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.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Miss Dimple Picks a Peck of Trouble by Mignon F. Ballard



 This series is set in Georgia in the 1940's. All the young men are at war or others are waiting to be shipped out overseas. Miss Dimple is a teacher and has taught at one time or another almost everyone in town.
One days Miss Dimple and friends are picking peaches when Miss Dimple thinks she heard a scream. Thinking nothing of it the group continues to pick their peaches. Soon they learn that Prentice is dead. not only dead but murdered. Charlie is another teacher at the school. Charlie has a sister named Delia was Prentice's best friend. Delia wants answers and so does Miss Dimple. When another murder happens and more things occurring such as people disappearing then this steps up the women's investigation.
Charlie's mother isn't happy with her investigating and shutting her and her Aunt Lou out of the investigation. Soon family secrets come unraveling and Mad Hattie the town eccentric has a few secrets of her own.
This book is just another great example of Mignon F. Ballard's deft pen and her talent for murder. Mignon is the real deal she knows how to carry a series and she knows people, characters, writing plots and she knows exactly what it takes to be a historical mystery author.
Hats off to Miss Dimple and Mignon F. Ballard for writing one of the most memorable series since Ann B. Ross penned her series.
********* stars.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hello Everyone

Hello Everyone,

I am trying out my new computer tonight. It is a learning curve. I have to say I think this computer will take time to get used to and I hope everyone will ber with me.

Anyway, how are you all doing? Terri has a birthday this Friday and she will take that day off. Yippee as she is working very, very hard lately and I am excited that Terri, will get some much needed rest and I hope she has a little fun on Friday and this weekend.

Now what are you reading? I am still on Miss Dimples and the other book I am enthralled with is A SKELETON in the FAMILY. I love this book and am dragging out finishing it.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Today I want to talk tv series and movies. I am loving Major Crimes this season. I really like Motive and I do have to say I miss watching Call The Midwife, Downton Abbey, Castle and another show or two I can't remember this morning.

Have you watched any fun movies this week? I haven't but here at Melissa's, yesterday I watched Magnum PI for several episodes.

This visit I haven't stitched a lick. BUT have been reading I can't say enough good things about the cozy I am reading "Skeleton In the Closet by Leigh Perry/aka/ Toni P. Kelner. I have to say I want the whole series. I am jealous of the concept  because I should have thought of this series to write. My friends can tell you I love skeltons, skulls and crossbones.

I am in kind of a fould mood today that I hope goes away as I have both grandson's home today.



Friday, June 6, 2014

Review: Hilda Hopkins, Murder She Knit

Title: Hilda Hopkins, Murder She knit.
Published 2011
Kindle Edition:

Hilda Hopkins is a retired government employee. She soon finds that her money doesn't stretch far enough so she decides to take in borders. Ones without family but are comfortable.
Soon Hilda finds living with tenant a little tedious. So she cooks up, digs up and buries a plan to keep the money coming in and have her peace of mind.
However people do get nosy and soon she finds herself dying her hair, going on the run. However old habits and hobbies don't always die.
Hilda Hopkins is one woman whose character traits you do not want to miss. This book is part of a series. There are some moments of surprise, humor and more than one fork in the road.
The ISBN:978-1-257-80845-8
I give it ten stars and can't wait to read all of the books in the series. The author is Vivienne Fagan and she is not only a talented and entertaining author but has created a memorable character.


Monday, June 2, 2014

A Brand New Month

A brand new month. I hope everyone has a great week. We will hit 90 for Tuesday and Wednesday. Then the weather is sane again. LOL

Anyway what was your favorite book, movie and tv series in May and will you tell us about it?

My favorite series was "Waking The Dead" although over the weekend we also watched "Heat Of The Sun" and "Kidnap and Ransom", all have Trevor Eve in them.

Favorite book was my kindle read Hildao Hopkins (Knitters mystery series), it is a great!

Movie I can't remember any movie that moved me this month.

"May your talents bloom."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

An Interview with Joanne Pence

MM2: Jo, tell us about bringing Angie and the gang back?

After 15 years of writing the Angie Amalfi mysteries, I took a break to write other types of stories. The break lasted six years, and in that time I've published six books that aren't even mysteries.

