Posted in Cozy Mystery, Interview

Interview of Nellie H. Steele, author of Ghosts, Lore & a House by the Shore

Today, it’s my pleasure to interview Nellie H. Steele, author of Ghosts, Lore & a House by the Shore. Nellie is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Hi, Nellie. Can you tell us how long you’ve been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

I published my first book in late 2019 as in Indie with my own publishing label, A Novel Idea Publishing (which I co-own with my mom!).  I currently have six series on the market.

Lily & Cassie by the Sea is a cozy mystery series following mother/daughter duo, Lily and Cassie, as they move into the most talked about house in Hideaway Bay, Whispering Manor.  The debut novel in the series, Ghosts, Lore & a House by the Shore explores the legends of Whispering Manor.  More Lily & Cassie stories are coming soon!

Clif & Ri on the Sea is a high seas pirate adventure series and a spin off of the Lily & Cassie by the Sea series.  The characters Clif and Ri first appear in Ghosts, Lore & a House by the Shore. You can learn more about them in their own series, starting with Book 1, Rise of a Pirate.

The Cate Kensie Mysteries series is a cozy mystery series following Lady Catherine Kensie as she journeys to Scotland to take up residence in a mysterious castle.  Cate’s series currently has four books out with more on the way!

Shadow Slayers Stories is a magical realism/supernatural suspense series.  Follow the Shadow Slayers as they battle the darkness that threatens to take over the world.  This series currently has four books out with more on the way, too!

Maggie Edwards Adventures is an Indiana Jones-style adventure series set in the modern-day and following spunky heroine, Maggie Edwards, as she trots across the globe discovering ancient secrets.

The Duchess of Blackmoore Mysteries series is a historical mystery series with a supernatural twist.  Orphan-turned-duchess Lenora Fletcher can communicate with the dead.  Her unique ability often puts her at the heart of several mysteries.

My gosh! You’re very prolific. I can’t imagine being able to keep up with all those series. I’m starting a second cozy series and am hoping I can manage it.

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

I’ve got lots of things in the works!  The spinoff series to Ghosts, Lore & a House by the Shore is coming May 10, 2022.  You can follow the adventures of Clif & Ri (two minor characters in the Lily & Cassie series) in their first book, Rise of a Pirate.

The second Duchess of Blackmoore book is completed and due out July 19, 2022.  Letter to a Duchess is available now to preorder.

The third book in the Maggie Edwards adventure series is complete and going through the editing cycle.  It’ll make its debut later this year with a to-be-determined date.

And I’m currently writing Book 5 in the Cate Kensie Mystery series along with a few other top secret projects!

Wow! You’re very busy. I’m glad you had time for this interview.

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

I plan to expand my catalog by adding a few new series and continuing to write in my current series.  I’d really love to continue bringing characters to life that readers already enjoy and new ones they’ve yet to meet.  I keep to a rigorous writing schedule to achieve this and I plan to continue taking course to learn best practices for my craft along with methods to connect with more readers!

That’s a great goal. I hope I can continue both my Cobble Cove series and my new one.

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

Anyone who loves a good story with a great character.  I try to take a lot of time to build my characters (warts and all!) into people readers will enjoy following through their journey.  Most of my writing centers around the mystery genre, but I try to give unique stories throughout all my series.  Any mystery reader who loves a different take on the traditional genre will enjoy my catalog!

Sounds very interesting. I must look into them. As a librarian and an author, I love discovering new writers.

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

Keep writing!  And write what you’re passionate about!  It can be extremely easy to give up, but each time you sit down at your computer, typewriter or journal, you’re practicing your craft.  And with practice comes enhanced skills.

Nice advice.

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

When I started writing (and even now!), I was balancing a full-time job on top of the writing.  It can make it very challenging to find the time to write, edit and do all the things required to be a published author.  Though I wouldn’t change anything!

Working full-time, I can relate to that, as I’m sure many others can, as well.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I belong to lots of author groups that discuss a variety of topics ranging from writing to publishing to marketing.  I also have my own group pertaining to cozy mysteries called The Cozy Collaborative.  It is a Facebook group designed to help Cozy Mystery Authors at all stages of their career connect and share best practices.  (Of course, we’re open to any writers).

Oh, I must join.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I have an animal rescue.  I love helping pets in need.  Currently, I have 14 pets in my rescue home (they are all mine, they won’t be adopted out).  We work to rehab them from challenging or abusive situations into a normal home life where they can enjoy their lives pain-free and in a stress-free environment.

Wonderful! I’m a big animal lover myself. I’ve had cats all my life and included them in most of my books and stories. One of my recent rescues, my three-year-old calico, Hermione, is currently running in America’s Favorite Pet Contest. She made it to the finals after several tough rounds thanks to votes by Facebook users who have supported her by daily votes and PAWS votes that go toward raising funds for the PAWS Foundation to help pets. We’re hoping she wins Thursday night when the contest ends at 9 pm EDT. If you or any of my blog readers would be kind enough to vote for her, we need all the votes and shares we can get. Here is her voting page: https://americasfavpet.com/2022/hermione-cf74

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

I love creating worlds and characters.  It’s really a fun thing to immerse yourself into a world of your own creation and tell a story.  My least favorite thing is marketing.  It can be so hard to “sell” your self and your work to others!

Toughest challenge is definitely getting bad reviews.  It can really be crushing when someone dislikes your work (and then expounds on how thoroughly they dislike it in a scathing review).

I definitely agree about the challenges of marketing and disappointing reviews. As a librarian, I read a lot of reviews, and I’ve noticed that even bestsellers get some bad ones. Everyone has their own taste, and not everyone will like every book, but it’s hard not to take it personally.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I love the warm, cozy feel of cozy mysteries.  I love the happy endings and the general sense of “safety” they convey as you read or write them.  They’re really pleasant, easy stories to get into!

I think most cozy mystery readers feel that way. I like the fact that my characters become fictional friends as people discover their quirks through my books and stories about them.

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

“There’s no need to explain at all. We understand.” She took a sip of her tea as awkward silence fell over the room. “Speaking of signs, I noticed your Whispering Manor sign dangling sideways from the lamppost sideways. I’m not sure if you saw it.”

“Yes,” Lily answered. “We hung it just before lunch and the chain snapped. We’ll need to fix it later. I insisted we have some lunch before Cassie climbed that ladder again.”

“Ah, yes. A faulty chain.” Tinsley offered a knowing glance. “I’m glad to see you are both so level-headed and didn’t give in to the lore.”

“Lore?” Cassie inquired.

“Oh, yes,” Tinsley said with a slow nod of her head. “I’m surprised Lucy didn’t tell you. Though, then again, she wanted to make the deal, no doubt. And I suppose she’s not really required to disclose it. It IS only a rumor. And technically the death wasn’t IN the house.”

“Death? Disclose what?” Cassie asked.

“Oh,” Tinsley said flicking her hand at Cassie and shaking her head. She puckered her lips and narrowed her eyes. “Nothing, nothing. Just…” She paused and added a dramatic shrug. “Some people would have read the snapping sign as a harbinger of bad things to come because…”

Cassie raised her eyebrows and cocked her head.

Tinsley glanced side-to-side before leaning forward and pressing her hand to the side of her mouth. “The house is haunted,” she whispered.

Very nice. Thanks for sharing.

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

I’ve got a lovely “try me” boxset available.  The boxset contains the first-in-series for my first four published series (Cate Kensie Mysteries, Shadow Slayers Stories, Maggie Edwards Adventures and Duchess of Blackmoore Mysteries).  For $9.99, it’s a great introduction to the series for readers!

That sounds great. I’m going to look into that myself. In the meantime, I’m sharing your blog tour and giveaway. Thank you for the interview, and best wishes on the first book in your Lily & Cassie By the Sea cozy mysteries.


Ghosts, Lore & a House by the Shore: A Mother/Daughter Cozy Mystery
(Lily & Cassie By the Sea Mysteries)
by Nellie H. Steele

About Ghosts, Lore & a House by the Shore

Ghosts, Lore & a House by the Shore: A Mother/Daughter Cozy Mystery
(Lily & Cassie By the Sea Mysteries)

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Number of Pages: 306 pages
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09PMDT2TL

A new town.
A haunting legend.
New beginnings or the beginning of the end?

After Cassie MacGuire’s husband dies in a plane crash along with her father, both her and her mother, Lily Bennett, are left as widows. Looking to make a new start, they move together to the quiet seaside town of Hideaway Bay. But their new home, Whispering Manor, has a reputation stretching back centuries. Legends of ghosts, paranormal disturbances and pirate treasure are all associated with the former sea captain’s mansion, starting with the death of its first mistress, Henrietta Blanchard.

When Cassie stumbles upon Henrietta’s journal and Lily uncovers a more recent tragedy in the home, they begin to wonder if the stories may be fact instead of fiction. When the strange occurrences turn dangerous, Lily and Cassie will have to investigate to save their home and possibly even their very lives!

Ghosts, Lore & a House by the Shore is the charming first installment in this small, seaside town mother-daughter cozy mystery series by Nellie H. Steele.

About Nellie H. Steele

An Indies Today finalist for Best Book of the Year 2020 with Cleopatra’s Tomb, Nellie H. Steele made the leap from science to art with her first book, The Secret of Dunhaven Castle.

An animal enthusiast, Nellie often features a version of one of her fourteen rescue animals in her stories, though the fictional pets are usually better behaved than her own fur-babies! A literary split personality, Nellie’s work ranges from cozy mystery to supernatural suspense to riveting adventure.

She lives in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. When she isn’t writing or engaging in animal care, she enjoys teaching Statistics and Data Science at a local university.

Check out all Nellie offers at www.anovelideapublishing.com/novels or at her blog, Nellie’s Book Nook, available at www.nelliesbooknook.com!

Author Links

Publisher Website: anovelideapublishing.com

Blog: www.nelliesbooknook.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nelliehsteele

Instagram: www.instagram.com/nelliehsteele

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nelliehsteele1

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@nelliehsteeleauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19769743.Nellie_H_Steele

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/nellie-h-steele

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Nellie-H.-Steele/e/B07Z9PD3YN

Purchase Link: Amazon: (eBook preorder is currently live. Book will be offered in eBook, paperback, hardcover, and audio).

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

April 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 5 – Books Blog – SPOTLIGHT

April 5 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 6 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 6 – Drink Coffee and Read Books – REVIEW

April 7 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

April 7 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

April 8 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

April 8 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 8 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 9 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT

April 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

April 10 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

April 10 – Eskimo Princess Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 11 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW

April 11 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

April 12 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST

April 12 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

April 13 – Angel’s Guilty Pleasures – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 13 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

April 14 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

April 14 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
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Posted in Blog Tour, Interview

Interview of Trish Esden, Author of The Art of the Decoy: A Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery

I’m happy to have Trish Esden from northwestern Vermont here to speak about her writing and her lastest mystery, The Art of Decoy. Trish also writes contemporary fantasy that is a touch dark and a bit sexy under the name Pat Esden.

