Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Anything goes blog by Pamela James

Good Evening,
Today anything goes on my blog.
Our library had author local author Julie London for a book signing. She wrote a true story world war two book about her neighbor and it was a birthday tribute to the woman who has live thru a lot. I don't know Julie and didn't go to the book signing. I found out after the fact.
When was the last time you went to a local book signing? Do you have some favorite author signings you like to attend?
I do I love Nancy Pickard and Max McCoy. They are Kansas authors...

Our Easter was a bit different but I certainly enjoyed our Easter Supper.
When I feel low I want to read Laura Levine Mysteries, Rhys Bowen, Leigh Perry, Lynn Cahoun, Victoria Abbott, Elaine Viets, Victorian Hamilton, Emily Brightwell, Eva Gates, Elizabeth Lyn Casey, Melissa Bourbon and Sherry Harris.
When I am in a serious mood I enjoy reading what I term the "yesteryear authors) Agatha Christie, Re Stout, Caroline Crane, Ngaio Marsh, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Mignon G. Eberhart
Kage Booton, W.J. Burley and Joan Fleming.
Now there are other authors for yesteryear group but these are the ones that come to mind.

Author whom I admire more than words can express. Patricia Sprinkle, Dorothy Cannell, Carolyn Hart, Leslie Meir, Stephen King, Jeff Cohen, Katherine Hall Page and Jenn McKinlay.

These author lend me to a magical world I never want to see end.
Okay who are you magical moment authors? Yesteryear authors and I already can tell you I forgot Mary Stewart. LOL See....now we have a lot more wonderful and beautiful with words authors on our coyarmchairgroup. I wouldn't trade Lorna Barretts books for the world. See it never ends....
I know I have left a great many authors out but keep watching our blog as I am sure I will mention you and your series soon. It's a late night for me and I pledge to mention more authors.
If you're an author and reading this tell us about the book you are currently writing, promoting an reading?
Readers tell us your favorite series? Your favorite stand alone authors? Another author I just thought of is Christopher Fowler who writes the Bryant & May Series.
Anyway tonight book and authors have been on my mind.
The passing of Patty Duke made me sad and longing for authors of yesteryear, actors and television shows.
We have lost so many great actors, artist, authors musicans, writers etc...lately that it's turned me into more of a hermit than usual. Lots of reflection with a year like this but we also need to live every day to the fullest.
What's on your mind?
Hugs,
Pamela

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

An Interview with Carol Ann Martin

MM: Carol Ann, give us the backstory on your writing career?

Like so many writers, I came about it the circuitous way. Writing is what I always wanted to do, but I was afraid to try, convinced I’d never be published. Writers are really entertainers, story tellers at heart. We need an audience. We need somebody to read our stories.
So, it wasn’t until I retired from financial planning at the age of fifty five, that I thought, why not? What’s the worst that could happen? So, I went for it. Had I known that I’d have an agent and two publishers within a year, I would have started long ago.

MM: I love the titles of your weaving cozy mystery series. Did you pick them and get to keep the titles?

I usually dream up a title and then my publisher will bounce it back and forth with me a few times, tweaking it this way and that until we are all happy. I think titles are just about the most difficult part of a book to compose. How to grab a reader’s interest in a book in four words or less? Yikes.

MM: Let's talk about your latest book?

Loom and Gloom came out in August.  It features Della Wright, the weaver shop keeper and her friend Jenny, the owner of the coffee shop next door. They are renovating their stores, when the city building inspector turns up dead. (Anybody who has ever had to deal with inspectors will probably side with the killer in this one.)

MM: Do you ever re-read your favorite books?

All the time. There are books I read, way back when I was a teenager that I still remember. One of those was The Long Walk. I recently bought it off Amazon and plan to reread it. I’ve done that with at least a dozen books over the last decade.  I find it interesting to find out how I feel now versus how about a read, versus how I felt when I first read it.

MM: What are you looking forward to in 2016?

I write under two names, Carol Ann Martin are the combined names of my daughter and my son. I also write under my own name, M Domovitch. I’ve just started a new series, this one under my name, and I’m very much looking forward to the launch in mid-January. The first is Scar Tissue, by M.C. Domovitch. It’s a bit grittier of a read than my Weaver series and my Chef Landry series.

MM: Tell us about where you live? Be our tour guide for sounds, sites, and what you see out your office window or where you write?

