Posted in Authors, Cozy Mystery

Author Spotlight Interview of Maria DiRico, Author of Here Comes the Body: A Catering Hall Mystery

It’s great to have author Maria DiRico (Ellen Byron) here today from Los Angeles, California, to talk about herself and her new release, Here Comes the Body: A Catering Hall Mystery.

How long have you been published, Maria?

My first mystery came out in 2015. Before that I was a playwright and television writer for series like WINGS and JUST SHOOT ME.

Interesting.

What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher?

The Cajun Country Mystery series: Plantation Shudders, Body on the Bayou, A Cajun Christmas Killing, Mardi Gras Murder, and Fatal Cajun Festival. All as Ellen Byron for Crooked Lane Books

The Catering Hall Mystery series: Here Comes the Body, as Maria DiRico, for Kensington.

Great. 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.

Here Comes the Body, the first book in my Catering Hall Mystery series, launched February 25th. Here’s a little bit about the series: After being cleared as a person of interest in her husband’s presumed death, Mia Carina moves back home to Queens, where her father Ravello, a capo with the Boldoni crime family, has been tasked with running a rundown banquet hall that was surrendered to him by a broke gambler. Mia has always wanted her father to go straight and she’s determined to help him run the place, with its view of Flushing Bay and the LaGuardia Airport runway, as a legitimate business. Who knew working for a catering hall could be as dangerous as working for the Mob? The Catering Hall Mysteries offers up a mystery series you can’t refuse.

Sounds wonderful.

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 hope to continue both series and then launch two more that I’m excited about. I’d also like to get a draft of a stand-alone mystery I wrote in great shape, and then send it out in the world for publication, I hope, I hope. How do I plan on reaching these goals? Work, work, work!

As a fellow author, I know how much work it takes to meet those goals. Good luck!

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

Honestly, I’m happy to attract anyone who enjoys diving into a cozy mystery where anything ugly happens off the page and justice always prevails.

I’m sure that covers a wide range of readers.

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

Learn how to listen to and distill feedback. Notes and critique are invaluable when they’re good. Keep working on becoming the best writer you can be and keep plugging away at finding an agent and a publisher. Don’t jump into self-publishing too fast. Doing it really well is much, much harder than it looks.

I can relate to that, as I’m still looking for an agent and a larger publisher.

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

Even having won a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic grant, and with my many TV and playwriting credits, it took me nine months to find a literary agent and then my first book never sold. That was a rough year-plus. Not giving up was a struggle. I’d been a professional writer for years and it felt like I was starting from scratch. Luckily, while the first book was out on submission, I wrote a second mystery, Plantation Shudders, and that sold.

You’re an example of how persistance pays off for authors.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

Not a critique group. I’m a member of the WGA West (Writers Guild of America); TAG (The Animation Guild); MWA (Mystery Writers of America), and Sisters in Crime.

We are fellow Sisters in Crime members.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Reading, of course! I also adore needlepoint. It’s my go-to hobby. I do a couple of other crafts, like decoupage and jewelry making, but those are more sporadic. And I live for our little doggy, a chihuahua mix who’s the light of my life.

Awww. I’m a fellow animal lover. My three cats are my babies, although I also have a teenage daughter.

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

I love writing. I can’t not write. I heard an author once say she’d retired. I can’t see me ever doing that. I’m always writing, if not on paper than in my head. The toughest challenge is staying focused when I’m powering through a draft. I set a word count for the week that I force myself to meet. But the internet is dangerous siren, always sending a come-hither wave from my computer. Very distracting!

I can relate to that, too. It’s very hard to find the time to deal with social media, promotion, and writing.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries? I can’t write a sex scene to save my life. And when I’m writing cozies, I don’t have to!

Lol. I’m with you. I feel very uncomfortable writing those type of scenes.

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

I adore writing them. I hope you adore reading them! And do sign up for my newsletter at ellenbyron.com. I send it out monthly, and it always includes some fun stuff and a recipe. I also do contests a few times a year.

I’m sure my readers will consider that, as will I.

Thanks so much for the interview. I’m sharing your blog tour and giveaway for Here Comes the Body below:

Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery)
by Maria DiRico

About Here Comes the Body


Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Kensington (February 25, 2020)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 page
ISBN-10: 1496725344
ISBN-13: 978-1496725349
Digital ASIN: B07R8WYLSC

After her philandering husband’s boat went down, newly single Mia Carina went back to Astoria, the bustling Queens neighborhood of her youth. Living with her Nonna and her oversized cat, Doorstop, she’s got a whole new life—including some amateur sleuthing . . .