Hi, Trish. How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

THE ART OF THE DECOY, a Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery, is my debut mystery. It will be released on April 5th of this year by Crooked Lane Books. A second book in the series will be published in spring 2023.

My first contemporary fantasy series, Dark Heart, was published by Kensington Books starting in 2016. In 2018 my second fantasy series, The Northern Circle Coven, was released by Kensington.

Congratulations!

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

My goal is to continue to write and promote the Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery series. The first two novels are under contract with Crooked Lane Books. I’m currently writing a third book which isn’t under contract yet. I’m also working on a short mystery story that isn’t related to the series. My hope is that publishing short fiction will fill in the gap between novel releases. I’m also taking a marketing class with Laurie Cooper of Ask Pub Craft, so I can keep up to date in that area.

Nice. I also write Cobble Cove mystery stories in between the series books.

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

I think my novels would be perfect for readers who enjoy mysteries by authors such as of Jane K. Cleland and Connie Berry. They’d also be great for mystery book clubs since they feature a large cast of characters and bring up a variety potential discussion topics related to the antique and art world.

Sounds interesting.

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

Hang in there and strive to give your story all the time and work it needs before attempting to get it published.

Great advice.

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

I have always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until I was in my late forties that I began writing with the goal of being published. My main challenge was to raise my writing skills up to a professional level. I did this by taking a ton of writing classes online and by joining professional organizations such as Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

I’m also a member of Sisters in Crime. It’s a great group. I started publishing late, too, but I’ve also been writing all my life.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I don’t belong to any formal in person writing groups. However, I do go on writing retreats with author friends. Plus, I belong to writing groups attached to the organizations I mentioned previously—MWA and SINC. I also attend writing meeting sponsored by the League of Vermont Writers.

I’m sure your participation in those is helpful.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

In real life, I’m an antique dealer which keeps me busy. I love going to museums, flea markets, and yard sales. I also enjoy traveling whenever the chance comes along. I birdwatch, garden and create painted folk art furniture. I also spend as much quality time as possible with my husband and Haley, our Golden retriever.

Nice hobbies, and your antique experience supports your writing. I have cats, but there’s a golden retriever in my Cobble Cove series. I think they’re beautiful dogs.

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

The toughest challenge and least enjoyable part of being an author is the waiting and not knowing when or if writing related things are going to happen. This occurs at all stages of being an author and throughout the career. First you wait to hear back from critique partners, then you wait for responses from agents…Even after the novel goes on submission and is bought by a publisher, the schedule when things happen is most often up in the air. This is somewhat more control able if you self-publish, but even thing there are long wait times.

What I like most is when I get a review where the reader enjoyed the novel, and really got the heart of what I intended.

The waiting is tough, but good reviews do make it worthwhile.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I love dreaming up characters and mystery plots, and then finding the perfect way to twist the story so it surprises the reader and yet feels inevitable.

Yes. That can be a challenge, but I enjoy it, too.

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

I love to have aspiring authors as well as readers follow me on social media. Be sure to also signup for my newsletter on my website. You’ll find a contact email there. Feel free to use it if you have any questions about writing or my series. I enjoy staying in touch and answering questions.

That’s so nice. Thanks for the interview, Trish. I’m also sharing the blog tour and giveaway for your new release.

The Art of the Decoy (A Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery)
by Trish Esden

About The Art of the Decoy

The Art of the Decoy (A Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery)
Traditional Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Vermont
Crooked Lane Books (April 5, 2022)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1643859641
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1643859644
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B098PXZNDF

Perfect for fans of Jane K. Cleland and Connie Berry, Tricia Esden’s series debut is sure to please.

After her mother is sent to prison for art forgery, Edie Brown returns to Northern Vermont to rebuild her family’s fine art and antiques business. She’s certain she can do it now that her mother is gone. After all, butting heads with her mom over bad business practices was what drove Edie away three years ago, including a screwup that landed Edie on probation for selling stolen property.

When Edie scores a job appraising a waterfowl decoy collection at a hoarder’s farmhouse, she’s determined to take advantage of the situation to rebuild the business’s tarnished reputation and dwindling coffers. In lieu of payment, Edie intends to cherry-pick an exceptional decoy carved by the client’s renowned Quebecoise folk artist ancestors. Only the tables turn when the collection vanishes.

Accused of the theft, Edie’s terrified that the fallout will destroy the business and land her in prison next to her mom. Desperate, she digs into the underbelly of the local antiques and art world. When Edie uncovers a possible link between the decoy theft and a deadly robbery at a Quebec museum, she longs to ask her ex-probation officer, and ex-lover, for help. But she suspects his recent interest in rekindling their romance may hide a darker motive.

With the help of her eccentric uncle Tuck and Kala, their enigmatic new employee, Edie must risk all she holds dear to expose the thieves and recover the decoys before the FBI’s Art Crime Team or the ruthless thieves themselves catch up with her.

About Trish Esden

Trish Esden loves museums, gardens, wilderness, dogs, and birds, in various orders depending on the day. She lives in northern Vermont where she deals antiques with her husband, a profession she’s been involved with since her teens. Don’t ask what her favorite type of antique is. She loves hunting down old bottles and rusty barn junk as much as she enjoys fine art and furnishings.

Author Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Trish-Esden-author-108247488016132

Twitter: https://twitter.com/patesden

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/patesden/_created/

Website: https://trishesden.com

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/trish-esden

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21662893.Trish_Esden

Purchase LinksAmazonIndieBoundBarnes & NobleBooks-a-MillionKobo

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

March 29 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST

March 29 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 30 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, RECIPE

March 30 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 31 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

March 31 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – GUEST POST

April 1 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 1 – Christa Reads and Writes – SPOTLIGHT

April 2 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 2 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

April 3 – Nellie’s Book Nook – REVIEW

April 3 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

April 4 – Novels Alive – REVIEW

April 4 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

April 5 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST

April 5 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

April 6 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

April 6 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 7 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST

April 7 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT

April 8 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 9 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

April 10 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

April 10 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

April 11 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

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Posted in Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery, Interview

Interview with Debra H. Goldstein, Author of Four Cuts Too Many, A Sarah Blair Cozy Mystery.

I’m honored to have author Debra H. Goldstein from Birmingham, Alabama as a guest on Ruff Drafts for her blog tour with her new Sarah Blair release, Four Cuts Too Many.

Hi, Debra. How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.:Drafts.

Although I had legal articles published during my legal career, I didn’t begin writing fiction until a conference competition in 2010. During the past eleven years, I have written six published novels, one that will come out in 2022, and more than forty short stories. My works have been recognized with an IPPY award, as well as being named Agatha, Anthony, Derringer and Silver Falchion finalists.

Maze in Blue – a mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus in the 1970’s – was published by Chalet, LLC (2011). When they went out of business in 2012, they gave me all files, including the artwork, so I could put it up on CreateSpace and fulfill my speaking obligations. Harlequin Worldwide Mystery bought its mass market rights, but I retain and still have it available in trade paperback and e-book.

Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery – published in 2016 by Five Star. Mass Market rights were later sold to Harlequin Worldwide Mystery. Five Star is no longer publishing mysteries.

One Taste Too Many – Kensington’s Sarah Blair cozy mystery series – January 2019-available in mass market, e-book, large print, and audio book.

Two Bites Too Many – Kensington’s Sarah Blair cozy mystery series – October 2019 – available in mass market, e-book, large print, and audio book.

Three Treats Too Many – Kensington’s Sarah Blair cozy mystery series – August 2020 – available in mass market, e-book, large print, and audio book.

Four Cuts Too Many – Kensington’s Sarah Blair cozy mystery series – May 2021 – available in mass market and e-book.

Five Belles Too Many – Kensington’s Sarah Blair cozy mystery series – (2022)

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

Four Cuts Too Many, the fourth book in Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series, releases on May 25, 2021. Set in a small Southern town, Sarah, who finds kitchens more frightening than murder, gets an education in slicing and dicing when someone in the culinary school where her friend teaches serves up a main corpse. Sarah soon finds that there’s no time to mince words when it comes to finding the real killer.

Sounds interesting, and I love the cover.

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

I write because it is a passion. Just before my second book was released, I walked away from my lifetime judicial appointment to write. My goals as a writer are simple: enjoy what I’m doing (I’m in my second childhood) and give readers an entertaining experience the fun of which allows them to escape the real world.  

Those are great goals and a win win for you and your readers.

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

The Sarah Blair books appeal to cozy readers ages twenty to infinity. They are fast fun reads, but with a slight edge grounded in real life.

I’m sure they attract a wide audience.

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

Follow your dream. I wish I had done it sooner. Remember to read other people’s works, take classes, read how-to-books, network, and most of all – write. Publication doesn’t necessarily happen overnight, but improvement in your skills can happen daily.

As an author still hoping to find an agent, I appreciate that advice. I’m aware it can take time, and I’m thankful to my two Indie publishers who publish both my cozy series and my standalone mysteries.

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

My biggest challenge was believing I could write and making the time to write. I was a master talking about how I wanted to write, but also in finding ways to avoid it.

I can relate to that. After self publishing my first book that didn’t sell well because I had no experience with marketing and promotion,, I stopped writing for some time until a patron at the library where I work who’d read my book told me that I shouldn’t give up my dream and that if I really wanted to write, I would find the time. Even though I still find marketing and promotion challenging, I now have 11 published books and, despite my full-time job, am still writing.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I belong to several chapters of Sisters in Crime and previously served as the president of its largest chapter, the Guppies, as well as being on the national board for five years. Presently, I am president of the Southeast region of Mystery Writers of America and sit on their national board. I also am a member of the Atlanta Writers Group.

Sisters in Crime and their Guppies group are wonderful associations for mystery authors. I’m also a member of both groups as well as International Thriller Writers and the Cat Writers’ Association. I’m hoping to join Mystery Writers of America soon.

  1. What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Reading, Broadway shows, family & friends.

Nice. Hopefully Broadway shows will resume soon.

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

I love interacting with people and getting in the zone where words flow into stories and novels. My toughest challenge is balancing life, writing, and promotion – and sometimes coming up with a good idea.

I have trouble balancing writing time with my other obligations, too. I have lots of ideas but not the time to implement them all, so I have to pick and choose.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

Writing cozy mysteries are a challenge to create a solid whodunit that readers enjoy and can potentially figure out without giving the ending away. It’s like creating a puzzle or a maze for people to walk through, with fair clues. If the writing works, I provide a reader with moments of escape and fun, while challenging myself to make each book or story better than the last one.

Yes, it’s important that readers are given clues but ones that don’t make the mystery too easy to solve. That’s another balancing act for cozy as well as other mystery writers.

