Posted in Guest Post, mystery

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Glitter, Glam and Contraband, A Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery by Heather Weidner

A Playlist for Glitter, Glam, and Contraband

by Heather Weidner

Thank you so much for letting me visit today. Glitter, Glam, and Contraband is the third novel in my Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series. She is my sassy private investigator who zips around Central Virginia in her black Mustang (usually with the radio blaring).

I love music. It has always been a huge part of my life, and I have playlists for reading, writing, editing, and revising. Music is always on at home or work. (As I write this, Bon Jovi is blasting on my computer speakers.) I love all kinds of genres, but I seem to gravitate back to songs from the Big ‘80s. Songs from my high school and college days will always be my favorites. And that era plays a huge role in the first novel in my series, Secret Lives and Private Eyes.

Private investigator, Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in Glitter, Glam and Contraband. In this fast-paced mystery, the Falcon Investigations team is hired to find out who is stealing from the talent at a local drag show. Delanie gets more than she bargains for and a few makeup tips in the process. Meanwhile, a mysterious sound in the ceiling of her office vexes Delanie. She uses her sleuthing skills to track down the source and uncover a creepy contraband operation.

Glitter, Glam, and Contraband features a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations like helping sleezy strip club owner, Chaz Smith on his quest to become Richmond’s next mayor, tracking down missing reptiles, and uncovering hidden valuables from a 100-year-old crime with a Poe connection.

So here’s my playlist for Glitter, Glam, and Contraband. These songs make me think of Delanie, her spunky spirit, her nose for trouble, and of course, her beloved Mustang.

  1. Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes”
  2. Robbin Thompson’s “Candy Apple Red”
  3. Kelly Pickler’s “Red High Heels”
  4. The Weather Girls “It’s Raining Men”
  5. Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song”
  6. Robbin Thompson’s “Sweet Virginia Breeze”
  7. Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”
  8. Jake Owens’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night”
  9. Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”
  10. The Beach Boys’ “Fun, Fun, Fun”
  11. Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally”
  12. Toby Keith’s “Whiskey Girl”
  13. Rascal Flatts’s “Fast Cars and Freedom”
  14. Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise”
  15. Rascal Flatts’s “Life is a Highway”
  16. Mark Wills’s “Nineteen Something”
  17. Bowling for Soup’s “1985”
  18. And of course, Hall and Oates’s “Private Eyes”

Music is such a big part of our lives. We remember lyrics from songs that were popular ages ago, and it invokes a variety of emotions. This list makes me think of my sassy character and the adventures she has as she tries to track down thieves and smugglers.

Glitter, Glam, and Contraband: A Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery
by Heather Leigh Weidner

About Glitter, Glam and Contraband


Glitter, Glam, and Contraband: A Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery
Traditional Mystery/Female Sleuth/Humorous Mystery
3rd in Series
Publisher: Sandpiper Productions (November 19, 2019)
Paperback: 240 pages
ISBN-10: 099945983X
ISBN-13: 978-0999459836
ASIN: B081PGYR7T

Private investigator, Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in Glitter, Glam and Contraband. In this fast-paced mystery, the Falcon Investigations team is hired to find out who is stealing from the talent at a local drag show. Delanie gets more than she bargains for and a few makeup tips in the process. Meanwhile, a mysterious sound in the ceiling of her office vexes Delanie. She uses her sleuthing skills to track down the source and uncover a creepy contraband operation.

Glitter, Glam, and Contraband features a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations like helping sleezy strip club owner, Chaz Smith on his quest to become Richmond’s next mayor, tracking down missing reptiles, and uncovering hidden valuables from a 100-year-old crime with a Poe connection.

About Heather Weidner

Glitter, Glam, and Contraband is Heather Weidner’s third novel in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan University and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.

Author Links

Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherWeidner1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherWeidnerAuthor

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121854.Heather_Weidner

Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/HeatherBWeidner/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-weidner-0064b233?trk=hp-identity-name

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-weidner-d6430278-c5c9-4b10-b911-340828fc7003

AllAuthor: https://allauthor.com/profile/heatherweidner/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyBjyB0zz-M1DaM-rU1bXGA?view_as=subscriber

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Posted in Guest Post

Guest Post about Great Novel Characters

Image credit: Pexels

What Exactly Makes A Great Character In A Novel?

by Rodney Laws

The novel — today’s dominant literary art form — is a relatively new kid on the block, having been perfected in eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain and America. The enduring success of the novel owes much to its ability to explore psychological complexities of character. It is people, and their foibles and flaws, that make novels such rich tapestries.

