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

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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

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Click Here Find Details and Sign Up Today!

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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Posted in Cozy Mystery, Interview, New Releases

Interview of Sarah E. Burr, Author of #Trending Topic: Murder, A Trending Topic Mystery

Welcome to Ruff Drafts, Sarah. I see you’re from New York City which is not far from my home on Long Island.

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.

In 2017, I began my writing journey with self-publishing. My first title was a novella called The Ducal Detective. Taking place in the fictional Realm of Virtues, my little novella about a Duchess solving the murder of her parents has since turned into an eleven-book saga that continues to grow. My latest self-published novel is Harrowed Heir, with a new Court of Mystery novel arriving this winter.

Trending Topic #Murder is my first traditionally published novel, which arrived on the scene September of 2020. It is first in the Trending Topic Mysteries, published by Camel Press.

Congratulations! We have a lot in common besides being New Yorkers, as I also write mysteries. I just published the fifth book, No Gravestone Unturned, in my Cobble Cove series.

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

Trending Topic #Murder, first in the Trending Topic Mysteries, shines the spotlight on celebrity blogger and social media consultant Coco Cline after she discovers a dead body in her clients’ store. With her rep on the line, Coco is forced to untangle a web of deadly secrets in her small, beachside town.

Coco’s story takes into account how ingrained social media has become in our everyday lives and showcase really just how much information is out there at our fingertips. It goes to prove that anyone can be a couch detective if they put their mind to it!

Trending Topic #Murder made its debut September 8, 2020, and I am currently working on Book 2 in the series.

I will also be releasing the next Court of Mystery novel this winter.

Interesting choice of occupation for the character of your new novel.

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 main writing goal has always been to capture all the stories whirling around in my head and wrangle them into a manuscript. There are so many unfinished tales that have been marinating in my mind for years…my goal is to write as many of them down as I can. I also want to explore more genres outside of mystery/cozy mystery. My first major writing project that I ever completed was a fantasy series for young adults. I wrote most of it while in college, so it definitely needs some polishing, as I’ve learned so much about writing and communicating my thoughts since graduating. I would love to return to that series someday, clean it up, and publish it. I also have a few psychological thrillers in mind.

Achieving these goals is all about time management. I already write two series, so for any projects that pop up outside of those, I need to be mindful of time and my publication commitments. They come first. But where I’m blessed to be able to write full-time, I have the ability to carve out “project time” during my workday to pursue these other writing interests.

Sounds like we have the same goals. I like to explore other genres, as well, and have written short eBooks and stories in them, as well as non-fiction articles and will be publishing a non-fiction cat book soon. I’m also hoping to add a second cozy series. I agree time management is essential. It’s very important for me to organize my writing and promoting time because I also work full-time as a librarian.

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

I would love to bring more young women and men my age to the cozy mystery genre. Sometimes, I think cozies get overlooked by twenty and thirty-year olds, which is funny because most cozies feature a young heroine. By creating a more contemporary and modern main character in Coco Cline—someone who is attached to her phone and knows the power of social media and the web—I hope I have created a character that younger generations can identify with. I’ve loved cozies all my life, so I’m a little bias about how awesome the genre is, but I think a lot of people could benefit from reading about an everyday heroine who takes justice into her own hands. I think if we were all more like the heroines in our cozy mystery novels, the world would be a fairer, more just place.

That’s very true. While my main character is in her forties, I try to feature characters of various ages including teens, children, and seniors in different books of the series. The main character of my new cozy that I’ve been querying to agents is a young woman in her twenties.

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

Believe in your work. You know its value, so don’t give up because a few people thought differently. Querying can be one of the most demoralizing experiences in the world. You’ve put your heart and soul into your submission, only to have it rejected over and over again. I kept a spreadsheet of every rejection I received during this whole process. I pull it up every so often to remind myself that it only takes one person, one publisher to believe in your work as much as you do.

On a more practical note, proofread your submissions multiple times and even have a friends or family member proofread for you. A polished piece does wonders for the person on the other end of the line experiencing your work for the first time. And a catchy tagline for your book or series is always a winner!

Excellent advice. I think authors can identify with that.