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

Four Cuts Too Many Excerpt:

“There’s something obviously still bothering you. You’ve laid out lots of theories, but you don’t sound convinced about any of them. From what you’ve said, besides Grace, you’ve got lots of possible suspects for Harlan and Chief Gerard to look at. Right?”

“In a sense.” Sarah held up her fingers as she ticked them off. “They should consider anyone who was on the floor when Grace and I got there. That would be Wanda, Franklin, Chef Bernardi, Fern, Nancy, Dr. Williams, and the people who waited to be interviewed in their offices who I don’t even know. The same holds true on the tenure issue, because most of the faculty is working its way toward tenure.”

Sarah put her hands back on the table. “I don’t think I have enough fingers to count everyone. When I add in family, there’s Wanda, but also Wanda’s biological mom, Dr. Martin’s new wife, Lynn, and Kait. There might also be someone at the retirement home who has a connection to Dr. Martin that I haven’t discovered yet. Someone mentioned that because of Kait, they considered Dr. Martin to be part of the Sunshine Retirement Home family.”

“That a long list of potential suspects. Surely Harlan can find enough motivation for most of them to raise doubt if Grace is arrested or tried. What’s really bothering you? What’s going on in your head?”

“I have to admit that if I were Chief Gerard and I was committed to following the money and the blood, Grace would be my primary suspect too . . .”

What a tantalizing excerpt. Thanks for sharing.

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

I’d like your readers to know how appreciative I am for them. Without them, Sarah couldn’t exist nor could I be having the time of my life. Thank you for having me today and to your readers for supporting my dream.

My pleasure. Readers are the best.

Thanks so much for chatting with me today. I’m sharing your blog tour and giveaway. Best wishes on the tour and your new release.


Four Cuts Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery)
by Debra H. Goldstein

About Four Cuts Too Many

Four Cuts Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Publisher: Kensington (May 25, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1496732219
ISBN-13: 978-1496732217
Digital ASIN: B08GY52GS6

Sarah Blair gets an education in slicing and dicing when someone in culinary school serves up a main corpse in Wheaton, Alabama . . .

Between working as a law firm receptionist, reluctantly pitching in as co-owner of her twin sister’s restaurant, and caretaking for her regal Siamese RahRah and rescue dog Fluffy, Sarah has no time to enjoy life’s finer things. Divorced and sort-of dating, she’s considering going back to school. But as a somewhat competent sleuth, Sarah’s more suited for criminal justice than learning how many ways she can burn a meal.

Although she wouldn’t mind learning some knife skills from her sous chef, Grace Winston. An adjunct instructor who teaches cutlery expertise in cooking college, Grace is considering accepting an executive chef’s position offered by Jane Clark, Sarah’s business rival—and her late ex-husband’s lover. But Grace’s future lands in hot water when the school’s director is found dead with one of her knives in his back. To clear her friend’s name, Sarah must sharpen her own skills at uncovering an elusive killer . . .

Includes quick and easy recipes!

About Debra H. Goldstein

Judge Debra H. Goldstein writes Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series (Three Treats Too Many, Two Bites Too Many, One Taste Too Many). She also authored Should Have Played Poker and IPPY Award-winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories have been named Agatha, Anthony, Derringer finalists. Debra serves on the national boards of Mystery Writers of America and is president of SEMWA. She previously was on Sisters in Crime’s national board and president of SinC’s Guppy Chapter.

Find out more about Debra and sign up for her newsletter at https://www.DebraHGoldstein.com. Follow her on Twitter (@DebraHGoldstein), Bookbub (https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debra-h-goldstein), and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/DebraHGoldsteinAuthor/).

Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

May 23 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

May 23 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 24 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 24 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 25 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST

May 25 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

May 26 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 27 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

May 27 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – GUEST POST

May 28 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, RECIPE

May 28 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 28 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

May 29 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 29 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

May 30 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

June 1 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

June 1 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW, GUEST POST

June 2 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

June 2 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

June 3 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT

June 3 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW

June 4 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 4 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

June 5 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

June 5 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 6 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

June 6 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Cozy Mystery, Interview

Spotlight of Tracey Drew, Author of Knitted and Knifed, the first Knitty Kitties Mystery

Please welcome Tracey Alvarez writing as Tracey Drew who is here from New Zealand to talk about her new release.

Hi, Tracey. Great to have you with us. How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

I self-published my first contemporary romance in December 2013. Since then I have self-published 20+ other romance titles, become a USA Today bestselling author with one of my titles reaching the USA Today list, and I’m now working on a series of cozy mysteries.

Wow! That’s incredible. Congratulations! Tell us a little bit about your books.

I’m currently writing the fourth Knitty Kitties Mystery, with book 3 HANKS & A HITMAN that released on April 19th.

Love the title of your series. I’m partial to kitties, as I feature them in most of my books including my Cobble Cove cozy mysteries.

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

I’d like to write a lot more Knitty Kitties Mysteries, they’re so much fun!

Cozies are enjoyable to write. I’m hoping to continue the Cobble Cove series, too, and also start another.

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

A reader with a sense of humor and one who loves cats, yarn, and a tricksy mystery to solve.

I’m sure that will be a wide audience.

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

I’m personally a big proponent of publishing independently—once you’ve done your dues learning to write gripping stories, characters who jump off the page, and developed a voice that readers can’t get enough of, write the books you love. There is an abundance of advice and support online for indie authors, but also plenty if you want to go through traditional channels.

Good advice.

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

Self doubt. And it doesn’t go away once your first, or even tenth, book is published. You have to take that leap of faith and keep pushing forward.

That’s so true.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I belong to the Romance Writers of New Zealand, who are very supportive to members who write genres other than romance.

Very Nice.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Knitting and crochet, cats, reading, road trips with my car-loving husband.

Those sound like great hobbies. I used to enjoy crocheting, and I love spending time with my cats and my daughter and husband, too.

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

There are many awesome things about being an author—working from home with my two cats snoozing close by, making up stories about imaginary people, the sense of satisfaction from completing another book that I’m proud of. The not-so-good—marketing and promotion, administration, deadlines. The toughest challenge for me is the regular battle with writer’s block and the stress that goes with it.

I’m lucky that I don’t suffer writer’s block, but I agree with you about the challenges of marketing and promotion.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I love delving into a character’s motivation and backstory, and hiding clues from my readers in plain sight.

I can understand why you like that.

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

Excerpt from Knitted & Knifed.

Around us, people had begun to notice Officer Austin’s marked police vehicle parked outside the store. A few bolder locals wandered over to ask what was going on. I kept my gaze locked onto my phone screen, feigning sudden interest in social media posts of funny cat memes and updates on the mundane things people did on a beautiful summer’s morning.

One of Sean’s talents was people skills, which he successfully employed to evade any direct questions about what was going on inside. As the youngest, he’d learned from his older siblings how to circumvent Mum and Dad’s rules and the consequences of breaking them: with charm and misdirection.

However, by the time two more police cars cruised down Cape Street toward us, even Sean’s cheeky banter couldn’t keep the curious onlookers at bay. Quite a few people now milled around outside the store, and the lead vehicle had to double-park next to a ute and order its driver to move along. As uniformed officers poured onto the sidewalk and immediately began issuing instructions, I caught a glimpse of one man in the second car. He remained in place until the crowd had been ushered aside.

Then, and only then, did he unfold his sizable bulk from the car. And by bulk, I mean six foot something of broad-shouldered, rugby-player-thighed, hands-that-could-crush-a-fistful-of-unshelled-walnuts big. He cut an imposing figure in his charcoal-colored suit, totally out of place in this small seaside town where tidy-casual was considered business attire.

With precision-cut black hair, dark shades, and what might have been a sexy mouth if it wasn’t curved downward in a scowl, he strode toward us, his long legs eating up the sidewalk. I didn’t need to see behind those shades to know he was sizing up my brother and me because he immediately struck me as a size ’em up kind of guy.

He stopped in front of us, arms folded across his chest. “Good morning. I’m Detective Sergeant Mana.”

His voice was as deep as a gravel pit and equally as abrasive.

“Hey,” Sean said.

I kept my lips zipped. Did he expect a polite greeting in return or an impressed gasp in recognition of his authority?

His gaze slowly swept from Sean’s face to mine. “Tell me. Which one of you brought a cat to a crime scene?”

Excellent excerpt. Thanks for sharing.

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

My books are set in a fictional town in a very real and beautiful region of New Zealand, the Hawke’s Bay. As a New Zealander, I love introducing my readers to our stunning country.

Setting is very important to readers.

Thanks for the great interview. I’m sharing your blog tour and giveaway below. Best wishes on your new release and forthcoming books.


Knitted and Knifed: A Humorous & Heartwarming Cozy Mystery
(A Knitty Kitties Mystery) by Tracey Drew

About Knitted and Knifed


Knitted and Knifed: A Humorous & Heartwarming Cozy Mystery (A Knitty Kitties Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Independently published (January 5, 2021)
Paperback: 224 pages
ISBN-13: 979-8679373846
Digital – ASIN: B08GL9XM2Q

Wanted: Cat mum to manage a yarn store, corral two curious cats, all the while being tangled up in murderous mayhem and mystery.

A smart woman would dump her cheating ex, move from the city, and give herself a chance for a well-deserved do-over. A smarter woman—smarter than me, anyway—wouldn’t jump out of that same frying pan and return to Cape Discovery, a seaside village where her family is the nuttiest of all the nut-ball residents.

I’m a former high school counselor, middle-child peacemaker, and current curator of lots of squishy/fuzzy goodness at my granddad’s little yarn store. Temporary assistant. Until I decide what to do with the rest my life. There’s only one knotty problem to untangle first. The knife sticking out of the most unpopular man in town, and the police detective trying to pin the murder on the donkey—otherwise known as my younger brother. With a pair mischievous cats determined to be underfoot and a craft group of Serial Knitters and Happy Hookers wanting the inside scoop, a girl could lose her mind. And if the killer has their way, maybe even my life…

Tessa Wakefield has her hands full juggling a cozy craft store, her crazy family, and two men who’d rather poke out their eyes than describe themselves as cute. Which they totally are. Cute, charismatic, and occasionally on her mind when she’s not stumbling over dead bodies and using her newfound sleuthing skills to track down murderers. Lucky she’s an excellent multi-tasker because digging beneath Cape Discovery’s surface can unearth secrets that kill.

About Tracey Drew

Tracey Drew lives Down Under with her husband—who’s given up complaining about her yarn addiction–and two madcap tabby cats called Kevin and Alfie. The feline brothers constantly battle with her while she’s trying to write her books by demanding lap-time, but they also provide constant inspiration for her fun & quirky cozy mysteries.

