that day. Michael panics, accidentally tampering with the crime scene…which could lead the cops to Michael instead of the real culprit. He turns to Corrie to track down the killer. She doesn’t need much coaxing. Her late great PI dad taught her the ropes…and left her his cache of illegal weaponry.

They return to the scene of the crime, but the body’s missing. Racing against time, Corrie dredges a prestigious Los Angeles college in pursuit of clues. All she finds are false leads. Armed with attitude and romantic feelings toward Michael, Corrie dives into a school of suspects to find the slippery fugitive. Will she clear Michael’s name before he’s arrested for murder?

About the Author

Lida Sideris is an author, lawyer and all around book enthusiast. She was one of two national recipients of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America scholarship for her first novel, MURDER AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS. MURDER GONE MISSING is the second book in the Corrie Locke series. Like her heroine, Lida worked as an entertainment attorney in a movie studio. Unlike her heroine, she keeps her distance from homicides. To learn more about Lida, please visit her website: www.LidaSideris.com

Author Links

WEBSITE: http://www.lidasideris.com/

BLOG: http://www.lidasideris.com/blog/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/lidasideris

TWITTER: @lidasideris

GoodReads:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26139837-murder-and-other-unnatural-disasters?from_search=true&search_version=service

Purchase Links

AMAZON B&N

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

June 11 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

June 11 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST

June 12 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 12 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY

June 12 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 13 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

June 13 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

June 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

June 14 – Ruff Drafts – GUEST POST

June 14 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT

June 14 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW

June 15 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY

June 15 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

June 16 – My Fiction Obsession – SPOTLIGHT

June 16 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

June 17 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

June 18 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 18 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

June 18 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here Find Details and Sign Up Today!

 

 

 

Posted in Authors

Author Fair at St. Stephens Church

Jan and Rick Mosebach at the St. Stephens raffle and information table.

The first church author fair at St. Stephens Lutheran Church in Hicksville took place on Saturday, May 12. It featured nine local authors, raffles, a church table with information and giveaways, and refreshments. The raffle prizes were donated by the authors. The money raised through the ticket sales were used as a fundraiser for the Hicksville Boys and Girls Club. Throughout the afternoon, each author spoke about their writing and autographed books at their table. The authors who participated wrote a variety of genres from mystery to romance to children’s books and poetry.

Rick Mosebach, Inreach/Outreach Director opening the fair.
Author Debbie De Louise at her table

Since I was the one who suggested an author fair for St. Stephens, I opened the program after Rick Mosebach, the director of Inreach/Outreach ministry, gave a few words about the church and their upcoming events. I introduced myself as a librarian at the Hicksville Public Library and the author of the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series and a recent standalone mystery. I read the blurbs to the first book of my series, A Stone’s Throw, and then the blurb and prologue of my new mystery, Reason to Die.

Author Michael Di Leo

Mike Di Leo spoke next and read an excerpt from his historical novel, Images of Broken Light, taking place in 1980 during the time of John Lennon’s murder.

Karen Harter

Karen Harter, a children’s author from Manhasset, spoke about the first book in her series, Jeremiah Strout and the Curse of the Golden Harp and shared some excerpts from the book before a short break that allowed the audience to chat with the authors, purchase autographed books, and have refreshments.

JoAnn Krapp

After the break, JoAnn Krapp, a School Library Media Specialist and children’s author, spoke about her writing and books.

Jeannie Moon

Jeannie Moon, a high school librarian, romance author, and member of the Romance Writers of America spoke about her books published by Penguin Random House and Tule Publishing and read an excerpt from them.

Russ Moran

Russ Moran was the last speaker before the second break. Russ, a member of the Long Island Authors Group along with a few other authors at the event including myself, spoke about his Time Magnet time travel series and other books. He mentioned how characters can become “real” to authors and develop their own identities.