I am very fortunate to have three homes. One is an ocean-side farm in British Columbia, where I garden, keep bees and go crab and shrimp trapping for my dinners. The second is a city town-house in downtown Toronto. We recently bought that house to be close to our friends and family. I found living in BC very lonely. I missed my kids terribly, and now that we will hopefully have grandchildren, it was important to me to be close. As for our third home, we recently sold our California home and purchased a house in heavenly Key Largo. Key Largo is just a three hour flight from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, where our kids live. They can hop a plane and come spend a weekend with us at the drop of a hat. We like to drop that hat often.
In all three places, I my desk faces a window where I look out at gardens. My husband loves ocean views. I like greenery.

MM: What comes first the character, plot, setting and do you write ideas down when they happen to come along for future books?

Oh, dear God, I have pages and pages of notes. Some are nothing more than long lists of characters facing compelling situations. Others are ideas for scenarios, titles or good lines.
Invariably, when I start a book, the character is where I begin. I come up with ideas of who he or she is, how he or she got to where they are, and I inject them with dreams, hopes, fears and obstacles. Then I get them fighting their problems. That’s what makes a good story.

MM: Take us thru a day in your writing world?

I usually get up and grab a cup of coffee on the way to my computer. Then I sit and write until my eyes start burning. If I get stuck, which happens just about every day, I start back at the beginning of what I wrote the previous day and edit. By the time I get to the end, my mind is in gear and the writing flows. If I get really stuck, which happens every couple of weeks, I start from the very beginning of the book and edit. By the time I get to the end of my writing, I’m reenergized. Writing is 10% story-telling, and 90% editing.
I go to bed thinking about my characters, and I wake up thinking about them. Sometime during the middle of the night, I come up with solutions to problems, new scenes, and so on. I like to say I do some of my best writing while I’m dozing off.

MM: Okay now for some fun questions. What are your favorite shows to binge watch, favorite movies, songs, vacation spots, dessert and meal?

Oh dear. I am addicted to Netflix. I have been guilty of watching seven season series in one week. I loved the new Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda comedy, Frankie and Grace. That one was only one season, but I binge watched Homeland, The killing, Damages, How to Get Away With Murder. And on, and on, and on. As you can see I like murder and suspense.  
As for music, I like rock and roll, country and classic. One could say I’m eclectic. When it comes to food, I love to eat. My main problem lately is that I’ve been diagnosed with Celiac disease. Me! Who absolutely lived for pastries, cannot eat wheat, rye or barley. Life is simply not fair. Having said that, I’ve learned to use substitutes and now can bake a mean quinoa chocolate cake that more than makes up for all the pastries I cannot eat. Another big change I’ve made is that I’ve given up red meat and poultry. After seeing many of the horrible facebook videos showing how farmed animals are tortured, I simply couldn’t bring myself to eat meat anymore. And now that it’s proven that processed meats cause cancer, and likely red meats too, it makes me happy to have changed my habits.   

MM: Speaking of meals. If you could sit down to a meal with five authors and talk with them about their books. Who would they be and what meal would you have?

I would love to have Agatha Christie, Tamie Hoag, Joy Fielding, Liane Moriarity and Gillian Flynn. And I would ask them to each bring their favorite dish, their favorite book and a quick outline of the book they always wanted to write but never got around to.

MM: What would your characters tell us about you?

I like to think that all my characters share a little bit of me. Even the bad guys, although what they and I have in common is a great imagination. When it comes to what I’d like to do to the creeps of this world, I live vicariously through my characters. They can come up with great ways to get rid of enemies. The real me though, is a pleaser, so I rarely give way to my darker side. When I do, it’s usually just to ask a creep to leave. But, being a murder-mystery writer does give me a bit of an advantage. People know I am very knowledgeable when it comes to murder. It keeps friends and family in line. (Chuckle.)

MM: Give a little backstory on your childhood, personal life and is there a teacher, village, mentor or family member you would like to thank for all of their help?

It is my belief that most authors have had less than happy childhoods. Maybe that’s why they escaped real life in favor of the make believe. One very important person in my childhood was my eighth grade teacher who told my mother that I had a talent for writing and that I would surprise people with my achievements someday. Luckily, my mother repeated this to me, and that teacher’s words came back to me throughout my life, whenever I faced challenges. That is why is so important to let children know you believe in them.
I should mention that my husband is a medical doctor, so he is great help when it comes to poisons, medical questions and so on. He’s my number one go-to person.

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

I would like to thank my readers for buying my books, for writing such positive reviews and for so many of you getting in touch with me. Writing is a lonely profession, and hearing from readers gives me the energy to keep writing.