Social Media links:

Website: https://www.traceydrew.com

Newsletter sign up (Free prequel e-book for signing up): http://eepurl.com/haZpPz

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

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Tracey-Drew/e/B08GMCH74Q

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

Goodreads Author: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20705014.Tracey_Drew

Goodreads Title: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55355231-knitted-and-knifed

BookBub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tracey-drew

Buy Links: Amazon Apple Books Nook Kobo Google Play Smashwords

The Rest of the Series
Prequel

Book 2

Book 3 Coming April 19, 2021

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

April 14 – Novels Alive – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 14 –Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

April 15 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

April 15 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

April 16 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW

April 16 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 17 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

April 18 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

April 19 – Literary Gold – REVIEW

April 19 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

April 20 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

April 20 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

April 21 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 21 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 22 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 22 – Novels Alive – REVIEW

April 23 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – SPOTLIGHT

April 23 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

April 24 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 24 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 25 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Blog Tour, Interview, New Releases

Interview of V.M. Burns and Spotlight for her new release, A Tourist’s Guide to Murder

I’d like to welcome V. M. Burns (Valerie Burns) from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Ruff Drafts.

How long have you been published Valerie and what titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

My first book, The Plot is Murder was published in 2017. I have 3 series:

Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series, Kensington

  The Plot is Murder, November 2017

  Read Herring Hunt, April 2018

  The Novel Art of Murder, November 2018

  Wed, Read, & Dead, April 2019

  Bookmarked for Murder, November 2019

  A Tourist’s Guide to Murder, January 2020

 

RJ Franklin Mystery Series, Camel Press

  Travellin’ Shoes, July 2018

  Motherless Child, September 2019

  Steal Away, October 2020

 

A Dog Club Mystery Series, Lyrical

  In the Dog House, August 2018

  The Puppy Who Knew Too Much, February 2019

  Bark if it’s Murder, August 2019

  Paw and Order, August 2020

  Sit, Stay, Slay, December 2020

Congratulations! That’s quite a list.  Tell us a little bit about your books —  any upcoming releases or your current work-in-progress.

I write cozy mysteries. My Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series is set in Southwestern Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. The protagonist, Samantha Washington was a high school English teacher who dreamed of quitting her job and opening a mystery bookshop. After her husband dies, she sells her house and takes the insurance money and follows their shared dream. However, owning a mystery bookshop wasn’t Sam’s only dream. She also dreamed of writing British historic cozy mysteries. This series is unique in that it features two mysteries in each book. Readers get to solve the contemporary mystery Sam is living through, and the British historic cozy that she is writing.

That sounds great. I’m also a cozy mystery writer of the Cobble Cove mystery series featuring a librarian and a library cat, but I also write standalones and other genres.

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

As a writer, I want to create entertaining, well-written mysteries that readers will enjoy. I’m not perfect and I’m constantly working to improve my craft and become a better writer. One of the best things that I have done to achieve my goal was getting my Masters in Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. The program helped me tremendously, but I know that I have much more to learn. So, I continue to take seminars, workshops, and courses to learn as much as I can. I read books on craft, as well as mysteries by other authors. Finally, I challenge myself in various ways to stretch and try new techniques. I hope to get better with each book I write.

Those are excellent goals. I agree that as writers, we need to keep learning, writing, and improving.

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

I think readers who like puzzles will enjoy cozy mysteries. Basically, that’s what cozy mysteries are. The reader is reading a story. Throughout the story, the author is dropping clues to help solve the puzzle to figure out whodunit. The author is also leaving red herrings (false clues) which may throw you off track. It’s up to the reader to put the pieces together and figure out whodunit by the end of the book. Cozy mysteries are considered “clean mysteries,” with no sex, bad words, and no graphic violence. Therefore, they appeal to people from all age groups.

Very true. Cozies have a wide audience.

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

Keep writing and don’t give up. Getting published rarely happens quickly. The road to publication is long, bumpy, and filled with potholes, roadblocks, dead ends, and detours. However, if you stay the course and don’t give up, then you will reach the end.

Perfect advice. Writers need to be persistent and a little stubborn to reach their goals. I’m still trying to find an agent as I continue to write and publish books and stories.

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

I think the biggest challenge I faced before I was published was in figuring out the publishing maze. Most publishers won’t accept manuscripts which aren’t submitted by an agent. Finding an agent can be like you’re on the quest to find the Holy Grail. Each agent wants something different (ie 10 pages and a synopsis, first 3 chapters, first 50 pages, first 50 pages and a plot summary, etc.). After you navigate the maze and send the query, then the waiting game starts. It can take months before you receive a rejection with no idea why. It was a long process for me, but perseverance paid off in the end.

I’ve experienced that myself and am still hoping my perseverance pays off with signing for an agent in the future.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I’m a member of Mystery Writers of America, Crime Writers of Color, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.

Great groups. I’m also a member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

As you might guess from my book covers, I’m heavily involved with dogs. When I was younger, I used to compete with my poodles (Coco and Cash) in canine obedience and agility. Both of my dogs were registered with Therapy Dogs International and made monthly visits to nursing homes and hospitals. I also enjoy baking and eating. And, I love reading cozy mysteries.

That’s nice that your dogs are therapy dogs. My parents had poodles when I was young, and they also had German Shepherds when I was growing up along with lots of cats, my favorite pets. I currently have 3 cats whom I’ve featured in my writing. I enjoy including both cats and dogs in my books and stories.

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

I love writing, but there are a lot of components to being an author which don’t involve writing and there doesn’t seem to be a guide on how or what to do. My biggest challenge is in staying on top of my social media feeds. I struggle with how to engage with readers on Twitter and Instagram (and all of the other forms of social media). However, I believe you can teach an old dog new tricks, so I’m working on it.

LOL. You’re right on target with that. Working full time as a librarian, I find it difficult to juggle all the non-writing parts of being an author and still have time to write, but I think I’m getting a handle on it by prioritizing duties and keeping a strict calendar.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I love reading cozies and as a writer, I enjoy creating them. I love putting clues and red herrings together and trying to weave a plot that will (hopefully) entertain and intrigue the reader.

It’s true that it’s beneficial to write what you know and what you enjoy reading because that will be attractive to readers who like the same types of stories.

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

“Attention.” I clinked my knife against my glass. “Attention.” Unfortunately, no one listened, and the chatter got louder rather than softer.

My sister Jenna Rutherford leaned close and whispered into my ear, “Does the phrase ‘herding cats’ mean anything to you?”

I glanced down the table. My boyfriend, Frank Patterson, had reserved space for us in the upper level of his restaurant. Initially, I attributed the upper area seating to the fact that it was Friday night and the lower level of the restaurant and bar was full, so he was providing us space in the not-quite-open-to-the-public section to give us a quiet place to dine. However, after watching and listening, I suspected the seating arrangements had more to do with preserving the sanity of his paying customers.

Thanks for sharing an interesting excerpt. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?

When an author is traditionally published, they don’t have control over many aspects of the publishing process (eg book prices, release dates, alternate formats). Most of those decisions are made by the publisher, not the author. However, I have been pleased that my publisher, Kensington Press, has made all of the books in my Mystery Bookshop series available in large print and all of the books in the Dog Club series are available in audiobook format. Making books available in multiple formats is more than a personal preference or convenience. It is vitally important for visually impaired book lovers to have access to books.

Those are good points. I currently publish with two Indie publishers who publish my books in various formats from eBook and paperbacks to large type, audio, and hardcover.

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc.

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/v-m-burns

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

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

Twitter:https://twitter.com/vmburns

Website:  vmburns.com

Thanks so much for the interview, Valerie. I’m sharing your new release’s blog tour and giveaway below.


A Tourist’s Guide to Murder (Mystery Bookshop)
by V.M. Burns

About A Tourist’s Guide to Murder


A Tourist’s Guide to Murder (Mystery Bookshop)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Publisher: Kensington (January 26, 2021)
Paperback: 256 pages
ISBN-10: 1496728955
ISBN-13: 978-1496728951]
Digital ASIN: B087YRY1S4

While visiting the land of Miss Marple and Sherlock Holmes, bookstore owner and amateur sleuth Samantha Washington finds herself on a tragical mystery tour . . .

Sam joins Nana Jo and her Shady Acres Retirement Village friends Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae on a weeklong trip to London, England, to experience the Peabody Mystery Lovers Tour. The chance to see the sights and walk the streets that inspired Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle is a dream come true for Sam—and a perfect way to celebrate her new publishing contract as a mystery author.

But between visits to Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel district and 221B Baker Street, Major Horace Peabody is found dead, supposedly of natural causes. Despite his employer’s unfortunate demise, the tour guide insists on keeping calm and carrying on—until another tourist on their trip also dies under mysterious circumstances. Now it’s up to Sam and the Shady Acres ladies to mix and mingle among their fellow mystery lovers, find a motive, and turn up a murderer . . .

About V.M. Burns

V.M. (Valerie) Burns was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. She currently resides in the warmer region of the country in East Tennessee with her two poodles. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers of America, Crime Writers of Color, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime. Valerie is the author of the RJ Franklin Mysteries, the Dog Club Mysteries, and the Agatha Award-nominated Mystery Bookshop Mystery series.

Author Links

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/v-m-burns

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/burnsvm

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/vmburns

Website: vmburns.com

Purchase Links

AppleAmazonGoogleKoboNookBAMBookshop.orgHudson BooksellersIndieBoundTarget

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

January 21 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

January 21 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

January 21 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

January 22 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW, GUEST POST

January 22 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

January 22 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

January 23 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 23 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

January 24 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

January 24 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

January 25 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW, GUEST POST

January 25 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

January 25 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

January 26 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT

January 26 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

January 27 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 27 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

January 27 – Island Confidential – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 28 – Here’s How It Happened – REVIEW

January 28 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

January 29 – Book Club Librarian – REVIEW

January 29 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

January 29 – Books to the Ceiling – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

January 30 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 30 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 31 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 31 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

January 31 – My Journey Back – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

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Posted in Blog Tour, Interview

Interview of Dorothy St. James, Author of the Broken Spine, the first Beloved Bookroom Mystery

It’s my pleasure to welcome, author Dorothy St. James, a cozy mystery writer who also writes romantic fiction as Dorothy McFalls. Dorothy hails from Charleston South Carolina where she’s lived since she was six months old.

Hello, Dorothy. How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

My first book, a Regency romance came out in 2005. My first cozy mystery was published in 2011.

