Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2010

Guest Blogger - Sheila Connelly


Many thanks to Pamela and Terri for inviting me to appear here and to talk about these people I seem to have made up (does that make them imaginary friends?).

People often ask writers if we base our protagonists on ourselves. The answer is "yes"–and "no". This gets particularly complicated if you write more than one series, because you don't want to keep repeating the same cookie-cutter heroine, no matter how much you love her.

In my first series, the Glassblowing Mysteries, Em Dowell is a forty-something Tucson transplant from the East Coast, who gave up a lucrative job she hated in order to follow her passion, which was glassblowing. I haven't been forty-something lately, and when I started writing, I had never seen Tucson (which Berkley Prime Crime suggested, and which I promptly visited). Em has two dogs; I have cats. I have lived in the East Coast most of my life, and in California for a decade, but I'd never seen the Sou…

Review - Decked With Folly

ISBN: 978-0-425-23001-5

The Pennyfoot Hotel is in high spirits as the holiday season begins it's most joyous season of the year. It's also Cecily Sinclair Baxter's favorite time of the year. The Pennyfoot Hotel is Cecily's pride and joy and the staff are her children. Then murder happens at the Pennyfoot and what is worse is that the victim is Ian Rossiter who used to work at the Pennyfoot Hotel and was once engaged to Cecily's head housemaid Gertie McBride, but Ian had forgotten to tell Gertie he was already married. Long ago he lost his job at the Pennyfoot but not before Gertie had two children by him. The thing is Ian thought he was entitled to see the children and one night he shows up to see them. Gertie and Ian get into a terrible row and the next morning Ian is found dead in the duck pond.
The Constable wants Gertie arrest but with the holi…


WHAT a challenging month! Between tons of snow (didnt mind so much -- it was the catching up at work that is exhausting), getting a stomach bug, car repairs followed by a flat tire (can you say potholes?) and just major discombobulation, I am glad it is nearing its end. Not to say there might not be more - 4 days are left.

I have gotten a lot of reading done (including some pretty interesting true crime), finished a cross stitch heart, visited Meschelle and Crystal. De-hoarded a bit more as well. But I would like to get to a more normal routine if possible in March.

Guest Blogger - Esther Friesner

Esther M. Friesner
I’ve been asked to guest-blog about my relationship with my characters, and I’m more than happy for the opportunity. Unaccustomed as I am to official blogging (though I suppose my near-daily posts in the newsgroup I’ve got going over at counts as something akin) I don’t know whether or not it’s the done thing to provide a title for this.
But I want one, so here goes:
“Who Are These People and Why Are They All Calling Me ‘Mom’?”
You might notice a slight note of exasperation there. That’s because my relationship with my characters is rather like my relationship with my children, though with a few vital differences: I never had to put any of my characters through college and I’m less likely to freak out when my characters go through extreme risks, terrifying perils, and wild adventures, or when they insist on associating with bad companions, strange body piercings, and ink-now-regret-later tattoos.
Ah, but the similarities not only outnumber the difference…

2009 Bram Stoker Awards Nominations

Superior Achievement in a Novel

* AUDREY'S DOOR by Sarah Langan (Harper)
* PATIENT ZERO by Jonathan Maberry (St. Martin's Griffin)
* QUARANTINED by Joe McKinney (Lachesis Publishing)
* CURSED by Jeremy Shipp (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

* BREATHERS by S. G. Browne (Broadway Books)
* SOLOMON’S GRAVE by Daniel G. Keohane (Dragon Moon Press)
* DAMNABLE by Hank Schwaeble (Jove)
* THE LITTLE SLEEP by Paul Tremblay (Henry Holt)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

* THE HUNGER OF EMPTY VESSELS by Scott Edelman (Bad Moon Books)
* THE LUCID DREAMING by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
* DOC GOOD'S TRAVELING SHOW by Gene O’Neill (Bad Moon Books)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

* IN THE PORCHES OF MY EARS by Norman Prentiss (PS Publi…

Review - Thai Die by Monica Ferris

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Pub date: December/09
Doris Valentine went on her dream vacation to Thailand but soon the dream vacation is a waking night and daymare. She was asked to bring a small stone Budha back with her and deliver it to an antique shop. It was wrapped in a dirty rag to which she threw in Betsy's trash while showing off her fine silks and the Budha to other stitchers.
Betsy salvages the dirty rag because while horribly filthy it has some beautiful emboridery work on it and she wants to see if she can find a way to clean it. However shortly after Doris visits the shop of the anitque dealer he is found murdered and soon thereafter her apartment is broken into the culprit was searching for something.
This upsets Doris very much and to take her mind off of it she and friends leave town to visit a sheep farm and knitting shop. There is a snowstorm and have to spend the night upon which someone tries to sh…

Guest Blogger - Barbara Levenson

AUTHOR CHARACTER RELATIONSHIPS, or How did these people become part of my life??