MM: Lastly leave us with some wise words of wisdom on life, writing and to readers?

This one is easy. My only regret in life is to not have followed my passion earlier in my life. So, please, if you have a passion, don’t put it off. Live it now. Do what you enjoy. Live for today.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins

Rachel is an alcoholic mess and to avoid her own issues, she fantasizes a perfect life for a couple she see most days when she passes their house on the train.  Only no life is perfect and one day she sees something that shocks her and gets her involved in their lives and a crime.


Overall, I liked the book.  That said, my biggest issue was how unlikable every character was.  I mean, REALLY unlikable. It certainly kept me from enjoying the book as much as I had hoped.

The story is told from the 3 main women characters' separate POVs.  They each tell what they want withholding secrets that later are revealed which lead to the twists in the plot.  The thing is, their voices were pretty similar.  Their stories were different and their intersection in each others lives moved the story forward but they sounded alike voice-wise.  They all looked towards the men in the book as either being responsible for or to resolve their issues instead of facing them.  Lots of angst.  Yet at my F2F book discussion, that angst was much of what Roberta loved about it.  

There certainly was a lot to discuss!  

Terri

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

An Interview with Patricia Fry

INTERVIEW WITH PATRICIA FRY:
By Pamela James

MM: Patricia, give us the backstory on your writing career?
I started writing for publication in 1973. My dream for several years prior was to write articles for magazines. I read writing-related magazines and learned early-on the importance of writing about what you know and studying the magazines you want to write for. So, when I had the time and space to start my writing in earnest, I surveyed my areas of knowledge.

We were involved in horses as a family at the time and we subscribed to a few horse-related magazines. So my first articles were about horses and their care. Over time, I also wrote for magazines related to other pets, cats in particular, as well as business, relationships, travel, spiritual, women’s, health, and others. My first book was on horse care and it was published by a New York publisher, A.S. Barnes in 1978.

In 1983, I established my own publishing company to produce a significant, comprehensive history of the Ojai Valley, California. This part-time writing hobby actually developed over the years into a viable career and I currently have 54 published books, including 13 in my fun and frivolous Klepto Cat Mystery series.

MM: Where is your favorite place to write?
On the deck at a luxury beach house overlooking the ocean. But that’s been a rare occasion. I’m most comfortable creating from my recently remodeled office in my home surrounded by things meaningful to me—my cats (there’s one in my lap as I type), pictures of my family (which involves 5 generations from 94 years to 1), some of my bird photography, and framed book covers from the Klepto Cat Mystery series.

MM: Tell us about your cat series?
Three years ago in June, I decided to give myself a special birthday present—the gift of time and space to try writing fiction. I knew that my first book would be a light mystery (cozy) and that it would involve cats. And the Klepto Cat Mystery series was born. Yes, I’ve produced 13 books in a little over 3 years.

Rags is an ordinary cat with a most unusual habit—he can’t keep his paws off other people’s things. Often, the items he takes become clues in the current mystery. Rags lives with veterinarians, Savannah and Michael Ivey, in Northern California. He has many human and cat friends and acquaintances and lives a rather rich life, involving escaping into the forbidden outdoor world and traveling with his family to interesting places where he makes fascinating discoveries. He has been instrumental in finding cats that had been catnapped, he was an eye-witness to a murder and he even pawed the killer in a lineup. He has ridden a horse. He even rode a bus once by himself. He has also been featured in a documentary—of course a mystery developed during the filming of it one stormy night.

Rags and his feline friends are cats and they behave like cats—there are no talking cats in these stories—but Rags’s antics delight readers and charm them back for more and more and more of his adventures.

MM: What is your writing schedule?
Many years ago, it was necessary that I go to work. I missed my writing schedule so much that I became despondent. While on a my meditation walk one day, I realized that I had to find a way to write no matter what else was going on in my life. My mental health depended on it. So I developed the habit of getting up at 4 every morning. I’d write for a few hours, then walk and prepare for work. I wrote an entire book in 8 months on this schedule. (And this was before computers!) That’s when I realized that if I spent that time each morning submitting articles to magazines, I might be able to build my writing business to the point that I could quit the job. And 8 months later, I did just that!

I still start working at 4. I break around 7:30 to pick up around the house and take a walk. I write (and promote my writing) from 9:30 or so until noon, at which time I might run a few errands, ship books, pick up supplies, etc. Then I write for most of the afternoon. When I’m working on a nonfiction book project, I often spend evenings in front of the TV conducting research. And this is my schedule every day—weekends included, unless I’m visiting my 94-year-old mother or playing with some of my adorable great grandchildren. I do have a life outside of writing—but writing still fills most of my time.

