Monday, August 31, 2015

THE LONGEST YARD SALE REVIEW

TITLE: THE LONGEST YARD SALE-A Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery
AUTHOR: SHERRY HARRIS
Cozy/Mystery Series.
Paperback Series: Page count 344

Sarah Winston had no idea how successful her biggest event would be. The problem is while it is the largest yard sale in Ellington, Massachusetts history it is also pictured in drama.
First Sarah and her ex-husband CJ Winston have a difference of opinion of the huge sale. After all CJ is the Ellington Chief Of Police and he has to add more officers to do traffic, deal with parking and well just about everything.
When there are four fires that happen while the sales are going on which is bad enough nobody would have thought that stolen art was in the time frame.
Next of course is murder and I mean someone is trying to frame Sarah's best friend Carol for murder. Carol is an artist. Her shop and studio is not only a wreck but a dead man is found dead in the classroom behind the store. The body has  his face framed.
So much for Sarah's bright idea but then people start showing up and all are suspect. The library's painting is worth a lot o money.
Now we enter Seth the local District Attorney who definitely sets Sarah's hormones on fire.
Returning to CJ who clearly wants Sarah back you have a love triangle that even Sarah wants to run from but there is nowhere to turn. At least not until she sorts out her feelings and finds out who is framing her friend for murder.
Are we done yet? Nope because there ends up being another murder. The base Charity shop has a new person running the shop and well all is not what it seems. Things are in need of being tracked down.
Okay then we have a mobbed up art collector, more cheating spouses and boyfriends. Sarah is also busy tracking down the right items to place in Seth's new home. He hired her to redo his new place. At least this keeps her hands busy while head and heart are working overtime on the two men in her life.
THE LONGEST YARD SALE by Sherry Harris, is absolutely getting your money's worth.
Sherry knows  thing or two about the price of murder.
Don't miss this new  series. THE LONGEST YARD SALE is the second book in the series.
I have so much fun reading this series. I am always inspired to get rid of more our junk. In other words in all ways this mystery is a winner.
Pamela James I give this one another ten out of ten.
Pamela James

Review: Archie in the Crosshairs by Robert Goldsborough

TITLE: ARCHIE IN THE CROSSHAIRS
AUTHOR: ROBERT GOLDSBOROUGH
Hard Back Mystery Series; Large Print
ISBN: 978-1-62899-662-3

Archie Goodwin has final won at his weekly poker game. Feeling too good to spend money on a cab he walks home from the game. When he reaches Nero Wolfe's brownstone a sedan rounds the corner an fires at Archie. The meaning is clear. Next time they won't miss.
Baffled and a little shaken Archie reports to Nero what happened.
Soon after a mystery caller calls and tell Nero he is after him by way of Archie. he will kill Archie, the dynamic duo intricately go through all of their past cases. They call in Saul Panzer, Lon Cohen and Fred Dirkin the help.
Meanwhile  young woman calls because she is being blackmailed. She want Archie and Nero to take the case. They do take the case and soon there is arrangements for a payoff drop off. Archie will drop the case full of money at a certain location at night. His pals will cover him and just as he drops the case bullets are fired and Archie is shot. Nobody retrieves the case but the person suspected of ordering the hit on Archie is killed. Not by any of Archie's buddies.
Then later they find out the brownstone's living room (which anyone hardly uses), has two bullet shots. Long ago after another harrowing case they installed bullet proof glass. Although nothing will stop someone who is trying to murder you.

ARCHIE CAUGHT IN THE CROSSHAIRS is vintage Wolfe and I am happy to report Robert Goldsborough has nailed the atmosphere, vintage setting and the characters. I love this series and he is the perfect one to keep it going and we fans are all the better for it.
I give this one ten stars out of ten stars.

Pamela James (who is a very happy reader tonight). Kuddos to Goldsborough

Review: Orange as Marmalade by Fran Stewart

Marmalade finds a dead body in her library. She tries to tell her human, Biscuit who did it, but her human just isn't listening.

Meanwhile, it is a year later and the police have no idea who killed Harlan and Biscuit is focused on her upcoming wedding and reconnecting with her sister.

This story is interesting in many ways. First, Marmalade comments all along on Biscuit's observations in a fun way. Second it is told through two linear timelines. The current day chaos that is Biscuit's life - filled with interesting characters and fun quirks. The other is told in flashbacks to the prior year leading up to the murder. Clues unfold in both. 

This is also different than the usual cozy in that no one is actively investigating the crime, events just unfold and the pieces fall together.

Biscuit is engaging and a fun protagonist and I want to know more of her story. Marmalade is sassy and engaging.                                                       Orange as Marmalade

The book also includes two things as extras that I loved as well: Biscuit (and Marmalade's) daily gratitude lists and a book group discussion guide that is full of fascinating and fun questions.

I loved this book and will definitely be reading the rest of the series!

