Enjoy some Mayhem & Magic!

Our blog is meant to evoke fun with the magic of myths, folklore, movies and the mayhem of murder and madness. We have to keep it interesting so if you like different genres of movies and books then you're at the right blog. Our authors are a wide range of experts and our readers know what is top of the line in their favorite genres. Sometimes we post recipes that might be fun to try if a culinary author has one in her book that we think is especially yummy or one that Terri and I have created and want to share with you. Enjoy Guest Blogger Alice Duncan's monthly muse on her books and writing mysteries.

Plus you won't want to miss our book reviews, author interviews or our guest bloggers. So grab your favorite beverage then join us for some magic and mayhem! The good news is that you don't have to leave the house or your comfy chair. We have something for everyone's taste and every month we have a different topic for our bloggers: ones we feel that might be useful in your own writing and reader points of view. Not to mention, life in general. So join us and be sure to have a notebook handy as your to-be-read pile will grow as you add books, recipes, movies and t.v. series you won't want to miss. Not to mention folktales, myths or ideas you may wish to explore. Be careful what you wish for because on mayhemandmagic2 you just might find it.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Morning

Good Morning,

My Friday is starting better than the whole week was for me. First everyone stay safe this weekend. Second I hope you have something or someone to smile about this weekend.

My weekend plans are to wait out the storms and rain which they now say will stop Saturday afternoon. Great news for southeast Kansas and I hope to be able to walk, work in the yard but my main goals this weekend are to cross stitch. I have neglected my stitching and well it is showing by way of my grumpy moments.

On a positive note: THE WOLFE WIDOW was great to read, as was COVER STORY  both excellent books to pull me through my grumpy moments.

Now Aunt Dimity and THE WISHING WELL is giving me cozy moments.


Truth be told I will also be doing my homework on my historical mystery this weekend. I think this weekend will be the turning point that maybe by Monday I might be able to start the first chapter. If this the case that will be great but I do have a lot of work ahead of me to make that happen. Today will definitely bring it's challenges in this area but well worth it.

Once again I have to add that Nancy Cohen is a blessing her book is working miracles. I m working through the blocks and having the time of my life, even though my brain hurts.

I will also send author inquiry this weekend for blog interviews. As I write I must sit down this morning and make my weekend list of to-do things.

Okay off to refill my coffee cup and get this day started.



Pamela

YA books

I was reading an issue of  Locus Magazine recently and noticed how many new book contracts there were for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy there were.  Sorry for the not great pic.  But of all the listings a LARGE percentage of them were YA books.



I remember when I was reading YA books, there were really not a lot of genre books to choose from.  We really can thank the Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games and others for the explosion of interest over the last decade or so.  Love 'em or hate 'em they really are making kids read more.  It's exciting - and yes, there is a lot of so-so books out there, but there is also a lot of real quality out there as well.  I think the most important takeaway is OPTIONS.  Adults often read them too, and if that gets someone with a busy life to stop and take the time to relax and read, then I am all for it.  The age range (debatable) of Young Adult books is often when we really get into a joy of reading that we take with us the rest of our lives.  It is encouraging - and can expand our minds and imaginations.

That said, I do not see the same expansion level in mysteries.  One could argue that cozies are great for YA because of their nature.  Often though, the YA reader wants a protagonist that is also a YA to relate to.  

I grew up with Nancy Drew like so many others.  Hardy Boys, Trixie Beldon etc...  They were wonderful but reading them now, they are really outdated.  Let's face it - society has changed and our protags need to change to.

Now, that isn't to say there aren't any great mysteries being written for  younger readers - there are.  It just doesn't seem that publishers are willing to produce as many as Fantasy, afraid they won't get the same sales numbers (and movie rights if I am being cynical).  Maybe that is true - but how will we know if the readers don't have the options?  I tend to believe from the number of ADULT mystery readers, that the market is there.