Great characters have dominated the novels of the long nineteenth century and beyond, but what exactly makes a great character? Why do we love (or love to hate) certain characters? What are the hallmarks of great character development? How do some of the best authors approach character?

The best way to do this, I think, is to run through some key traits that crop up time and time again. From those, you can glean some insight into character construction. In this piece, we’re going to consider the notable characteristics of some great characters. Let’s begin.

Relatable vulnerability (Emma Bovary)

The character of Emma Bovary made Gustave Flaubert notorious. His stunningly accurate portrayal of nineteenth century suburbian inertia in the character of young, bored, and married Emma scandalized France.

His frank portrayal of female desire and dissatisfaction shocked moralists, but Emma is one of the world’s most loved fiction heroines — precisely because of her ‘flaws’. It’s Emma’s relatable flaws that make her such a great character. She is vulnerable and complex. She can be cruel, yet she’s also a victim herself.

Even Flaubert is reported to have famously said about Emma: “Madame Bovary, c’est moi” (Madame Bovary, she’s me).

What you can learn from Flaubert:

  • Flawed and tragic characters are extremely relatable
  • Vulnerability can help writers draw their readers in
  • A shocking ‘fall from grace’ like the one Emma has will immortalize a character.

Infectious buoyancy (Elizabeth Bennett)

Elizabeth Bennett has a great character arc, and that’s why she’s enduringly popular. She learns from her mistakes, and we like to watch her realize the error of her ways and get what she wants (after some suitable drama, of course, in a plot so influential that it’s cited on a frequent basis — see Jericho Writers on how to plot, for example).

Elizabeth has a zest for life that make her story engaging rather than tragic. She is flawed in her own ways, but not tragically so like Emma Bovary. Lizzie is a great testament to Jane Austen’s own independent spirit as a female novelist in constrained circumstances.

Lizzie also has one of the most romantic stories in English literature: that of two opposed and proud people realizing they do really love each other. It’s the simultaneous character development of both Darcy and Elizabeth that makes their love story such an engaging one to follow, and accounts for the enduring success of Pride & Prejudice.

Mysterious nature (Jay Gatsby)

Complex, always out of reach, tragically blinded by love. Gatsby is elusive, even in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel that bears his name, The Great Gatsby. Charismatic and vain, Gatsby is also incredibly warm-hearted and generous.

He lives in a world that seems perfect, but in reality is anything but. The dark side of the Roaring Twenties is perfectly personified in Gatsby’s fragile success and ego. Jay Gatsby is a rich character full of contradictions, and as we slowly get close to the real man, we’re merely blindsided again. Even at the end, Gatsby remains somehow other-wordly.

The distance between the reader and Gatsby is partly due to the unreliable narrator, Nick Carraway — a genius narrative device that makes Fitzgerald’s novel and its characters so deliciously slippery.

Irresistible personality (Jane Eyre)

Jane Eyre is a real testament to Charlotte Bronte’s extraordinary skills as a writer and her innate understanding of character development. Jane definitely fulfils the character development type of ‘extraordinary’ — an extraordinary character and personality “that can make things happen in an empty room”. It’s no coincidence that the novel has her name.

Though from obscure origins, Jane behaves with dignity fitting for a Duchess. Her intense self-knowledge and sense of self make her irresistible, especially in the social context of the novel. Her challenges and pain make her a stronger, more alive version of herself. She is wounded, but strong. She says little, but means a lot. Her character is all about quiet power.

Everyday flaws (Winston Smith)

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is a great dystopian novel, but it’s also a brilliant character novel. Winston works as a humdrum clerk in a totalitarian dystopia. He seems nondescript and banal, but underneath the surface lives a passionate and brave man.

His varicose ulcers and gin habit make him human (and faintly disgusting). His innate sense of curiosity drives him on. He makes mistakes because he cares. Orwell himself consciously wrote Winston as the everyman character — someone we could all relate to.

Our closeness to Winston makes the setting of the novel all the more powerful and affecting. Reading Orwell’s novel, we all question what we would have done in his place. Winston’s choices become our choices.