Writing as Dorothy St. James

Birds in Paradise (An Aloha Pete Short Mystery), Barking Dog Press (Indie Published), February 2011

Flowerbed of State (White House Gardener Mysteries), Berkley Prime Crime, May 2011

The Scarlet Pepper (White House Gardener Mysteries) Berkley Prime Crime, April 2012

Oak and Dagger (White House Gardener Mysteries) Berkley Prime Crime, April 2013

Asking for Truffle (Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries) Crooked Lane Books, September 2017

Playing with Bonbon Fire (Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries) Crooked Lane Books, March 2018

In Cold Chocolate (Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries) Crooked Lane Books, September 2018

Bonbon with the Wind (Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries) Barking Dog Press (Indie Published), December 2019

Ms. Starr’s Most Inconvenient Change of Heart (A Raven’s Run Romantic Mystery) Barking Dog Press (Indie Published), March 2020

The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery) Berkley Prime Crime, January 2021

Writing as Dorothy McFalls

Over 200,000 Books Sold Worldwide

Amazon Top 50 Bestseller List for Paid Kindle Books

Amazon #1 Regency Romance Author

Amazon Top 100 Romantic Suspense Author

Amazon Top 100 Paranormal Romance Author

Author of 15 Amazon Bestsellers

The Marriage List, Signet Regency, May 2005/Barking Dog Press (Indie Published), November 2009

Lady Sophie’s Midnight Seduction, Venus Press Short Erotic Regency, February 2006/Whispers Publishing, March 2007/Barking Dog Press (Indie Published), August 2010

Neptune’s Lair (The Protectors), Venus Press Paranormal Suspense, March 2006/Whispers Publishing, February 2008/Barking Dog Press (Indie Published), October 2010

The Huntress, Titan Press Romantic Adventure, May 2006/Barking Dog Press (Indie Published), October 2009

Mystical Seduction (The Protectors), Venus Press Paranormal Suspense, August 2006/Barking Dog Press (Indie Published), July 2012

Lady Iona’s Rebellion, Cerridwen Press Regency Romance, June 2007/Barking Dog Press (Indie Published), March 2010

The Nude, Five Star/Gale/Cengage Regency Romance, May 2009/Barking Dog Press (Indie Published), May 2009

Taken By Moonlight, Cobblestone Press Regency Paranormal Romance, October 2010/Barking Dog Press (Indie Published), October 2012

A Wizard for Christmas (The Protectors), Barking Dog Press (Indie Published) Paranormal Romance, December 2011

“Come the Water” in When You Pass Through Waters (Nicole Seitz, Editor), Water Books Short Adventure Story, November 2015

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

In addition to my ongoing Southern Chocolate Shop mystery series, I’m launching a new series with Berkley Prime Crime that I’m super excited about. The first book in the Beloved Bookroom Mystery series, THE BROKEN SPINE, came out January 19, 2021.

I’ve always loved libraries, so setting a mystery series in a library was something I’d been wanting to do for a long, long time. Finally, the right story came along that I felt ready to right. In the Beloved Bookroom mystery series, the public library in the fictional small Southern town of Cypress is being modernized into a high-tech bookless library of the future. My mild-mannered assistant librarian, Trudell Becket, embarks on a secret mission to save her library. While Tru rescues the printed books slated for the landfill, the mastermind behind the library’s modernization is murdered in the library. Tru becomes the main suspect since she cannot tell the police what she was doing at the library without revealing to town officials that she’s opened a secret bookroom in the library’s basement. Determined to keep herself from being sent to jail for the murder, Tru and her friends set out to catch a killer on their own.

That sounds wonderful. As a librarian and author of a cozy mystery series, The Cobble Cove series, featuring Alicia the librarian, I can’t wait to read this and have it waiting for me on my Kindle now.

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

My goals have evolved over the years. Currently, my main goals as a writer are to (1) entertain readers/provide hope and (2) build readership.

I plan to continue to write and publish at least two cozy mysteries a year and continue to publish both with major publishers and my own indie-published books.

The pandemic has interfered with these plans. I’m currently homeschooling my daughter, which has taken away from my writing time. While I miss writing as much as I’m used to, I don’t regret the freedom to be able to teach my daughter on our own schedule. I believe in the long-run, we’ll look back as this time as something our family dearly needed.

Sometimes being flexible is the most important ingredient to happiness and fulfillment.

I’m sure other writers are in your shoes during the Pandemic, too, so your comments will be helpful to them. I find it interesting that you continue to Indie publish while you work with major publishers. I have two Indie Publishers who are wonderful. Solstice Publishing publishes my Cobble Cove series and has also published two of my romances, some short eBooks, and one standalone mystery, while Next Chapter has published two of my standalone mysteries. I’m also hoping to find an agent and publish with a major publisher one day.

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

The characters in my books sometimes have more personal problems to overcome than what the average reader might encounter in other cozy mysteries. Let’s just be honest, my characters are often hot messes. Readers who enjoy watching personal growth over a series of books seem to enjoy my books. My characters aren’t perfect. They tend to make mistakes. But they always try to do what’s right and are honestly are interested in helping others and finding justice.

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

Keep writing. No matter how hard it seems, you can do this. Your stories are important to tell because they are your stories. No one has the same experiences as you.

At the same time as your furiously writing, also take time to read. Read. Read. Read. Libraries are your friends. Use them.

Learn what publishers are looking for and try to provide the editors with a manuscript that fits their guidelines. Publishing a book can feel impossible at times, but there are so many more opportunities available to writers today than ever before. Now is a great time to be writing.

I agree completely. I’ve always loved libraries and that’s why I work in one. I also believe there are many opportunities for authors today, although getting traditionally published with a large publisher is still difficult, but not impossible, to achieve.

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

Gracious me, I had to learn the craft of writing. I had all these story ideas in my head, but my writing was unrefined. (That’s a nice way of saying, what I was writing stunk worse than a skunk.) I hadn’t developed a writing voice. I started my writing journey at the bottom of a steep, steep mountain. But I didn’t give up. I took online classes. I studied the books I enjoyed reading. I crafted writing exercises for myself to help develop POV, endings, beginnings, and my voice. Slowly, I learned how to get those stories in my head down onto the page.

I’m still learning.

Writers always continue to learn. You’re a great example of the persistance and work required to publish worthwhile material.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I belong to Sisters in Crime and the Mystery Writers of America. I used to be involved in some local writing groups, but after my daughter was born, I didn’t have as much free time to attend the meetings and slowly drifted away from the groups. But the experience of being able to work and brainstorm with other writers was invaluable for me. I hope to get back to attending local writer group meetings in a couple of years.

I’m also a member of Sisters in Crime and several other writing associations. I’ll also be leading an online writer’s group at my library starting this Monday, January 25. There will be two separate sessions of the First Draft writer’s group that will meet via Zoom on Monday afternoons or Thursday nights and is open to everyone. I posted information and registration details previously on this blog: https://wp.me/p6m4z7-2YK

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I enjoy knitting and crocheting. I love to travel and discover new places. And while I’m not too keen on cooking or baking, I do enjoy eating.

I used to crochet, and my daughter has picked it up now, but I don’t have the time right now to relearn it. I also love to travel and hope to do so again when things are safe.

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

I’ve always let my editing demons get the better of me. I hate that about writing. I hate that writing sometimes makes me feel like I’m “less than” or “not good enough.” I know that’s rubbish, but part of the act of writing is exposing yourself, taking yourself to places where your soul is raw. And it can be painful. But at the same time, visiting those raw places can be beautiful. I’ve learned tons about myself and others around me through my writing. That’s one of the perks of writing—the journey of self-discovery.

I also enjoy that feeling of victory when a plot starts to come together. I often find that I’d been laying breadcrumbs throughout the story that have started to weave together. That’s magic!

I know exactly what you’re talking about. I think most writers are sensitive about their work but learn a lot about themselves through doing it. I know I do. I also love when everything comes together, and my characters lead me in a direction I don’t expect but works out in the end.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

Ever since I was a teen, I have loved reading cozy mysteries. Writing one only seemed natural. I enjoy setting up a puzzle to be solved and then trying to figure out ways to surprise the reader with different twists and turns. I also enjoy an ending where justice has been served and right wins over wrong. What a satisfying feeling.

Cozy mysteries are lighthearted. I can play with puns and funny events in the plot. You cannot imagine how much joy that brings me.

I’ve also enjoyed writing since I was very young. I like cozy mysteries because I enjoy developing characters who can be quirky and writing plots that don’t include a lot of violence or sex scenes (although there are murders and romance).

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

No one in the moderately sized rural southern town of Cypress would ever suspect their stalwart assistant librarian of breaking into the library where she worked. Why would they? A bronze plaque hangs on my kitchen wall. It was personally presented to me by Mayor Goodvale. He declared me an asset to the town. I’d received the award because I always performed my job with the highest level of pride and professionalism. For the past thirteen years I put the town and library first, often to the detriment of my personal life.

An even bigger honor occurred a few years ago when Mrs. Lida Farnsworth, the town’s head librarian, whispered (she always whispered) while we busily returned books to their shelves: “Trudell Becket, I couldn’t be more pleased to be wrong about my first impression of you. I would have hired any other candidate for the position. But, alas, the only other person who’d applied was that drunkard Cooper Berry. I honestly didn’t think you had it in you, honey. But, bless your heart, you’ve become the model of a perfect librarian.”

And she was right. I was perfect. Until . . .

Well, let’s just say someone needed to do this.

As a general rule, librarians don’t speak in loud voices. Librarians don’t exceed the speed limit when driving to work. And librarians certainly don’t dress head-to-toe in black ninja-wear while attempting to pick the library’s backdoor lock.

Yet, librarians can always be counted on to get things done.

“Don’t look at me like that,” I muttered to a lanky brown cat with black tiger stripes. It had emerged from the darkened back alleyway to stand next to library’s cool pearly-pink granite wall and watch me. “Someone needs to protect those books before they all end up destroyed. They’re sending them to the landfill.” The small metal flashlight clenched between my teeth caused the words to come out garbled. Both of my hands were busy working the lock.

A textbook for locksmiths that I’d borrowed from the library’s reference section sat open to the page featuring a diagram of a lock. Since I didn’t own a lockpick kit—why would I?—I’d improvised with a few sturdy paperclips bent to resemble the tools depicted on the book’s previous page. Every little sound, every scrape and rumble in Cypress’s quaint downtown, boomed in my ears. I jumped at the soft cough of a car engine. And with that cat watching me, I felt an itchy need to scurry into the nearest mousehole to hide.

But I couldn’t run. I had to finish what I’d set my mind to finishing.

After what felt like a million thundering heartbeats while I fumbled with the paperclips, the lock clicked. The door opened. I rose on shaky legs, gathering up the reference book and the stack of flattened moving boxes I’d brought with me. My gaze darted to the darkest corners of the alleyway before I slipped inside.

Just as the door started to close, the cat that had been watching with such a judgmental glare shimmied between my legs and into the library before the heavy metal back door clanked closed.

“Hey!” I called in a harsh whisper because shouting in a library simply wasn’t done. Whispering seemed even more important in the middle of the night as I sneaked inside on my clandestine mission.

The brown cat ignored me. With a yeow loud enough to have me instinctively hissing, “Shhhh!” the little beast darted upstairs and disappeared into the shadows of the stacks.

“Tru, you’re in for it now,” I muttered before dropping the stack of boxes. I sprinted after that darn cat.