  • File Size: 527 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Fran Stewart (December 10, 2010)
  • Publication Date: December 10, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FV5BV8

Terri

Friday, August 28, 2015

We made it to Friday


So we made it to Friday. This is such good news. I may guilt free finish a book I have been reading, I can cross stitch tonight, the Kansas City Chiefs are playing tonight. I am home free for a few days.
What are your weekend plans?
I look forward to the tacos I am going to have for supper.
Oh and the book/s I will finish I will review. I also have been saving up to review MURDER in the PAPERBACK PARLOR by Ellery Adams. I finished reading this book days ago but wanted to review it at the perfect time.
I supposed everyone has exciting plans although Florida may have a little too much excitement. Florida and surrounding areas stay safe. Tornadoes scare me as I have been in a couple of them, a flood etc....
I think my favorite part of every weekend is Saturday mornings. I watch quilting shows and cross stitch. This weekend is all about the Halloween cross stitch.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

An Interview with Sharon Pape

Interview With Author: SHARON PAPE:
By Pamela James

MM2: Sharon, give us some backstory on your writing career? 
Like many other authors, I started writing early in life. I was five when the school librarian put my first little story on display in the library. As an adult, my first novel was  published by PocketBooks and condensed in Redbook Magazine. It was the first paperback original they’d ever condensed. (I’ve recently re-released that book under the title For
Everything a Season.) Two other paranormals followed, before my life took an unexpected turn with the   diagnosis of breast cancer. Once I was well again, my surgeon and I started a non-profit to provide peer support and information to newly diagnosed women. After ten years, the organization didn’t require as much of my time, and I stepped down as president to return to my first love -writing. This time around I’m writing cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist.

MM2: Where do you call home?
Long Island has been my home since the age of three.

MM2: Where is your favorite place to write?
I have a study in my house, with a floor to ceiling bookcase on one wall. I love working surrounded by books. My computer sits on a beautiful, old-fashioned trestle desk, where  my electric typewriter once sat.

MM2: What is the most important advice you received about writing books?
Apply the seat of your pants to your desk chair even if a million other things are luring you away.

MM2: Tell us about your book?
My first series of cozy mysteries is called the “Portrait of Crime Mysteries,” because the main character, Rory McCain, is a police sketch artist who starts her own private investigation firm. Her partner, Zeke Drummond, is the resident ghost of the old Victorian house she inherited from her uncle.
Alibis and Amethysts is the first book of my second series, “The Crystal Shop Mysteries.” I’m also working on a third series about a magick shop in upstate New York, with the working title, Magick and Mayhem. (Sound familiar?)

MM2:  What would your characters tell us about you?
They’d probably say they like working for me, because I give them lots of pizza, ice cream and cake to eat. They might also say that I enjoy putting them in harm’s way, as well as in funny situations, which they don’t necessarily find all that funny.

MM2: Give us a little insight about your writing day?
My writing day varies a lot, because I often have migraines and have to work around them. My ideal schedule is something like this: I write for a few hours in the morning, take a break to run errands and for pesky necessities like food and doctor appointments, then write for a few more hours in the late afternoon and evening. If I encounter a plot problem, I go to the gym. For some reason, doing an aerobic workout frees my mind to solve problems. The old two birds, one stone philosophy.

MM2: How do you de-stress at the end of the day?
I read for pleasure and watch some television shows, generally the more creative ones. I’m a sucker for shows that take you on a voyage of imagination, shows based on the premise of “what if?”

MM2: Here are some fun get to know you questions: What is your favorite meal, place to vacation, dessert, movie/s, song and some place you wish you were right now?
A place I wish to be right now? Right here where I am with my husband. I have great friends nearby, my daughter lives four minutes away and my son lives fifteen minutes away. Where else could I be any happier?

MM2: Is there someone you would like to thank? Maybe a writer's group, family etc...?

Thanks to: My husband, who has always supported my writing efforts and is the first of my trusted beta readers, my daughter, another beta reader, who sees the forest as well as the trees, my mother who has, as most mothers do, always believed in me, and my dear friend Vivian, who has the most remarkable insights into plot and character.

MM2: What would you like to say to your readers?
To my readers: A huge thank you!! Without readers, writers are basically just talking to themselves. A special thanks to the fans who take the time out of their busy lives to let me know how much they’ve enjoyed my books!

MM2: Leave us with one of your favorite quotes?
Favorite quote: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot.




     

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

An Interview with Alyssa Maxwell & GIVEAWAY

INTERVIEW WITH ALYSSA MAXWELL:


By Pamela James

MM2: Alyssa, let start by giving us some backstory on you as an author. How, when where and why did you become an author?

I’m sure you hear this a lot, but I’ve been writing stories since I first learned how to put words together on paper. And I’ve also always been a pretty avid reader. I always knew I wanted a career in some kind of writing, but I thought I’d go more practical, like editing. Right out of college, I worked as an assistant editor for a reference book publisher. Then, when a friend of mine first became published, it struck a resounding chord in me. Until then I’d idolized my favorite authors, but now I realized writers were just people – like me – with vivid imaginations and the desire to tell stories. I began writing historical romance first and was published in that genre for several years, but the switch to historical mystery was absolutely the right move. I was always a bit too “plotty” for the romance genre where the focus is much more on emotions, but now I can plot to my heart’s content. Mysteries are like a puzzle (and I’m a puzzle person – Sudoku, word search, mazes, jigsaw, etc.). I first have to make all the pieces and put them together, and then disassemble them and mix them up so the reader can try to solve whodunit. I adore the process, and I’ll admit that being able to “kill” off certain character types can be cathartic!

MM2: Where is your favorite place to write?