That done, I've now not only returned to Angie, but have begun a new mystery series with "spin-off" characters from the Angie stories. 

Going back to writing about Angie in COOKING SPIRITS (April 2013), and then in a Christmas novella, COOK'S CURIOUS CHRISTMAS (December 2013), was like reacquainting myself with a very dear old friend. Once again, I am finding it fun to write about the entire Amalfi clan, as well as Paavo and his co-workers in Homicide.

Let me add that I'm very grateful to the many people who wrote to me over the years when I wasn't publishing an Angie book and saying that they missed reading about her and the many people who fill her life.

MM2: What are some of the favorite characters that you have written into your books?

Besides Angie and Paavo (of course), I enjoy Angie's best friend, Connie, who's a little older, a lot wiser about life, and yet finds herself going along with some fairly outrageous Angie shenanigans in the name of friendship. I usually chuckle to myself when Angie's neighbor, Stanfield Bonnette, shows up in a story. Also, the three ex-cons who run The Wings of an Angel restaurant, Vinnie, Butch and Earl are great fun, not to mention Angie's mother, and sisters…and the unforgettable Inspector Pamela James, who works in the Missing Persons bureau. Paavo seeks her help in BELL, COOK, AND CANDLE and TWO COOKS A-KILLING .

Some years ago, I thought it would be fun to write a novella pairing two characters from the Angie stories who should hate each other on sight…but don't. I matched Homicide Inspector Rebecca Mayfield (who has always had a huge crush on Paavo, and who everyone in Homicide says is much more "right" for Paavo than is Angie) with Angie's Cousin Richie. Rebecca is a straight arrow, by-the-book cop. Richie Amalfi is said to be "connected," and knows lots of shady characters…but no one really knows if he just knows those people, or is more deeply involved with them. Rebecca wants to suspect the worse about him, but can't. He wants to have nothing to do with a cop, but can't seem to stay away from her. The two of them have a chemistry that's great fun to write about. The novella is THE THIRTEENTH SANTA.

I've also wanted, for some time, to give Rebecca and Richie their own full-length mystery, and this month ONE O'CLOCK HUSTLE was released. I'll be quite curious to see if readers enjoy their strange relationship as much as I've enjoyed writing about it. I hope to come out with the next book, TWO O'CLOCK HEIST, this summer. (There's a definite theme in the titles, which should make the books easy to identify.)

MM2: Let's talk about your writing schedule.

My two sons are grown and on their own, the oldest is married, and I now have three grandchildren. My husband is retired, so other than when family or friends come to visit us here in Idaho, my house is nicely quiet (except for 2 dogs, 3 indoor cats, 1 outdoor cat who refuses to come into the house, and 1 peahen [female peacock] who showed up one day last summer and refuses to leave).

In any case, I can write pretty much whenever I want to. I tend to write in the afternoons, usually sitting on an easy chair in my sun room with a netbook on my lap and a cat by my side. I find it much more comfortable than sitting at a desk.

MM2: Do you ever reread some of your favorite books? If so which ones?

Since I've been published (over twenty years now), I have less and less time for reading, let alone rereading. Much of my reading is either for research, for friends, or simply to know what people are talking about when they discuss a new writer. I enjoy research, and did it for nearly 3 years when writing ANCIENT ECHOES, the longest, most complex story I've ever written. I'm now working on a sequel, ANCIENT SHADOWS, which I've been researching in my spare time for over a year.

MM2: What advice do you have for new mystery authors or beginning authors who want to write a mystery series?

The biggest surprise for me was that many people read mysteries NOT for the mystery itself, but to enter the world the author has created with his or her characters—a world made more interesting because of the mysteries that happen around them.

I had thought what was most important was the "whodunit"—how clever, how hard to "solve," and how many clues and red herrings I used. I was wrong. When people talk to me about my books, they want to know about Angie and about Paavo. People have enjoyed the mysteries, and that they couldn’t guess who did it, but my main recommendation is to make your characters and their world (friends, family, cohorts, setting) so real and so rich that the reader feels as if the characters could be, and perhaps should be, alive.

MM@: I know that you have written books in other genres. Tell us about those and what you like or found hard about writing those books?