But I thought I would post the Agatha Awards in the category for the last several years (Winners notated with *:

2014
Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
Andi Under Pressure by Amanda Flower (ZonderKidz)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Clarion Books)
Uncertain Glory by Lea Wait (Islandport Press)
The Code Buster's Club, Case #4: The Mummy's Curse by Penny Warner (Egmont USA)
Found by Harlen Coben (Putnam Juvenile)

2013
Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Traitor in the Shipyard: A Caroline Mystery by Kathleen Ernst (American Girl Mysteries)
Andi Unexpected by Amanda Flower (Zonderkidz)
* Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein (Random House Books)
Code Busters Club: Mystery of the Pirate's Treasure by Penny Warner (Egmont USA)

2012
Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
Seconds Away by Harlan Coben 
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George 
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead 
* The Code Busters Club, Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse by Penny Warner 
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

So - let's hope things change going forward, and that we encourage writers to write for younger readers and publishers to publish for them.  Everyone wins!

Terri

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Review: Cover Story by Erika Chase

Title: COVER STORY (An Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery Series).
Author: ERIKA CHASE


Book club member Molly Mathews childhood friend has moved back to town. More exciting is the reason Teensy Coldicutt has moved back to town is that she has written a book. A steamy novel that Molly and the book club plan to help Teensy launch.

Lizzie Turner is happily lining up businesses for the signings but things come to a dying halt when Molly is beaten and hospitalize. Teensy's boxes of book are stolen and the publisher of the books is murdered. Add to that Bob Miller, a club member and a close friend to Molly not mention a former police chief has a dead man in his backyard.

The worst is yet to come when Bob Miller is arrested for murder. Plus now there is evidence of a counterfeit money ring to along with the murders.

Lizzy and the remaining reading group have decided it is up to them to find some answers before it's too late and another murder happens. They know Bob is innocent it's up to them to find the proof.

Lizzie doesn't understand what one-hundred and fifty copies of Teensy's novel has to do with this and who is not offering full disclosure ? Is there someone more dark and sinister behind the murders?

COVER STORY is a great addition to this popular mystery series. Colorful characters, fun plot and plenty of twists and turns.
ERIKA CHASE has penned a perfectly fun series that should be a wonderful addition for any mystery reader. I give it ********** stars.

Pam


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

An Interview with Kay Finch

An Interview with Kay Finch
by Pamela James


MM2: When did the idea for this series come to you?

KAY: The idea for the Bad Luck Cat Mysteries came through a brainstorming session with my agent about two years ago, so I can't take full credit. After our phone conversation, I set about inventing the town of Lavender in the Texas Hill Country, the fictional Glidden River, my mystery writer protagonist Sabrina Tate (who by the way does not believe any cat brings bad luck), the despicable victim Bobby Joe Flowers, and last but not least Hitchcock, the alleged bad luck cat.

MM2: The first book will not be released until September 2015. Have you started other books in the series?


KAY: Yes. I'm currently working on the second Bad Luck Cat Mystery, which is tentatively set for publication in June 2016.

MM2: Kay, how many books have you written? How many series have you written?

KAY: I have three previously published novels. A few not-quite-polished manuscripts reside in my closet and may or may not be resurrected at some point in time. Two of the published books - Final Decree and Final Cut - are a series featuring Corie McKenna, a Houston PI. Relative Chaos features Poppy Cartwright, a professional organizer who finds a body in a messy garage. My plan for Relative Chaos to be the first of the Klutter Killer series stalled when the publisher went out of business.




MM2: When writing a book what comes first the plot, setting, character ?

KAY: For me, setting seems to always come first. I have to think about where the character lives before I learn more about the character herself. Of these elements plot may come in third while I'm in the planning stages of the novel, but it's definitely the most important. Without a gripping plot, I personally wouldn't care enough about the character or the setting whether I'm the writer or the reader.

MM2: Tell us what you like to do when you're not writing mysteries?

KAY: Of course, I love to read mysteries. I also enjoy spending time with our four grandchildren who all live nearby and range in age from one to nine. Now that the older children have learned to read I face some touchy questions, such as "Grandma Kay, why do so many of your books have 'kill' and 'murder' in the title?" And I probably shouldn't use the coffee mug around the kids that says "Do not annoy the writer - she may put you in a book and kill you." I spend a lot of time playing with our pets, a tuxedo cat named Alice, a Border Collie mix named Dawson, and a Catahoula Leopard Hound mix named Pepper. They can't read, so the coffee mug doesn't bother them.

MM2: What advice do you have for beginning authors and especially anyone who wants to write a series?

KAY:  
Find a great critique group that holds regular meetings, ideally one made up of writers in the same genre. Many novels by Leann Sweeney and Dean a/k/a Miranda James were born in our fabulous group, and they inspired me.

Listen to audio books because you'll learn a lot from hearing the rhythm of a book.
Read your own work aloud. What may look great on the page might not sound quite right when you hear the words spoken.

If you want to write a series, read lots of series. After you've read enough, you'll have a feel for how to write your own.

MM2: Last but never least what would you like to say to your readers?

KAY: The Texas Hill Country is a fun place to visit and covers enough territory that I could probably vacation there every year for the rest of my life and never see the same thing twice. If you live far away from Texas, I hope you'll enjoy visiting through the pages of Black Cat Crossing. Hitchcock, my fictional cat, has become so real to me that I can imagine him sitting with me as I write. I hope he'll become one of your best friends, too. The joy of delving into a new world in the pages of a brand new novel never grows old.

MM2: Leave us with your character's sage words of wisdom about you?

SABRINA TATE: Kay Finch has a quiet personality and doesn't seek the limelight. But watch out once this homebody leaves the house. She's likely to say things like "wow, that would be a great place to hide a body!" They always say it's the quiet ones you have to watch.

Enjoyed spending time with you. Have a great week.

Kay

Kay Finch
Black Cat Crossing, A Bad Luck Cat Mystery
Berkley - September 1, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: A Test of Wills by Charles Todd

I have wanted to read the Ian Rutledge series for some time, but it was meeting the Todds (Mother and Son team that write together) at Malice Domestic, that made me pull it out and read the first one.

Post WWI England is not something I really have read much about and my limited exposure tends to be mostly Downton Abbey.  Rutledge is struggling to restart his career interrupted by the war.  He is sent by Scotland Yard to investigate the murder of a Colonel where the main suspect is a decorated war hero and friend of the Royal Family.  Secrets abound and there are seemingly no other suspects but he refuses to make a mistake and takes his time, is thorough and determined.   If this goes wrong, he will be the scapegoat. Suffering 'Shell Shock' from the war, he has to prove his abilities to himself as well.  And the case, certainly is complicated.

It is difficult to write historical mysteries - to get the setting, tone, manners, even dialog right.  The Todds really excelled and made me very glad I finally got to this book!  Now, for the rest...

Terri

Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen

TITLE: Writing the COZY MYSTERY
AUTHOR: NANCY J. COHEN

Nonfiction: 43 page

I am excited to have read this book.

It is always daunting to begin writing a book. Nancy has answered many questions about writing cozy mysteries.
She breaks down the overwhelming task of writing cozies and from page one with the introduction and moving on to defining what a cozy is, then from there we go to world building, creating the sleuth, A web of suspects, Heightening Suspense, Solving the Puzzle, The Grand Finale, Series Continuity, Organizational Tools, Final Words, then she movies on the Writer's Resources.

It is a very thin book but don't be fooled. Jammed packed with writing layouts, tips what to do after you have finished writing the book etc....

I think there should be a sequel to this book. I also think this book should have many more pages and examples. Plus Nancy J. Cohen writes with humor and conviction. If you do the layouts and assigned steps before you know it you will have a cozy written. This book is packed with common sense.

Right from the beginning I could see where I went wrong. I should have been writing Historical Cozies, if you are thinking about writing a mystery, if you are in the middle of writing one or ten then this book is for you. She leaves no page unturned.
I give this book *********** nine out of ten.


Pamela

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

An Interview with Lea Wait

An Interview with Lea Wait
By Pamela James

Lea, I loved reading TWISTED THREADS. Tell us how the idea formed, and when you decided to write the series?

            In December of 2012 I heard an editor was looking for a series based on needlepoint. My agent asked me to design a series: write synopses of the first three books and 50 pages of the first book, do a competitive analysis of similar books, write a marketing plan, and explain why I’d be the best person to write the series. Somehow I managed to do all of that by New Years. I told him the series would be a bit edgier than many traditional, or cozy, mysteries, and that it would incorporate information about antique needlework. (I also write the Shadows Antique Print Mystery series, so I knew many of my readers liked an antiques angle.)

            I got a “go!” and agreed to write one book in the series every six months after my current obligations were fulfilled. The result? Twisted Threads, the first in the Mainely Needlepoint series, was published in January of 2015. The next in the series, Threads of Evidence, will be out August 25 and may be pre-ordered now.   Threads of Evidence

Let’s talk about your setting and character names. Was there any difficulty with the setting or naming your characters?

My Shadows series is set in a town on a tidal river in Maine, and I wanted my new series to be different, so I set it in a village (Haven Harbor) with a working waterfront, but also with a tourist industry. Many coastal towns in Maine fit that description. As for character names – all my characters have typical names for Mainers. Many families living here (yes, I live in Maine!) have been here for generations, and so throughout the state you hear the same names, unless someone is “from away.” French surnames are common because many Quebecois immigrated here to work in mills and factories.

Do you needlepoint or cross stitch?

My grandmother did all sorts of stitching, from embroidery to knitting and tatting and smocking, and even dressmaking. She taught my sisters and I cross stitching and other basic embroidery techniques, but truthfully I only mastered knitting. (My sisters were more talented with their fingers.) Because of the Mainely Needlepoint series I’m beginning to learn needlepoint. And I’m a fourth generation antique dealer, so I do know about antique needlepoint and embroidery, and they will be increasingly important as the series continues.  

I like the character background because it made the protagonist real to me. Without giving anything away, was it hard to write about her mother?

Angie Curtis’ mother disappeared when she was ten, and she was brought up by her grandmother, Charlotte, who is also a major character in the series. My mother lived to be almost 90, so I never had to experience Angie’s pain. But all four of my daughters (who I adopted when they were ages 8-10) had lost their mothers. In many ways they shared Angie’s pain … they still don’t know what happened to their biological mothers.

Let’s change course for a moment. Tell us how many books you’ve written and published.

I’ve had thirteen books published so far, with the next two Mainely Needlepoint Books (Threads of Evidence, to be published in August, and Thread and Done, set for January of 2016) written, so that will make the total fifteen. So far I’ve written seven books in the Shadows Antique Print Mystery series (about an antique print dealer who solves crimes ... and wants to adopt an older child.) I’m working on the eighth right now. The first in that series is Shadows at the Fair, and the most recent is Shadows on a Maine Christmas. I’ve also written five historical novels for ages 8 and up also, for the most part, set in Maine. Many of the people in those books are real people. The most recent of those books is Uncertain Glory, about two boys who published the town newspaper in a small Maine town during the first two weeks of the Civil War.

Do you have advice for mystery writers that helped you?

I read and studied about 200 contemporary mysteries before I wrote one – so I definitely suggest reading to know the field and figure where your book will fit in it. Find a critique group to give you feedback. (Sisters in Crime is a wonderful international organization that helped me a lot – and, yes, you can join if you’re a man!) I met my first editor at a writers’ conference … so I also recommend attending as many of those as you can, especially if they offer critique sessions with editors or agents.

How much research did it take to write the needlework series?

A lot of research. I now have a collection of about fifty books on contemporary and antique needlepoint. I also spent a day with the head of the textile division at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, visited the American Textile Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts, and talked to a lot of serious needlepointers. I’m now a member of several needlepoint organizations and subscribe to their magazines. The research continues!

Direct us to your website or blog.

My website is www.leawait.com, where you’ll find more information about all my books, and a link to a prequel of Twisted Threads. And I blog with other Maine mystery writers at www.mainecrimewriters.com I also invite people to friend me on Facebook and Goodreads.

Leave us with some sage words of wisdom from your protagonist.


Angie Curtis: “My roots were deep in this coast of Maine, wound in the mermaid’s hair and rockweed that covers the rocks at low tide. So deep my toes were permanently scarred by gashes from clam and barnacle shells. I’d always refused to wear the old sneakers Gram set aside each year for shore and rock walking, preferring the feel of the rough sands and cold waters on my feet. Mama used to say I was born at high tide; and when the doctor lifted me up to show me the ocean, I stopped crying.”             

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Two Movie Reviews

SAVING MR. BANKS

This movie is such a moving story that it took me by surprise. It's based on the fact that Walt Disney wanted to bring the book MARY POPPINS to life. He promised his daughters he would bring this book to life. It took twenty years to keep that promise.

Pamela L. Travers wrote MARY POPPINS and she wanted anything but this book brought to life on the big screen. The deciding factor to at least hear what Walt Disney had to say was the fact she didn't want to lose her home.

At the least Pamela is difficult an at best she is carrying a lot of memories that cause excess baggage for her and everyone around her.
It is a miracle that this movie was made. It is also a miracle that Pamela L. Travers had a change of viewpoint and heart but not until step by step she had situation proved to her. It was pivotal that Walt Disney visited her at her home.
I give it ******** stars.

Next up: HOLLYWOODLAND and this movie flipped from it's present to the past. It is about the murder/suicide of George Reeves and while the person investigating tries to find the truth this story soon reveals the investigator has much in common with George Reeves.

A very sad movie, a depressing movie and a true side of Hollywood emerges. I really enjoyed the movie but was emotionally exhausted by the time the words the end met my gaze. I give it **********stars.

Pam

Monday, May 18, 2015

Review: Freak by Jennifer Hillier

Sheila Yow is back again as Abby Maddox insists on seeing her from prison.  A fresh set of murders are occurring and the words 'Free Abby Maddox' are carved into their bodies.  The man whose throat Abby Slit, Jerry Isaac, is called in to consult on the case.  Abby continues to manipulate them and others suspensefully building up to a violent abduction and more twists.  Yet, once again, the story is not over and we know that this rough road for Sheila can get worse.

When I read the first book in this series, I loved it - and this was no different.  The characters are smart and survivors.  The evil of the psychopathic charters is palpable.  The story conveys an intensity that kept me turning the pages.  There is always a sense that there is more going on than the characters are aware of, which leads to a lot of guessing fun.

--BUT--

Cliffhangers drive me nuts!

Terri

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pam's Library Trip

Good Morning Readers, authors, friends and family,

I am a reader who uses my library quite often and they are pretty resourceful. Yesterday I received a notice that a library book was almost due in a few days. Knowing that the rainy season is upon us and my is under the weather I decided to have my husband drive me up there in his truck yesterday evening. I returned said book in plenty of time with no fine.

Now it was mentioned to me they had some new books in and sure enough they did so my trip consisted of checking these books out and I will let you know which how I like them.

1. the REBELLION of MISS LUCY ANN LOBDELL by WILLIAM KLABER while this book is penned under fiction it is my understanding that she is a person who made remarkable strides in her time. This the author's accounting and fiction story of a very real woman. So I couldn't resist bringing it home in large type hardback.


2. I brought home MRS. JEFFRIES AND THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY by  EMILY BRIGHTWELL this one is in paperback. I
always enjoy historical fiction and this series is a comfort series for me to read on dark and stormy days.



3. Lastly I come to The GHOST and MRS. MEWER by KRISTA DAVIS this one is a pet friendly getaway taking place in Wagtail, Virginia and it during a Halloween theme
but premise is that a TV series in development, APPARITION APPREHENDERS are at Wagtail to investigate supernatural local legends. It's a ghosts hunters dream and a pet friendly good time until a real murder happens.




So this was my library trip and I left a couple of new books for others. :) I already had a book Terri sent me to read and some homework to do over another book that Nancy Cohen wrote about writing cozy books. So I am set for this and maybe longer if I get any books in to review. I love reviewing mysteries.

Anyway have a great reading week.

Keep it cozy,

Pam