Nowhere particularly exciting, really. I have a desk at home where I do the majority of my writing. Sometimes in the cooler months (I live in Florida) I’ll take my laptop out onto our screened-in porch. I like quiet when I write, and an empty house, which, now that our daughters are grown, is attainable every day. I’m not that author who can sit at Starbucks all day inhaling coffee and writing in the midst of controlled chaos. I’d be too distracted.

MM2: Take us thru and typical writing day?

On the surface, my day is pretty boring. Beneath the surface, of course, inside my head, is where all the exciting things happen – like murder and danger and yes, a little romance. On my best days, I’ll read while having my morning coffee on the porch, and then get on the exercise bike for twenty minutes or so or do a little yoga. That way I’ve energized both my body and my mind, and I tend to be at my most creative and focused. But nobody’s perfect, and I don’t always stick to that routine. Emails and social media can sometimes keep me busy for the better part of the morning, and I’ll find myself working late into the afternoon. That’s ok, though. With two series now and two books due each year (The Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries), I have no choice but to make time to write every day. Except for extenuating circumstances, I do not believe in missing a deadline.

MM2: Let's talk about your latest book?


In MURDER AT BEECHWOOD, my sleuth, Emma Cross, is dealing with crises on several levels. First, a baby is abandoned on her doorstep, and may be connected with a carriage driver found shot not far from her home. Her attempts to discover the child’s identity lead her to the season-opening gala at Mrs. Caroline Astor’s house, Beechwood, where Emma tries to learn if any wealthy young miss might recently have given birth. When one of Mrs. Astor’s guests falls overboard in a yacht race, the police cry foul play and the man Emma is falling in love with becomes the main suspect. Meanwhile, it becomes more and more apparent that the child is somehow connected to these events, and it falls to Emma to unravel the secrets of two formidable families in order to find both the mother and the culprit.

MM2: What comes first the plot, setting or characters?

Characters!!! I might start with a basic premise first, such as who is murdered and who the prime suspect will be, but I cannot – absolutely CANNOT – begin to plot until I’ve fleshed out my characters. Knowing who they are will supply me with motives, opportunities, and capabilities. I need to know them to know how they will behave in any given situation, and that, in turn, guides my plot.

MM2: Do you rewrite your books? In other word how do you set up your books? With outlines, main plot etc..?

After establishing my characters, I begin outlining. I’ll make a list of events leading up to the murder, then a step by step framework for the investigation, and finally the climax and resolution. Usually, this all involves pen and paper and setting up visuals on my dry erase boards. Something about diagramming things out this way helps me visualize the plot and piece it together. Then, I sit down and write the synopsis. I would never just start writing the book. My synopsis serves as a roadmap so that I don’t confuse myself in the course of writing (I’m easily confused!), and also helps me keep me on schedule. I never have to sit down and say, “Well, what next?” I also edit as I go, so I’m constantly making changes and tweaks. By the time I’ve finished the first draft, it’s pretty complete, but I still make a couple more passes through before turning it in to my editor.

MM2: What was the best writing advice you ever received?

It’s ok for the first draft to suck! You can fix bad writing. You can’t fix a blank screen. So just write, and worry about polishing and perfecting later.

MM2: What would you like us to know about where you live?

Interesting question. Where I live is nothing like the places I write about. I live in South Florida where everything is relatively new and flat and hot. Don’t get me wrong – I love living in Florida. We have a wonderful year-round lifestyle of being able to go places and be outdoors, and my husband and I have learned to find the natural beauty of our subtropical state. Florida has some spectacular wetlands teeming with exotic birds, butterflies, and don’t forget the alligators! One of my most moving experiences was visiting a Civil War section of the Old City Cemetery in Tallahassee, and St. Augustine presents fascinating examples of Spanish colonialism, so we have our share of history as well. But when I sit down to write, I have to transport myself to the briny cliffs of Newport or the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, very different environments from where I live.

MM2: After reading one of your books. What do you want the reader to walk away with?

With my Newport books, I want readers to feel like the doors of the mansions have been flung open to welcome them inside, and that they’ve gotten to know the owners a bit, as well as experiencing a little of what life was like in Newport – and how it still is in some ways. There is something so special and enduring in Newport, so that not a lot changes as time passes. For me, what I loved about Newport the first time I visited over thirty years ago is still what I love about it today.
I also want readers to feel like they’ve experienced the adventures, the challenges, the danger, and the ultimate sense of triumph along with the characters, and that goes for both series. In A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries, I want readers to experience the swiftly changing times of post WWI England, where the old traditions – many of which upheld the unfairness of restrictive social classes – were giving way to forward thinking, more personal freedom for all individuals, and newfound liberties and possibilities for women. I feel so passionate about the positive changes brought about by the war, while at the same time understanding the sorrow of losing nearly an entire generation of men, and even sympathizing with the traditionalists who didn’t understand what was happening to their world and were unable to change with the times. Through it all, my dual heroines remain intrepid and devoted to one another, and I want to the reader to share in a friendship that couldn’t have existed in an earlier time in Britain’s history.

MM2: Do you reread your favorite books?

Rarely, since there are fabulous books being released all the time, and as I meet authors I always want to read their books. Every few years I do reread all of Jane Austin’s books, and the Harry Potters.

MM2: Is there an up and coming author you would like to endorse? Maybe even have us interview?