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

I really struggled convincing the literary world that the cozy mystery genre was ready for a social media-savvy main character. I got a lot of rejections saying readers wouldn’t be able to understand or identify with Coco using her phone and computer to investigate her victim and suspects. I found this odd, considering my 83-year-old grandmother has a Bitmoji character. It felt like some publishers didn’t quite understand that the world had gone viral. Luckily, I found a publisher that believed in this book and believed that audiences would fall in love with Coco Cline and her squad.

Even before I started querying, I struggled with being ready, or believing my manuscript was done. Of course, it was far from done, but I eventually realized I had gone as far as I could go without help. Help from an agent, help from an editor. That was when I knew it was time to query. I needed someone else to help me take this book to the next level.

Thanks for sharing.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

As of right now, I am not involved with any writing groups. I am about as introverted as can be. A bit ironic, since I write about a main character who loves the spotlight. I tend to bounce my ideas off my beta readers.

You’re not alone in that. Many authors do the same.

 What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Every writer is a reader, first and foremost. I love sitting out on my porch with a good book. I am also an avid video gamer, lover of Broadway musicals, and swimming. I am a big movie and TV buff, as well.

Nice variety of interests.

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

What I like most about being an author is connecting with readers. I absolutely love knowing my books connect with people and bring them joy. Hearing from readers how much they enjoyed one of my books has got to be one of the best feelings in the world.

What I like least about being an author and my toughest challenge are linked together. I’m really kinda awful with my newsletter. I try to write a newsletter quarterly, but I find it really tricky to share new details. I use social media so much to connect with readers and let them know the big news, that my newsletters always felt like a regurgitation of information. To overcome this hurdle, I’ve started using my newsletter to share exclusive content regarding my books, like short stories or character profiles. Since it is a more creative outlet, I find writing those types of newsletters more enjoyable than just listing my accomplishments or upcoming release information.

I have a similar issue with my newsletters, and I really like your idea for creating interest.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I love picturing myself as my heroine. It gives me the chance to live another life and have adventures I’ve not experienced. I love the warm, welcoming feeling of a cozy mystery setting. I moved around a few times growing up, so I never really had those deep bonds that cozy MC’s have with their hometowns or the places they live. I also love the idea of solving a mystery. For the longest time, I wanted to be a detective (my idol still is and will forever be Nancy Drew) so writing mysteries has become as good as solving mysteries to me.

I know the feeling. I also enjoy the writing process and becoming absorbed in my own story.

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

From Trending Topic #Murder:

I nodded, heading toward the front door, surprised by the lump forming in my throat. Not one to normally show an abundance of fragile emotion, I took a deep breath, trying to calm my nerves. As much as I wanted the horrible image of Stacy out of my head, pushing her away felt disrespectful. Adding to the fact I hardly knew her, even though I saw her every day for nearly a month, I was racked with guilt over the whole thing. If I hadn’t waited around before letting myself in, perhaps I would have thwarted her attacker, or at least taken him by surprise. Why was she alone at the store? Olivia and Peter were always there to supervise her work. How did the culprit get in and out of the store if all the doors were locked? As I slid into the driver’s seat, I realized I hadn’t yet asked myself the biggest question of them all. Who could possibly have killed her?

Great excerpt. Thank you.

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

I’m an open book! I love connecting with readers, so please feel free to reach out to me through whatever channel you enjoy best. I love posting content about my books, but also about my new dog, Eevee. She’s my first furbaby as an adult, so she is getting a lot of screen time!

Thanks so much for the interview, Sarah. I’ve shared your blog tour below. Best wishes on your new release and your forthcoming books.


Trending Topic #Murder (Trending Topic Mystery Series)
by Sarah E. Burr

About Trending Topic #Murder


Trending Topic #Murder (Trending Topic Mystery Series)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Camel Press (September 8, 2020)
Paperback: 218 pages
ISBN-10: 1603816305
ISBN-13: 978-1603816304
Digital ASIN: B08DH78VXM

Meet 28-year-old celebrity blogger Coco Cline, who has started her own social media consulting company in her hometown of Central Shores, Delaware. Her new clients, Peter and Olivia Chen, are ten days away from the grand opening of their specialty consignment shop when Coco finds their store clerk Stacy dead behind the register.