I realize that some people have trouble staying on task—motivating themselves to sit and do the writing. I’m at the other end of the spectrum. I often have to make myself leave my office. I’m addicted, I tell you!

MM: Dead or alive what authors and their pets would you invite to a pet party?
J. Allen Boone author of Kinship With All Life and James Herriot—All Creatures Great and Small, etc.

MM: 2016 is here. What are you looking forward to and what are your writing plans?
I look forward to adding to the Klepto Cat Mystery series. Even though I’m in my diamond year, I can’t see myself slowing down. The stories in this series seem to pour out of me and I don’t plan to put a lid on them anytime soon. I’ve toyed with the idea of creating a new series, though—if I receive the inspiration to do so.
News flash! I just came out with the first Christmas story in the Klepto Cat Mystery series—A Picture-Purrfect Christmas. It’s available at http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2 or http://www.matilijapress.com/Klept-Cat-Mysteries

My “fans” will be pleased to know that I have book 14, Meow for the Money, almost ready to publish and I’m working on book 15. Yes, they’re still coming out as if on a conveyer belt. The first book was published in June of 2013. So they’re being produced at the rate of approximately every two months—or 6 per year.

MM: Be our tour guide and tell us about where you live?
Not only can I be a tour guide, but I can be your historian. I wrote the first and only comprehensive history of the Ojai Valley. This is a small tourist town where big things related to music, tennis, and art take place. Many an author or artist have found their inspiration in this charmed valley and many an actor has settled here craving a peaceful existence away from the big cities. We’re twenty-minutes from the ocean community of Ventura, forty minutes from beautiful Santa Barbara, and far enough away from the big city of Los Angeles for tranquility, but close enough to partake of its more sophisticated offerings.

MM: Now for some fun get to know you questions. What is your favorite meal, dessert, place to vacation, shows to binge, movies, songs and historical character?
I do enjoy a plate of good Mexican food.

If I were to sit down in the afternoon with a cup of tea, I’d relish a piece of berry, peach, or even apple pie to go with it.

I love, love, love, the beach. One of my stories occurred in a beach setting and I so enjoyed diving into the story each day and experiencing the ambiance of the seaside community.

As a family, we often rent a beach house for a week in the summer. One of my favorite things to do—places to be.

As for shows—I like watching the old 30-minute or hour-long Westerns on TV (Gunsmoke, Rifleman, etc.) I’m not a movie fan—don’t like to sit that long (unless it’s in front of the computer writing). But when I do see a movie, I usually enjoy it and vow to do it more often. The last one I saw I enjoyed—twice—“Blended.” I also saw “Gran Tornio” twice.

I melt when I hear music from the ‘50s (my era).
MM: What would you like to say to your readers?
I love you guys!!! As a nonfiction author, I didn’t have fans. At least not in the sense that one collects fans for a fiction series. I so appreciate those of you who are following the Klepto Cat Mystery series and Rags’s antics. I enjoy reading and hearing your comments. It makes my heart sing when I learn that a scene made you smile, cry, feel warm and fuzzy all over, or laugh out loud. That’s music to an author’s ears.

MM: When planning your books. What is the best and worst part of writing them?
Writing a story is certainly a process. There’s the planning stage, then the gathering stage where you collect possible events, occurrences, scenarios, etc. as place-holders in your story. (You might use them or not.) Then comes the massaging process during which you make it all work together—flow into a cohesive and interesting story. Once the story is written, there are (or should be) hours and hours of self-editing to follow. Once I’m satisfied, I turn my manuscripts over to pre-readers—those astute readers I trust to give me honest, critical feedback. After more hours of editing, my book goes to a proof-reader/editor. But I don’t stop there. When I get it back, I go over the story another dozen or so times. That’s why it’s so frustrating and upsetting when a book slips past you with a mistake—but it happens. That’s one of the worst parts of producing a book.

For most authors, the absolute worst part of writing a book for publication is the promotion. It is vital that an author become familiar with the marketing process because no one will buy a book they don’t know exists. I’ve written many, many articles and several books on the topic of book promotion and marketing, yet it’s still a challenge even for me. It takes a lot of time, and involves tons of effort. I can’t say it’s the worst part, but it certainly isn’t the easiest part. I guess the worst part of marketing and promotion is that it takes you away from the best part—writing.

