Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery

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

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

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

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

Very nice.

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

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

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

That sounds wonderful. Good luck to you.

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

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

I love your positive thinking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That it is.

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

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

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

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website: http://www.judypenzsheluk.com

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JudyPenzSheluk

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

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

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

Blurb for Past & Present

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I received many rejections.

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

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I belong to Sisters in Crime and the Guppies.

Me, too. They’re great.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

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

Yes, characters are most important in mysteries especially cozies.

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

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

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

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

Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Recipe Post and Blog Tour for The Gold Pawn, an Art Deco Mystery, by L. A. Chandlar

This post was contributed by author L. A. Chandlar Her cozy mystery, The Gold Pawn, is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Charlotte’s Pocket Peanut Butter Cookies

(Lane’s Mom – from the recipe box Lane finds in her Rochester home in The Gold Pawn)

1 ¼ Cups brown sugar                        1 egg

¾ Cup peanut butter                           1 `1/4 Cups flour

½ Cup softened butter                        ¾ teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon vanilla                           ¾ teaspoon baking soda

3 Tablespoons milk                             Extra peanut butter for middle pocket

Heat oven to 375. Combine butter, peanut butter, sugar, milk and vanilla on medium speed until well blended. Beat in egg until just blended. Combine flour, salt and baking soda, add gradually to creamed mixture. Mix until just blended.

Drop by heaping teaspoon onto lightly greased cookie sheet and flatten.

 

Drop 1 teaspoon peanut butter onto each disc. Take 1 heaping tablespoon of dough, roll and make a pancake in your hands. Lay on top of flattened disc with the peanut butter – don’t worry if they crack a little.

Pinch and seal edges (look like flying saucers), then scooch the edges back in to form more of a ball.

 

 

 

 

Place in oven for about 9 minutes or until golden brown.

ENJOY! For a quicker version, use pre-made refrigerator dough. Use the same method. They’re delicious! Let’s hope Lane figures out how to make the recipe without burning them. I’m pretty sure Finn will love them and Mr. Kirkland will want the recipe.

The Gold Pawn (An Art Deco Mystery)
by L.A. Chandlar

About the Book

The Gold Pawn (An Art Deco Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Kensington (September 25, 2018)
Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1496713435
ISBN-13: 978-1496713438
Digital ASIN: B078QSRGRY

November 1936. Mayor La Guardia’s political future buckles under a missing persons case in New York City. Simultaneously, Lane unravels devastating secrets in the outskirts of Detroit. As two crimes converge, judging friends from enemies can be a dangerous game . . .

Finally summoning the courage to face the past, Lane Sanders breaks away from her busy job at City Hall to confront childhood nightmares in Rochester, Michigan. An unknown assailant left Lane with scattered memories after viciously murdering her parents. However, one memory of a dazzling solid gold pawn piece remains—and with it lies a startling connection between the midwestern tragedy and a current mystery haunting the Big Apple . . .

Meanwhile, fears climb in Manhattan after the disappearance of a respected banker and family friend threatens the crippled financial industry and the pristine reputation of Lane’s virtuous boss, Mayor Fiorello “Fio” La Guardia. Fio’s fight to restore order leads him into more trouble as he meets a familiar foe intent on ending his mayoral term—and his life . . .

Guided by overseas telegrams from the man she loves and painful memories, only Lane can silence old ghosts and derail present-day schemes. But when the investigation awakens a darker side of her own nature, will she and New York City’s most prominent movers and shakers still forge ahead into a prosperous new age . . . or is history doomed to repeat itself?

About the Author

L .A. Chandlar is the author of the Art Deco Mystery Series with Kensington Publishing featuring Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and a fresh take on the innovation and liveliness of 1930s New York City. Her debut novel, The Silver Gun released August 29, 2017, and the sequel, The Gold Pawn, will release September 25th, 2018. Laurie has been living and writing in New York City for 16 years and has been speaking for a wide variety of audiences for over 20 years including a women’s group with the United Nations. Her talks range from NYC history, the psychology of creativity, and the history of holiday traditions. Laurie has also worked in PR for General Motors, writes and fund-raises for a global nonprofit is the mother of two boys, and has toured the nation managing a rock band.

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Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Fatal Flip, a Home Renovator Mystery by M. E. Bakos

This home improvement tips post was contributed by author M.E. Bakos. Her cozy mystery, Fatal Flip is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Katelyn’s Fatal Flip’s Home Improvement Tips

Enjoy the home improvement tips. If you have tips you would like to share, leave a post, or contact me at mebakos@yahoo.com.

*The home improvement stores make do-it-yourself look so easy. Plumbing is one area where they can convince you to fix your own toilet or replace existing faucets. Both are fraught with peril. I once spent hours trying to fix a leaky toilet with the wrong part sold me by a home improvement store employee. I finally gave in and called a plumber.

I did successfully replace a faucet set—it took three days, and multiple trips to the store where a plumber apprentice who walked me through the process. My final tip, find out the expertise level of the employee before you buy something to do it yourself.

*Dollar for dollar, insulating a home can save bunches on heating and cooling bills, not to mention cut unwanted sound travel. 

*The factory codes you get with your new garage door opener should always be changed. Otherwise, it is possible someone could have the same code to open your garage—and your house, if the garage connects to the house.  

*There are items designed to slip under a doorknob, and prop from the floor for security. If you need something in a hurry, shove a chair under the doorknob to prevent an intruder. Simple security measures, like locking your doors even while at home are a good idea.

*One way to silence a squeaky hinge is to tap out the pin, clean the pin and coat with petroleum jelly

*Any stain is tough. If you have a wine spill, the best time to get it out is before it dries. Blot the stain first, then depending on the area, try white wine or club soda, and cover with salt and let sit, and vacuum. Best thing to do is drink all the wine, thereby avoiding any unfortunate spills.

*It is my humble opinion; the best home is a mortgage free home. After your monthly mortgage payment, make a separate payment each month towards the principal portion of your mortgage. It saves a bundle on interest and cuts the length of your loan, and you won’t even miss the money in your budget.

*My final home improvement tip is a saying from Pliny, a Roman philosopher, “Home is where the Heart is.”  I would add “Home is Nice.” Make your home as nice as you can. It’s where you live.

Fatal Flip: A Home Renovator Mystery
by M. E. Bakos

About the Book

Fatal Flip: A Home Renovator Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Cozy Cat Press (October 27, 2017)
Paperback: 220 pages
ISBN-10: 194606341X
ISBN-13: 978-1946063410
Digital ASIN: B077WRRMH6

Flipping houses can be fatal! When Katelyn finds a dead body in her first home renovation project, she seriously doubts her decision to “follow her bliss.” After getting fired from her steady job, her plan to flip houses takes a hit when she becomes a suspect. After all, possession is nine points of the law, isn’t it? Especially, when it’s a dead body.

To keep herself in pizza, peanut butter, good coffee, and her stray cat, Boots, in kitty chow she takes survival jobs as a wine sample hostess and market researcher. Meanwhile, Sheriff Don is kind of hunky, and her ex-husband, Eddy (it’s complicated) is back in her life sleeping on her sofa. How’s a girl supposed to solve dead body mysteries, make a living, and find love?

About the Author

M.E. Bakos has published several short stories in national women’s magazines. Her love of mysteries has led to writing cozies. Her first mystery short story, “Carpe Diem or Murder at the Carp Fest” appeared in the Festival of Crime, a SINC Anthology. Her second, “Perfect Storm . . . Perfect Murder” will be in Dark Side of the Loon, May 2018 also a SINC Anthology.

Her first cozy, FATAL FLIP, A Home Renovator Mystery has several home improvement tips for the reader.

Mary is a member of Twin Cities Sisters in Crime, the SINC Guppies Group, and an alumna of the University of Minnesota. She is a lifelong resident of Minnesota and resides in Minneapolis with her husband, Joe Sebesta, and their spoiled Morkie.

Website – Mystery | M. E. Bakos, Author

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Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Just in Time, a Dodie O’Dell Mystery, by Suzanne Trauth

This post was contributed by author Suzanne Trauth. Her cozy mystery, Just in Time, is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

JUST IN TIME by Suzanne Trauth
From the beginning of my Dodie O’Dell mystery series, I knew that I wanted to create a cast of quirky, fun characters who would be included in each book. A cozy mystery series with both murder and humor, the latter generated by the mainstays of  Etonville, New Jersey. They include Dodie O’Dell, my protagonist, manager of the Windjammer restaurant and amateur sleuth—but don’t tell her she’s an amateur! Her investigative instincts are usually right on the money, much to the chagrin of her current squeeze Bill Thompson, Etonville’s police chief, who appreciates Dodie’s nose for detection but is wary when she gets in over her head. There’s her boss Henry, chef/owner of the restaurant, who is finally getting on board with Dodie’s theme food ideas that accompany the Etonville Little Theatre productions. Italian night for Romeo and Juliet, a seafood buffet for Dames At Sea…

     Lola Trotter, theater diva and Dodie’s BFF, is always present to support Dodie’s adventures and accept a little hand-holding whenever the ELT is in production, or whenever she has to deal with Walter Zeitzman, ELT director, actor and sometime playwright, and his sidekick stage manager Penny Ossining. Who never met a cliché she didn’t love to mangle.

     Of course Etonville wouldn’t be a small town without a gossip center—in this case Snippets Salon owned by Dodie’s other BFF Carol whose son Pauli is Dodie’s teenage computer guru. He’s always available to supply Dodie with digital forensic assistance in the form of email hacking, facial recognition software, deep Internet searches…you get the picture. And to round out the cast of locals there’s sweet Mildred, choir director, and husband Vernon, in a perennial prickly mood; the Banger sisters, elderly siblings who stay on top of Etonville rumors while dipping their toes in the acting waters of the ELT; and Edna, the law enforcement dispatcher for the Etonville PD who loves her police codes!

     These regulars are the source of much of the humor in the mystery series as they navigate daily life in Etonville, generate gossip, busy themselves with Dodie’s love life, support the Etonville Little Theatre, and offer advice and perspectives on the murder-solving process. You gotta love them!

     But what about the non-regulars? In every book I add characters who may or may not show up in future books…a few of them have been killed off. Sorry about that. In my upcoming book JUST IN TIME, there are a handful of interesting folks who make their debut in Etonville. The ELT is doing its first co-production with the Creston Players from the town next door. Dale Undershot, their leading man who becomes Lola’s heartthrob, makes a bow in Bye, Bye, Birdie, along with high school student Janice who claims Pauli’s heart—young love! There are also a few staff members, like the musical director and the rehearsal accompanist, who add a little levity to the story. Finally, Windjammer owner Henry has hired a new sous chef to replace his second in command: Wilson, fresh from the culinary institute. Happy, enthusiastic, eager to make his mark in the gastronomic world. He loves to experiment with Caribbean recipes from his hometown.

     So every Dodie O’Dell mystery is a stew of the tried and true, regular, fun characters seasoned with some special folks who are passing through Etonville on their way to—wait I can’t tell you that. It will ruin the mystery…you’ll have to read JUST IN TIME to find out where they are headed.

Just in Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
by Suzanne Trauth

About the Book


Just in Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Lyrical Underground (September 25, 2018)
Print Length 220 pages
Kindle ASIN: B078QTBB4F

FACE THE MUSIC

Business is humming at Dodie O’Dell’s Windjammer Restaurant, where she offers theme menus connected to the Etonville Little Theatre’s amateur productions. This June, the theatre is collaborating with the neighboring Creston Players to stage Bye Bye Birdie under the stars—their first musical! There’s a contest in the play to pick a fan to receive rock idol Conrad Birdie’s last kiss before he ships off for the Army, so Dodie plans a contest to pick the food for a pre-show picnic.

But before the show opens, Ruby, the rehearsal accompanist, is found dead in her car. Why would anyone murder the crusty old gal who loved to sneak a smoke and a nip between wisecracks? Once again, the resourceful restaurant manager must play the part of amateur sleuth, accompanied by Police Chief Bill Thompson, who also happens to be her beau. Confronted with a chorus of suspects, she’ll need to stay composed to catch the killer—or it’ll be bye bye Dodie…

About the Author

Suzanne Trauth, Harvard Studio, Montclair, NJ. 06/27/2014 Photo by Steve Hockstein/HarvardStudio.com

Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former university theatre professor. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Dramatists Guild. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey. Readers can visit her website at www.suzannetrauth.com.

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Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery

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

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

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

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

Very nice. Tell us a little bit about books.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those are two popular genres.

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

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

Good advice.

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

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

It looks like persistence paid off for you.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

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

Those are all very creative pursuits.

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

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

I feel the same way.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

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

Very true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The hand beckoned again.

Intriguing.

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

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

I’m sure your readers appreciate that sentiment.

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

Website: https://www.susanbolesauthor.com

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

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusanBAuthor

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

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

Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us a little bit about your books.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

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

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

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

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

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

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

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

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

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wasn’t one of our better conversations.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.janicepeacock.com

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

blog.janicepeacock.com

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

Instagram.com/JanPeac (I love Pinterest!)

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

pinterest.com/JanPeac

goodreads.com/JanicePeacock

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