Mrs. Farnsworth would have a heart attack if she discovered a flea-bitten kitty wandering among her books in the morning. I needed to get him out. The head librarian was already on edge with having to deal with the changes coming to the library.

If I didn’t know the tough older woman better, I would have suspected she was busy plotting a murder. Every time she had to deal with the man behind the changes that were ripping apart both of our worlds, she’d grit her teeth and smile so tightly it looked as if her lips might crack open. But later, when she talked about him and his grand plan, her smile changed into something horrible that made ice tiptoe up my spine.

Love it and can’t wait to read it as soon as I get a chance.

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

All the cool kids are reading my books. I think you should too!

I second that.

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

Follow Dorothy Online:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dorothy.stjames

Twitter: www.twitter.com/dorothywrites

Instagram: www.instagram.com/dorothymcfalls

Website: www.dorothystjames.com

The Broken Spine Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086SCQ639

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-broken-spine-dorothy-st-james/1136806393?ean=9780593098578

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/the-broken-spine/9780593098578

Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781087855806

Thanks so much for the interesting interview, Dorothy. I’m sharing your blog tour and giveaway below. Best wishes on this new series and your upcoming books.


The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery)
by Dorothy St. James

About The Broken Spine


The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Berkley (January 19, 2021)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 0593098579
ISBN-13: 978-0593098578
Kindle ASIN: B086SCQ639

The first in an exciting new series featuring Trudell Becket, a spunky librarian who will stop at nothing to save her beloved books and catch a killer!

Trudell Becket, book-loving librarian, finds herself in a bind when the library where she works is turned into a state-of-the-art bookless library. In a rare move of rebellion, Trudell rescues hundreds of her library’s beloved books slated for the recycle center. She sets up a secret book room in the library’s basement and opens it to anyone who shares her love of the printed book.

When the town councilman, who was the vocal proponent of the library’s transformation into a “futuristic technological center,” is crushed under an overturned shelf of DVDs, Trudell becomes the police’s prime suspect for his murder. She was the only person in the library at the time of his death, or so the police believe. But that’s not true. For the past month, Trudell had been letting a few dozen residents into the building through the basement entrance so they could read and check out the printed books.

But if she tells the police about the backdoor patrons who were in the library at the time of the murder, she’d have to explain about the secret book room and risk losing the books. In order to protect herself from being arrested for a murder she didn’t commit, Trudell–with the help of a group of dedicated readers–decides to investigate. She quickly discovers you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

About Dorothy St. James

Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband, a crazy dog, and fluffy cat. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.

Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn’t as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.

* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including: Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: “amazing”, “perfect”, “filled with emotion”, and “lined with danger.”

Author Links

Website: http://www.dorothystjames.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/dorothywrites

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dorothy.stjames

Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/profile/dorothy-st-james

Purchase Links – AmazonIndieBoundBookshopB&N

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

January 19 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

January 19 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

January 19 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 19 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 19 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

January 20 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 20 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

January 20 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, GUEST POST

January 20 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

January 20 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

January 21 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

January 21 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 21 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

January 21 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

January 22 – Books to the Ceiling – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 22 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 22 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW, GUEST POST

January 22 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy – REVIEW

January 22 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

January 23 – Baroness’ Book Trove – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

January 23 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

January 23 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author Blog – SPOTLIGHT

January 23 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

January 23 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 24 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – GUEST POST

January 24 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

January 24 – Brianne’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 24 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT

January 24 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

January 25 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

January 25 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 25 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

January 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

January 25 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

January 25 – Thoughts in Progress – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery, Interview, New Releases

Guest Post, Blog Tour, and Giveaway for Grounds for Murder, A Coffee Lover’s Mystery by Tara Lush

As a real-life journalist in Florida, I’ve written about the shady side of my sunny state for years.

Political corruption, terrible crime, shenanigans at tiki bars, alligators, naked guys with machetes, cockroaches in unmentionable places…nothing shocks me. The cliché of ‘Florida Man’ is a reality here, one that I’ve written too many times to count.

I’ve considered writing crime fiction for years, and entertained the thought of doing true crime. But that seemed a little too close to my day job and I wanted to drift away from the darkness of hard news. My first forays into fiction were contemporary romances, and almost all were set in Florida. But crime lurked in my mind, and in 2019, I sat down and finally plotted a murder mystery.

As I scribbled my first cozy, I imagined a slightly less-dysfunctional tropical paradise than the real thing, one that was loosely based on the events I’ve covered in my twenty-plus years as a reporter in Florida. Of course, it had to have the hallmarks of a cozy — no gore, no swearing, no sex — which was a bit of a change from my romances. But I had a blast plotting the book, and discovered that cozies are really my jam, writing-wise.

I created a fictional island in the Gulf of Mexico, chock full of eccentric characters. Devil’s Beach is where gossipy old hippies mingle with reformed mafiosos. Where the local newspaper writes stories about chicken nuggets shaped like manatees. Where a handsome Instagram-famous barista is found dead and no one bats an eye when a laid off journalist tries to figure out how the barista spent his final hours.

I also wanted a gentle anchor to the book, and that’s why I set the story in the coffee shop of my dreams. It’s called Perkatory, a place decorated in weathered wood and sky-blue accents, with the best coffee in Florida. I imagined readers cracking open a book at a café a block from the beach while on vacation, and kept that image in my mind as I wrote.

Drawing inspiration from decades of covering crime, I plotted my murder. Interestingly, the victim in Grounds for Murder is similar to — but also the opposite of — the hero I wrote in my first romance novel. Both are Italian, handsome and playboys. The difference is, one ended up dead, while the romance hero fell in love. Fiction works in strange ways, doesn’t it?

It wasn’t the only reference to my past.

From the stilted language of cop-speak to wrangling over deadlines with editors, I used details from newspaper stories to seed clues into my fictional story. And the suspects, those were easy — they are all based on people I’ve covered in the past, folks who stood out as true characters.

I believe that for my Florida peeps, they’ll recognize many of the places, stories and details in the book. And for you non-Florida folks, I’m hopeful you’ll read my book and feel like you’re on a beach vacation.

ABOUT GROUNDS FOR MURDER: Barista Lana Lewis’s sleuthing may land her in a latte trouble as Tara Lush launches her new Coffee Shop mysteries.

When Lana Lewis’ best — and most difficult — employee abruptly quits and goes to work for the competition just days before the Sunshine State Barista Championship, her café’s chances of winning the contest are creamed. In front of a gossipy crowd in the small Florida town of Devil’s Beach, Lana’s normally calm demeanor heats to a boil when she runs into the arrogant java slinger. Of course, Fabrizio “Fab” Bellucci has a slick explanation for jumping ship. But when he’s found dead the next morning under a palm tree in the alley behind Lana’s café, she becomes the prime suspect.

Even the island’s handsome police chief isn’t quite certain of her innocence. But Lana isn’t the only one in town who was angry with Fabrizio. Jilted lovers, a shrimp boat captain, and a surfer with ties to the mob are all suspects as trouble brews on the beach.

With her stoned, hippie dad, a Shih Tzu named Stanley, and a new, curious barista sporting a punk rock aesthetic at her side, Lana’s prepared to turn up the heat to catch the real killer. After all, she is a former award-winning reporter. As scandal hangs over her beachside café, can Lana clear her name and win the championship — or will she come to a bitter end?

LINK: books2read.com/u/4A7KLA

SOCIAL:

Website: www.taralush.com

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

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

BIO: Tara Lush is a Rita Award finalist, an Amtrak writing fellow, and a George C. Polk Award winning journalist. For the past decade, she’s been a reporter with the Associated Press, covering crime, alligators, natural disasters, and politics.

She also writes contemporary romance set in tropical locations under her real name, Tamara Lush. A fan of vintage pulp-fiction book covers, Sinatra-era jazz, and 1980s fashion, she lives with her husband and two dogs on the Gulf coast.


Grounds for Murder (A Coffee Lover’s Mystery)
by Tara Lush

About Grounds for Murder

Grounds for Murder (A Coffee Lover’s Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (December 8, 2020)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1643856189
ISBN-13: 978-1643856186
Digital ASIN: B0871KTTMC

When Lana Lewis’ best — and most difficult — employee abruptly quits and goes to work for the competition just days before the Sunshine State Barista Championship, her café’s chances of winning the contest are creamed. In front of a gossipy crowd in the small Florida town of Devil’s Beach, Lana’s normally calm demeanor heats to a boil when she runs into the arrogant java slinger. Of course, Fabrizio “Fab” Bellucci has a slick explanation for jumping ship. But when he’s found dead the next morning under a palm tree in the alley behind Lana’s café, she becomes the prime suspect.

Even the island’s handsome police chief isn’t quite certain of her innocence. But Lana isn’t the only one in town who was angry with Fabrizio. Jilted lovers, a shrimp boat captain, and a surfer with ties to the mob are all suspects as trouble brews on the beach.

With her stoned, hippie dad, a Shih Tzu named Stanley, and a new, curious barista sporting a punk rock aesthetic at her side, Lana’s prepared to turn up the heat to catch the real killer.

After all, she is a former award-winning reporter. As scandal hangs over her beachside café, can Lana clear her name and win the championship — or will she come to a bitter end?

About Tara Lush

Tara Lush is a Rita Award finalist, an Amtrak writing fellow, and a George C. Polk Award-winning journalist. For the past decade, she’s been a reporter with the Associated Press, covering crime, alligators, natural disasters, and politics. She also writes contemporary romance set in tropical locations. A fan of vintage pulp-fiction book covers, Sinatra-era jazz, and 1980s fashion, she lives with her husband and two dogs on the Gulf coast.

Author Links

WEB: www.taralush.com

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

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20274256.Tara_Lush

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/lush_books/

Purchase Links

AMAZONKOBOBARNES AND NOBLEITUNESINDIEBOUND

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

December 8 – I’m Into Books – SPOTLIGHT

December 8 – Maureen’s Musings – RECIPE POST

December 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

December 9 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

December 10 – Ruff Drafts – GUEST POST

December 10 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW

December 10 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 11 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author Blog – SPOTLIGHT

December 11 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

December 12 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

December 12 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

December 12 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

December 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

December 13 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – GUEST POST

December 14 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

December 14 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 14 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 15 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW, RECIPE POST

December 15 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

December 16 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT

December 16 – eBook Addicts – RECIPE POST

December 16 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 17 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

December 17 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here Find Details and Sign Up Today!

Posted in Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery, Interview

Interview, Blog Tour, and Giveaway of A Deadly Edition, the new Blue Ridge Library Mystery, by Victoria Gilbert

Today, I’m interviewing author Victoria Gilbert from the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina about her new Blue Ridge Library Mystery release, A Deadly Edition.