Adolescent rebellion (Holden Caulfield)

The brutality and confusion of adolescence is a theme with universal potency, and J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is one of the most popular and well-regarded novels in history because of the young protagonist’s existential troubles.

Holden Caulfield evidently captures enough universal truth to be a mirror for the reader. How else do you explain his alternating praise and vilification? He stumbles from place to place, searching for earnest human connection but finding a surging disdain for those around him.

Holden doesn’t rebel in an effort to look cool or impress his peers. He rebels from the mediocrities of civilization, choosing to walk away at every turn rather than stick around and accept that people are flawed. His fantasy of being a hero, of protecting children from the loss of innocence, leaves him at war with the world… and the darkness in his own nature.

Ruthless pragmatism (Scarlett O’Hara)

“My dear, I don’t give a damn.” These words (preceded by “Frankly” in the movie adaptation) are firmly affixed to the popular perception of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, but to focus unduly on them is to give short shrift to one of literature’s great survivors.

Scarlett O’Hara, the dear in question, is smart in a time that doesn’t welcome smartness in women. As a wealthy Southern girl, she’s expected to be charming, passive, and essentially vapid — a prize to be won — but only plays the part as needed to get by. Whenever possible, she seeks to express her will, and it’s that will that steels her to hardship.

When war breaks out and washes away her material wealth, Scarlett doesn’t shy away from what needs to be done: she uses her cultural value as a woman (marrying for money) and her formidable intelligence (running her own business) to ensure that she survives.

Righteous courage (Atticus Finch)

The legal profession has suffered greatly in common perception, with lawyers mostly viewed as unscrupulous cads obsessed with money and power, but there’s nobility to be found in the legal field — and to those eager to protect it, Atticus Finch is a worthy hero.

Set in the American South in a time of open racial inequality, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is an undeniable classic. When Tom Robinson, a black man, is accused of raping a white woman, the general populace automatically considers him guilty beyond question. Atticus Finch is assigned to defend him, and defies racist condemnation by determining to represent his client as effectively as he can.

In the end, despite making a powerful and convincing case, Atticus finds that racism is too entrenched in the jury. Thus, his innocent client is convicted. In the process, though, he inspires future generations with his bold defence of reason and conscience, even in the face of inevitable defeat: courage, as he sees it, is “[W]hen you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”

Having looked at these great characters, then, what can we glean? The most notable takeaway is that perfection doesn’t make for interesting characters. We’re drawn to characters with flaws and struggles, because we can relate to them. If you’re struggling to write a character for a novel, keep this in mind.

Rodney Laws is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. Check out his reviews on Ecommerce platforms.io and you’ll find practical tips that you can use to build the best online store for your business. Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.”

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Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post, holidays

Guest Post for Handmade Ho Ho Homicide: An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 8 by Lois Winston

A Communist Dog, a Russian Empress Cat, and a Shakespeare-quoting Parrot Walked into a Cozy Mystery

By Lois Winston

I write the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, a cozy series featuring a cast of rather unique characters, including Lucille Pollack, my sleuth’s communist mother-in-law and leader of the thirteen octogenarian Daughters of the October Revolution. However, along with the humans that populate the series, there are three non-humans, each with their own unique personalities.

Manifesto is the commie’s French bulldog, named for The Communist Manifesto, a political treatise written in 1848 by German philosophers Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels. Given Lucille’s political leanings, you’d expect her to own a Russian Wolfhound, wouldn’t you? Anastasia really doesn’t know why her mother-in-law chose a French bulldog. The two women converse only when absolutely necessary. However, Anastasia suspects size was the main factor. Russian Wolfhounds are quite large, and prior to moving in with Anastasia and her family, Lucille lived in an extremely small apartment.

You know how pets often take on the personalities of their owners? This is definitely the case with Manifesto. As such, Anastasia and her sons have given the dog a few nicknames, alternating between Mephisto and Devil Dog. Recently, though, Manifesto has begun to mellow and prefer the company of Anastasia’s sons to his mistress. Whether this is due to age or objecting to Lucille’s smothering is uncertain, but Anastasia and the boys see it as a welcome change in disposition. Too bad his mistress doesn’t take her cues from her dog.

Manifesto continues to have one nemesis, though. Catherine the Great is an overweight, pampered white Persian owned by Anastasia’s much-married mother Flora Sudberry Periwinkle Ramirez Scoffield Goldberg O’Keefe Tuttnauer.