MM: What would your protag tell us about you?
That I’m relentless when it comes to writing and certainly passionate. I also change my mind a lot—not about the big picture, but my characters are never allowed to rest—they’re constantly being molded and massaged and their emotions tampered with.

MM: Is there anyone you would like to thank for their help along the path to your publishing career?
When I started writing, I didn’t know another writer or author. And that was the case until I became involved with Mary Embree in SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network). This organization was formed in order to educate and inform writers with regard to the business side of writing—publishing and promotion. I was executive director for many years. As such, and as the author of many books for authors, I spoke and conducted workshops at writers conferences throughout the US for many years. I have to say that at every single conference, writers club meeting, or a book festival I met other authors who offered a perspective or a resource that I could use.



Saturday, March 19, 2016

Review: Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron

I want preface this mystery series review with a few words. If you have ever stayed in a bed and Breakfast in the south, or visited Louisiana, lived in Louisiana then you know that colorful characters are as common as sweet tea. That hospitality is right up there with gumbo and you probably in one form or another have met characters like the ones in Plantation Shudders (A Cajun County Mystery), in other words you will enjoy every word and every character in this wonderful series.

The Crozat Plantation Bed and Breakfast was once just a plantation but it cost a lot of money for upkeep of any southern mansion. Hence why it is now a bed and breakfast with charm, sweet tea and wonderful rooms.

Maggie Crozat returns home to help her family with the bed and breakfast. This week will be a busy one as the food festival is one of many events that are happening of course this means everyone is booked to the hilt.

The guest checking in are Georgia frat boys to which Maggie named them  one two and three, the Cajun Cuties a fan club of sorts who usually stayed at another bed and breakfast but that mansion had flooded so the Crozarts were happy to help,  plus a stranger to die for who was from Texas his name is Kyle, if this isn't colorful character enough then a family arrives complete with children in tow and the couple are celebrating their fifth anniversary.
An elderly honeymoon couple is supposed to arrive and eventually do arrive late.

The elderly couple has everyone's attention because the husband is a tad more than grouchy but the wife has a smile on her face. I mean this smile is kinda scary, a little grotesque and much like a train wreck you want to look away but cannot not look at this face.

The first thing that happens the elderly honeymooners Bud and Beverly Clabber arrive late he complaints and the room access and stated they were supposed to be on the first floor. Maggie corrects Bud as they had not booked the first floor.
The rose room is beautiful but Bud went into the bathroom came out and had Maggie follow him into the bathroom. He told her the toilet paper roll was put on all wrong and this would not do that it should unrolled from the top not the bottom. There are some days nothing but the middle finger comes in handy. But Maggie never gives the middle finger that would not show a proper upbringing, or good manners, instead she just fixes the toilet paper role while keeping her middle finger out of sight.
Anyway this is just one example of colorful characters. 

Maggie's own family has gran whose accent becomes even more thick when she doesn't like someone and has to be nice and sweet as sliced pie to them. Her father Tug is a wonderful delightful man who is a hard worker and loves his life more than the south. Her mother will not be found idle, sprinkle in here and there a few cousins and you have a rich and wonderful family history, one of their history is that when you shudder it means something and not always in a good way.
Long story short this is a book full of mystery, just like it's southern setting it has something for everyone.  Murder is also on the menu and so is secrets.
Everyone has a secret or two the trick is to figure what secrets are worth killing for and of course finding in order to find this out Maggie must get her hands dirty.
In other words she has to clean to find the dirty secrets, she also has a little help along the way from a new Deputy who is the Sheriff's cousin.

I have never laughed, loved and wanted to solve a crime more than I did in this mystery.
I think Plantation Shudders should be in every creative writing class as a study of character, humor, plot and setting. I can see this series one day becoming a made for television movie or a Hallmark Movies and Mystery Series.
It might just become a classic series.

With every turn of the page the you will lose track of time and be transported to a southern bed and breakfast you won't soon forget...

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Guest Blog - Amanda Flower: Why I Write For Kids Too

Why I Write for Kids Too

By Amanda Flower

At the end of January, my cell phone rang and the location of the caller on the display was Washington DC. I knew what the call was. Only one source has ever called me from that city, and it’s not the president. With shaky hands I answered the call because I could always be wrong in my assumption. The caller told me she was calling from the Malice Domestic Board to notify me that my children’s book, ANDI UNSTOPPABLE, had been nominated for an Agatha Award. I had been right,
and I squealed and thanked her repeatedly. This is my fourth nomination overall and the third for the Andi Boggs middle grade mystery series. I am absolutely thrilled.

Despite the nominations for the Andi Series, I am better known as an adult cozy mystery author. When people find out that I also write for kids, they are surprised and some even ask me why. The simple answer is I write for kids because I remember loving to read as a child, especially at the middle grade level. I gobbled up books by the dozens, but my favorites were and always have been mysteries. Back then, there weren’t that many mysteries about kids close to my age. The ones that I loved were the Baby-sitter Club Mystery Series and the Mandie Series. I read them all, among others. Before too long, I ran out of children’s options and I was reading adult mysteries by age eleven, but I still wished for more books about clever sleuths my own age.

So the Agatha Award nominations, win or lose, for this series are extra special to me because I know that eleven-year-old Amanda would have loved them. I also know from the notes I receive from young readers that kids are enjoying them too, and that’s all I ever wanted from this series.

Happy Reading!!
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GIVEAWAY
Visit Amanda’s website for a chance to win one of four $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift cards. Winner’s Choice!

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Amanda Flower, a three time Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Amanda is a librarian in Northeast Ohio. She also writes as USA Today Bestselling Author Isabella Alan. Her next release is CRIME AND POETRY coming April 5, 2016. www.amandaflower.com


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: Threads of Evidence by Lea Wait

Angie Curtis has moved back to her hometown and to her grandmother's home. This home will soon be Angie's as her grandmother is getting married. Normally this would keep Angie busy enough but then the famous actress Skye West buys the Gardener Estate.

The Gardener Estate comes with history. In 1970 Jasmine Gardener dies at the yearly Labor Day Party. The worst of it is that her death is shrouded in mystery and her mother never knew if Jasmine was murdered or if her death was an accident.
Jasmine's father returns to the New York scene but her mother stays in Haven Harbor searching for answers. She does her needlepoint and stitches nine panels of the local scene and Haven Harbor. Before he death she hardly ever left her home. Early in investigation she learned that the local police department were not going out of their way to find the truth behind Jasmine's  death.

Skye West has decided to have a sale of everything she doesn't want and she asks Angie Curtis and Sarah Byrne to handle the sale, this after they have helped inventory, evaluate the antiques and needlepoint pieces.

Patrick West is Skye's son who is an artist. He wants to turn the carriage house into his art studio. Skye wants her mansion and estate done in a hurry. She hires locals and people from New York to work many hours. Overtime Haven Harbor Maine residents can use.

Exhausting as all of this is it's when Skye falls victim to someone trying to murder that really makes Angie wonder if the death of Jasmine Gardener is related to the fact someone wants Skye West dead. There is a connection with Skye and the past and who can Angie trust to help her find the answers she needs?
Mainely Needlepointers, of course and she turns to members for help restoring those nine panels, help with the investigation and there is that pesky wedding show her grandmother wants which fills Angie with anxiety in more ways than one.

Threads of Evidence by Lea Wait has something for everyone. If you love cold cases you are in for a treat, if you love history you are in for a treat, if you want to know the history of needlepoint you will find this mystery more than interesting. It is a great addition the series.

This is one mystery you won't want to miss. The whole series is to die for and see if you can figure out who did what, when where and how before the all is revealed. There are many suspects and tracking down people who were at the party in 1970 is also a great host of clues, suspects and characters.

This is a hardback large print edition that I checked out from our local library.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Review: Fallen by Leslie Tentler

Someone is killing cops in Atlanta and Ryan is a homicide detective who is determined to stop the killer.  Lydia is his ex-wife who is an Attending Physician in the ER at Mercy Hospital who is embroiled in issues of her own after an abused woman comes to her for help.  

This story grabbed me from page one and kept me turning.  The characters were interesting and realistic and the story was intense and kept me guessing.  A very satisfying read.  The only thing I really didn't understand was why it had the Prologue it did.  I thought that would be more appropriate as simply a first chapter.

Terri

Blog: Library trip Monday night by Pam James


Good Morning Everyone,

I think I figured out how to add pictures to my post this morning. Anyway I made a library trip Monday evening.
I returned one book and picked out three more to read. Here is what I picked up to read.
Copy Cap Murder by Jenn McKinlay this is from her hat shop series. Now Frank also picked up on Saturday for me At The Drop of A Hat by Jenn McKinlay. This author doesn't ever write a bad book.
Moving along I also picked up The Book Stops Here by Kate Carlisle this is from her Bibliophile Series.
Then I went a little more retro with SHROUD FOR A NIGHTINGALE by P.D. James and realized that I had already read this book. It will go back probably on Wednesday or Frank will take it back on the 19th because I have another book due back on that date.

That is my library trip for this time. I know one of the library staff will call me this week as they are processing a few other books I might like to read.

I did want to add that I will be on again off again over the next month. All is probably nothing to worry about I just have many things going on so I will more than likely be in and out.
Are you enjoying spring read? Are books springing up at your local bookstores?
What books do you plan to read while watching your flowers bloom this year?
Malice Domestic is just around the corner and I want to read as many books by our authors as I can so I will be able to say, "I knew that was a good book." ;)

I know Lea Wait Mystery books is one series Sue one of our front desk techs is happy to start reading since I know she will love this series. I also told her about Amanda Lee's series, I think she will enjoy Melissa Bourbon's series and I think she has started reading the Eva Gates Library Lighthouse Series.

Anyway I hope you having the luck of the Irish with your tbr pile of books this month.
Love,
Pamela

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Review: Starboard Secrets by Hope Callaghan

I thought I would really like this book based on the premise: an older woman, Millie,  starts a new life with a job on a cruise ship after her husband dumps her for a younger woman.

The book opens with her arriving on a cruise ship to work as an assistant cruise director with no experience (a fact which even SHE questions).  First thing she sees a bunch of people standing over a dead body.  No word of police activity, investigators or anything.  Huh?  Next thing we know she has taken it upon herself to investigate and just starts questioning everyone she meets about the dead woman and who disliked her.  Huh?  Turns out the woman died of a brown recluse spider bite (intentionally murdered via spider bite???)  So that just made me irritated - young healthy people don't die from recluse bites.  Period.  Death is so rare that it is even hard to find cases and it certainly wouldn't cause a sudden death.  Lots of sickness, necrosis, eventually maybe gangrene leading to loss of a limb but no - get bitten, drop dead.... Not to mention how would a killer expect a spider that tries to avoid contact with people to bite and kill the victim?  It doesn't make sense.

Moving on, there is no real police investigation, just Millie and a nominal ship security officer that doesn't seem to do anything at all.

Then there is her motive for involvement -- to prove to her ex that ran a PI firm with her as admin support that she CAN?  I realize in cozies, getting the amateur sleuth's involvement to be involved is a tricky thing, but this is weak.  Then there are the interchangeable, flat, one-dimensional characters.  None are interesting because they aren't developed. Their interactions do not feel natural at all either.

This is also labeled a Christian cozy.  There are a few Bible quotes, she goes to church once and she prays a few times but I actually was a bit upset when she prayed for God to help HER solve the crime.  I think it annoyed me mostly because it wasn't let the crime be solved, or help the Police solve the crime but her.  It seemed so self-serving.  That is what I disliked the most:  it was all about HER solving the mystery - not justice for the victim or protecting someone wrongly accused or something noble at least.

So, the bottom line is that I normally give a lot of leeway when I see lots of good elements of a story that outweigh the bad, especially with the first in a series.  Honestly this time there really wasn't much I did like.  I can hope that as the series continues there is real character development and it gets more believable.  Maybe down the road I would be able to enjoy one but for now, if I want to read a cruise ship cozy, I will read Lori Avocato.

Terri

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

An Interview with Mary Daheim

By Pamela James

MM: Mary, give us the backstory your writing career?

I started telling stories before I learned how to put them on paper. I never think of myself as a writer or an author, but as a storyteller.

MM: Where is your favorite place to write?

Here in the basement.

MM: Writing two very different mystery series but equally entertaining to your readers. What advice do you have about writing a series?

Let's get real. Who plans to write a series unless you intend to self-publish? What I did back in 1989 was to turn a parochial school auction item into the B&B mystery series. Our three daughters all attended a Catholic grade school. They held an annual auction and my contribution was putting together a murder mystery overnight at a local B&B. The year that our youngest daughter was going graduate, it dawned on me that I should use one of the plots I'd put together to my own profit. It took me a full month to organize the overnight event and provide the script--a term I use loosely because it was 50% spontaneous on the part of the participants. I'd been writing historical romance novels for several years, but it wasn't a good fit for me. I told my agent I wanted to switch to mystery, but he emphatically told me NO--romance paid better than mystery He was right, but I didn’t care. So I went behind his back and gave the 87 pages of what would become Just Desserts to a publisher's rep who was headed back east for a sales conference right after Thanksgiving. On Dec. 15 I got a letter from a senior editor at Avon offering me a 3-book contract.