Welcome to Ruff Drafts, Victoria. Please tell us how long have you been published and what titles and/or series you’ve published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

My first published book (2014) was CROWN OF ICE, a fairytale retelling of H. C. Andersen’s The Snow Queen. It was originally trad. published, but for various reasons I pulled all my rights from that publisher and republished that title, as well as its companion title, SCEPTER OF FIRE – a “mash-up” retelling of Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling and The Steadfast Tin Soldier – as books one and two in the Mirror of Immortality Series. Those books were both independently published in the spring of 2017 with my author co-op, Snowy Wings Publishing.

I also wrote a YA scifi novel that was trad. published in 2016. However, I also had to pull my rights to that book and it’s now out-of-print. I have no plans to republish that particular book.

My first mystery was A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS. It was published in December 2017 by Crooked Lane Books, and is the start of the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series. Since that time, Crooked Lane has published more books in that series – SHELVED UNDER MURDER (2018), PAST DUE FOR MURDER (2019), and BOUND FOR MURDER (2020). The fifth book, A DEADLY EDITION, publishing today, December 8,  2020 by Crooked Lane  is the book being celebrated during this tour.

The first book in my new series, the Booklover’s B&B series, BOOKED FOR DEATH, was published by Crooked Lane in August 2020.

Very nice. As a librarian as well as an author who writes a cozy mystery series involving a librarian, I hope to read some of your Blue Ridge Library mysteries.

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

Book two in the Booklover’s B&B series, RESERVED FOR MURDER, will be released in June 2021. It is already available for preorder.

There will also be at least two more books in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series. Book six will be published in Dec. 2021 and book seven in Dec. 2022.

I’ve also recently signed a contract with Crooked Lane Books for a more traditional mystery series – the Hunter and Clewe Mysteries. Book one in that series will be published in spring 2023 and book two in spring 2024.

Sounds like you are very busy. It’s great that you’ve got your next few years’ writing planned.

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

I am pretty booked up with contracts over the next few years! I will be working on my two original cozy series as well as the new traditional mystery series.

I plan to write at least two books a year. (I’m actually turning in three books in 2021!) I also hope to enhance my promotional efforts, attend pertinent conferences and conventions (when we can travel again), and continually improve my craft.

Impressive goals.

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

As a very eclectic reader myself, I would be happy to attract anyone who enjoys reading.

As far as who might be most interested in my two current series, I would say anyone who likes cozy or light mysteries, anyone interested in a small-town settings and interesting and diverse characters, anyone who enjoys some (clean) romance in their books, and anyone who likes historical mysteries mixed in with contemporary crime-solving.

You should have a wide audience.

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

I encourage authors to explore new paths to publication if they find the traditional publishing world isn’t interested in books they’ve written and love. Although my SF/F books don’t match the market for trad. publishing today, I’ve found publishing them independently (with my author co-op) a great alternative to leaving them languishing “on the shelf.”

Also, experiment and try new things, especially if you are feeling “stuck” or unfulfilled with where you are now. I started out in one genre, and while I did get published, I discovered that my real strengths as a writer lay elsewhere.

That’s very good advice. Although I have my cozy series and have written several standalone mysteries, I also write other genres and have written short stories, poetry, non-fiction articles, and will be releasing my first non-fiction cat book soon.

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

Despite starting later in life, my path to publication wasn’t as difficult as some. I actually signed with an agent and got a publishing deal after only a year of querying. To be honest, I faced more challenges AFTER being first published than before. I really don’t wish to go into details about those problems, but I will say that all my experiences have taught me a great deal about the publishing business, which I think is always beneficial.

That’s interesting. I’ve been querying agents off and on for a few years. I currently publish with two Indie publishers but have also found more problems after I was published. I wouldn’t call them problems so much as challenges.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I am a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. I am also involved in my local Sisters in Crime chapter, Murder We Write.

I’m also a member of Sisters in Crime, but there’s no local chapter in my area, unfortunately. I’ve also been considering joining Mystery Writers of America.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I love reading, of course! I also enjoy gardening, traveling, drawing and painting, listening to music, attending theatre and dance performances, and watching films and TV, especially British and other non-U.S. shows.

That’s a good variety of hobbies and pastimes.

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

What I like most is the creative process and bringing my characters to life. I also enjoy developing plots and honing my words into something that can make me feel proud. (Even though my writing is never perfect and I am still learning). In addition, I love hearing from readers who have enjoyed my books, and discussing writing and books with other readers.

My toughest challenge is promotion. I am not a natural salesperson, so dealing with the marketing aspect of the business is much more of a challenge for me than the creative side.

I feel exactly the same way about creativity and reader recognition as the most fulfilling parts of being an author as well as marketing/promoting being the most demanding and difficult parts.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

As someone who is not fond of reading books that include graphic violence, language, or sex, I enjoy writing in a genre that doesn’t include those things. I also enjoy being able to focus on characters and everyday life while still being able to include action and adventure.

I feel that way, too.

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

From A DEADLY EDITION, Book Five in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series:

“This is starting to remind me of one of those French farces— people coming and going from all directions.” Richard’s fingers curled around mine.

Looking over the area as if to make sure no one was watching, Scott also used the back door to enter the house.

“It is peculiar,” I said, “but I’m sure there’s some reasonable explanation.”

A loud crash silenced Richard’s response.

“Sounds like it came from that direction,” he said, dropping my hand to sprint down the path.

I followed, running to match his longer strides. The path curved off to the right, ending at a wooden garden shed.

Richard paused, grabbing the edge of the half-open door. “Hold on,” he said as I reached him. “We should be careful. It could be some sort of wild animal, and if we back it into a corner, it could turn violent.”

“But it also could be hurt,” I said, pulling the door wider to peer inside the shed. “Can’t see much.”

There’s something on the floor.” Richard pointed toward a large, shadowy object sprawled across the center of the small room.

I backed away. “Not a bear, I hope.”

“It’s not moving. Maybe just some tarps that tipped off that top shelf.” Richard grabbed a rake that was propped next to the door.

As he crept closer to the shadowy object, holding the rake like a weapon, I stepped in behind him and moved to the side to allow light to spill in through the door.

It was a tarp—a cracked blue tarp dusted with mold. But it was draped over something else. Richard tentatively reached out and flipped up an edge of the thick plastic covering.

I gasped as an expensive leather shoe was revealed.

We both rushed forward to fling back the rest of the tarp. Then stood in silence, holding hands, as we stared down at the body of Oscar Selvaggio.

Enticing excerpt. Thanks for sharing.

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

While I do write series, and there is character development and plot progression over the course of each series, I never write cliff-hangers! If someone wants to read my books out of order, they should be able to enjoy them.

Also, I’m happy to engage with readers on social media or via my website contact form and would also love to talk to them if we meet at any conferences, signings, or related events. So readers – don’t hesitate to connect with me!

I don’t like writing (or reading) cliffhangers, and I consider that all the books of my Cobble Cove mysteries can be read as standalones, although readers might enjoy the character developments by reading them in order. As for engaging with readers (and also other writers), that’s always a pleasure.

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. 

Social Media Links:

Website/blog: http://victoriagilbertmysteries.com/

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaGilbertMysteryAuthor/ 

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VGilbertauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/VictoriaGilbert

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B071ZQZN1P?

BUY LINKS: 

A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS: http://www.crookedlanebooks.com/titles/a-murder-for-the-books/

SHELVED UNDER MURDER: http://www.crookedlanebooks.com/titles/shelved-under-murder/

PAST DUE FOR MURDER: http://www.crookedlanebooks.com/titles/past-due-for-murder/

BOUND FOR MURDER: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/612101/bound-for-murder-by-victoria-gilbert/

A DEADLY EDITION: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/647523/a-deadly-edition-by-victoria-gilbert/9781643854762/

BOOKED FOR DEATH:

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/622813/booked-for-death-by-victoria-gilbert/

RESERVED FOR MURDER (preorder):

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/659504/reserved-for-murder-by-victoria-gilbert/

Thanks so much, Victoria. I’m including your blog tour and giveaway below. Best wishes on your new release and all your upcoming publications.


A Deadly Edition: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery
by Victoria Gilbert

About A Deadly Edition


A Deadly Edition: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (December 8, 2020)
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1643854762
Kindle ASIN: B085N3KN7L

‘Til death do us part” could be closer than the bride realizes in Victoria Gilbert’s tantalizing fifth Blue Ridge Library mystery.”

The pursuit to acquire a rare illustrated book turns deadly, and on the eve of her upcoming wedding, library director Amy Webber is drawn into a web of treachery and betrayal that could derail her happy day–and maybe just claim her life.

Planning a wedding can be murder–sometimes literally. At a party celebrating their upcoming nuptials, Taylorsford, Virginia library director Amy Webber and her fiancé Richard Muir discover the body of art dealer Oscar Selvaggio–a bitter rival of their host, Kurt Kendrick.

Both had been in a heated battle to purchase a rare illustrated volume created by William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, so suspicion immediately falls upon Kurt. Amy knows that Kurt has a closet-full of skeletons from his past–but she can’t believe he’s guilty of murder.

Amidst an avalanche of wedding preparations, Amy begins an investigation with the help of her aunt Lydia Talbot and the new mayor of Taylorsford, Sunshine “Sunny” Fields. Much to Lydia’s dismay, her boyfriend, art expert Hugh Chen, becomes convinced of Kurt’s guilt and launches an investigation of his own. As the case hits painfully close to home, the stakes become impossibly high–and the danger all too real.

About Victoria Gilbert

Raised in a historic small town near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Victoria Gilbert turned her early obsession with books into a dual career as an author and librarian.

Victoria writes the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, the Booklover’s B&B series, and the upcoming Hunter and Clewe traditional mystery series for Crooked Lane Books. She has also published fantasy with Snowy Wings Publishing.

A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, Victoria is represented by Frances Black at Literary Counsel. She lives near Winston-Salem, NC with her husband, son, and some very spoiled cats.

Author Links

Website (includes blog): http://victoriagilbertmysteries.com/

FB author page: https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaGilbertMysteryAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VGilbertauthor

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Gilbert/e/B071ZQZN1P

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16912697.Victoria_Gilbert

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboIndieBound

Blue Ridge Library Mystery series:

A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS: http://www.crookedlanebooks.com/titles/a-murder-for-the-books/

SHELVED UNDER MURDER: http://www.crookedlanebooks.com/titles/shelved-under-murder/

PAST DUE FOR MURDER: http://www.crookedlanebooks.com/titles/past-due-for-murder/

BOUND FOR MURDER: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/612101/bound-for-murder-by-victoria-gilbert/

A DEADLY EDITION: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/647523/a-deadly-edition-by-victoria-gilbert/9781643854762/

Booklover’s B&B series:

BOOKED FOR DEATH: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/622813/booked-for-death-by-victoria-gilbert/

RESERVED FOR MURDER (preorder): https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/659504/reserved-for-murder-by-victoria-gilbert/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

December 6 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

December 6 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

December 6 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – SPOTLIGHT

December 7 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 7 – CelticLady Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 7 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

December 8 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

December 8 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

December 8 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 9 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

December 9 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST

December 9 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

December 10 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

December 10 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

December 10 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

December 11 – Thoughts in Progress – SPOTLIGHT

December 11 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW

December 11 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT

December 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

December 12 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 12 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 13 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 13 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT

December 13 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Blog Tour, Characters, Interview

Character Interview of Sneaky the Library Cat from No Gravestone Unturned

Check out this great interview of my cat character, Sneaky, who talks about my Cobble Cove books and my new release, No Gravestone Unturned.