Michael O’Keefe

After another short break, Mike O’Keefe, a retired NYPD detective, read excerpts from his crime novel, Shot to Pieces

Cliff Bleidner

The next presentation was given by Cliff Bleidner, Coordinator of the Performance Poets Association, who was fit into the program last minute after one of the authors cancelled due to an emergency. Cliff read some of his poetry to the audience and spoke about his writing. He encouraged audience members who had an interest in writing to not let their fears stop them.

Elaine Whitehouse

Last but not least, Elaine Whitehouse, a journalist and former editor of the Fire Island Tide and the Fire Island News who currently lives in Sayville, read an excerpt from her historical novel, Hart’s Tavern.

After the speakers, the raffle winners were announced. Each author who donated an autographed copy of their books drew a ticket. The largest prize was a gift basket of books donated by Meara Platt, an author who couldn’t attend the event. Janet Muller, the winner of that prize, also won a copy of my new mystery.

The fair raised $221 for the Hicksville Boys and Girls Club and was a nice opportunity for local authors to share their work with readers. St. Stephens hopes to make this an annual event.

Debbie De Louise with Janet Muller, winner of two raffle prizes at the fair.

 

Posted in Authors, Monday blogs, Writing

Indie Author Day at the Bellmore Memorial Library

It was my pleasure to attend the Indie Author Day at the Bellmore Memorial Library on Saturday, October 14.  The day consisted of speakers, panelists, and authors who interacted with the local community. There was also publishing workshop videos streaming in the Meeting Room throughout the event.

The morning schedule included presentations by three speakers in the library’s community room outside of which snacks, water, and handouts were provided. The first speaker, Dina Santorelli, author of thriller and suspense novels who earned a degree in Creative Writing from Hofstra University, spoke about her experience as a self-published author and her success with her book, Baby Grand.  Santorelli explained how she made the decision to self-publish after having signed with an agent and attempting to sell her book to a traditional publisher. She chose to go the Indie author route to have more control over the production and marketing of her book. Although she had to invest her own money in cover designers and editors, Santorelli was able to sell 100 copies of her book in the first month after it was released and has currently sold tens of thousands of books. She described some misconceptions about self-publishing and explained how most sales of books today are from Amazon eBooks. She said that social  media, particularly twitter, is of utmost importance to authors for them to be discovered by a world-wide audience.

The second speaker was Ellen Meister, author of Dorothy Parker Drank Here, Farewell Dorothy Parker, and other contemporary works. Meister gave suggestions on how to hook a literary agent. She pointed out the advantages of signing with one and gave an overview of what agents did for authors. She also offered tips on what authors should do before they query an agent including the type of research about the agent they should do and where to find the information. She then described the parts of the query letter and what happens if an agent is interested in an author’s query.

The final speaker of the morning was Jan Kardys, literary agent and founder of the Unicorn Writers Conference whose experience working with a large number of traditional publishing houses allowed her to offer her clients creative and unique opportunities to attract a large publisher. She gave examples of how she helped one of her clients build a platform and a brand for herself. She also stressed the importance of social media especially Facebook and Linkedin. She discussed popular resources for writers to help them locate information about agents and publishers, and she also spoke about the importance of copyrighting one’s work. She recommended meetup groups and networking with other writers.

Following a brief break, the program continued with panels of local authors on topics that included, “Telling Our Stories and Those of Others;” “Writing Fiction,” and “Writing for Children.”

Me with my friend and fellow author, Lisa Diaz Meyer, in Author Alley at the Bellmore Memorial Library

In addition to the speakers and panelists, other authors sold their books at tables on the main floor of the library in “Author’s Alley.” There were also giveaways and raffles, and the community had a chance to speak directly to local authors about their unique experiences whether they self-published, published with a small Indie publisher, or published traditionally with a larger publisher.

Me standing by my poster behind my table at the Indie Author Fair. I enjoyed chatting with readers and other local authors attending the event.

The Reference Librarian who helped organize the Bellmore Library’s first ever Indie Author event was Martha DiVittorio. She did a wonderful job selecting speakers, panelists, and local authors. The event was well attended, informative, and a great success.