Mia is starting work at Belle View, her father’s catering hall, a popular spot for weddings, office parties, and more—despite the planes that occasionally roar overhead on their way to LaGuardia and rattle the crystal chandelier. Soon she’s planning a bachelor party for a less-than-gentlemanly groom. But it goes awry when the gigantic cake is wheeled in and a deadly surprise is revealed . . .

Since some of her family’s associates are on the shady side, the NYPD wastes no time in casting suspicion on Mia’s father. Now, Mia’s going to have to use all her street smarts to keep him out of Rikers Island . . .

Italian recipes included!

About Maria DiRico

Maria DiRico was born in Queens, New York, and raised in Queens and Westchester County. She is a first-generation Italian-American on her mother’s side. On her father’s side, her grandfather was a low-level Jewish mobster who disappeared in 1933 under mysterious circumstances. She also writes the award-winning, bestselling Cajun Country Mystery series under the name Ellen Byron.

Website – https://www.ellenbyron.com/catering-hall-mysteries

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

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ellenbyronla

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ellen-byron

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maria-dirico

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

February 24 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, EXCERPT

February 24 – This Is My Truth Now – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 24 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

February 25 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

February 25 – Ascroft, eh? – GUEST POST

February 25 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – REVIEW

February 26 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

February 26 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

February 26 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

February 27 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

February 27 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 27 – Jane Reads– GUEST POST

February 28 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 28 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW, RECIPE

February 29 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

February 29 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW

March 1 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 1 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE

March 2 – That’s What She’s Reading – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE

March 2 – TBR Book Blog – REVIEW, EXCERPT

March 3 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, RECIPE

March 3 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

March 4 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 4 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

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Posted in Guest Post, Solstice Publishing

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Deadly Southern Charm, A Lethal Ladies Mystery Anthology, by Sisters in Crime

My short mystery, “Unbridled” is set in a fictional equestrian facility in South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

Riding stables don’t lend themselves to many recipes—unless, of course, you’re a horse, then oats and hay!  But I’ve always enjoyed the outdoor tailgates, picnics, pool parties, barbeques, and garden parties that Southerners celebrate in their signature style. My go-to contribution to any seasonal gathering is this marinated cucumber and tomato salad.  It’s a breeze to prepare, chill for a few hours in your fridge, and then be ready to be the star of any buffet table.  Even your riding instructor will approve.

Marinated Cucumbers, Onions, and Tomatoes

3 cucumbers, peeled and sliced ¼” thick

1 onion (I prefer sweet) sliced and separated into rings

3 large tomatoes, cut into wedges

Dressing:

½ cup white vinegar

2 tbsp sugar

1 cup water

2 tsp salt

1 tsp fresh coarse ground black pepper

¼ cup oil

Combine dressing ingredients and mix well. Pour over vegetables and mix well.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for at least 2 hours before serving, stirring once per hour.

Drain excess dressing before serving.  Enjoy!

Kristin Kisska used to be a finance geek, complete with MBA and Wall Street pedigree, but now she is a self-proclaimed fictionista. Kristin contributed short stories of mystery and suspense to the Anthony Award winning anthology, MURDER UNDER THE OAKS (2015), VIRGINIA IS FOR MYSTERIES- VOLUME II (2016), FIFTY SHADES OF CABERNET (2017), DAY OF THE DARK (2017), MYSTERY MOST GEOGRAPHICAL (2018), MYSTERY MOST EDIBLE (2019), and DEADLY SOUTHER CHARM (2019). She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, and James River Writers. When not writing suspense, she can be found blogging on her website~ KristinKisska.composting on Facebook at KristinKisskaAuthorand Tweeting @KKMHOO. Kristin lives in Virginia with her husband and three children.

PRAISE FOR THE ANTHOLOGY

Deadly Southern Charm is a keep-you-up-at-night collection loaded with well-crafted characters and perfect plotting by some of today’s best mystery writers. Brava!

USA Today and NYT Best-selling author, Ellery Adams 

Deliciously devious and absolutely delightful, these marvelous stories will keep you captivated! Sweeter than sweet tea on the surface, but with smartly sinister secrets only a true southern writer can provide.  What a joy to read!

Hank Phillippi Ryan best-selling Agatha and Mary Higgins Clark Awards winner

This collection of short crime fiction charms even as the stories immerse you in murder, revenge, and deadly deeds. Set all over the south, from Virginia to North and South Carolina, in Atlanta, Memphis, and New Orleans, the stories by eighteen authors engage and entertain with rich imagery and dialog from the region – and nefarious plots, too. Pour a glass of sweet tea and settle in on the porch swing for a fabulous read.

Edith Maxwell, Agatha and Macavity Awards nominee

This can’t-put-it-down collection of mystery short stories is flavored with the oft-eerie ambiance of the South, where the most genteel manners may hide a dark and murderous intent. Enjoy Deadly Southern Charm with a Mint Julep in hand – a strong one.

Ellen ByronUSA Today best-selling author, Agatha and Daphne Awards nominee and Lefty winner

Deadly Southern Charm (Cozy Mystery Anthology)
by Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia

Frances Aylor, Mollie Cox Bryan, Lynn Cahoon, J.A. Chalkley, Stacie Giles, Barb Goffman, Libby Hall, Bradley Harper, Sherry Harris, Maggie King, Kristin Kisska, Samantha McGraw, K.L. Murphy, Genilee Swope Parente, Deb Rolfe, Rod Sterling, S.E. Warwick, Heather Weidner
Editors: Mary Burton and Mary Miley

About the Book


Deadly Southern Charm (Cozy Mystery Anthology)
Cozy Mystery
Wildside Press (March 27, 2019)
Paperback: 173 pages
ISBN-10: 1479448397
ISBN-13: 978-1479448395

About the Authors

Frances Aylor, CFA combines her investing experience and love of travel in her financial thrillers. MONEY GRAB is the first in the series. www.francesaylor.com

Mollie Cox Bryan is the author of cookbooks, articles, essays, poetry, and fiction. An Agatha Award nominee, she lives in Central Virginia. www.molliecoxbryan.com

Lynn Cahoon is the NYT and USA Today author of the best-selling Tourist Trap, Cat Latimer and Farm-to-Fork mystery series. www.lynncahoon.com

A. Chalkley is a native Virginian. She is a writer, retired public safety communications officer, and a member of Sisters in Crime.

 

Stacie Giles lived many places before settling in Virginia where she is returning to ancestral Southern roots, including a grandfather who was a Memphis policeman.

Barb Goffman has won the Agatha, Macavity, and Silver Falchion awards for her short stories, and is a two-time finalist for US crime-writing awards.www.Barbgoffman.com

Libby Hall is a communication analyst with a consulting firm in Richmond, Virginia. She is also a blogger, freelance writer, wife, and mother of two.

Bradley Harper is a retired Army pathologist. Library Journal named his debut novel, A KNIFE IN THE FOG, Debut of the Month for October 2018. www.bharperauthor.com

Sherry Harris is the Agatha Award-nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery series and is the president of Sisters in Crime.www.sherryharrisauthor.com

Maggie King penned the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries and 50 Shades of Cabernet anthologies. www.maggieking.com

Kristin Kisska is a member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime, and programs chair of the Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia chapter. www.kristinkisska.com

Samantha McGraw has a love of mysteries and afternoon tea. She lives in Richmond with her husband and blogs at Tea Cottage Mysteries.www.samanthamcgraw.com

K.L. Murphy is a freelance writer and the author of the Detective Cancini Mysteries. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, four children, and two dogs.www.Kellielarsenmurphy.com

Genilee Swope Parente has written the romantic mystery The Fate Series with her mother F. Sharon Swope. The two also have several collections of short stories. www.swopeparente.com

Deb Rolfe primarily writes mystery novels. This is her first published short story. She and her husband enjoy life in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

 

Ronald Sterling is the author of six books and draws upon his colorful and varied life experience as a U.S. Airman, saloonkeeper, private detective, realtor, and New Jersey mayor.

S.A. Warwick, in the last century earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies. Ever since, she has been trying to decipher the American enigma.

Heather Weidner is the author of the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries. She has short stories in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 SHADES OF CABERNET and TO FETCH A THIEF. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and Jack Russell terriers. www.heatherweidner.com

EDITORS

Mary Burton is a New York Times, USA Today and Kindle best-selling author. She is currently working on her latest suspense. www.maryburton.com

Mary Miley is a historian and writer with 14 nonfiction books and 5 mystery novels to her credit. www.marymileytheobald.com

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LethalLadiesCVA?lang=en

Website: https://www.sistersincrimecentralvirginia.com/anthologies

Purchase Links – Amazon

Wildside Wildside eBook

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

April 21 – Books, Movies, Reviews. Oh my! – SPOTLIGHT

April 22 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, GUEST POST

April 23 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

April 24 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 25 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

April 26 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

April 27 – I’m All About Books – GUEST POST

April 28 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW, RECIPE

April 29 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 30 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE

May 1 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 1 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

May 2 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

May 2 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

May 3 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE

May 4 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

May 5 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Cozy Mystery, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Mardi Gras Murder, a Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

A GUEST POST WITH TUG CROZAT

Hi there, y’all, I’m Tug Crozat. You’re probably more familiar with my daughter, Maggie, but I thought I’d drop by and fill you in on what all’s going on these days at Crozat Plantation B&B.

Mardi Gras is a huge deal in Louisiana. Maggie once bought me a joke Christmas sweatshirt that said, “Happy Almost Mardi Gras.” Yup, that’s kind of how we think of it around here. The part of the year that isn’t Carnival Season basically serves as a lead-up to Carnival Season.

The literal translation of “Mardi Gras” is “Fat Tuesday.” It’s the last day you really get let loose before Lent starts. Let me tell you a little about how we celebrate here in our little village of Pelican, Louisiana. (Town motto: “Yes, We Peli-CAN!”) Yes, we have a parade with floats and throws like beads and doubloons. We also have several Courir de Mardi Gras. That means “Mardi Gras Run.” Folks dress up in these colorful costumes and wear handmade masks. Each courir has a capitaine, who keeps the group in line as much as possible as they go from house to house to cajole ingredients for a communal gumbo out of agreeable residents. The Mardi Gras – yup, here it’s a proper noun as well as a holiday name – sing, dance, and beg to get those ingredients. Then everyone comes together at one location where the communal gumbo is made and served. (Nowadays, a lot of the ingredient-gathering is purely ceremonial because the gumbo’s pre-made by local cooks to save time.)

In Pelican, we have a big Mardi Gras party once the Courirs show up with their ingredients. There’s a pageant queen, dancing, and my favorite part of the whole deal – the Gumbo Cookoff. Yup, in addition to the communal gumbo, there’s a whole contest for making it. A lot of men in our village love to cook, and the only thing we like cooking better than jambalaya is gumbo. I always make mine a big old cast iron pot that’s so important to me I store it in our family safe between competitions. It’s been handed down to Crozat men from one generation to another. Nobody knows how old it is, but boy, do I love that baby. Maggie, who’s an only child, jokes that while some of her friends had to compete with a sibling for attention, she had to compete with a black pot. (That’s what we call them – black pots.)

I always spend the week before Mardi Gras fixing up batches of my gumbo, making sure I have the right ingredients handy, doing a little fine tuning of the recipe, which I also keep in the safe. Like the black pot, that recipe’s been handed down through the family for generations, and Crozat men have won the Pelican Mardi Gras gumbo contest more times than I can count. I got my eye on the prize again for this year.

I can’t imagine anything going wrong. Can you?

Mardi Gras Murder: A Cajun Country Mystery
by Ellen Byron

About the Book


Mardi Gras Murder: A Cajun Country Mystery
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Crooked Lane Books (October 9, 2018)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 168331705X
ISBN-13: 978-1683317050
Digital ASIN: B078LZ5W3H

Southern charm meets the dark mystery of the bayou as a hundred-year flood, a malicious murder, and a most unusual Mardi Gras converge at the Crozat Plantation B&B.

It’s Mardi Gras season on the bayou, which means parades, pageantry, and gumbo galore. But when a flood upends life in the tiny town of Pelican, Louisiana—and deposits a body of a stranger behind the Crozat Plantation B&B—the celebration takes a decidedly dark turn. The citizens of Pelican are ready to Laissez les bon temps rouler—but there’s beaucoup bad blood on hand this Mardi Gras.

Maggie Crozat is determined to give the stranger a name and find out why he was murdered. The post-flood recovery has delayed the opening of a controversial exhibit about the little-known Louisiana Orphan Train. And when a judge for the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen pageant is shot, Maggie’s convinced the murder is connected to the body on the bayou. Does someone covet the pageant queen crown enough to kill for it? Could the deaths be related to the Orphan Train, which delivered its last charges to Louisiana in 1929? The leads are thin on this Fat Tuesday—and until the killer is unmasked, no one in Pelican is safe.

A simmering gumbo of a humorous whodunit, Mardi Gras Murder is the fourth piquant installment in USA Today bestselling author Ellen Byron’s award-winning Cajun Country mysteries.

About the Author

Ellen Byron authors the Cajun Country Mystery series. A Cajun Christmas Killing and Body on the Bayou both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery and were nominated for Agatha awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. Plantation Shudders was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Mardi Gras Murder launches October 9th. Ellen’s TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly OddParents. She’s written over 200 national magazine articles, and her published plays include the award-winning Graceland. She also worked as a cater-waiter for the legendary Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing.

Author Links:

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NCrooked LaneBookBubKobo

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

October 20 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, RECIPE

October 20 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

October 21 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

October 21 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 22 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

October 22 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST

October 23 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

October 23 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 24 – Lisa KS Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 24 – cherylbbookblog – SPOTLIGHT

October 25 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW

October 25 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

October 26 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST

October 26 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

October 27 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

October 27 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

October 28 – The Montana Bookaholic – CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 29 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 29 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

October 30 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

October 30 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 31 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 31 –Varietats – SPOTLIGHT

November 1 – Island Confidential – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

November 1 – Ruff Drafts – GUEST POST

November 2 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 2 – Handcrafted Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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