Flora is the former social secretary of the Daughters of the American Revolution and claims to trace her lineage back to Russian nobility on her mother’s side. When she’s between husbands, she moves in with Anastasia. Due to the size of Anastasia’s home, Flora and Lucille are then forced to share a bedroom. The two women get along as well as their pets—which is to say they fight like cats and dogs.

African grey parrot, Psittacus erithacus erithacus, from the Congo region isolated on red.

The Casa Pollack menagerie is rounded out by Ralph, an African Grey Parrot with a penchant for quoting Shakespeare. Anastasia inherited Ralph from her great-aunt Penelope Periwinkle, a college professor and Shakespearean scholar who brought Ralph to all her lectures. Ralph doesn’t just quote the standard famous lines from the Bard of Avon, though. No “alas poor Yorick” or “friends, Romans, countrymen” for this bird. He has an uncanny knack for squawking situation-appropriate lines from any play or sonnet.

Because he’s potty-trained, Ralph has free rein of the house, much to the annoyance of both Lucille and Flora. Manifesto and Catherine the Great don’t think very highly of him, either, but Ralph could care less. He looks down his beak at any species that can’t converse in English. And much to Anastasia’s amusement, Ralph has developed a “bromance” with her boyfriend, photojournalist (and possible spy) Zachary Barnes.

Can you tell I write humorous cozy mysteries?

Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 8

Two and a half weeks ago magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack arrived home to find Ira Pollack, her half-brother-in-law, had blinged out her home with enough Christmas lights to rival Rockefeller Center. Now he’s crammed her small yard with enormous cavorting inflatable characters. She and photojournalist boyfriend and possible spy Zack Barnes pack up the unwanted lawn decorations to return to Ira. They arrive to find his yard the scene of an over-the-top Christmas extravaganza. His neighbors are not happy with the animatronics, laser light show, and blaring music creating traffic jams on their normally quiet street. One of them expresses his displeasure with his fists before running off.

In the excitement, the deflated lawn ornaments are never returned to Ira. The next morning Anastasia once again heads to his house before work to drop them off. When she arrives, she discovers Ira’s attacker dead in Santa’s sleigh. Ira becomes the prime suspect in the man’s murder and begs Anastasia to help clear his name. But Anastasia has promised her sons she’ll keep her nose out of police business. What’s a reluctant amateur sleuth to do?

Buy Links

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VG2QZXV/

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/handmade-ho-ho-homicide

Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/handmade-ho-ho-homicide-lois-winston/1132607263?ean=2940163093748

iTunes https://books.apple.com/us/book/handmade-ho-ho-homicide/id1473711082

Bio:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

Website: www.loiswinston.com

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Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/Anasleuth

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/722763.Lois_Winston

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Posted in Blog Tour, Cozy Mysteries, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Died in the Wool, A Whiskey Business Mystery, by Melinda Mullet

Melinda Mullet – Died in the Wool Blog Tour

Alright, I’ll admit it — I have a borderline obsession with sheep.

I adore them. They are essentially overgrown dogs with the sweetest ruminative faces and tails that can wag when they are pleased to see you. In all honesty, I’ve tried to convince my husband that raising sheep in rural New Zealand is a viable retirement plan for the two of us. I mean you have to love a country where sheep outnumber humans by 7 to 1. But, so far he isn’t going for it.

Sheep are amazing animals. Consider the following fun facts offered up by Dave Thomas, retired head of sheep studies at the University of Wisconsin. (Yes, that is a legitimate occupation and perhaps my next career move if this writing thing doesn’t pan out.) Dave tells us that:

  • Sheep have very good memories. They can remember at least 50 individual sheep and humans for years. (Better than most humans I know.)
  • Sheep have rectangular pupils that give them amazing peripheral vision that helps to keep them safe from predators. The field of vision is somewhere between 270 and 320 degrees. (Humans average a mere 155 degrees.)
  • Some sheep are gay. (No, really.) While there are instances of homosexuality in almost all animal species, sheep are the only animals besides humans that show a same-sex preference for life. In any flock up to 8% of males prefer other males.
  • Woodrow Wilson kept a flock of sheep on the White House lawn during World War I to keep the grass trimmed as a cost-cutting measure and to show support for the war effort.
  • Sheep can display emotions usually reflected in the position of their ears. They can feel stress and isolation and will show signs of depression similar to humans.
  • Contrary to popular belief, sheep are extremely intelligent animals capable of problem solving. They can differentiate facial expressions and prefer smiles to frowns.