Readers of the first book in my Mary Magruder Katz mystery series, Fatal February, ask me two questions about Mary. Is Mary actually you? and, How did you develop this character?
Mary Magruder Katz, the protagonist, is a Miami criminal defense attorney. The plot follows her exploits defending her clients in dicey situations, and her romance with Carlos Martin, a Latino hotty.
Mary is definitely not me. Mary can’t commit to a lifetime relationship. We learn that Carlos is her third fiancĂ©. On the other hand, I married my college sweetheart a long time ago and we are still holding hands. Mary is truly an amalgam of young women lawyers that I have met and mentored during the time that I have served as a judge in Miami, Florida. Mary is also a product of Miami’s melting-pot. Her mother is a southern Baptist and her father is Jewish, hence her Magruder-Katz surname.
Since I know well the Marys who…

The Nominations for Agatha Awards

The ballots have been tallied and the 2009 Agatha nominations are as follows:

Best Novel

Swan for the Money, Donna Andrews, St. Martin’s Minotaur
Bookplate Special, Lorna Barrett, Berkley Prime Crime
Royal Flush, Rhys Bowen, Berkley Prime Crime
A Brutal Telling, Louise Penny, Minotaur Books
Air Time, Hank Phillippi Ryan, MIRA

Best First Novel

For Better For Murder, Lisa Bork, Midnight Ink
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley, Delacorte Press
Posed for Murder, Meredith Cole, St. Martin’s Minotaur
The Cold Light of Mourning, Elizabeth Duncan, St. Martin’s Press
In the Shadow of Gotham, Stefanie Pintoff, Minotaur Books

Best Nonfiction

Duchess of Death, Richard Hack, Phoenix Books
Talking About Detective Fiction, P.D. James, Knopf
Blood on the Stage, 1925 – 1950, Amnon Kabatchnik, Scarecrow Press
Dame Agatha’s Shorts, Elena Santangelo, Bella Rosa Books
The Talented Miss Highsmith, Joan Schenkar, St. Martin’s Press

Best Short Story

“Femme Sole,” Dana Cameron, Boston Noir, A…

Guest Blogger & Giveaway - Dakota Cassidy

Hello, all! First, I’d like to introduce myself to those who have no clue who I am. And before I do, many thanks to Pam for inviting me to come and blog. She clearly deserves a medal for bravest blogger ever 

Anyhoodles, I’m Dakota Cassidy, and I write a humorous series involving women who are accidentally bitten and or turned by all the shapeshifters in the rainbow—vampires, werewolves, demons and anything that has a paranormal bent. But my tales aren’t just about turning into a demon or a werewolf. My books are about friendship and bonds in good or bad that’s eternal. Throw in some delish dude, a little woo to the hoo, and that’s what you’ll find between the pages of my books.

So the series goes like this—The Accidental Werewolf--Accidentally Dead--The Accidental Human--Accidentally Demonic (my recent release) and in May 2011 Accidentally Catty. Quite frankly, I’ll pretty much write anything you can tack on in a title after the word “accidental.” I’m almost certain I have an accide…

Guest Blogger - Cynthia Hickey

WRITING WITH SUMMER MEADOWSWhat can I say about Summer Meadows, can't help but love her. Ditzy, self-centered and head over heels (secretly of course) with Ethan Banning, the last thing she's interested in, other than fashion, is solving a crime. Until she digs up diamonds in her backyard. They're a girl's bestfriend, right? Summer owns a candy-store and the readers are elbow deep in chocolate as Summer sets off to capture a crook in Fudge-Laced Felonies.
In Candy-Coated Secrets, her big heart lands her smack-dab on the highway leading an elephant to the fairgrounds! And I don't want to spoil anything, but Summer's back in a big way next year with Chocolate-Covered Crime.
From the above blurbs, you can see how much fun spending time with Summer was. We became the closest of friends. Laughed and cried together. When her life was in peril, often because of Summer's misguided drive to help someone, I fretted with her and chee…

Guest Blogger - Mike Befler

The relationship between me and the protagonist in my geezer-lit mystery series, Paul Jacobson, is very special. When I start writing a character, I like to have a mental image. I keep a file of clippings of faces I’ve cut out of magazines. So with Paul, as with other characters I write about, I pick out a picture so I can visualize the character. I may borrow a few attributes of people I know for my characters but the vast majority is unique for the particular character.