In the 6 year hiatus between Angie books, I've put out 6 others. One, ANCIENT ECHOES, is a supernatural suspense and won a Best Idaho Fiction award for 2013. DANCE WITH A GUNFIGHTER was a finalist for the Willa Cather Literary Award in the Best Historical category, two of the books have reached Kindle Top 100 bestseller status, a romance, SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES, and a romantic fantasy, GHOST OF SQUIRE HOUSE.

I enjoy reading a good, emotional love story that will bring me to tears, and that's what I've tried to give readers in my romances. They have little sex (or none, as in THE GHOST OF SQUIRE HOUSE, which is a true ghost story), but lots of feeling. They purposefully move slowly as the feelings build (is that terribly old-fashioned of me?). That's the hardest part about writing that type of book—to take it slow but still keep the reader involved enough in the characters to want to keep going with the story. They're very nuanced. Sometimes a slight turn of the head, or a single step, will mean a tremendous amount to a reader (and the writer).

I've written one book that is different from all the others, a suspense with supernatural elements, ANCIENT ECHOES. It is one of my best-selling books, month after month, as more and more readers discover it. I would have called it a thriller except that these days, people think of thrillers as being nearly all action and gun-battles. This book has to do with a secret expedition that followed Lewis and Clark across the US. When they reached Idaho, they disappeared. Now, 200 years later, a group of anthropology students and their professor go to the same spot in the central, roadless wilderness of Idaho, and they disappear. Why? What's going on there? The reason has to do with an ancient secret that men have pursued for millennia.

The complexity of ANCIENT ECHOES, combining 200 year old events with those of today, and all the research involved (the story goes from Mongolia to Jerusalem to Idaho), plus writing it as a suspense and not a mystery, were all enormous learning experiences for me. I gave the book its own website to explain and show pictures about some of the research that went into it: www.ancientechoes.info.
MM2: Time to promote your favorite convention or workshop?

The Idaho Writers and Readers Rendezvous, of course! It takes place May 1-3 this year in Boise. It's small enough that participants can talk with all the presenters and get to know them, but large enough to bring in some top talent. This year's Keynote address will be by Ron Powers, author of FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. Last year's was C.J. Box—one of my favorite mystery writers with his fish and game warden series.

MM2: Besides writing...what is new in your life?

Fortunately, outside of writing, my life has been quiet and only growing deeper in love for family, friends, and my faith.

MM2: What do you like about living in Idaho? I know it has to be a far different lifestyle than California.

I truly love Idaho. I've been here 14 years now, and it still seems fresh, new, and beautiful. It is a gorgeous state. The people are friendly and kind. One thing I enjoy is that the pace of life is much, much slower than in the San Francisco Bay Area where I lived most of my life, and everything here is closer to nature. I live on over five acres in the foothills north of Boise, with cattle and horses as my neighbors, and antelope, coyotes, foxes, and mule deer as occasional visitors. Yes, it is definitely different from San Francisco.

MM2: Now I know you used my name as a character in your book (many books years ago) what are the chances I will see my name in your book again? LOL

Very, very high . Inspector Pamela James is an important character!

MM2: Okay for more fun questions. Where are you signing books this year?

So much is being done on the Internet these days, that I rarely venture out to do bookstore tours the way I used to. I'll be doing signings in Boise, and perhaps in Lincoln City, Oregon, where I'll be for a workshop with other multi-published authors given by Dean Wesley Smith and his wife Kristine Katherine Rusch (who writes mystery and romance along with sci fi and fantasy). They offer a number of workshops both online and on the Oregon coast—a beautiful spot if you've never seen it. They are fantastic instructors and writers (learn more about their classes, both online and in person, at www.deanwesleysmith.com).

MM2: What is your favorite movie/s, meal, dessert and way to distress?

Favorite movies—that's tough because there are so many! I can tell you the type I never pass up (and no, I'm not really as old as they make me sound), but they're old movies, such as the "screwball comedies" of the 1930's—movies like It Happened One Night, My Man Godfrey, The Bride Came C.O.D.; anything with Fred and Ginger; and any good, atmospheric love story (such as Jane Eyre and Rebecca). In fact, my supernatural suspense has a touch of the old film, Lost Horizon in it, and my ghost story was definitely influenced by The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, another favorite movie. People have told me that ONE O'CLOCK HUSTLE has a touch of the old comedic mysteries like the William Powell-Myrna Loy Thin Man movies. I hope so! I would consider that a compliment and a plus.