Naturally, these intelligent creatures figure prominently in my stories.  Died in the Wool, the fourth book in the Whisky Business Mystery Series, finds whisky distiller Abi Logan continuing to act as foster parent to a growing flock of sheep saved from being turned into c-h-o-p-s. All named for authors, Agatha (Christie) and Oscar (Wilde) have become deeply attached to their foster mother and live adjacent to the house.

Agatha and Oscar are protective, and like all sheep know their names and will respond when called. Aside from being guard sheep when necessary the flock is producing their share of wool. (A single sheep can produce up to thirty pounds of wool a year. Once pound of wool can make ten miles of yarn.) As if Abi didn’t get tangled up enough in the mysteries she solves, her flock is churning out more than 3,000 miles of wool a year.  Something has to give.

Abi is forced to find an outlet for the wool and becomes involved with a charity for women who are victims of domestic abuse that is funded by the proceeds of an artisan knitting cooperative. Abi donates her wool and her energies to the shelter known as the Shepherd’s Rest, but soon finds herself knee deep in a mystery.  As she tries to unravel a murder and a kidnapping at the shelter it becomes clear that at least on of the shelter’s benefactors is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Watch as Abi and her wooly wordsmiths solve the case before things go from baaad to worse!

Died in the Wool:
A Whisky Business Mystery
by Melinda Mullet

About the Book


Died in the Wool: A Whisky Business Mystery
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Alibi (June 18, 2019)
Print Length ~300 pages
Digital ASIN: B07GN17SQJ

No good deed goes unpunished in the Whisky Business cozy mystery series as distillery owner Abigail Logan uncovers dark secrets—and murder—at a local charity.

Photojournalist Abi Logan is finally ready to put her hectic career on hold and set down roots in the heart of the Scottish countryside. Studying the business and art of distilling whisky at Abbey Glen and volunteering at the Shepherd’s Rest women’s shelter in her spare time seem a surefire way to find the peace and stability she craves. It’s also the logical way to take her mind off her personal life. Abi’s business partner, Grant MacEwan, is facing a career-threatening disability, and as much as Abi longs to be there for him, he seems to prefer the company of a rival.

But as Abi becomes more involved with Shepherd’s Rest, she discovers that their refuge is elusive. When the shelter is rocked by a murder/suicide, Abi is outraged by the police’s lack of attention to these already marginalized women. Increasingly confident in her own skills as an investigator, Abi steps in to find out what the police will not: who left one young woman dead and another missing. But when more deadly deeds come to light, Abi must race to unravel the connections between the shelter’s benefactors and the women they have pledged to protect—and expose the killer before he strikes again.

Melinda Mullet’s delightful Whisky Business mysteries can be read together or separately. Enjoy responsibly:
SINGLE MALT MURDER | DEATH DISTILLED | DEADLY DRAM | DIED IN THE WOOL

About the Author

Melinda Mullet was born in Dallas and attended school in Texas, Washington D.C., England, and Austria. She spent many years as a practicing attorney before pursuing a career as a writer. Author of the Whisky Business Mystery series, Mullet is a passionate supporter of childhood literacy. She works with numerous domestic and international charities striving to promote functional literacy for all children. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.

Author Links

Website – http://melindamullet.com/

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

Twitter – https://twitter.com/mulletmysteries

Purchase Links

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Guest Post Recipe and Blog Tour for Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread Murder, A Cast Iron Skillet Mystery, by Jodi Rath

Recipe for Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

Ingredients

  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeds* removed and diced
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (1 tsp. if using fine salt)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup cooked corn kernels plus enough cream, milk, or buttermilk** to equal 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese*** plus bit more for top before baking
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar

*see Notes

Instructions

  1. Place diced jalapeños in skillet, then place in a 10-inch top diameter cast iron skillet in cold oven on middle rack. Preheat oven to 400°F and leave skillet with jalapeños in oven as it preheats. Check periodically to make sure they aren’t burning and to give them a quick stir. Remove when they are lightly browned and allow to cool. Return skillet immediately to oven.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisk in corn/cream mixture and cheddar cheese. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar with a wooden spoon,**** just until butter absorbs the sugar. Add the egg mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the cooled jalapeños. Mix in the dry ingredients just until barely incorporated.
  5. Remove skillet from oven and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Spoon batter into hot pan and quickly top with a bit more grated cheddar cheese. Bake cornbread until top is golden brown and springs back when gently pressed, 25-28 minutes when baked in a 10-inch skillet (may be longer if your skillet is smaller). Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

*If you like your food extra spicy, then leave the seeds in the jalapeños.

**This means you add the corn kernels to a measuring cup first, then pour in the milk until the milk rises to the 1 1/2 cup level. (I was not able to find buttermilk at my local store. If you have the same problem, then you can add one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar for every one cup of milk.)

***I’m a cheese lover—I added an extra half cup of cheese!

****I tried the recipe mixing with a wooden spoon and again using my Kitchenette mixer. Call me crazy, but I truly believe it tasted better when using the wooden spoon to stir ingredients.

This recipe was adapted from seasonsandsuppas.ca and foodiecrush.com.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder
(The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series)
by Jodi Rath

About the Book


Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder (The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in the Series
MYS ED LLC (June 21, 2019)
Digital ASIN: B07Q1K4DN3

Financial fraud of elderly villagers in Leavensport, an urban sprawl threat to the community, disastrous dates, cross-sell marketing gone wrong, and another murder? Jolie Tucker is ready to try dating again. Well, she has no choice—since her family auctioned her off to the highest bidder. Her best friend, Ava, has agreed to a double date, but both friends find out hidden secrets about their partners as well as deception by one of the village’s own, who will soon be found dead. This plot is sure to be spicy!

About the Author

Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her seven cats.

Author Links: Webpage: https://www.jodirath.com/ FB: https://www.facebook.com/jodirath FB Author Page: Author Jodi Rath Twitter @jodirath

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jodi-rath

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jodirath/

  • Monthly Newsletter Link: http://eepurl.com/dIfXdbGet Short Story “Sweet Retreat” for free by subscribing to my monthly newsletter. Subscribe to my newsletter to receive free flash fiction, A Mystery a Month, serial scenes from series, and deleted scenes).

Purchase Links – Amazon

All other e-platforms: https://books2read.com/u/bOAYyK

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Guest Post and Blog Tour for Deco Dames, Demon Rum, and Death, A Jazz Age Mystery by Ellen Mansoor Collier

TOOT YOUR HORN:   CREATIVE MARKETING For INDIES

                     By:  Ellen Mansoor Collier, Author of the Jazz Age mystery series

As an independent author, I admit, my dream was to see my books for sale on shelves in upscale stores, bookshops and retail outlets—not just online. So I tried “creative” ways of marketing, and looked for specialty gift shops and regional stores that also sold books.

I found out the hard way that traditional bookstores or shops are NOT interested in self-published books, unless you’re already rich and famous. Hard to compete with thousands of books anyway, especially if you’re an unknown.  I’ve had bookshop managers compliment my books while shoving me out the door, figuratively speaking. Small book stores tend to feel that Amazon is driving them out of business, and the larger chains think indies are trying to sneak in the back way, without being “vetted.”

The fact that I’ve made my living as a professional journalist doesn’t matter to them. Sadly, they assume independent books mean low-quality or inferior writing and cover design. I’ve worked in publishing almost all my life—besides, my brother is an artist, and I have several editor friends who were willing to review my novels.  In addition, my mother was a writer and excellent editor, as well as a former World History teacher. So I thought, why not publish my books the way I want and retain creative control, plus all my rights?

Since my novels are about 1920s Galveston, I naturally approached shops and hotels in the area and either called or left a copy of FLAPPERS, the first novel in my series. First I started with small, independent business who were happy to accept my books on consignment.  Sadly, the trouble with mom-and-pop stores is they often don’t have the budget or space to keep your books in stock and on display.  (Getting paid can be a tug-of- war, so now I usually require payment upfront.)

Luckily  bookstores often advertise regional books and sponsor book-signings for local authors. I’ve even done book signings at “Roaring Twenties”-themed fundraisers and art gallery parties just by asking—and donated part of my proceeds (usually 20-25).  I also sold my books at an area casino hotel/gift shop just by dropping off FLAPPERS with the staff. During a follow up call, I suggested to the manager that she give my books a try with a small order—which she did!