 In Paul’s case, he’s a crotchety octogenarian with short-term memory loss who, in spite of not being able to remember yesterday, becomes an amateur sleuth and even has a romance with a young chick in her seventies. The idea for short-term memory loss came from my stepfather who suffered from dementia, although completely different symptoms than Paul’s.

My natural father was a punster, so Paul tells puns. I hate taking pills, so Paul has inherited this characteristic from me. But beyond that, everything else about P…

Best Friends - Sharing the Armchair -- A guest blog by Hank Phillippi Ryan for our 5th Anniversary of The Cozy Armchair Group

How often do you talk to your best friends? Oh, yes, as grade schoolers, our BFF’s might change from time to time…the boy or girl you’d whisper to, and pass notes to, and giggle with in the cafeteria as you were plotting your next secret meeting or movie outing or trip to the soda shop. (Soda shop?) But your best friend was always there. Without them, life just wasn’t as much fun.

In high school, you could still see him or her every day. That’s when competition started, and comparisons, and the smart ones broke off from the popular ones, and the difficult (or cool?) ones lurked outside smoking and planning their next secret way to cut classes and the athletes wore their letter sweaters (letter sweaters?) and everyone wanted to be grown up. But your best friend was there to let you copy their homework, or tell that cute guy you liked him, or stand up for you when someone said something mean. To share gossip and dreams and prom dresses, and sneak issues of Cosmo, and yearn for someone’…

Review - Cooking Up Murder by Miranda Bliss

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Berkley (November 7, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0425212912
ISBN-13: 978-0425212912

Annie and Eve are best friends. And when Eve signs them up for a cooking class she has no idea how crazy her life would become. Annie is a horrible cook and has one challenge after another in the class. But that's not all, after witnessing some arguments after class, they stumble across a body. And then they get to investigating, especially since Eve's ex is the detective investigating the crime and they want to show him up. Oh, and Annie really likes the hot Scottish cooking instructor too.

All in all, Annie and Eve really put the amateur in amateur sleuthing. They have their minds set going in and miss clue after clue. A few times I wanted to smack them. But they are likeable characters and hopefully learn from their mistakes in the next book.


Guest Blogge r- Dorothy Howell

February, 2010

All you need is love, according to the Beatles. The notion makes for a great song, but unlike in real life – and certainly in books – it’s not always enough.

I’ve written 23 historical romance novels, most under the name Judith Stacy, and can say that “love” is only a portion of what it takes to create a successful love story. Things like internal and external conflict, the setting, dialogue, story arc all play a part in putting together a satisfying read.

The hero in a romance novel is a key component in the success of the book. He must be many things to satisfy the savvy romance reader.

First, the hero must be the alpha-male in the story. Strong, determined, a leader of men. He has to be smart and financially secure (wealthy works for me!). The hero also needs the guy-next-door quality that allows him to listen – yes, actually listen – to the heroine’s problems and concerns, to comfort her and ease her troubles.

Putting all those facets to…

Email addicts unite!

Are you an email addict? I know I am and I think there should be a support group for all of us who are. I remember when I didn't have email and I got so much more done. My house looked better, I felt better and life did seem to be simpler. Now days when my computer crashes I have a meltdown, when email is sluggish I think "Was it something I said?" When I CAN get on email and everything goes smoothly then I can do other things (even cross stitch) but if email is down so it seems am I.
Am I the only one with this affliction? Watching movies or television isn't even the same. The only thing that gets me through no mail is reading because I read mysteries someone else is always has a worse day than I do and it's true - misery does love company. 
However what I really love is knowing that others come through their misery to a brighter spot. Last year I had a lot of misery when I went through email withdrawal several times as three computer bit the dust. I'm living …

February Greetings!