Favorite meal—anything Italian. Favorite dessert—where to start? I make a great chocolate-walnut torte, with mocha frosting and almost no flour in the torte. Talk about rich! And delicious!

Way to distress—I go for a walk through the foothills where I live, or I will simply sit out on the deck and look at the foothills, with (much like Angie), a cup of Italian roast coffee and a biscotti (or two).

My website is www.joannepence.com. You'll find a blog about my new Rebecca and Richie mystery series that includes an offer of a free copy of THE THIRTEENTH SANTA. The blog is at www.joannepence.com/wordpress.

Thank you, Pamela, for inviting me to talk about my books. I truly appreciate it. Anyone who would like to contact me can do so at joanne@joannepence.com.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Guest Blogger - Nancy Cohen on Story Magic

Story Magic by Nancy J. Cohen

Story Magic may not be real magic in the sense that something unexplained happens, but writers must have faith in it. Story Magic happened to me when I was writing Hanging By A Hair, my 11th Bad Hair Day mystery. I have a character who was jilted by a woman back when they were young lovers. The girl’s parents whisked her off to Europe so she could get over him.

Somewhere along the way, a thought struck me. What if the parents took her to Europe because she was pregnant? In those days, it would have been necessary to hide this state of affairs. Thus a whole new story angle was born that led to my sleuth tracking down this offspring to Marco Island, Florida.
These developments stem from the writer’s subconscious, but they seem like magic nonetheless. It’s something we cannot account for when we write a synopsis beforehand. The synopsis can be rewritten later to accommodate these plot changes. But it’s a wondrous feeling when a new angle suddenly pops into one’s head. It also makes the story more exciting for you, the reader. Because if I am surprised, so are you, and that makes for a better read.

The writing process itself is magical. Everyone always asks, where do you get your ideas? My reply is that ideas are everywhere. It’s having the time to write them which is the problem. Truly, story ideas in a series are easier to come by. The sequels spring from the setting, characters and plot developments that have come before. Thus after my hairdresser sleuth, Marla Shore, marries her boyfriend, a honeymoon is sure to follow. This becomes the setting for Peril by Ponytail, the next series installment.

And I’m already thinking to the book beyond. Marla has opened a day spa next to her salon. We haven’t centered a story there yet. I’ve put that nugget into my brain, along with a possible book title, hoping that the means of murder will pop into my head.

If you think about it, the entire reading experience is magical. You’re whisked away to an imaginary place you’re able to visualize from a bunch of words on a page. That’s a characteristic of humanity few people consider. But to have this ability to read fiction and to escape into another world is a blessed gift. Not everyone possesses it. If you’re one of the lucky readers, you can go to any time and place presented in a story or in your imagination. I feel bad for people who lack this ability. They’re rooted to reality, although they might escape by reading about home decoration or clothing styles or cars. Everyone finds a means to relax, but creating a fictional world in your head is truly a talent. Reading a work of fiction is a magical experience.

Do you like it to be quiet when you read, or do you not mind outside noise or music?


Hanging By A Hair
A Bad Hair Day Mystery
Marla’s joyous move to a new house with her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, is marred by their next-door neighbor who erects an illegal fence between their properties. When Dalton reminds the man of the local permitting laws, tempers flare—and worse, the neighbor is found dead the following day. Dismayed when Dalton is removed from the case due to a conflict of interest, Marla decides it’s up to her to find the killer.

Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day mystery series featuring hairdresser Marla Shore, who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. Several of these titles have made the IMBA bestseller list. Nancy is also the author of Writing the Cozy Mystery, a valuable instructional guide for mystery writers. Her imaginative romances have proven popular with fans as well. Her titles in this genre have won the HOLT Medallion and Best Book in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The Romance Reviews. Active in the writing community and a featured speaker at libraries and conferences, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who's Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, she enjoys reading, fine dining, cruising and outlet shopping.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Easter Weekend!

Happy Easter Weekend Everyone!

Okay give me six authors you are thankful for? Yes I had to set a limit. LOL Six people you are thankful for? Six books you are thankful for? of course six movies you are thankful for?
Six places you want to visit before you die?