Worried that a cloud of suspicion will ruin their chances of a successful business launch, the Chens ask Coco to work alongside the inexperienced, small-town police force to speed up the investigation. Using her celebrity status and social media savviness, Coco realizes Stacy’s seemingly ordinary life was all an act. Following a trail of cryptic online posts and muddied gossip, Coco and her friends discover Stacy’s questionable relationships just might be the reason for her untimely demise.

About Sarah E. Burr

Sarah E. Burr grew up in the small town of Appleton, Maine and now lives outside New York City. Since she was seven, Sarah has wanted to be Nancy Drew, but she wasn’t stumbling across any mysteries in corporate America. Deciding it was time to follow her dreams, Sarah left her career in healthcare information technology three years ago and started writing mysteries of her own. The Trending Topic Mysteries is her first traditionally published series. Sarah also writes the Court of Mystery series.

Sarah attended Elmira College and graduated with degrees in Political Science and Philosophy & Religious Studies. She loves to weave these themes into her writing. When she’s not spinning up new stories, Ms. Burr is off seeing Broadway musicals, reading up a storm, video gaming, and enjoying walks around the city.

Author Links

Webpage: https://www.saraheburr.com

Blog: https://www.saraheburr.com/blog

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahEBurr

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54713602-trending-topic-murder

Purchase Links

AmazonBarnes & NobleTarget

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

October 7 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 7 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

October 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

October 8 – Thoughts in Progress – SPOTLIGHT

October 9 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW, (SPOTLIGHT)

October 10 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

October 10 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW

October 11 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 12 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 13 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 13 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 14 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 14 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews– REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 15 – I Read What You Write – CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 16 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

October 16 – Celticlady’s Review – SPOTLIGHT

October 16 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

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Posted in Authors, Interview, Reviews

Interview of Sandra’s Book Club: Readers Get Free Books, Authors Get Reviews, Free options Available.

Q: First, tell us how you came to be a published author and how you came up with the idea to provide services to authors.

A: I wrote my first novel, Esperanza: A Latina Story, WHILE I was still in college. The book follows the story of a 14-year old Mexican-American girl trying to get out of the barrio and make something of her life. Full of humor and refreshing dialogue, this book was voted as an inspirational favorite by teen readers. Shortly after that, I wrote the sequel entitled Beyond the Gardens, published in October 2009.
In the second book, the lead heroine gains new confidence and strength as she learns the hard way that “you can take the girl out of the barrio, but you can’t take the barrio out of the girl.”
I write stories with strong and independent female characters that I, myself, would like to read about.
When I’m not writing, I get my fill on reading for the enjoyment as well as to improve my craft.
Like every published author, I was emailing book bloggers, asking them to please review my book. But, like querying to a publisher, most of them were unresponsive and some weren’t interested. And, of course, I used paid services that would list my book in their newsletters, reaching potential readers that may or may not review my book. That worked out okay. But let’s face it: getting reviews is tough. It’s hard when your book isn’t well publicized and no one is willing to give it chance. That’s what started my book blog. Initially, it started as just a blog for my own personal reviews on books that I read. At that point, I started taking requests from authors and publishers. My own personal review would be free, but, of course, like every other blogger, I only chose the ones that I wanted and rejected those that I didn’t. Yes, my readings tastes are pretty open in a wide variety of genres, but there are some that just don’t really interest me (i.e. westerns, politics sports, etc.) So how do I help those rejected authors get reviews? After all, I couldn’t possibly review them all. That’s when I came up with the idea of starting a book club of readers and a review program to supply authors with more reviews besides the one that I give them. Readers can sign up to get free books from authors, and authors can get reviews for their books. It’s a simple, easy, and convenient program. And it’s working!


Q: How can this review program benefit writers?

A: The review program allows authors to list their books and reach a wide range of readers. It’s been a hit so far! About 85% of participating authors get at least 1 – 2 reviews on Amazon, and we receive over 75 reviews a month from readers. And the best part about it is that we offer free ways for authors to list their book in our program. As an author, I totally understand that budgets can be tight, which makes it harder (maybe even impossible) to promote your books. Most authors shy away to any promo service when there’s a price. What better price is there than FREE?