January was a busy and productive month for me.  With interesting things going on.  The monthly Sisters in Crime lunch had Hank Phillippi Ryan as the guest speaker and it was a great talk (as well as good to see Hank again).  She brought a tv piece she had done and it was great to see her "in action".  Then a few days later Mystery Writers of America dinner had Peter Earnest as the speaker (long time CIA spy and CEO of the International Spy Museum - which is an awesome place to visit).  He even shared his "James Bond" moment with us.  Then we had a special book club meeting for the Crime Museum -- our book last month was Sniper by Sari Horowitz and Michael Ruane.  That brought a lot of memories back.  Anyway, one of the Investigators from the Montgomery County Police Dept -- Mitch Cunningham, came and spoke with us.  Telling us of the investigation.  Its false leads, huge amounts of tips, near misses, and final conclusion.  With crime scene photos, like how the rai…

Review: Blood Ballad by Rett MacPherson




Hardback Mystery Series

A Torie O'Shea Mystery

Genealogist Torrie O'Shea lives in New Kassell, Missouri and her two teenage daughters are making life difficult. What's worse than two arguing teens under the same roof who call themselves sisters in loose terms is a town nemisis who get paired up with Torie for an overnight bird watching trip in the woods. The worst of it is that someone is shooting at them, then they see someone dump a trunk off of a cliff. Of course there is a body and who would want to muder a shoe salesman?

Life is more interesting when Torrie learns that her grandfather might have written some music he never received money or credit for and then there is a few decades cold case that mingles with Torrie's family and the Scott Morgan musical family.

When Torrie's home office is broken into and it is learned that Torrie's own family tree might have been involved in a murder she …

Guest Blogger - MR Sellars

Mayhem: Not just something you do to your pants in May...

may-hem [mey-hem, mey-uhm] - noun:
1. The crime of willfully inflicting bodily harm upon another.
2. Random or deliberate violence or damage.
3. A state of rowdy disorder.
4. My life between 5:30 AM and 10:30 PM 7 days per week, 365 days per year.

The alarm clock breaks through the drone of my CPAP machine, pulsing out its annoying demand for attention. I actually opened my eyes 20 minutes ago to the sound of a voice, but I ignored it as I usually do. Unfortunately, now that the alarm is screaming, the voice is back, and it isn't happy with me.

"Murv," Felicity O'Brien says, her musical Celtic lilt bouncing around inside my head. "We need to talk to you."
"Not now," I reply.
"Aye, but it's important."
"When isn't it?" I don't really want an answer.
"Do I have to get Rowan to talk to you then?"
"Felicity, it can wait. I promise we'll all …

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

I’m sure everyone’s heard that authors are always asked where their ideas come from. Actually, I can’t remember anyone ever asking me that question, but that’s probably because so few people read my books (not that I’m whining or anything).

However, something rather magical actually occurred several years before I began writing novels, and I used the experience in my “Spirits” books, starring Daisy Gumm Majesty, spiritualist extraordinaire, who supports her husband and herself in Pasadena, California, in the early 1920s, the fourth of which, HUNGRY SPIRITS, will be published in June of this very year. You can read all about it here:

A long, long time ago (well, maybe twenty years or so), my daughter Robin and her then-boyfriend went to a yard sale in Pasadena, CA, where they found an old, beat-up Ouija board. They decided to pay the fifty cents the yard-sale person was asking for it. When they did so, the person said, “Be careful of that thing.” Naturally, Robi…

Pamela's January 2010 reads

1. Hush My Mouth by Cathy Pickens 8 of 10
2.Thai Die by Monica Ferris 8 of 10
3. Apple Turnover Murder by Joanne Fluke 8 of 10
4. Silve Screams by mary Daheim 7 0f 10
5. The Black Opal by Voctoria Holt 8 of 10
6. BookPlate Special by Lorna Barrett 8 of 10
7. Bull's Island by Dorthea Benton Frank 8 of 10
8. The Blood Ballard by Rett MacPherson 9 of 10
9.Code Name: Dove by Judith Leon 7-10
CR: The Face In The Window by Sarah Graves
CR: Killer Heels by Sheryl Anderson
CR: Decked With Folly by Kate Kingsbury
Had a good reading month.

Terri's January 2010 reads

Some Girls Bite – Chloe Neill *Midsummer Night’s Faery Tale – Terri Windling and Wendy Froud
Very Good:
Jinx – Jennifer Estep ^Sniper – Sari Horowitz and Michael Ruane *
Pretty Good:
Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction – Nov 1987 *Wild Nights – Joyce Carol Oates ^The Lost World – Arthur Conan Doyle @Owning Your Own Shadow – Robert A Johnson ^Shooting Stars and Other Deadly Things – Nancy Tesler ^
Flash:  The Secret Life of Barry Allen – Geoff Johns *The Bird of Time – Jane Yolen *Outcast – Michele Paver ^Rotten to the Core – Sheila Connolly ^The Last Innocent Man – Phillip Margolin ^
How to Be A Vampire – Katy Hall *Little Dracula Goes to School – Martin Waddell *
Absolutely Hated:

* = owned
^ = library book
# = borrowed from a friend
@ =

For more detailed reviews, go to:  My Goodreads: