Cathy Carter is the main character of The Case of the Cat Crazy Lady. She lives in Buttercup Bend which is a lovely small town in the Catskills of upstate New York with her grandmother, Florence and Siamese cat, Oliver. She co-owns a pet cemetery, Rainbow Gardens, and rescue center, Rainbow Rescues, with her brother, Doug, who lives next door with his pregnant wife, Becky. She and Doug are orphans. They lost their parents five years ago in a car accident. Cathy was injured in the accident and…
An antiques show. A dead diva. For an amateur sleuth the truth is not always crystal clear.
Dotty Sayers is enjoying her job in a Cotswold auction house. When she’s offered a place on an antiques TV show, she nervously agrees to a makeover and is surprised by the admiring glances she receives. Working on set at a historic country hotel, she realises all that glitters is not gold when at the bottom of the circular staircase, one of the experts is found dead.
Was the death accidental or something shadier? Dotty promises to leave the investigation to the police, but as this amateur sleuth appraises the dead woman’s estate, she can’t help unveiling clues. But when she returns from viewing a priceless sculpture, and finds her British blue cat missing, she knows that life does not imitate art.
Can Dotty tell a fake from the real deal and identify the killer?
Guest Post – Antique Television Shows
The death in Valued for Murder occurs during the filming of a fictitious antique TV show, The Antique Tour, when a celebrity expert is killed. A potentially priceless bronze sculpture, which is brought to the show by a member of the public, is also featured in the story.
Before I started writing the Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery series, I re-watched the 1980s British show, Lovejoy, about a loveable rogue and shady antiques dealer who was always out for a quick buck. However, his conscience usually got the better of him, and as he had a talent for discovering hidden treasures, he always extricated himself and his friends from whatever scrape they were in.
My advanced readers have enjoyed the antique show setting. In the UK, the number of shows relating to antiques, auctions, and associated themes, such as architectural restoration, have steadily increased. The original programme, The Antiques Roadshow, is popular in both the US and the UK, as I believe, is Antiques Roadtrip.
So why are these shows so popular? People love a rags to riches story and the dream that an object gathering dust in their garage or attic is worth a fortune. This concept is one of the themes in Valued for Murder.
Many people have an object which has been handed down as a family heirloom, which they are very attached to. Seeing similar people with similar items on the television creates an emotional link and brings them back to watch the program each week.
As viewers, we love watching the reaction of the owners to the valuation of their items, but we also enjoy the personal stories behind objects.
The shows have also helped the antique industry, particularly in jewellery, with members of the public becoming aware of the wide range of antique jewellery, much of which is affordable, and they seek it out to buy.
There are also reports that despite of the pandemic, or maybe because of it, there is rising interest period pieces over modern equivalents and that vintage pieces and family heirlooms are making a comeback. The trend for upcycling is leading people to repurpose items they didn’t think worth keeping into something useful or fun.
Shows in the UK such as Bargain Hunt are popular, as everyone likes the chance of buying a piece and selling it at auction for a profit. And if they make a loss, it doesn’t matter as they are spending someone else’s money!
Antique fairs are increasing in popularity and the customers who visit are more knowledgeable than ever before. While some are looking for a bargain, to make a profit, I would caution that it is best to buy items you like and want to live with.
And if you think you have an item of value or interest you’d like to take to a show? Look up the relevant show’s website and find out what you need to do. Antiques Roadshow, for instance, is only allowing visitors who have applied for tickets, although this is free to do.
I hope you enjoy Valued for Murder and future episodes of your favourite antique shows.
About Victoria Tait
I was born and raised in Yorkshire, UK, and never expected to travel the world. But I fell for an Army Officer, and I’ve followed him from Northern Ireland, up to the Scottish Highlands, across to Africa and the Kenyan Savannah, back to the British Cotswolds, and we are now living in Sarajevo, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Southern Europe.
I never expected to be an author, but all this moving is not ideal for holding down a job. Instead, I’ve taken the experiences of the places I’ve lived to write vivid and evocative cozy mystery books with determined female sleuths.
I have two fast-growing teenage boys, and together we’ve learnt to ski on the Bosnian mountains. I also enjoy horse riding, mountain biking and I’ve started running as a way to improve my physical fitness, mental wellbeing and shed some excess pounds.
In my family, we have a number of self-confessed chocoholics. There’s something about the complex, roasted flavours, the melt-in-your-mouth texture that’s addictive.
Studies have shown that chocolate can induce euphoria and have a calming effect. In fact, European pharmacies in the past used to dispense chocolate as a medicinal drug. Chocolate really can make you feel better (unless you eat an entire bag of Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses in one road trip).
But, if chocolate can be medicinal, can it also be toxic? Both sweet and bitter, delicious and deadly?
Death by chocolate may be a favourite fantasy, but death by poisoned chocolate is another matter entirely.
In Cover Art, Charley Scott is thrilled to be running a summer pop-up art gallery in cottage country. But, beneath the surface of this peaceful lakeside village, darkness lurks. Local chocolatier, Matt Thorn, is struggling with his father’s death and his legacy of deception. As Matt plans to expose his father’s secrets, a man is found dead, the result of eating Matt’s chocolates. Charley will have to see past the obvious, to find the killer.
The idea of writing a mystery, involving death by chocolate, was sparked years ago. My mom took part in a workshop run by a local chocolatier about how to make truffles and Belgian pralines. She came home with recipes covered in hand-written notes, samples, a chocolate-stained apron and a ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse into a chocolatier’s workshop. We tried out the recipes in our own kitchen, chopping blocks of chocolate and tempering it to a glossy sheen.
I still savour that moment. And isn’t that an interesting turn of the phrase?
Taste, emotion and memory are intertwined. A familiar flavour can recall a positive, or negative, experience and take you right back to that time and place. That’s why writers use sensory descriptions — taste, touch, scent and sound — to bring their settings to life.
In Cover Art, Matt’s workroom is at the back of his shop, called Chocoholic’s. You’ll see copper pots suspended from the track lighting. A twenty-pound crate of oranges, ready to be hand sliced and candied, shoved to one side. You’ll feel the air, chilled to a brisk eighteen degrees Celsius, kept constant by the PVC strip curtains hanging over the door. You might hear the crackle of tempered chocolate shrinking and releasing in the molds as it cools or the riff-heavy leads and gravelly vocals of vintage BTO, blasting through the overhead speakers. You’ll breathe in the scent of single origin Guittard chocolate — a spicy, heady aroma of tobacco, plums, and black cherries.
To be able to add those sensory details to my story, I read cookbooks, like David Lebovitz’s The Great Book of Chocolate: The Chocolate Lover’s Guide and Gale Gand’s Chocolate and Vanilla. I browsed confectioners’ websites and visited artisan chocolate shops.
Before writing Cover Art, I would have said that my favourite chocolate was dark. The darker, the better. I did not like white chocolate, at all. Then I visited Warkworth, Ontario’s Centre & Maine Chocolate Company and tried their Gin & Tonic bar. White chocolate and lime zest, laced with juniper essential oil, and coriander. It’s incredible. I infused this flavour into Cover Art — it’s the first chocolate Charley samples in Matt’s store. If you want to try the Gin & Tonic for yourself, you can order it online from Centre & Maine (https://centreandmainchocolate.com/ ).
Besides reading cookbooks and eating chocolate, I also tried my hand at some practical research. Below is my recipe for chocolate espresso truffles, combining both dark chocolate and white chocolate, along with that shot of caffeine that fuels my writing process.
Chocolate Espresso Truffles
Makes c. 70 truffles
300 g. white chocolate
300 g. bittersweet couverture or good quality bittersweet chocolate (70%)
1 tbsp espresso powder (or to taste)
3 tbsp cocoa powder
Using a serrated knife, cut the white chocolate and bittersweet couverture into pieces, as small as possible (no larger than 1 ½ cm chunks). Place the chocolate and couverture pieces in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water and gently melt the chocolate, stirring with a spatula. Once melted, stir in the espresso powder.
Line a loaf pan with baking paper. Pour the melted chocolate-couverture mixture into the loaf form and let cool at room temperature for 5-6 hours.
Carefully remove the now firm chocolate from the loaf pan, by holding the edges of the baking paper. Remove the baking paper from the chocolate. Using a large, sharp kitchen knife cut the chocolate into rows, 2 cm thick. Then cut those rows into 2cm squares.
Sift the cocoa powder into a small bowl. Use a fork to dip the chocolate squares into the cocoa powder, coating them evenly. Then place the enrobed chocolate squares into a strainer to shake off the excess cocoa.
The chocolate truffles can be filled into plastic bags or stored in a tin—perhaps an empty coffee tin, for a fun twist.
These chocolate truffles will keep for 2-4 weeks in the fridge. If you can resist them!
Whip up a batch, grab a copy of Cover Art and indulge in murder and chocolate
Cover Art (A Charley Scott Mystery) by Vanessa Westermann
About Cover Art
Cover Art (A Charley Scott Mystery) Cozy Mystery 1st in Series Setting – Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, Canada Cormorant Books (May 17, 2022) Paperback : 440 pages ISBN-10 : 1770866426 ISBN-13 : 978-1770866423
Charley Scott is thrilled to be running a summer pop-up gallery in cottage country. Returning to the lakeside village, not on vacation but as an artist, she’s determined to turn her hobby into a career.
But, beneath the surface of this peaceful town, darkness lurks. There’s a history.
Local chocolatier, Matt Thorn, is struggling with his father’s death and his legacy of deception. As Matt plans to expose his father’s secrets, a local is found dead, the result of eating Matt’s chocolates.
Luckily, art is all about perspective and Charley’s always had a keen eye. Can she see past the obvious and find the killer?
About Vanessa Westermann
An avid reader of mysteries, Vanessa Westermann is a former Arthur Ellis Awards judge, holds an M.A. in English Literature, as well as a Bachelor of Education, and has taught creative writing. Her debut mystery, An Excuse for Murder, was published in 2019. At the heart of all of Westermann’s stories are strong female protagonists inspired by the heroines in her own life. She currently lives in Ontario.