Q: What do you think is the most important aspect of a book to make it sell?

A: The story itself along with a fabulous cover is definitely important. But probably the most important would have to be reviews. Let’s face it: reviews are the life blood of any book. More reviews equal a greater online exposure and a higher sales ranking, which, could result in sales. My book, Single Chicas, has over 70 reviews, and that has given me more royalties on Kindle sales. The reviews made
the difference because before I got no royalties, and now I’m surprised to actually see one come through knowing that I didn’t do any promotion. Book reviews are definitely the key thing here.


Q: How is your author review program unique?

A: My review program is unique because I offer a free option for authors, and I do that because I want authors of all kinds to get a fair chance at getting reviews for their books. Every book deserves a review. These are HONEST and LEGIT reviews. There is no buying reviews here. Readers are free to choose any book and reserve the right in whether or not a review gets posted. It’s all strictly voluntary
and 100% honest.


Q: I see on your website that you also do graphics. Would you mind telling us a little more about that end of your service?


A: As a graphic designer, I help authors with book covers, bookmarks, flyers, social media graphics, headers, and so on. I often try to offer clients bundle packages that include graphic design, book promotion, AND an opportunity to get listed in my review program to reach potential reviewers daily. I definitely know what authors want and I try to give that to them in a bulk deal.

Q: How can authors and readers sign up?


A: For authors interested in submitting their book to get reviews, please go to:
https://sandrasbookclub.blogspot.com/2020/08/submit-your-book.html
For readers interested in signing up to read free books, please go to:
https://sandrasbookclub.blogspot.com/2019/09/read-review-program.html

Posted in Authors, Interview, New Releases

Interview of Claire Fullerton, Author of Southern Fiction Novel, Little Tea

It’s a pleasure to have author Claire Fullerton from Malibu, California, here to talk about her new release, Little Tea.

How long have you been published, Claire?

Since the year 2013

Nice. What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

I am traditionally published and have four novels and one novella out in the world. A Portal in Time was published by Vinspire Publishing in 2013; Dancing to an Irish Reel was published by Vinspire Publishing in 2015; Mourning Dove was published in 2018, by Firefly Southern Fiction, who also published my novella, Through an Autumn Window in the anthology, A Southern Season, the same year. Little Tea was released on May 1, 2020 by Firefly Southern Fiction.

Those sound like interesting books. Tell us a bit about them.

I write stand alone books best categorized as Upmarket Fiction, in that they bridge the gap between commercial and literary fiction. I pay attention to character and language, and love to write stories about the human predicament, which is best played out through relationships. My last two novels (Mourning Dove, and Little Tea) have the subject of family dynamic at the heart. I love to write about that which goes into impacting character.

Characters are important in all books, and it’s true that featuring them in context with their families, as you do, is a great way to develop them.

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 write as best as I can, as long as I can. My aim is always work with a compatible publisher for the genre in which I write, which is, in some way, open-ended.

Great plan. I also like to write different genres, but mostly mystery subgenres.

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

I love all readers. Seriously, I do. I think readers are intelligent creatures, and those who read tend to do it as a way of life. I am a storyteller who basically depicts what goes on in this business of life. I assume everyone relates to the vagaries of life and chance and cause and effect. Those that like reading stories with a strong sense of place and a lens on character are those I’d love to read my books.

As a librarian, author, and also a reader, I also appreciate people who read and those who write, as well. I’ve learned many things from other authors and found inspiration through their books.

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

I love this question because it is so important that authors compare notes. It’s most important to understand that you already are a writer! The aim is to see your work out in the world and in this day and age there are many options. I see the publishing business as two-fold. There is art for art’s sake, and then the business of publishing. Ask those you know who have books out in the world why they chose to go the route they did. Consider all options and decide how much time and work you’re willing to put into it. I am traditionally published because the thought of self-publishing is daunting, but I know many self-published authors who are enjoying wonderful careers.

That’s a great answer, Claire. It’s important for authors to find their own paths, and although there are so many choices to doing that today, that makes the decision a bit tougher. That’s why it’s so important to network with other authors and learn about the business side of publishing.