Nancy Herriman is definitely an author to watch. Her debut historical mystery, NO COMFORT FOR THE LOST, received a starred review in Library Journal. She’s got a beautiful writing style and is a very talented mystery author. Also, I belong to a group of historical mystery authors called Sleuths In Time – maybe you’ve seen us on Facebook or Twitter. If not, please check us out at facebook.com/sleuthsintime. I’m absolutely honored to be part of this talented group. They are Tessa Arlen, Susanna Calkins, Anna Lee Huber, D.E. Ireland, Anna Loan-Wilsey, Christine Trent, and Ashley Weaver.

MM2: How much attention do you pay to reviews?

I try to pay very little attention to them these days. I used to check pretty regularly, but I’ve learned that good or bad, reviews are only one person’s opinion and shouldn’t be taken too much to heart. What I do pay attention to are the emails I receive from readers. Some of their observations and questions have been invaluable in helping me figure out what’s working and what needs tweaking in my writing. I’ve also gotten some fabulous information and made enduring connections and friendships through correspondence with Newporters who knew my husband’s family.

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

First, I would like to thank all the readers who have emailed me over the past year and a half or contacted me via social media. Hearing from readers means the world to me, especially when they’re writing to tell me about their own connections to Newport and how my Gilded Newport Mysteries mean something special to them. The support I’ve been shown for these books has become my number one motivating factor, and it’s so important to me to do my best work and never let readers down.

MM2: Okay for some fun questions. What is your favorite meal, place to vacation, dessert, song, and movie/s?
Meal: Lasagna. I make it every Christmas. It’s the ultimate comfort good. But if we’re going healthy, Dijon salmon and a nice salad.

Vacation: Newport! And New York City! Although my husband and I love to travel. As long as we’re somewhere with a sense of history and beautiful scenery we’re happy. Also, good restaurants are a must.

Dessert: My husband’s grilled plantains! He cuts the plantains (ones that look like very overripe bananas) lengthwise, leaving the skin on, coats both sides with olive oil, sprinkles the sliced sides with cinnamon, and grills them until they’re soft and sweet. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you’ve got a heavenly dessert!

Song: Do I even have a favorite song? Oh wait, I do. Somewhere Over the Rainbow & It’s a Wonderful World, the version by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. It’s the happiest song ever. The Ray Charles versions are great, too.

Movies: Gone with the Wind; Dr. Shivago; All three Lord of the Rings movies; Most of the Star Trek movies (including the new ones); Pride and Prejudice (the BBC version); Shakespeare in Love – to name a few.

MM2: Lastly what would your characters tell us about you?

That despite my best laid plans, sometimes they know better and luckily I’m smart enough to listen to them and let them do things their way.

Now for the

 GIVEAWAY!!!

Alyssa is generously donating a three book set of her Gilded Newport Mysteries!

So leave a comment with an email address and we will select a winner on September 3, 2015!

Good Luck!





Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An Interview With Clea Simon

​AN INTRVIEW WITH COZY AUTHOR: CLEA SIMON:

By Pamela James

MM2: Clea, when and how did you become an author?
I became an author - a published author- with the publication of my very first book, “Mad House: Growing Up in the Shadow of Mentally Ill Siblings” (St. Martin’s) in 1997, and before that I’d been a journalist for many years. (“Mad House” is nonfiction. I have three nonfiction books and 19 mysteries, all traditionally published). But I became a writer many, many years before - in fact, I’ve been a writer since I could write. I still have some of the stories I made up in elementary school. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t make up stories, usually about the animals in my yard or about my pets. Some things never change!


MM2: Where is your favorite place to write?
I have a cozy office on the second floor of our house. My desk faces a window with a tree outside, so I get to watch the birds. And all over my desk, around my computer are little figurines – mostly of cats! They’re my totems, and I think they lend me some magic.


MM2: Do you take the time to re-read books?
Most definitely! Although writing the first draft is the most fun, it is in the rewriting and revision that I do the real work, I think - that’s when I discover how much of the book made it to the page and how much has been left in my head!


MM2: Tell us about your latest book? Tell us about your series?
My latest book is “Code Grey,” book nine in the Dulcie Schwartz series. My publisher describes this as “a feline-filled academic series,” and it features Dulcie – a graduate student who is studying the Gothic literature of the late 18th Century. She thinks of herself as very rational, but because she is studying Gothic novels, she runs into ghosts and other paranormal phenomenon – most notably the ghost of her late great cat, Mr. Grey. (She also has a living kitty, Esmé). In “Code Grey,” Dulcie finds herself coming to the defense of an older former student who may or may not have stolen a rare and valuable book….

I have two series ongoing: these Dulcie Schwartz mysteries and also the Pru Marlowe pet noir mysteries (Poisoned Pen Press). The latest of those is “Kittens Can Kill,” and features Pru Marlowe, an animal behaviorist who can understand what animals are thinking (pet psychic) and her cat Wallis.


MM2: What would your characters tell us about you?
That I love books and cats! Also, that in my heart of hearts, I feel like I can understand what cats are saying to me.


MM2: Plain and simple what is the best writing advice you have received?
“Bash it out now, tart it up later.” That’s a quote from the British pub rocker Nick Lowe and it works for writing too. You need to get your first draft out anyway you can - and then you need to work on it to make sure it is everything you hoped it would be.


MM2: What comes first the setting, plot or character?
Well, by this point in my series, I have the characters, so it’s usually plot. But I have a new book – first in a new series – coming out next spring, called “The Ninth Life” (Severn House). That started with a character: a black cat who wakes up and can’t remember who he is or what happened to him.


MM2: Take us thru and typical writing day?
I work as a freelance copy editor, so I usually do that work in the morning. Then I do my errands and dither away some time and usually mid-afternoon, I’m at my desk. With all the distractions out of the way, I find I can finally concentrate. And then, I get to work. When I’m working on a first draft, I sit there until I hit my word count. Usually 1,500 words for the day! I usually end up working from 4 until around 9 p.m.



MM2: If you could sit down with any author that has passed away who would it be?
Wow, I’m not sure. Maybe Colette, because she wrote so well about emotions - what we feel when we’re in love or simply infatuated – an also about cats. Or maybe Anthony Trollope, because he was so funny and thought up such convoluted plots for his characters to get involved in.


MM2: What are your future writing plans? 

I’m looking forward to writing more books! Next up is another Dulcie and I just turned in “When Bunnies Go Bad,” the sixth Pru Marlowe. And then, if all goes well, the sequel to “The Ninth Life."


MM2: Give us a few details of where you live and why you like living there. Be our tour guide?
I live in a 105-year-old house in the city of Somerville, which is right next to Boston. I love my neighborhood. If you were here, I’d show you our tiny scrap of a yard, where I grow tomatoes (the bunnies don’t eat them) and where we get cardinals and nuthatches at the feeder. And then I’d invite you to walk with me. At the end of my street, there’s a park (it’s actually the grounds of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences) where right now a Cooper’s hawk has a nest with five fledglings. A bunch of us go out and watch them. The “babies” – they’re huge – can now fly to nearby trees, but their mom and dad still feed them. Then I’d suggest we walk either to Porter Square or Harvard Square - about 15 to 20 minutes – where there are independent bookstores and coffeeshops. We’d buy books - support those bookstores – and then go have coffee!


MM2: Here are some fun questions: Do you like to cook or bake? Do you have hobbies? If you could travel anywhere in the world this minute. Where would you travel? What is your favorite play, song, movie, way to spend a night out? Dessert, meal and who influenced your writing career more than anyone else?
I LOVE to cook! To cook, not bake: I’m not good at following recipes exactly and I love to improvise (I’m a pantser rather than a plotter, too — I like to write “by the seat of my pants” rather than have everything planned out). If I could travel anywhere in the world right now? Hmmm… I’d go back to Bali! I spent a few weeks there years ago and went back with my husband about 15 years ago. It was magical, but the flights … oh boy, they were long.  Favorite night out? Either ra really really nice dinner with either my husband or a small group of friends: eating, drinking wine, or talking. Or maybe hearing music! I love going out to hear live music - these days, that’s less rock and more blues or Cajun or zydeco. Something with a beat that gets my toe tapping! Dessert? Chocolate! Rich, deep chocolate. Meal? Depends on my mood - right now it’s summer, so I’m thinking fried clams, lobster, maybe some grilled striped bass… yum! 
As far as influences - I’m so lucky both to have had really great editors at several publishing houses and also in my journalism jobs, and I also have friends who write and we share support (and complaints). I guess if I have to choose one, I’d say my husband - not just for the emotional support but because he is also a writer and an editor and he really takes my writing seriously. He is encouraging and respects what I do - and that makes me believe in myself even when I start to give up.

MM2: Who is your every day hero?
see above!


MM2: When you hit a snag in your writing how do you conquer it?
I give myself permission to write badly. I say – sometimes out loud – that I can write something utterly awful, something that I will just erase tomorrow, but that I have to write SOMETHING. I tell myself that it’s like letting the rusty water come out of the tap so you can get to the clear. 

MM2: What writing conventions, book groups, book clubs, bookstores, libraries and reading groups do you enjoy? What blogs do you enjoy reading?
I’m going to be very busy coming up - I’ll be at the NewEngland Crimebake in November, then in the spring, Left Coast Crime (Phoenix), Malice Domestic, and CrimeFest in Bristol, England. And then in Sept. 2016, I’m planning on returning to Bouchercon (in New Orleans). I also hope to have bookstore events wherever and whenever I can — please check my website – http://www.cleasimon.com - for the latest! As far as reading blogs - I’m a big fan of the bookblog of the Bristol Public Library at http://bristol-library-bookblog.blogspot.com and  Lesa Holstine’s http://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com - and yours, of course!!


MM2: Fall will be our next season. What are you looking forward this fall?
I love fall weather and, of course since I live in New England, the foliage! I love being able to walk and bike without getting sweaty! And there are so many great books coming out this fall. Actually, my “The Ninth Life” comes out in the UK in November (March 2016 in the US), so there’s that too!


MM2: Leave us with a Clea writing quote.
Well, the best advice is the advise I was given - “bash it out now, tart it up later.” But besides that? I’d remind you that the ability to write is a muscle - exercise it, tone it, work it. You will see the results!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton

  • Reeve is a survivor.  She survived being kidnapped and held captive and abuse.  She is healing.  Now, another girl has escaped captivity from another sadistic abuser and her therapist asks if she will talk to Abby and help her.  Only there are two other girls missing and everyone wants answers.

I really liked this book, I wasn't sure at first.  I had many questions about what was happening but I really liked Reeve so I kept going and I am glad I did.

The story was complex and interesting even if it did have some predictable moments.  The story is told in multiple POVs one of which is the main villain who is truly evil and intelligent.  Overall, I am really glad I stuck with the book after my initial hesitation.

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books; Main Market Ed. edition (August 14, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447230787
  • ISBN-13: 978-144723078

Terri

Friday, August 21, 2015

An Interview with Cross Stitcher Crystal Toller



An Interview with Crystal Toller
by Pamela James


MM2: Crystal can you remember the first cross stitch project that you ever completed? How long ago was it and how did you discover cross stitch?

I do not know what I stitched although I am sure it was religious because I was a teenager and it was at vacation bible school one summer.

MM2: Do you have a favorite cross stitch piece?

I had one piece I did with Christmas lights all tangled up and it said all strung up at Christmas.  I really loved that piece but do not know where it is now.
MM2: What has cross stitch taught you about life? What has life taught you about cross stitch? 

Cross stitch has taught me to not take things so seriously, just relax.  Life has taught me that cross stitch is a vital part of my life and who i am.

MM2: Give us a ballpark figure on how many projects you have completed?

Probably about 20-25 overall.

MM2: Do you always have a project with you to cross stitch? 

Not always. Sometimes I take a book and sometimes I take cross stitch but it is definitely one or the other.

MM2: What are your future cross stitch plans?

Basically stitch some of the patterns in magazines I have and stitch some things for my son since he supports my stitching hobby and loves what i stitch.

MM2: Now take a look at some cross stitch sites and tell us some of the patterns you would love to add to your wishlist?  

I really want to add some Heaven and Earth Designs.  I have just recently learned that they are usually only cross stitches and so want to do some of those.  Would love to also get the Leisure Arts Mini Christmas Book 1 and 2 that I saw on a website.

MM2: Is there a gift of cross stitch that someone stitched for you that you just love?

Eryn Raymond recently stitched  me a Fourth of July pillow and I just love it. 

MM2: I know you work a lot and your days off rotate but you always seem to be able to cross stitch. So when do you get the most cross stitch done?

Usually in the evenings when watching sports.

MM2: Being a single mother has it's challenges and rewards. You seem to be able to share your life and love of stitching with your son. So does he have a favorite project you have stitch or are stitching for him?

He  loves trains.  I have stitched 1 train design for him.  I would love to find a book of train designs to stitch for him.

MM2: In closing tell us about some of your favorite designers?  

I am not really familiar with specific designers I don't think but do like a lot of the little lace patterns that are put out by Designs for the Needle.



Thursday, August 20, 2015

An Interview with LynDee Walker

Interview With LYNDEE WALKER:
By Pamela James

MM2:LynDee, tell me the backstory on how and when you became an author?

LW: Oh, goodness—such a long story! Here’s the short
version: I was a stay-at-home mom with two young children when I started writing fiction, and three young children when I got my first book deal. Before the littles came along, I was a reporter, and I think the books grew from missing writing
and missing the newsroom, but not wanting to go back to the long hours away from my family. I wrote the rough draft of Front Page Fatality for fun, just for myself. The handful of people who read it encouraged me to try to get it published. Six years later, the fifth book in the series is due out in a few months.


MM2: Tell us about your books?

LW: My heroine is a crime reporter with a weakness for great shoes who gets herself in trouble poking around sticky stories. Nichelle is a little nosy (a hallmark of all good journalists), and she’s ambitious, but it’s her sense of justice and desire to help people that drives her to dig for the truth when the story doesn’t quite add up. She has a handful of close friends, a couple of sexy guys, and a cute dog to keep her busy outside the office. My books often get shelved as cozies because of the humor, but they have a more serious, more realistic tone than some cozies. 

MM2: Take me thru your writing day?

LW: I have three young children (my youngest is still in preschool), so it’s generally every word for itself. During the school year, I like to write in the morning after all the littles are at school, but in the summer, my favorite place to work is by the pool. When I’m working on a new draft, I aim for at least 1,000 words a day, and I often go back and tinker with earlier parts of the story before the rough is finished.

MM2: Growing up did you have a favorite teacher or someone who encouraged you to read, write stories or gave you the self confidence to know you could do it?

LW: I was lucky to have several. I’d always loved to read, and I had ambitions of being Lois Lane when I grew up, but I never thought much about writing outside that “someday” context until the winter of fifth grade, when Carol Mendez urged me to enter a citywide essay contest. I won first place and they gave me a trophy, which was cool, but more than that, it hooked me on writing. 


In junior high, Cynthia Scott said wonderful sweet things about “talent” as she encouraged me to try different types of writing, but journalism was still my first love. Then in high school, Sue Voegele took a paper I wrote for her health class to the journalism teacher, who invited me to join the newspaper staff. The following year, Lynnda Roselle took over as adviser, and she spent the next two years encouraging me to pursue a journalism degree. I did, and was blessed with some wonderful college professors (Richard Wells, Keith Shelton, and Jacque Lambiase) who pushed me to dig deeper and write stronger. Amazing teachers are a wonderful gift—and I’m thankful for every one of mine.

MM2: What would your characters tell us about you?

LW: Nichelle would say her dog bears a striking resemblance to mine, and she’d giggle if she saw me try to walk in stilettos. Parker would say I worry too much, Eunice would tell you she wants my salsa recipe, and Bob would say I should go back to the newsroom.

MM2: I love your first name. Is there a family story or connection that comes with it?

LW: Thank you! And of course! It has two parts: the first is that it was a thing in my family for generations to do split names with capital letters in the middle and funky spellings (my grandmother’s name was DaLoryse, for instance). My mom spent her whole pregnancy determined to buck this trend: I was supposed to be named Tiffany. Until she went into labor, and the movie she was watching on TV had a heroine named Lindy. She wrote a list of all the different ways you could possibly spell it, and loved to tell me that if she hadn’t been in labor for 36 hours, she wouldn’t have had time to get to the one she chose. When I was a kid, I got annoyed that no one ever had anything with my name pre-printed on it. Now, I love it. 

MM2: What comes first the plot, characters or setting?

LW: For me, they all kind of came at once. The very first time Nichelle popped into my head, she was locked in a car trunk in Shockoe Bottom. I never questioned the setting or the trouble she was in—I just went with it. That scene actually survived all the revisions, and can still be found in Front Page Fatality.

MM2: Tell us about your latest book?

LW: Devil in the Deadline was built around a question: How do you catch a murderer when you can’t identify the victim? It was a lot of fun to see how that played out in the story while I was writing—Nichelle manages to help a lot of people, and we get to explore the darker side of religion-as-business.

MM2: What are you future writing plans and goals?

LW: My goal is always to write a better book each time. Getting better, digging deeper, pushing harder to give the readers a better product is always what I set out to do when I open a blank file.

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

LW: I love and appreciate each one of you, and getting to meet you is my favorite thing about being an author. I have a pretty full events calendar, so come out to the next conference, festival, or signing and say hello! 

MM2: What advice do you have for writers and authors who want to make a career of writing mysteries and other genres?

LW: Oh gosh—I feel like I’m still learning. But I’ll pass on the best advice I’ve gotten, which came from one of my favorite authors (who is a SUPER nice guy): Write a better book next time. Don’t worry about the numbers or sales or reviews: just write, and improve, and everything else will take care of itself.

MM2: Let's talk about writing groups, bloggers and website. Do you belong to any writing groups? Do you belong to a blog and do you read other author's blogs?

LW: I’m a member of Mystery Writers of America James River Writers, and Sisters in Crime: being around other writers is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your writing. Put ten creative people in a room, and you’ll leave with 100 ideas. 

I do read other authors’ blogs, and I’ve been fortunate to be asked to guest on many wonderful blogs, but I don’t think I have anything interesting enough to say on a regular basis to do one of my own. 

MM2: Now for some fun and easy questions: What is your favorite meal, movie, television show, song and place to vacation?

LW: Fun! 
Meal: Enchiladas and empanadas. I love good Mexican food!
Movie: Hmmmm. It really depends on the season and my mood. But a few I never get tired of watching are The Sandlot, The Rookie, and Mrs. Winterbourne. 
TV Show: I don’t have time to watch much TV, but currently, I love Bones and Under the Dome. Of all time? Tie between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls.

MM2: Lastly, what life lesson has writing taught you? 

LW: I bet this sounds super cliche, but: perseverance always wins. This business is definitely not for folks who give up easily. 

MM2: Is there an author or book that inspired you?

LW: Too many to count. I’m going to stop after I name the first four who come to mind, but it’s by no means the whole list. Book people are wonderful people. 
My favorite reporters-turned-crime-fiction-writers, Hank Phillipi Ryan and Edna Buchanan. 
The ever-brilliant Julia Spencer-Fleming (read the first line of In the Bleak Midwinter and tell me it’s not immediately among your favorites ever. Amazing).
The hilarious and wonderful Laura Levine.

MM2: In closing tell us why you like living where you live?

LW: Richmond is an amazing city, with pretty much everything you could possibly want to do, plus easy access to DC, the beach, and the mountains. And my littles go to some of the best public schools in the country. We adore central Virginia.

LynDee, thank you for the interview. 


Thank you so much for having me! It’s been fun! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bryant and May and the Bleeding Heart Review

Title: Bryant and May and the Bleeding Heart
Author: Christopher Fowler
Kindle Edition: British Series

Author Bryant and John May have earned a reputation with the met an their superiors. Bryant doesn't like to stick to the rules. May doesn't mind running interference but it is all very daunting. Now they have a chance to prove themselves because...well they have solved more than a few cases.
They find a place to start up their branch of the Unusual cases, form a team while they have someone who is supposed to oversee everything and everyone. She is mostly left out of the loop.
One of their first cases is to find the ravens. These ravens are special they stand for many things at the metropolitan museum. They are missing all ten of them. Not acceptable on any term. Also there seem to be murders at every turn.
The strangest case is this...
A couple of young adults are in the cemetery. They are going to make out and have smoked a little weed the problem is that up from the grave rises a man and while he looks dead he is trying to climb out of the grave. Scares the two young adults. Then it turns stranger and stranger from there.
Talk about symbols, magic, stigma, superstitions, vampires (but not really), murder with things such as a bow and arrow.
This is such a unique series anyway but Christopher Fowler has outdone himself.

A note here: Terri, you will love this book in the series. I mean the ravens alone will grab your attention but there is so much more that makes me think of you!
Okay so anyway I give this book a ten out of ten.
Pamela James

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

An Interview with Emily Brightwell

INTERVIEW WITH EMILY BRIGHTWELL:
By Pamela James


MM2: Emily how many book have you written? In how many genres?
  Emily:  I’ve written a total of forty four books in three different genres: romance under the name of Sarah Temple, young adult novels under the name Cheryl Lanham and of course my mysteries as Emily Brightwell - to date I’ve done  thirty four books in the “Mrs. Jeffries” series and I’m looking forward to doing more!

MM2: I love Mrs. Jefferies and her cohorts. The Victorian period is one of my favorite periods in history. How much research went into this series? Is there a part of the research that is particularly difficult?

  Emily:  I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series.  The Victorians are a fascinating bunch and I’m always finding something interesting about them.  I do a lot of research and I generally use primary sources like newspapers and journals.  However, there are   occasionally details that are almost impossible to track down - and in that case, I  just keep digging…for instance, in the book I’m currently writing, I’m trying to find out how long evidence of a crime was preserved at the local police station.  Nowhere in the literature can I find out how long a local precinct hangs onto crime scene evidence when there hasn’t been an arrest.  

MM2: Tell us about your latest book? 

  Emily: “Mrs. Jeffries Wins the Prize” will be published in March of 2016.  This one was a true pleasure to write as it involved characters from India during the Raj, a Ladies Orchid and Exotic Plant Society and of course, a host of back-biting suspects!

MM2: Where is your favorite place to write?

  Emily:  I have an office where I do my writing on a desktop computer, but I’m considering buying another laptop so I can be portable.  I had a notebook for many years and I liked that - being able to take my work anywhere was very liberating and I miss it.

MM2: Give us some backstory on your career and your life?

  Emily: I came to California as a child and grew up in Pasadena.  After I graduated from college, I went abroad where I met my husband.   We eventually made our way back to California and settled in Long Beach.  After our children were born, I decided to get   serious about my dream of being a writer.  I was in International Shipping so I worked during the day and did my writing early in the morning.  After getting published in romance, I tried my hand at my mysteries and found that I loved working in that genre, but don’t get me wrong, I genuinely enjoyed writing romances as well.  Apparently, though, my personality is much better suited to killing people rather than making them fall in love!

MM2: What would Mrs. Jefferies tell us about you?

  Emily:  Mrs. Jeffries would say that the reason I love what I do is because I’m obsessed with justice.  She’d be right too.

MM2: What advice do you have for writers who want to write historical mysteries?

  Emily: Writing historical mysteries is wonderful, but whether it’s Victorian England, medieval France, the Joseon dynasty of Korea or the Incas of Peru, people are always people.  As a species, we are and always have been a mixture of good and bad; kind, cruel, loving, hateful, jealous, or self-sacrificing - it’s precisely because of our human characteristics that writers can create stories that readers love.  Good stories are always about people, the setting and time period is just frosting on the cake.

MM2: Your titles are great so my question is do you get to stay with the working titles or does the editor have you change some of them?

   Emily:  I usually come up with the title, but not always…I must admit, when my editor has given me a suggestion for a title change, it’s always better than the one I’d come up with.

MM2: Now for some fun questions: What is your favorite meal, movie, dessert, place to vacation and do you have a favorite television series?

   Emily:  A favorite meal is tough - I’m a foodie so I’ve rarely met a meal I didn’t like.  I love a great carnitas though, especially when washed down with a margarita or two.  My favorite movie is a romantic mystery, an Argentinian film called “The   Secret in Their Eyes”  As for dessert, I adore cream brûlée and a good bread pudding.  England is a wonderful vacation spot as is the coast of Northern California.  As for a TV series, goodness, there are so many great ones - I loved ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, also, ‘The Good Wife’, ‘Mad Men’ and Masterpiece Mystery (especially Inspector Lewis and the new Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch).

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

   Emily:  I’m so grateful my readers continue to like the series and I sincerely hope I never disappoint them.

MM2: What are your future writing and traveling plans?

  Emily:  Future writing plans include more “Mrs. Jeffries” and hopefully, if I have time, a three book mini-series set in WW1..but we’ll have to see about that.  For travel, my husband and I are going to try to get to Hawaii this fall.

MM2: Take us thru a typical writing day?

  Emily:  I get to my desk by 8:30 and then put in four to five hours of writing…I don’t edit as I write, but do a whole draft of the book before I start the editing process.

MM2: Today if there were two of you. What would you have the other you do and what would you be working on?

  Emily:  The other me would be working on the WW1 mini-series while I worked on the next “Mrs. Jeffries”- which, by the way, has a working title of “Mrs. Jeffries Saves the Season”.

MM2: You have great characters so what would Inspector Witherspoon like to add to this interview?

  Emily:  Inspector Witherspoon would like to tell you that though he is one of nature’s gentlemen, he can also be a pretty tough guy when the chips are down.  Plus, one of these days, he is going to kiss Lady Cannonberry!

MM2: Lastly leave us with your favorite writing quote?

  Emily:  It’s a quote from the wonderful writer, Octavia Butler, who is sadly no longer with us.  “You don’t start out writing good stuff.  You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually, you get better at it.  That’s why I say one of the most
valuable traits is persistence.”
 






Blog: Books/Series/Binge watch

Over the weekend I finally went out of town. This is a big deal for me as I usually can't ride in a car because of my vertigo and it did...