Guest Blog Post, by Linda O. Johnston, who wrote Bear Witness, the first Alaska Untamed Mystery, under the pseudonym Lark O. Jensen:
Whodunnits and Wildlife
What do writers who love animals, and also love to read and write cozy mysteries, do for fun?
Well, at least some of them, like me, write cozy mysteries that contain animals! Are you surprised? 😊
That has been the case with all the various cozy mystery series I’ve written, from the Kendra Ballantyne Mysteries to the Pet Rescue Mysteries, the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries, and even the Superstition Mysteries. They all contain dogs, my favorite animals.
And now? More animals, including wildlife! My new book BEAR WITNESS is an Alaska Untamed mystery, the first in a series. Does it contain a dog? Of course! It’s Sasha, a husky, whose name means “defender,” and in addition to being a wonderful companion, that’s what Sasha does: defend people.
Sasha belongs to Stacie Calder, the series protagonist. Stacie is a naturalist, by education and vocation, and because of her love of animals. Right now, she lives in Alaska and provides tours during the warmest seasons on a tour boat owned by a family with an entire fleet of tour boats. Yes, she points out animals, some wonderful wildlife, while Sasha comes along with her
Stacie loves to show tourists the seal mamas and babies on ice floes in the waterways where they travel, as well as birds in the sky and wolves and bears along the shore. She likes the people she works with, too, including the captain and assistant captain of her boat and the staff in addition to herself, as well as most of the tourists she helps to watch all those wonderful animals.
You note I said most of the tourists. Some who take sightseeing trips with them aren’t particularly nice, especially a few who are snooping and trying to learn all they can about running that kind of tour boat, since they want to buy their own and go into competition. They even talk about it, to each other, and to those who work on the tour boat.
Not exactly a good way to make friends onboard, at least not with those who are in charge.
And one of those passengers who says he wants to become a competitor winds up dead. He disappears one day, and his body is found in the water when they take the same journey the next day. Who finds him? Sasha, with her wonderful sense of scent, discovers him off the side of the boat, along the shore.
It turns out he was murdered.
As I said, Stacie is a naturalist and doesn’t consider herself any kind of detective. But when one of her favorite people, the captain of her tour boat, winds up being considered the main suspect, she has to try to find the answer. There are other suspects too. Stacie herself even argued with the murder victim, so to some extent she has to investigate to protect herself.
She’s not the only one investigating, of course. Among other authorities, Officer Liam Amaruq of a new wing of the Alaska State Troopers winds up officially looking into it. Stacie likes Liam. They even start developing a bit of a relationship, although he doesn’t really want her snooping.
Yes, it’s a cozy mystery.
I got the idea of this kind of mystery series while I was on an Alaskan cruise a few years ago. No, my dogs weren’t with me, but I took one of those boat tours in the Juneau area and was highly impressed with the wonderful wildlife pointed out by the tour guides on that boat. Seals and whales and porpoises in the water, various birds in the air, and bears and wolves on the shoreline landscape.
My animal-lover writer mind got into business and started brainstorming about how I could use what I saw in a story, even a series.
The Alaska Untamed Mysteries are the result!
By the way, I also write Harlequin Romantic Suspense novels, and most of them also contain—what else?—dogs.
Bear Witness (An Alaska Untamed Mystery) by Lark O. Jensen
Alaska tour boat guide Stacie Calder faces the deep freeze in this scenic cozy series debut perfect for fans of Paige Shelton.
No nine-to-five cubicle career will suit Stacie Calder—the naturalist much prefers working in the great outdoors. Specifically, the spacious and spectacular Alaskan wilderness, whose rugged charms she shares with sightseers on the top deck of the tour boat where she works. But one May afternoon, Stacie’s passengers see more than glittering glaciers, frolicking harbor seals, climbing bears and soaring seabirds…they also witness a man lying dead in the frigid Alaskan waters. And it seems likely that someone gave him a fatal push.
Stacie didn’t know the unfortunate victim, but he sure wanted to know a lot about her. He spent most of his final afternoon bombarding her with questions quite awkward to answer. And when he wasn’t in her hair, he was arguing incessantly with the boat’s beleaguered crew. Which makes for a suspect list about as long as the passenger manifest. Furthermore, as police helicopters relentlessly circle her boat in search of any clues, Stacie is shaken to find herself on that suspect list.
Before the tour boat reaches shore Stacie—accompanied by her beautiful blue-eyed husky, Sasha—must deduce just who sent the testy tourist tumbling into the turgid waters and have the authorities take custody. Because if she can’t, then the killer might aim a fatal ice-cold stare at Stacie.
About Lark O. Jensen
Lark O. Jensen is the pseudonym of Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer. Lark has written Bear Witness, the first Alaska Untamed mystery for Crooked Lane. Linda has written the Barkery & Biscuits Mystery series and the Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink and the Pet Rescue Mysteries and Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Linda also writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and her stories often involve dogs.
I’m Katherine, the author of Costumes & Cadavers, and I’m humbled to be here today.
Authors often receive questions about their writing process or story creation. I thought this would be a nice opportunity to see if I can answer one of those today.
Do the characters come to you at the same time, or do some of them come as you write?
Many of my characters start with a quick thought: a quirky conversation pops in my head; an outfit that would be fabulous at getting in the way while hunting a murderer; a cool name.
I take that thought, jot it down in a spiral or a Word document, and start making up some extras to go with it. Soon, I’ve created perhaps two to five of my characters and some small details about them. From there, I decide what is going to happen to toss them into some mystery or mayhem. And I begin writing!
I’m what we in the writer world call a plantser. I mostly write by the seat of my pants, though I may string together a simple outline or plan for a character or two, I don’t usually know the details of the middle of the book. Those come as I write. Or as I write myself into a corner and have to find my way out, either way.
So, many characters pop up unexpectedly in the middle of a scene and I just write them based on the part they need to play in the story.
Once, a chef suddenly started speaking French. Another time, a Yakuza gang appeared out of nowhere in a sleepy little beach town. I don’t even begin to question when these things happen; I simply grin and keep typing. Costumes & Cadavers: Sassy Supplies Cozy Mystery by Katherine H. Brown
Party guests congratulate Charity Basham, owner of Sassy Supplies Crafts & More, on the scariness of her backyard skeleton decoration. Unfortunately, Charity didn’t put out any skeleton decorations.
With the discovery of a dead body, her Halloween party turns into a nightmare. With her fingerprints (and some white cat fur) are all over the murder weapon, Charity finds herself at the top of the suspect list.
Can she clear her name before the dishy Detective Sota arrests her for murder?
About Katherine H. Brown
Texas author Katherine Brown is a wife, a mother to two beautiful book-devouring girls, a bookaholic ice cream lover, Harry Potter fan, and an enthusiastic weaver of words. Writing since she could scribble with crayons, Katherine has published books for adults and children alike. Fans of her cozy mystery series range from age twelve to seventy-two. She hopes to inspire in others a passion for reading and provide many adventures through the pages of books for years to come.
As a contemporary romance author and a cozy author who loves to add romance to my mystery plots, writing the title hurt a little bit. Okay, it hurt quite a bit. If you are in a serious relationship or married, you know what kind of pretty half-truths we writers employ to get you to melt into your chair and never leave until gorgeous guy kisses beautiful girl in front of a glorious sunset. Just like the Masked Magician in the television show The Masked Magician threw his fellow magicians under the proverbial bus by exposing the secrets of illusions, I’m about to reveal the top 10 “lies” writers use to make you swoon. So, play along while the Wrapped Writer (not so clever, but I don’t have time to come up with something else with fitting alliteration) exposes the illusion of fictional love.
#1: Man must be gorgeous.
Newsflash: not all men are hot; some aren’t even good-looking; some have a face only a mother could love. However, looks really are inconsequential when it comes to finding the guy that will make you happy. Looks fade away; personality does not.
#2: Every kiss tastes of something besides real life.
This one is my favorite, both to exploit readers and to be exploited by. But, if you have ever been kissed, you know the truth. Kisses, unless both kissers are prepared and have either brushed their teeth or chewed gum, taste nothing like romance books’ puckers. Here is a taste of real-life kisses: garlic, coffee, anything eaten for lunch (like tacos or salty fries), wine, and the mother of all tastes: morning breath.
#3: Two people must overcome battles to find each other.
I met my future husband on a smoke break. Nothing romantic, nothing dangerous (unless you count smoking as dangerous), no spies trying to kill us, no ex-lover trying to win back my or his affection. We just met, liked each other, and the rest is history. You, too, can have this simple, albeit boring romantic adventure. If your relationship requires high level of espionage or unpacked baggage, you might be in for a world of hurt when the relationship settles around “Hey, will you pick up some lettuce on your way home from work?”
#4: Female protagonist is petite and pretty.
This is a “lie” I try not to partake in as an author, but many romance writers succumb to this characterization ploy. Women come in all shapes and sizes and colors; a real man will look at personality and not the size on the label in a pair of jeans or the cup size of a bra.
#5: Female protagonist is outspoken and may occasionally throw something.
So, I sin with this lie. Here’s why. Because part of me, and I’m assuming other romance writers feel the same, wishes I could be like my female characters. I wish I could speak my mind when angry instead of stew in silence. I wish I could be brave enough to smash a vase against the wall to show my frustration at times. And because I can’t/won’t/shouldn’t do these things, my characters sometimes do. Bye-bye sheepish author lady, hello sexy vixen who knows just the right words to say just the right things.
#6: Muscles are in.
The only six pack worth having, ladies, is a six pack of your favorite beverage. Six packs are difficult to attain and even tougher to maintain, so unless your main squeeze spends all his time in the gym and eats a very specific diet, you will have to deal with some pudge and a slight love handle or two.
#7: Every time lovers touch, electricity happens.
Um…no. Just a plain, big, old, fat no. It may happen that when you hold your significant other’s hand, jolts of hormones and pheromones and whatever else race up your skin. But if this phenomenon does not happen, please, please, please don’t freak out. You are not falling out of love; you are simply being human holding another human’s hand. Don’t expect butterflies, lighting bolts, or whatever other metaphor we authors throw at you every time you touch your lover.
#8: Weather as a barometer of The Love Journey.
Authors use weather as a symbolic device. You will not experience rebirth or rejuvenation every time it rains; you will simply get wet.
#9: The end is the end.
The end is only the beginning. Where the author leaves the couple in a passionate embrace is where real life takes over. Oil changes, spit-up, diaper duty, household chores, honey-do lists, and life begin at “the kiss.”
#10: Romance is huge, planned events.
Romance is the opposite. It’s the little moments, the insignificant moments that add up to colossal romance. Late night grocery store missions, snuggling on the couch, a back rub just because, loading/unloading the dishwasher, getting the kids out of the house make up a true relationship. Don’t lose that for an ideal that literally only exists in fiction.
So, in closing, please remember that fictional romance is exactly what it is: fictional. Read it, enjoy it, find escape in it, but then leave it and enjoy real-life romance as well. The real-life stuff is better anyway!
Murder Most Pemberley (Eliza Darcy Mysteries) by Jessica Berg
About Murder Most Pemberley
Murder Most Pemberley (Eliza Darcy Mysteries) Cozy Mystery 1st in Series Publisher: Red Adept Publishing (March 8, 2021) Paperback: 288 pages ISBN-10: 1948051656 ISBN-13: 978-1948051651 Digital Publisher: Red Adept Publishing, LLC (February 16, 2021) ASIN: B08TKJ73L1
Eat a crumpet. Check. Say “bloody hell” in an English pub. Check. Solve three murders and fall in love? Definitely not on the list. But when England dishes up murder, even an American girl knows it’s time to channel her inner Agatha Christie.
American Eliza Darcy travels to Merry Old England to partake in a Darcy/Bennet family reunion for one reason: to solve the estrangement between her father and uncle. Not long after Eliza’s arrival and exploration of the vast estate of her ancestors, a dead body surfaces. Murder and mayhem replace afternoon teas and flirting with her British heartthrob. Eliza has every intention of keeping her snoot out of official Scotland Yard business, but when clues to the murder begin to merge with her investigation into her family’s rift, her inner wannabe sleuth self-activates.
With the help of her batty great-aunt and the sexy Heath Tilney, Eliza hurries to untangle the web of lies and secrets. As corpses start to pile up faster than the clues, Eliza fears the estate’s family graveyard will swallow another body: hers.
About Jessica Berg
Jessica Berg, a child of the Dakotas and the prairie, grew up amongst hard-working men and women and learned at an early early age to “put some effort into it.” Following that wise adage, she has put effort into teaching high school English for over a decade, being a mother to four children (she finds herself surprised at this number, too), basking in the love of her husband of more than fifteen years and losing herself in the imaginary worlds she creates.
One of the questions I have been asked – well in the past when we did book launches in real life – was how do you write a book? I would like to do that, but I don’t know where to start.
I responded you write one word at a time. Not the magic answer they were looking for but it’s the truth because the bottom line is you must write, and you have to write every day and consistently.
In today’s climate writers are writing at a fast pace. Books are done in a month. Why? Readers in today’s climate will not wait a year unless you are a very well-known author. I have tried to write at a faster clip but its not easy. The pandemic in a way was helpful in that regard because I had no other distractions. I taught group fitness classes and for me it was my socialization. Writing is solitary and lonely and hard. When that went away, I was like all of us in lockdown and I sat and wrote. Last year I started a new series and have two books in the series complete and working on the third one. I have it down to about 4 months to finish a book taking into time for editing and formatting and book covers.
The other question or answer to questions I have given new authors or those who want to write is that you must hire a professional editor. You must take the time to learn about editing. For example, do you know there are different types of editing? When I first realized I needed an editor I asked an author who was speaking at an event about editing and how to go about finding an editor. I was floored with the answer – “I have three editors”. Well now I have three editors or have worked with three, a developmental, a copy and line editor and a proofreader. Not to mention beta readers who seem to catch issues your editors may have missed. I also have found reading the manuscript out loud to be extremely helpful. You will catch so much if you take the time to read your work out loud. Sometimes writing in longhand is helpful. I use it when I’m first sitting down to write a new novel. It helps me with my outline. I am more of a plotter but not detailed. I have a outline but use it more as a guide. Recently I have found I can write the ending before I reach the end. It helps me because I know where I am going. It may not turn out to be the end but it gets me past any writers block.
Finally, if you can accept the fact that more than likely you are not going to sell your book to Netflix or you are not going to make a bundle or you are not going to make the best seller list you will finally relax and take that pressure off your shoulders. And then who knows – you might write that book that makes it to the big or little screen. But still when I read a review and the reader tells me my words made them laugh and gave them a break from what they were going through in their everyday life than that is more than making a million dollars off the sale of your books. That’s the real joy on paper.
Wheeler-Dealer Ghost & Camper Kooky Mystery by Rita Moreau
Solving a murder might raise her spirits. But will it spring her spectral friend from Purgatory?
Mabel Gold still isn’t sure what happened. Traded by her husband for a busty bimbo the same age as their youngest daughter, the feisty sixty-something rejects the retirement community and heads west in a vintage camper. But the RV comes complete with a ghost who needs a good deed to get into Heaven, and cracking open a homicide at their first stop in Savannah could give them both a new lease on life.
Determined to dig up the dirt on the dead wheeler-dealer, Mabel and her phantom companion tackle the crime. But with two rich dudes from Dubai, a Willie Nelson lookalike mobster, and a widow nicknamed The Barracuda all on the suspect list, conjuring up the truth could take a real live miracle.
Can Mabel catch the killer before she’s the next soul crashing the Pearly Gates?
Wheeler-Dealer is the high-spirited first book in the hilarious Ghost & the Camper kooky mystery series. If you like golden-girl sleuths, zany characters, and sardonic humor, then you’ll love Rita Moreau’s witty whodunit.
About Rita Moreau
Rita Moreau is the author of the Mary Catherine Mahoney Mystery series and the Ghost & Camper Kooky Mystery series.
A workaholic by nature, upon retirement, Rita Moreau began work on her bucket list, writing a book. Traveling the national parks with her husband George in a vintage Bluebird motor home, (on George’s list), Rita completed her first novel Bribing Saint Anthony. Back home she completed Nuns! Psychics! & Gypsies! OH! NO, Feisty Nuns and The Russian & Aunt Sophia and The House on Xenia. Last year when we entered the Twilight Zone Rita wrote the first two new novels in the Ghost & the Camper series. Rita and her husband live in a postcard called Florida where he has fun telling everyone he is the author’s husband. When not writing she joins PatZi Gil on the Joy on Paper radio program with Book Buzz Mysteries, or you can find her teaching SilverSneakers fitness classes and doing her best to keep busy. She loves connecting with readers. Visit her at http://www.RitaMoreau.com or find her on Facebook at facebook.com/RitaMoreauAuthor. She would love to hear from you.
Where on Earth is Pismawallops Island, and how did it get there?
For those new to my PTA mystery series, the setting is a fairly small island in Puget Sound (Washington State), way up nearly in Canada. So how did it get there, and what made me chose an island? Aside from the obvious answer (“why not?”), I actually have several good reasons, even not considering the pleasures of owning an entire island. Okay, I admit that Pismawallops doesn’t actually exist outside of my books and my imagination, but it’s still mine.
Why else an island? I grew up on one. An island, in fact, not radically different from Pismawallops Island. So there’s an obvious attraction there—it’s easy to set a book in your hometown, and even easier if you make it a fictional version of your town. Pismawallops isn’t Vashon Island, but there are influences.
My childhood island is about 14 miles long, 6 miles wide, and when I was a kid had about 10,000 year-round residents. When my mom grew up there in the 1930s and 40s they had a lot of summer people, but by my time the summer cottages had mostly been refurbished for year-round use (or just moved into and occupants left to shiver through the winters). Vashon provided a couple of key elements I knew my fictional island had to have. For one thing, it has its own school district. I didn’t want some big-city administrators interfering with the operations of my little island, so I borrowed that element even though Pismawallops is probably too small to get away with it in the real world.
The second really key element was limited access. Pismawallops, like Vashon, is accessible only by ferry. I like islands that *are* islands. Some of my favorite childhood stories are set on islands of one sort or another, and the more remote the better. The limited access also lets me treat the island more like the isolated British country house of a different era of mystery writers. I honestly don’t know how mystery writers manage urban settings, where to me it feels like the suspects are infinite.
So what other islands have I known, besides the one I grew up on? Pismawallops is influenced by the San Juan Islands, also in Puget Sound. I never got to live there, but I did several bicycle trips there in my younger years, and somehow even to this girl from an island not so far off, they felt exotic. I borrowed heavily from the feeling of isolation and sparseness of population I got cycling on Lopez Island and even San Juan Island.
Other favorite islands are less apparent in the genesis of Pismawallops: Wizard Island, in the middle of Crater Lake. Alcatraz. Angel Island, where you can camp out and admire the San Francisco skyline all night. Every single little island off the Maine coast (even though I haven’t visited any, they have appeared in so many books I’ve read that just looking at them from the shore evokes adventure). Prince Edward Island, of course. I haven’t visited it, either, but Anne of Green Gables was a fixture of my childhood.
Of course, if we want to get a little larger, there’s Great Britain, and finally, ever and always the islands of my heart, New Zealand. With all that love of islands, can you wonder any longer that when I decided to invest in some imaginary real estate, I invented an island?
Death By Donut (A Pismawallops PTA Mystery) by Rebecca M. Douglass
Election day’s almost here, and the island’s new pool is on the line. JJ should be all in with the campaign, but when a prominent Island businessman drops dead at her feet in the Have-A-Bite Bakery, someone has a mystery to solve. JJ’s fiancé—police chief Ron Karlson—is out of town. Who else is there?
JJ is missing her sweetheart, tired of the winter rains, and distracted by everybody’s questions about when the wedding’s happening. Even more worrying, her foster-daughter’s father has failed to show up on schedule. No wonder JJ’s struggling to wrap this one up before someone else bites into the wrong donut. There’s no time to lose, because something truly essential is on the line: saving the bakery—and JJ’s favorite espresso brownies!