At first, a major mystery bookstore seemed reluctant to give my books a try, but by the time I’d written a couple of new titles, the tides had turned and suddenly indies were more “socially acceptable,”  if not hot. Still some of the staff remained wary, so it was gratifying when their first order of 25 books sold out in three weeks. Note: Many shops will wait until all books have sold before they reorder, so be prepared for a long wait. I’d suggest a small order at first, especially if the books are on consignment.

In Galveston, I noticed the luxury hotels on the Seawall sold lots of beachy items, but they didn’t have any novels for sale. The retail manage told me to contact the corporate office, which I did a YEAR later. Long story short, I was too chicken to contact them immediately but followed up after my fourth book—and got a call from the regional merchandising manager (sadly he soon left the company). Turns out the retail manager enjoyed FLAPPERS and wanted to start selling it in their hotel gift shops. The regional manager became interested later when he found out I had a series available and ordered 24 copies of each book (96)!  Timing is everything in this business!

Last year, a friend suggested I try a well-known restaurant with a new attached gift shop—that I didn’t know existed. The manager ordered 40 copies of my books—and placed a second order six weeks later. Naturally summer is my best season and sales during the fall and winter often lag.

My advice for indies, young or old, is to identify the factors that make your books unique: is it the setting, the theme, the characters, the storyline? Then contact the stores that fit into those categories. Most cozy mysteries seem to center around a hobby or activity—if your novels are about animals or food or fashion or sports or antiques, try pet shops, bakeries, restaurants, unique clothing boutiques, sports shops or antique malls—even quilt or knitting shops—that cater to the clientele you’d like to reach. Is your book about a certain collectible or is it historical?  Perhaps a specialty gift shop, museum or tea room, even a B&B or boutique hotel or spa may want to offer your books.  Corporate chains and hotels are difficult retail nuts to crack, so I suggest approaching independent businesses at first.

As an indie, I tend to stay away from author events since they can cost a pretty penny and are filled with other hopeful writers who are in the same situation. If I do attend, I’ll go as a reader but then end up buying half the books for sale since I sympathize!  Still it’s fun to network and make local contacts with your peers and potential readers.

To summarize:  Find your niche and then broaden your scope. Once you get your foot in the door and word gets out, you can add bigger markets to your list. Better yet, try chains that reach a regional or national market.  Though I’m not shy, I’ll admit, it’s difficult to peddle your own books—I get more rejections than OKs—but if people express interest, don’t be afraid to follow up with a phone call or repeat visit.  Naturally you don’t want to come across as a pushy car salesperson, but you can check in periodically, especially if you have a new book out.

Sadly, as an indie, you’ll often get the cold shoulder from old-school stores (don’t get me started on my local Barnes & Noble), but if you present quality books and find the right niche, then you, too, can see your beloved books in stores and unique retail outlets.  Good luck!

Deco Dames, Demon Rum and Death
(Jazz Age Mystery Series)
by Ellen Mansoor Collier

About the Book


Deco Dames, Demon Rum and Death (Jazz Age Mystery Series)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Decodame Press (December 28, 2018)
Paperback: 249 pages
ISBN-10: 0989417042
ISBN-13: 978-0989417044
Digital ASIN: B07LGGKPKZ

When young Galveston Gazette society reporter Jazz Cross hears rumors of grave robbers at the Broadway Cemetery, she and photographer Nathan Blaine investigate, hoping to land a scoop. The newshawks witness meetings held by clandestine gangs and enlist the help of her beau, Prohibition Agent James Burton, who attempts to catch the elusive culprits red-handed.

Meanwhile, the supernatural craze takes Galveston by storm, and Jazz is assigned to profile the society set’s favorite fortune teller, Madame Farushka. Sightings of a ghost bride haunting the Hotel Galvez intrigue Jazz, who sets up a Ouija board reading and séance with the spiritualist. Did the bride-to-be drown herself—or was she murdered?

Luckily, Sammy Cook, her black-sheep half-brother, has escaped the Downtown Gang and now acts as the maître d’ for the Hollywood Dinner Club, owned by rival Beach Gang leaders. During a booze bust, the Downtown Gang’s mob boss, Johnny Jack Nounes, is caught and Jazz worries: will Sammy be forced to testify against his former boss? Worse, when a mystery man turns up dead, Sammy is framed for murder and Jazz must solve both murders and help clear Sammy’s name.

As the turf war between rival gangs rages on, Jazz relies on her wits and moxie to rescue her brother and her friends before the Downtown Gang exacts its revenge.

About the Author

Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in a variety of national magazines. Several of her short stories have appeared in Woman’s World. During college summers, she worked as a reporter for a Houston community newspaper and as a cocktail waitress, both jobs providing background experience for her Jazz Age mysteries.

A flapper at heart, she’s worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism and served on UTmost, the college magazine and as president of WICI (Women in Communications).

She lives in Houston with her husband and Chow mutts and visits Galveston whenever possible.

“When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. Finally, I had to stop researching and start writing, trying to imagine a flapper’s life in Galveston during Prohibition.”

Author Links:

Website: http://www.flapperfinds.com/
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45174861-deco-dames-demon-rum-and-death
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/artdecodame/flappers/

Purchase Link: Amazon

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June 12 – Michelle’s Romantic Tangle – REVIEW

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June 13 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

June 14 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

June 15 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 15 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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June 17 – ❧Defining Ways❧ – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 18 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

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June 21 – Ruff Drafts GUEST POST

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Guest Post and Blog Tour for Sconed to Death, A Cat Latimer Mystery, by Lynn Cahoon

Hi Ruff Draft’ers.  I’m Lynn Cahoon, author of the Cat Latimer cozy mystery series.  Cat, my main character, is a YA author who runs a monthly writers retreat out of the Victorian she got when her ex-husband died.

The series is set in Colorado, south of Denver, (so the airport is close) in a little college town that caters to the children of the mob families.  So the college is special but most people don’t know the specific admission requirements. Cat (and her ex-husband) used to teach at the college, but when she divorced the cheater, she moved to California.

She’s now dating her high school sweetheart who is the official retreat handyman and driver.

When Cat moved back home, her BFF came with her and Shauna is the house mom for the retreat. She’s also writing a cookbook. The first one has all of the Warm Springs Writers Retreat breakfast menu items. And a few of her own that she’d picked up along the way.

And that’s where the trouble begins for Sconed to Death.

The fun part of writing this book was the visiting writers. They were all from the same cozy writer critique group in Chicago. And each brings their own personality and problems to the retreat.  I really love the structure of setting the book around the retreat week. I always know what’s happening in the background while Cat’s off sleuthing without her uncle’s permission. (Uncle Pete is the town police chief.)

I always enjoy talking about the writing process and Cat, (surprising, I know) has a few of my own writing quirks. She’s a linear writer. She lets the characters tell the stories. And she likes a bit of magic in her books. Her main character, Tori, gets moved to a boarding school the summer before high school starts. She’s angry at her folks, but, since her magic blossomed that summer, she needs the training in how to deal with this witch thing she has.

I’m not writing Tori’s story (yet) but I did just sell a reluctant witch series to my publisher. Mountain Springs Magic (working title) will be on my writing plate late this year and I’m so excited to get my grimoire going for the story details. It’s going to be a fun series.

So what kind of cozy stories do you like? An inside look at the author life? Small town?  Paranormal?

Sconed to Death
(A Cat Latimer Mystery)
by Lynn Cahoon

About the Book


Sconed to Death (A Cat Latimer Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Kensington (May 28, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1496716833
ISBN-13: 978-1496716835
Kindle ASIN: B07H1ZCS2Z

Cat Latimer pursues a scone-cold killer who iced a top chef in a local bakery . . .

Cat has a full plate at her Aspen Hills Warm Springs Resort, as a group of aspiring cozy mystery authors arrives for a writers retreat. So when baker Dee Dee Meyer stirs up trouble by filing a false complaint with the health inspector against the B&B—all because she insists Cat’s best friend Shauna stole her recipes—Cat marches into the shop to confront her.

But Dee Dee’s about to have her own batch of trouble. Greyson Finn—a celebrity chef and, until today, one of Denver’s most eligible bachelors—has been found dead in her bakery. Cat’s uncle Pete, who happens to be the chief of police, warns her not to engage in any half-baked sleuthing. But as her curiosity rises, Cat’s determined to discover who served the chef his just desserts—before the killer takes a powder . . .

About the Author

Lynn Cahoon is the award-winning author of several New York Times and USA Today bestselling cozy mystery series. The Tourist Trap series is set in central coastal California with six holiday novellas releasing in 2018–2019. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass market paperback. Her newest series, the Farm to Fork mystery series, debuted in 2018. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies.

Author Links

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboGoogle Play

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