Whew anyway you have all weekend to answer!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Interview with Michele Drier

MM2: Michele how did you become an author?

I guess I’ve always wanted to write. I spent years as a newspaper reporter and editor and had bit, scraps and unfinished manuscripts in my desk drawer.

MM2: What is your writing schedule like?

Whew, it depends. I try to lump errands, meetings and appointments on the same day so that I have maybe four days a week I’m at home all day. I spend  two to three hours every morning going through email, doing marketing, send out requests for reviews and posting to social media sites. I try to write 500 words before lunch and another 2,000 to 3,000 in the afternoon.  I write best and fastest when I have a block of time at last three hours in the afternoon. I shoot to write 12,000 words a week, then spend time editing and rewriting.
MM2: Let's talk about the genre/s you like to write. Tell us about your latest book.

I write in two genres, traditional mystery and paranormal romance. My latest book, published March 20, is the seventh in The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, the paranormal romances. It’s called SNAP: White Nights and reviewers are calling it the best one yet.
I write three books a year—two paranormals and one mystery.

MM2: What would you like to say to your readers?

I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them. They’re all written with a soupcon of humor and the protags view life with a slice of wry (also, I love puns, the badder the better). I have some readers who feel that the characters in the Kandesky Chronicles are family, and reading a new book is like going to visit friends. That’s the experience I’d like all readers to have.

MM2: When you have a writing idea but maybe you are not sure if it is enough to make a book. How do you decide when enough is enough? Who do you go to talk to when you are having a difficult working day?

I don’t plot out my books, but I do have an idea of where each one needs to end up. The hardest part is the dreaded middle third—after you’ve set the scene and introduced everyone but before you write the resolution. Some books become novellas when the story is finished; most become full books. And I have a great critique group. We meet every other week, but stay in touch through email, so if I’m stuck, I fire something off. I also belong to Sisters in crime, Guppies and Indie Romance Writers, so if something come up, I can send out an SOS to the listserv.

MM2: Are there favorite books that you reread?

Oh, yes. Pearl Buck, Elizabeth Bowen, Gore Vidal. I also read non-fiction and William Manchester’s A World Lit Only by Fire, Churchill biographies and The Arms of Krupp are always beside by bed. As are Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror and The March of Folly.

MM2: Do you have favorite writing conventions or writing groups you would like to share with us?

One of the writing groups that has helped me tremendously is the online chapter of Sisters in Crime, the Guppies. It began as the Great Unpublished, but now has more than 500 members who run from thinking about writing a book to published award-winners. It offers on-line classes, critique groups, specific subgroups for those looking for a publisher or agent and through the listserv, support, technical advice and caring. (Full disclosure, I’m the current president, through 2015). The website is http://www.sinc-guppies.org/

MM2: Now for some fun questions. What is your favorite meal, vacation spot, movie and

Meal: Barbecued salmon, lemon risotto and grilled asparagus.
Vacation: France.
Movie: Lion in Winter
Season: Summer...summer. summer, summer!

MM2: By one of your characters please leave us with some words of wisdom?

Maxie’s mother in SNAP: The World Unfolds, Don’t get involved with someone prettier than you; they know it.

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.
SNAP: White Nights  the seventh book of her paranormal romance series, The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was published March 20. She’s working on the eighth book in the series, SNAP: All That Jazz, scheduled for publication in late spring 2014.
She also writes the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Edited for Death and Labeled for Death. A third book, Delta for Death, is coming in 2014.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Good morning!

Good Morning Bloggers,

I hope you had a great weekend. We actually had a nice weather weekend. I spent mine taking walks, cross stitching and watched several movies and episodes.

Basically I wanted to check in today and see how everyone is doing what is new in your life?

What are you reading? I am reading the latest Monica Ferris Mystery (been reading on it off and on for a month), I also am reading The Book Of Old Houses by Sarah Graves and Keeping Mum by Alyse Carlson.

All are good mysteries. Do you have spring plans?

If any of our authors on this blog would like a new interview or would just rather send us a blog please contact me so we can add you to the list. Last month I was a bit disorganized but am back on track now....

Okay I love you all. Thank you for being here with us.