About Rebecca M. Douglass
Rebecca M. Douglass was raised in Washington State on an island only a little bigger than Pismawallops. Though she has lived most of her adult life in California, the salt waters of Puget Sound continue to call to her and she enjoys owning an island in the Salish Sea, even if she had to invent one to do so! Rebecca has written a number of children’s books as well as her Pismawallops PTA mysteries and has had short stories published in several anthologies. When she isn’t writing, she likes to spend her free time hiking and biking, and her vacations exploring the outdoor world by camping, hiking, and backpacking.
Guest Post: The Siege of Ladysmith by Roberta Eaton Cheadle
The siege of Ladysmith, a town in British controlled Natal, was a lengthily engagement between the British and the Boers during the Great South African War (Second Anglo Boer War).
When the negotiations between the two Boer republics and Britain broke down and war was declared on the 11th of October 1899, 21,000 Boers advanced into Natal from all sides. By way of a countermeasure, Lieutenant Sir George White deployed his British troops around the garrison town of Ladysmith. As the Boers surrounded Ladysmith, White engaged in the Battle of Ladysmith with ended in disaster for the British with 1,200 men killed, wounded or captured.
The town was then besieged for 118 days from 2 November 1899 to 28 February 1900. On the 15th of December 1899 the first British relief force under General Redvers Henry Buller was defeated at the Battle of Colenso.
On Christmas Day 1899, the Boers fired into Ladysmith a carrier shell without a fuse. It contained a Christmas pudding, two Union Flags and the message ‘compliments of the season’.
Following repeated attempts by Buller to fight his way across the Tugela River, he finally broke through the Boer positions on the 27th of February 1900. On the evening of the 28th of February, the first party of the relief column, under Major Hubert Gough and including Winston Churchill, rode into Ladysmith.
Today, Richard arrived in a state of great excitement.
“The Boer besiegers of Ladysmith launched an attack on the British defenders last week and it was decisively repulsed.”
This was an encouraging piece of news.
Ladysmith is a large town in Natal. The last news I’d heard about it related to the disastrous Battle of Ladysmith on the 30th of October last year.
A large British force had gathered in the town under Lieutenant General Sir George White, an elderly officer who had served mainly in India. He ordered a sortie of his entire force to capture the Boer forces who were stealthily surrounding the town.
This approach resulted in complete defeat for the British. His troops were driven back into the town after having suffered losses of one thousand two hundred men, killed, wounded or captured.
News of a defeat of the Boer besiegers was encouraging, especially in the context of Mafeking’s own besieged status.
“The men are all celebrating the news,” continued Richard, his eyes sparkling with pleasure. “The dispatch said that sixty-five Boers were killed during the attack and another one hundred and twenty wounded. “It also said that on Christmas Day, the Boers fired a carrier shell into the town without a fuse. It contained a Christmas pudding, two Union Jacks and a message saying, ‘compliments of the season.’ Isn’t that hilarious? The Boers do have a sense of humour, don’t they?”
I grinned back at him, his enthusiasm was contagious.
“That is funny. I told you many of the Boers are intelligent and witty.”
“There is also a poem that was written by one of the people in the town at the beginning of the siege. It is aimed at the Boer military leader, Kommandant-General Piet Joubert.”
Richard stopped speaking to pull a crumpled piece of newspaper from his short-pants pocket. A collection of other items came out with it, including a bit of string and a nail.
He’s still such a boy. He should be going to school every day and playing sport with his mates, not fighting in a war.
Opening the paper out, he smoothed it with his hands and started reading.
To General Slim Piet
Hail mighty Oom: Jew Boer
Proud leader of a dirty crew
Who shell at night instead of fight
as savage Bourbon Tartars do.
Your deeds of valour at the sound
the nations well may quake
The sick and wounded down you strike
The Church and Town Hall break.
The nature folk you blandly strip
of cattle clothes and money
and thus you prove you’re closely bred
To sow and wolf or monkey.
Oh slippery one at last you’ve hit
The biggest marks in town
Days twenty four you’ve done your best
To shell the Red Cross down.
But still it waves and up its back
Stands honour, brave and true
Our warrior lads but wait the word
to meet and share and square with you.
“What does slim mean?” he asked when he’d finished.
“In South African English it means someone who has outwitted you. It is not an insult.”
His forehead wrinkled with effort as he attempted to understand the poem’s satire.
“The use of the word slim in this context is satire. The poet is ridiculing the general by saying his is clever and then clearly informing him that the shells he is firing into Ladysmith are only hitting soft targets like the churches, hospitals and civilians instead of the military. The poet is essentially criticising him for his stupidity while praising him for being clever.”
“I understand now. Thanks for explaining.”
The corners of his mouth turned up in a broad smile as he silently re-read the poem with greater understanding.
Seeing this boy learn and develop is rewarding and I’ll miss him when the siege eventually ends, and I move on from Mafeking. Assuming it ever does end; it is relentless and endless right now.
The poem is from “The War Report, The Anglo-Boer War Through the Eyes of the Burghers” by J.E.H. Grobler
A Ghost and His Gold by Roberta Eaton Cheadle
About A Ghost And His Gold
A Ghost and His Gold Supernatural Historical Stand-Alone Novel Publisher TSL Publications (1/27/2021) Number of Pages 264 pages ISBN 9781914245039
After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.
Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?
After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lie in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.
About Robbie Eaton Cheadle
Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.
Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions that children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.
Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.
Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle): Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook
Middle school books: Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas) While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)
Poetry book: Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)
Supernatural fantasy YA novel: Through the Nethergate
Supernatural historical adult novel:
A Ghost and His Gold
Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre): Spellbound Nightmareland Dark Visions Wings & Fire
Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth): Spirits of the West Whispers of the Past
Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley) Death Among Us
One of the major issues faced by novelists, and particularly mystery writers, is plausibility. Everything in your story from your characters, to your dialogue, to the technical details of the plot must be plausible. In my mind, this is one of the most important reasons to join writing groups and critique groups. Other readers’ reactions can immediately tell you whether or not a scene or a character is plausible. Like Jiminy Cricket, readers can tell when you are telling selling wild improbable tales.
When you have the privilege of reading your material to the members of a writing group, one of the common things they will say is, “I don’t get it. Why is she doing this? Why did he say that?” This is the point where most authors, even experienced writers, get their backs up. A given scene, or piece of dialogue invariably seems credible to the person who wrote it, so it’s natural to feel defensive, but try to consider the speaker’s point of view. One of the rules for writing groups that works well is to prevent the author from commenting on his/her work until all the members of the group have had their say. Then the author can react. This pause gives the writer time to remember-feedback is always helpful.
I recently read part of a chapter from “The Blind Split” to my writing group. In the reading, my detective, Wayne Nichols, is entering a deserted house in the dark. Because the mafia has been suspected of abducting a woman and child, he is armed. The members of my writing group are mostly older, well-educated white women. One of them said she hated guns and didn’t want to hear anything about weapons in the story. I had to clamp my hand over my mouth to keep from saying, “For goodness sakes, the Detective is in law enforcement! Of course he has a gun.” However, when I re-wrote the chapter I removed some of the description of the type of weapon and simply said he had come armed.
Perhaps the most important way of achieving plausibility in your story is doing your research. There are two ways of doing this. One way is to have someone you can consult who is an expert in the field. I am fortunate to have an emergency room physician in my family and he is the person I always consult on medical details. In addition to his broad knowledge of medicine, he has made a sub-specialty of testifying as an expert witness. I have another person in my extended family, who is a police officer. Early in his career, he was a narc and so is able to help with confidential informants, drug usage and jurisdiction, just to name a few issues. One of my dearest friends is a clinical psychologist and has been enormously helpful with such issues as sibling rivalry, grief, and abuse.
The second way of doing your research is by reading or consulting the internet. The Net is the quickest way to find information, but you have to be careful. Some of the stuff on the Net is just plain wrong! I like Wikipedia, although I am careful to consult other sources about a given topic because anyone can contribute to articles on Wikipedia. I also like government sites. These were especially helpful in writing “The Blind Split.” The book takes place in 2020 and I felt it was unethical not to deal with the pandemic. The State Health Department sites were terrific sources of data.
Bottom line: if you are writing a novel of a mystery, keep in mind that it is NOT a Memoir. Your own experiences are not enough. Don’t hide your head in the sand! Remember what Grandma said, “You have two ears and only one mouth,” so listen more than talk, do your research, and keep writing!
The Blind Switch (A Rosedale Investigations Mystery) by Lyn Farrell
The first book in the Rosedale Investigations series finds Wayne Nichols, our doggedly determined Detective, and his sassy and irreverent partner, Dory Clarkson, starting new jobs as private investigators. Their first client, Cara Summerfield, comes with what appears to be a missing person’s case. Cara got pregnant in high school and baby Danny was adopted. Her husband, Grant, an up-and-coming politician has never been told about the pregnancy. Their only clue is an unreadable return address on a letter sent to Cara from Danny’s girlfriend. Danny is now a racehorse trainer and has been assaulted for non-payment of gambling debts. Cara charges Rosedale Investigations to find Danny and keep his existence completely confidential. When Danny is found, he’s in the ICU and not expected to live. When he passes away, it appears to the pathologist to be natural causes, but Detective Nichols doesn’t buy it. It looks like murder to him.
About Lyn Farrell
Lynda J. Farquhar (penname Lyn Farrell) holds a master’s degree in English and a Ph.D. in Higher Education/Administration from Michigan State University. Prior to her retirement from MSU, she was a professor in the College of Human Medicine where she worked for 30+ years. When she retired, she returned to her first love, writing, and self-published a YA Trilogy, “Tales of the Skygrass Kingdom.” Subsequently, she and her daughter, Lisa Fitzsimmons, wrote a 7-book mystery series, “The Mae December Mysteries,” published by Camel Press under their joint penname, Lia Farrell. Marketing efforts for the Mae December mysteries, as well as much work by Camel on subsidiary rights, deal with Harlequin, have resulted in sales of 22,000+ (to date) for the series. She is now writing a new mystery series, “Rosedale Investigations.” The first is titled, “The Blind Switch” and was released in January 2021.