Today Sneaky the Library Cat is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about No Gravestone Unturned, the latest novel in the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series.

Welcome, Sneaky. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

Hello. I’m Sneaky the Library Cat, and I’m the cat main character in the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series that also features my human, Alicia, the librarian. The series currently consists of five books including my new one along with three short eBooks. Each story is a new mystery that takes place in the small town of Cobble Cove, a fictional location in upstate New York. After the first four books in the series, my author Debbie decided to give me a larger role by making my thoughts visible to the reader. This…

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Posted in Blog Tour, Cozy Mystery, Interview

Interview of Jen Collins Moore, Author of Murder in the Piazza, the first Maggie White Cozy Mystery

Today, I have author Jen Collins Moore from Chicago here to talk about herself and her new release, Murder in the Piazza, the first Maggie White cozy mystery.

Hi, Jenn. Please tell us how long you’ve been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

Murder in the Piazza (9/2020) from Level Best Books is my first publication. I have not self-published any titles.

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

Murder in the Piazza is the first Maggie White Mystery. I’m hard at work on the second title in the series, Murder in Trastevere, which is also set in Rome. It is scheduled for launch September 2021.

Nice. Good luck with that.

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

My goal is to entertain readers. Like most writers, I love to read, and I’m writing the types of books I like to read myself: smart and funny with relatable characters. I love armchair travel and so have set the books against the backdrop of Rome, and I’m keeping the tone light and entertaining, so it’s a great read after a long day at work.

Great goals. I also enjoy writing books that I like to read. I’m a fan of all types of mysteries, although I do read (and write) other genres.

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

I’ve been delighted to find that my book appeals to traditional mystery readers and general fiction readers alike. People interested in the art, food and culture of Italy will particularly love this series.

That sounds like a wide audience.

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

Keep working! Seriously. If your first draft isn’t working, revise and keep going. If you send out a query letter and you get a rejection, send out three more. And if there’s a trend in the rejections, take another look at your manuscript to see if the agents might be seeing something in your work that you might want to address.

The first version of my book was set in the 1980s. I thought it was a fun time period and fit my character’s emotional journey, but I got consistent feedback from agents that the time period would be a problem when selling the book to publishers. I took the note and revised the manuscript. I was amazed at how easy it was to make the changes and how much better it made the story bringing it to present day! That doesn’t mean you should change your vision to match someone else’s, but when you hear the same thing over and over again, it’s worth asking yourself if it’s something you should consider.

Good advice. I’m still querying agents for a for the first book of a new cozy series.

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

I think the hardest thing for me was learning the craft. I love to read and always received high marks for my writing in school and in business. Then I wrote the opening to my book and submitted it to my local Mystery Writers of America chapter critique program.

I honestly thought I’d be told it was amazing, brilliant, all that stuff. But the author who read my early draft gently and kindly told me all the things that weren’t working. I had no idea how bad it was until she told me!

But she also said enough good things that I made me want to double down and keep going. So I signed up for a year-long writing class focused on novel writing, and then its year-long follow-on class on revising, and with those two years and many, many, many rewrites, I got better.

I had no idea how hard writing would be when I started out. And that’s probably a good thing, because no sane person would choose to do this with their time if they knew up front how long the road would be!

LOL. I totally agree with you. Writing books is far from easy. I belong to Sisters-in-Crime, but they don’t currently have a local chapter. I’ve thought about joining Mystery Writers of America, but my publishers aren’t on their list. One of my publishers is on the list for International Thriller Writers to which I also belong.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I have a wonderful writing group. Six of us were members of a year-long novel writing class, and when that class ended we continued meeting monthly to critique and cheerlead. Providing feedback on other people’s work has enabled me to see my own writing in a fresh light. Participating in critique is invaluable, and I recommend every writer beginning his or her journey find opportunities for it.

I’ve taken a few writing classes through Sisters-in-Crime and found them helpful, although the members didn’t form any groups afterwards. Great idea, though, and I’m sure helpful.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I’m not sure if a family counts as a hobby or not, but I love spending time with my husband and two young boys, playing with our dog, running, reading, cooking, and knitting.

It’s important that you can make time for your family. My daughter is a teenager, so I treasure spending time with her and our 3 cats who we both adore.

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

A successful author told me once “It’s all hard,” and she was right. But it’s also all fun. What better problem is there than to face than to go to your imagination and figure out a story? The thing I like most is hearing from readers they love my stories, that I entertained them and brought pleasure into their day. The toughest challenge is when I sit down to write and the words don’t come easily or don’t sound right. But I tell myself revision is a wonderful thing and move on.

That’s so true. I don’t have that problem with writing, although I don’t edit myself until I’m done with the first draft. My problem with writing is finding the time.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

The readers! Cozy mystery readers have high standards when it comes to an entertaining plot, clever puzzle and quirky characters, and I love getting to interact with them.

Yes, cozy readers are great. I’ve met many at Facebook parties and in groups. The Cozy Mystery Village Facebook group is wonderful, and I just had my own Halloween party that was hosted by, Sneaky, the character cat in my Cobble Cove mysteries.

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

Absolutely. I’ve pasted 500 words below.

Thanks for sharing.

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

Now, more than ever, we all need a some feel-good escapism. Since I can’t be in Italy in person right now, sitting at my desk, imagining my characters walking the cobbled streets, eating warm pastries and enjoying a glass of wine at a café is bringing me more joy than I expected. I hope reading the book gives readers the same experience.

You’re absolutely right. We had planned a trip to Italy but haven’t yet gone. The last trip I took before the pandemic was to California. It was great, but I miss traveling. Virtual traveling isn’t the same, but it certainly helps and is less expensive, plus you don’t suffer jet lag – lol!

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

https://www.jennifercollinsmoore.com/

https://www.instagram.com/jennifercollinsmoore/

https://www.facebook.com/jencollinsmoore

Murder in the Piazza Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

The city of Rome celebrates its defeat of the barbarians in 753 B.C. with reenactments of battle scenes and an impressive fireworks display. Guests of Masterpiece Tours will enjoy the view from Lord Philip’s private terrace, staying, quite literally, above the chaos and crowds that spoil so many Roman holidays.

—Masterpiece Tours “Welcome to Rome” pamphlet

Maggie White started fantasizing about Lord Philip’s death on her third day. Just a painless, but fatal, heart attack that would strike her boss down in the middle of the night. When that failed to materialize, she imagined him taking a wrong step in front of a speeding bus. Today she moved on to poison.

Maggie was the “new girl” at Masterpiece Tours, which offered exclusive painting holidays to well-heeled Americans. She was seated on the rooftop terrace of a minor 17th-century palace on the Piazza Navona with guests on the current tour. It was a lovely April evening, her chair was comfortable, and she was pleasantly full. But Maggie had had as much of Lord Philip Walpole as she could take.

Could she sneak arsenic into Lord Philip’s whiskey? Maggie considered this as the tourists around her oohed over a particularly brilliant firework bursting over the Colosseum in honor of Rome’s birthday celebration. Would he notice the taste? How much would it take?

Getting the deadly liquid would be a problem. She seemed to remember arsenic came from juniper berries, but perhaps that was cyanide. She took a sip of her drink. Espresso, smooth and strong. Maybe slipping the poison into Lord Philip’s morning coffee would be safer.

It was only her sixth day on the job—four days with the tour group and two before the guests arrived—and the man had reduced her to tears five times. And Maggie wasn’t a woman who cried easily. She’d been in Italy for five months, spent three of them trying to fit in as a woman of leisure, then two fruitlessly looking for a job, and it wasn’t until she met Lord Philip that she’d lost control.

Maggie breathed in the scent of the flowers in the giant pots around Lord Philip’s rooftop terrace and sighed. She wouldn’t kill her employer, pleasant as it was to imagine. She’d managed to survive fifty-five years without killing anyone—including that awful Lana Harrison, who thought she knew more about managing an advertising campaign than Maggie—and she would survive without killing Lord Philip, too.

She could quit, just as her husband, Burt, said she should. But Maggie wasn’t a quitter. Hadn’t she been the youngest woman ever promoted to vice president at Bells & Wallace? Hadn’t she single-handedly saved the PTA bake sale when 450 cupcakes, cookies, and Rice Krispies treats were savaged by Mrs. Simpson’s basset hound, Napoleon? And hadn’t she sent two high-spirited children off to excellent liberal arts colleges?

Quitting now would prove her husband was right about this job being a mistake, and Maggie wasn’t about to admit that.

Excellent excerpt. Thanks for the interview, and I’ve shared your blog tour and giveaway below. Best of luck with the series and your forthcoming books.


Murder in the Piazza: A Maggie White Mystery
by Jen Collins Moore

About Murder in the Piazza

Murder in the Piazza: A Maggie White Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Level Best Books (September 22, 2020)
Paperback: 278 pages
ISBN-10: 1947915533
ISBN-13: 978-1947915534
Digital ASIN: B08FBL9GV8

Maggie White, a downsized American executive stuck in Rome on her husband’s expat assignment, is finding the dolce vita isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. She’s taken a job offering painting instruction to well-heeled travelers and her boss-a rather unpleasant English lord-has turned up dead in his penthouse. Maggie’s left with a palazzo full of suspicious guests, a valuable painting her boss might have stolen, and a policeman who’s decided she’s the prime suspect. Now Maggie must keep the tour up and running while she tracks the killer and works to clear her name.

About Jen Collins Moore

Jen Collins Moore is the author of the Maggie White Mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mystery Weekly, and she is the editor of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest newsletter. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, as well an established marketer and entrepreneur. A transplanted New Englander, she lives in Chicago with her husband and two boys.

Author Link:

https://www.jennifercollinsmoore.com/

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKobo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

November 2 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

November 2 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – SPOTLIGHT

November 3 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 3 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

November 4 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author Blog – SPOTLIGHT

November 4 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

November 5 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST

November 5 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 6 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

November 7 – Reading Is My SuperPower – GUEST POST

November 7 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

November 8 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

November 8 – Diane Reviews Books – SPOTLIGHT

November 9 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

November 9 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT

November 10 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

November 11 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – GUEST POST

November 12 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW

November 12 – My Journey Back – CHARACTER GUEST POST

November 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 13 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

November 14 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – REVIEW

November 14 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

November 15 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST

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