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:
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
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
NonFiction, writing as Margaret Toussaint
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)
1st in Series
Publisher: Henery Press (April 21, 2020)
Hardcover: 282 pages
Paperback: 282 pages
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/
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