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

When I shopped my first novel, I didn’t have a body of work behind me that was very impressive, and so I had a lot of agent rejections. Luck and timing gave me the opportunity to write a weekly column for The Malibu Surfside News, in which I basically told first person stories! It helped me as a writer and gave me a good credential. All the while, I wrote essays and submitted them to magazines. By the time A Portal in Time was signed, I had a body of work behind me. The first shift in my career happened then.

It’s good to have publishing credits, even if they aren’t from novels. I started with articles and then had a short story published in an anthology. I’m still querying to agents, but I have two very good Indie publishers, have published 8 books, and am continuing to write articles, short stories, books, and blog posts.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I do not belong to a writing group. My joke is I’m a lone wolf in the wilds of California. I believe writing critiques are subjective, anyway. I think finding one’s voice and growing comfortable with it is key.

I don’t blame you about that. Some writers find them helpful. I’ve never belonged to a critique group myself, although I participate in a writing workshop at my library. If you don’t use a critique group, it can be useful to have beta readers.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I’m the proud dog-mother of 3 German shepherds and one expressive black cat. I love their personalities, and we have a great rapport. I am also a teacher of ballet barre and Pilates mat. And one of my main loves is music, as I was a radio DJ for nine years and grew up in the musical haven of Memphis.

How interesting about your music and ballet background. I also have a black cat and two others. I had a German shepherd when I lived at home with my parents and also poodles.

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

I won’t say I don’t like it, but promoting a book once it’s out in the world is a full-time job! I’ve learned a lot through the years, and always encourage new authors to gain an understanding of the promotional sphere before they have a book out. What I like is helping authors.

I might give you a call – lol. Actually, I find promoting the toughest part of being an author because of the amount of time it takes away from writing which is even more difficult for those, like me, who have full-time jobs.
Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?

From Little Tea:

The light was always dim in the entrance hall, irrespective of the time of day. The carved crown molding on its high ceiling matched the dark walnut wood of the floor and door casings, which glowed in polished rosettes above the opening to the formal dining room on the right and the ample living room on the left, with the green-tiled solarium behind it. The entrance hall had a central catacomb feel and was always the coolest area of the house. In its cavernous elegance, footsteps were amplified on the maple floors during the months of June through September, then fell to a muted padding when Mom had Thelonious haul the crimson-and-navy runner from the attic and place it beneath the foyer’s round, centered table. At the end of the hall, behind the stairs, was my father’s den and attendant screened porch, but rarely did I visit the interior. My father was a private man, reclusive and solitary by nature, and whether he was in the library or not, the door was always shut. I had to skirt the gladiola arrangement on the entrance hall table. The floral design reached wide with flourishing arms toward the French credenzas against both sides of the walls. My reflection flashed in the ormolu mirror as I ran toward the stairs to find my mother. My hair crowned me with the color of night’s crescendo, dashing so dark it almost looked purple. I am 100 percent Wakefield in all that distinguishes the lineage, from the dark eyes and hair to the contrasting fair skin. There has never been a Wakefield to escape the familial nose; it is severe in impression, unambiguous in projection, straight as a line, and slightly flared. John and I are mirror images of each other, the yin and yang of the Wakefield, English bloodline. But Hayward was born golden, just like our mother, who comes from the Scottish Montgomerys, whose birthplace is Ayrshire. John and I possess an unfortunate atavistic Wakefield trait, though on me the black shadow is a ready silence, but on him it plays out as something sinister. John and I are individual variations of our father’s dark countenance, which is to say in our own way we are loners. People slightly removed. But Hayward got lucky, in possessing our mother’s shining essence. I could always see an internal light in their green eyes that set off their amber-colored hair.

I put my hand on the thick banister and climbed the stairs to the first landing, where my parents’ bedroom and living quarters unfurled like wings. The bay window overlooking the garden had its draperies drawn against the searing, silver sun. Walking into the sitting room at the right, I called for my mother, thinking she may be in the adjoining master bedroom. “I’m upstairs,” her voice descended. “Celia, come up. I want to see you.”

I mounted the stairs to the third-floor landing and found my mother perched lightly on the sofa in the alcove that served as a central area for the other four bedrooms. Behind her, sunlight filtered through the organza window treatments, highlighting the red in her hair. Her slender hands held a three-ringed binder of fabric swatches, the swatch on top a cool, blue toile. She patted the seat beside her and I settled softly. My mother was cultivated, circumspect, and radiated a porcelain femininity. Always, in my mother’s presence, I gentled myself to her calm self-possession. In my heart of hearts, it was my hope that the apple didn’t fall far from the proverbial tree.

“Tell me,” she said, “what do you think of this fabric for your draperies? We could paint the walls a light robin’s egg and put white on the molding. I think it’d be divine.” She looked around the room as if seeing it for the first time. “It’s time we got rid of the wallpaper in there. You’re growing up.” She laid her ivory hand on my cheek. “You’ll want this eventually. I think now’s a good time.”

I knew enough of my mother’s ways to know she was engaged in preamble. She was practiced at the art of delivery by discreet maneuver, and I suspected her impulse to transform my room had hidden meaning. “Why is now a good time?”

My mother looked in my eyes and spoke softly. “Celia, I’m telling you before I tell Hayward because I don’t want this to come from him. Your father’s going to be taking a job in Memphis, so we’ll be moving.”

“We’re moving to Memphis?” I gasped.

Yes, honey. You’ll be starting school at Immaculate Conception in September,” she answered. “You know the school; its attendant to the big cathedral on Central Avenue.”

“But that’s a Catholic school, Mom. I thought we were Episcopalian.”

“We are, honey, but it’s highly rated academically. Your father and I think being exposed to a different religion will broaden your mind and give you beautiful advantages. We can come back here any weekend we want, and you’ll have a brand-new room when we do. You’ll have the best of both worlds, you’ll see. You’ll make new friends in Memphis, and Little Tea will still be here. It won’t be a drastic change at all. Try to think of it as an addition. There now, sweetie, don’t make that face. It isn’t the end of the world.”

But it was for me; Memphis intimidated me. Memphis was the big city compared to Como, and I found it cacophonous and unpredictable in its patchwork design. There was a disjointed, disharmonious feel to the city, what with its delineated racial relations. Parts of town were autocratic in their mainstay of Caucasian imperiousness and there were dilapidated, unlucky parts of town considered dangerous, which a white person never chanced. This much I’d learned on my visits to my grandparents’ house near the lake in Central Gardens. Blacks and whites never comingled in Memphis, even though they did coexist. But there was an impenetrable wall that separated the races, and I’d been raised in a footloose environment where it didn’t matter so much.

I took my teary eyes and sinking stomach to my bedroom so my mother wouldn’t see me cry. Through the window over the driveway, I watched as Hayward and Little Tea threw a stick for Rufus. I hadn’t the heart to run tell them our lives were about to end.

That was excellent. Best wishes with your new release. I’m sharing your blog tour and giveaway. Thanks for joining us on Ruff Drafts.

Little Tea
by Claire Fullerton

About Little Tea


Little Tea
Southern Fiction
Publisher: Firefly Southern Fiction (April 28, 2020)
Paperback: 252 pages
ISBN-10: 1645262596
ISBN-13: 978-1645262596
Digital ASIN: B0817J667Y

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

About Claire Fullerton

Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of Mourning Dove, a coming of age, Southern family saga set in 1970’s Memphis. Mourning Dove is a five-time award winner, including the Literary Classics Words on Wings for Book of the Year, and the Ippy Award silver medal in regional fiction ( Southeast.) Claire is also the author of Dancing to an Irish Reel, a Kindle Book Review and Readers’ Favorite award winner that is set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived. Claire’s first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two time periods titled, A Portal in Time, set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. She is a contributor to the book, A Southern Season with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, set at a Memphis funeral ( because something always goes wrong at a Southern funeral.) Little Tea is Claire’s 4th novel and is set in the Deep South. It is the story of the bonds of female friendship, healing the past, and outdated racial relations. Little Tea is the August selection of the Pulpwood Queens, a Faulkner Society finalist in the William Wisdom international competition, and on the short list of the Chanticleer Review’s Somerset award. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary.

Author Links

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

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/cfullerton3

Website – https//www.clairefullerton.com

Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/cffullerton

Purchase Link – Amazon

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Author Interview of Clarissa Kae, Author of Once and Future Wife

Welcome to Ruff Drafts, Clarissa. How long have you been published? What titles have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

Once And Future Wife is my debut novel (after working as an editor for roughly a decade). In full disclose, I am on the board for Carpe Vitam Press but am in talks with another publisher for a three book deal.

That sounds exciting. Best of luck with that.

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

Once And Future Wife is a time slip novel, not necessarily time travel as one character is immortal and the other is reincarnated. There’s dual timelines which was such a blast to write! I have an upcoming release for Pieces To Mend, a contemporary paranormal romance (again, dual timelines of past and present). It’ll be out for the world to see in October.

What interesting concepts. Even though I mostly write mysteries and a cozy mystery series, I have written a paranormal romance, Cloudy Rainbow, also my very first book. I also enjoy writing dual timelines when they work in a novel such as they did in Sea Scope and also Cloudy Rainbow.

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?

While working as an editor, I’d never fully given up writing. Because of that, I have quite a few books in the pipeline and hope to get those polished and ready to roll. I am a big believer that authors are/should be agents for change. Every story has potential to give a slightly different perspective, creating space for empathy. Every character in every story is a bit different just as every person we meet in life. My goal—more than anything—would be to help those around us to be a little kinder to our neighbors and shed a softer light on mental illness, racial inequality…whatever that particular character is helping us with.

I really like that attitude, Clarissa. I also have a large stockpile of writing and hope to publish all of it one day. I also want my books and characters to touch my readers.

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

Fans of Susanna Kearsley and Amy Harmon (those are the authors I’ve been compared to) would enjoy my stories. A whisper of paranormal with historical or meatier topics.

Nice. You should attract a good audience with those themes.

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

Do not compare your journey to anyone else. And be flexible. This industry changes on a dime, so learn to dance.

I agree. You have to be happy with what you write in order to sell it and not be influenced too much by current trends.

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

For me, knowing if my writing was polished enough. I worked as an editor and held myself to a higher standard (and would become super frustrated when the idea in my head wasn’t matching the words on paper).

I can understand that.

Can you please list a brief excerpt from your book?

As a kid, Mom had taken me to several daytime practices of local plays. One by one the orchestra would tune each instrument. The cacophony was as soothing then as it was now. An image pulled at my heart. Mom was running her hands along the tops of the seats. Even with Garuda’s help, she wouldn’t be entering a theatre anytime soon. Until Stephen had accused her of coercing critics, I’d thought Mom secretly resented me for killing her career. But the nurse painted a different story. Right here, alone with my thoughts, there was a bit of relief and I wasn’t sure why.

The lights dimmed, and I shrugged out of my coat. Before I could save the seat next to me a couple took the last of the empty chairs. Earlier, Ty had come up with a plan. Whoever saw Denton first was to monopolize his time until the other could join. Between the two of us, we would find Denton and ask about my mother. My stomach twisted, no longer sure if we should be convincing Denton. I couldn’t admit it to Ty yet. He hadn’t seen my mother. To be fair, I didn’t fully understand what I was feeling or what had transpired at the hospital. The only thing I knew for certain was my mother was dying.

Without a master of ceremonies, the curtain rose, revealing two empty seats on the stage. A raven-haired man in jeans walked in, holding a small banjo, immediately followed by a blonde man in a tuxedo carrying a violin. The banjo player plucked a few notes and walked toward his seat. Just as he was about to sit, the violinist ran the bow across his instrument and mimicked the same notes. The banjo player nearly missed his seat, much to the delight of the audience. Like a soothing breeze, joy caressed each audience member, gaining strength row by row.

The banjo player began again, this time with a longer rendition.

With a toss of his hair, the violinist smiled. My heart leapt.

“Rhys,” I whispered. A spark lit inside me. Leaning in, I felt the fire spread.

Rhys matched the banjo player note for note. Four more times, they bantered back and forth. Rhys deftly stroked the violin into the cheerful fiddle song of cowboys. The banjo joined in mid-measure, and the audience clapped along. Faster and faster they dueled, each man furiously and happily dancing along with his instrument until they collapsed simultaneously with dramatic flair into their respective chairs to grateful applause.

While the men retreated to the shadows, a young girl in a white satin dress waltzed and spun to a silent dance in the center of the stage. With the help of a hidden orchestra, she sang O Holy Night in a polished, unexpectedly mature voice. She was followed by a blind woman, her cane thin and covered in twinkling crystals. She played a piano medley of David Lanz, Bach, and George Winston. The confidence she carried, the accuracy of her fingers. The audience—including me, watched in wonder.

Rhys entered the stage once more. He had visited me in my dreams, this fair boy named Rhys. The thought of his soft, golden hair and sky-blue eyes warmed my cheeks. Soft hair? I’d never touched it, but I knew it was smooth, fine. His laugh was airy and easily provoked—I had never heard him laugh. Nor had I ever touched him.

A small orchestra composed of several elementary-aged children appeared behind Rhys. With respectful silence, he began to play Partita for Violin Solo No. 2 in the appropriate D Minor.

My hands wrestled in my lap, tangling the silky folds of my dress. I had loved this song when my mother played it. She’d close her eyes and sway with the music. Even as a child, the emotions and the story resonated with me. It was a four-part tribute to Johann S. Bach’s first wife and her death. Rhys played the low hum to the youngsters’ accompaniment.

The loss of Bach’s wife was tangible, held in every note, the pain etched in Rhys’ face. I felt the unbreakable pull, the moth to the light, the lion to its prey, as I watched.

The mood of the music seemed to flow through his body, consuming him. Genuine.

I glanced around. Every man and woman sat frozen. They appeared engrossed in their own painful memory of loss.

I rose from my seat and kept to the shadows, inching along the balcony, closer to the side for the stage below. No one should feel this strongly about a stranger—at least no sane person. Unable to maintain my composure, I wrapped my arms around my waist and fled the auditorium.

With a hand on the rail, I ran down the stairs gripping the skirt of my dress. Someone called my name. Refusing to answer, I turned to another round of stairs, hoping it led to a back entrance. The light dimmed as I descended into the belly of the theatre. There was a feeling of comfort in the stairwell, urging me to keep going. My phone vibrated, pulling me back to my senses. With the back of my hand, I wiped my wet cheek. Only an idiot would cry like this.

That pulls you right in. Thanks for sharing.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Love this question! I love to ride horses (we own four) and I love to run. I competed as an equestrian in college and have never stopped loving horses.

My daughter went through a horse riding phase, but I’ve never tried it. I have started some jogging, but I need to watch my knees. It’s great that you have your own horses.

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

Honestly, balancing life is the biggest challenged. I love to give 110% in all that I do and that’s just not feasible. I have three kids and my husband has a very demanding job (he’s on call 24/7) in the medical community. What I love most is creating life and characters. Nothing is greater than breathing life into something—a home, a garden or a book.

I feel the same way. So much to write, so little time.

Thank you so much. I’m sharing your blog tour and giveaway below. Best wishes on your new release. It sounds great.

Immortal men like Rhys Glyndwr belong to forgotten fables—along with his reincarnating wife—but instead, they haunt the mind of a modern scientist, Isla Belle Thorne. Like an old blanket, visions of the healer servant and his wife, the daughter of a duke, have comforted Isla Belle, the only constant in her unstable childhood.
When her mother is hospitalized for a mental breakdown, Isla Belle fears for her own health and keeps the visions a secret. As Isla Belle starts her new job at a renowned medical organization, she comes face to face with Rhys—the same man from her visions.
She’s told an impossible tale of a love that death cannot kill. Surrounded by science but faced with an implausible legend, Isla Belle must decide what to believe and what to leave behind.

 

 

Clarissa Kae is a preeminent voice whose professional career began as a freelance editor in 2007. She’s the former president of her local California Writers Club after spending several years as the Critique Director.
Since her first novel, she’s explored different writing genres and created a loyal group of fans who eagerly await her upcoming release. With numerous awards to her name, Clarissa continues to honor the role of storyteller.
Aside from the writing community, she and her daughters founded Kind Girls Make Strong Women to help undervalued nonprofit organizations—from reuniting children with families to giving Junior Olympic athletes their shot at success.
She lives in the agricultural belly of California with her family and farm of horses, chickens, dogs and kittens aplenty.

 

 

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