Before 1990 was out, I would hear via the grapevine that an editor at Random House/Ballantine with whom I had worked earlier in my career was interested in having me write a series (yes, that word was there from the start) for him. I called to make sure it wasn't just one of those weird publishing rumors and I found out it was not. When asked what the series would entail, I said I'd always wanted to write about a lost logging town here in the Cascades. My family members had lived there before I was born and they spoke of it with such affection that I wanted to make sure it wasn't completely lost to time. As for my agent...he got used to the idea.

MM: Tell us how you plan your books, ideas, characters, plots, settings?

I don’t plan my books. I have a vague idea, type up a graf alluding to what I think it may be about--and then I start writing. I did map out the updated town of Alpine, though I took at least one liberty by placing the Skykomish River going through the middle. As for the B&Bs, the basic setting is my own neighborhood of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. I never call places by their real names, however. Frankly, at the time I started writing the books there were already several local writers setting their own mysteries in the area. I feared a glut on the market and how many people around the country really knew much about Seattle in 1990? Okay, so all that changed--but so did the city and if I'd actually identified my hometown, I'd have to keep updating what was going on around her. It's hard enough to keep up with when I'm living in the middle of all the chaos and change.

MM: Where will we find you when you're not writing?

Working out in the garden or doing something with my kids and grandkids.

MM: Do you have favorite shows that you like to binge watch on television?

No.

MM: What is your favorite meal, dessert, classic authors and place to vacation?

Cracked Dungeness crab. I've never eaten dessert--I don’t see the point. My husband always ate dessert though. Then he had a pastry snack before going to bed. I always figured he was making up for me not wanting any of that stuff.


MM: It's 2016 what are our plans for this year?

Nothing special, really. I think I've gotten over the travel bug. We took so many long vacations over the years, including by car. One year we had all 3 girls stuffed in the backseat and covered over 5,000 miles across Canada to Manitoba, into Minnesota (Dave's home state) and then headed west and north and finally home. We certainly packed a lot into that trip. We also visited relatives in Minnesota, Nebraska and California.

MM: What would Judith and Renie tell us about you? Let's ask them and then ask Emma what she can add to what Judith and Renie tell us about you as their creator? Oh I should mention Emma Lord is from your other series.

Judith and Renie have already told you about me. Judy was 4 years younger, but we grew up two blocks apart and always were very close (both of us were only children). In fact, there were four families of us in the 2-block part of Seattle. Judy was a nurse by trade (she suffered a massive stroke 3 years ago and died), but I figured running a B&B wasn't all that different, since both jobs require some of the same characteristics--good communications skills, a desire to make people comfortable, etc. I'm not quite as bratty as Renie. At least I hope not. I should add that all the adventures the cousins allude to in the past actually happened to us, no matter how bizarre, including getting tossed out of St. Peter's in Rome as potential terrorists. I'm still mad about that.

MM: What I your most challenging part of writing the book?

I'm not sure "challenging" is the right word. Maybe "frustrating" works better. It almost always happens when I get about 75% through the book that I semi-panic and think I cannot pull all of this together. (That happens when you don’t plan or outline or whatever other people...). And then somehow it does and it all turns out fine. Or at least seems to make sense.

MM: Okay if either of your series were to be picked to be a made for television movie or television series. Who do you think should play the main characters?

That's an exercise in futility, as my husband told me early on. Before I met Dave, he had worked for 3 years in production at MGM. He taught cinema at the college level. Successful casting is a skill in itself and best left to experts. Not to mention that in The Business (as it's always known to insiders) the making of movies has become so very different since the demise of the old studio system that held talent hostage. Thus, I'll have to pass on that question.

MM: Give us the information on your website?


MM: Do you ever pick reader's names to put in your books?

I've contributed "Be A Real Character" auction items to various charities (other than my girls' parochial school). I use the winning bidders as characters, especially in the Alpine books. Many of them have gone on to play a fairly big role. 

Like run a contest an draw a readers name?

Never did that.

MM: Lastly, who would you like to thank for their support?

I'd like to pass on this. The danger of leaving out someone over the course of going on 40 years is too great. And so many of the people who were helpful to me early on are now dead.  

Tell us about your latest book and tell us how many books you've written?

I think the total comes to 66, counting the new B&B, Here Comes the Bribe, due out in early April. (I'm terrible at math, even simple addition.) Judith's latest crop of guests are even weirder than some of the other people she's hosted over the years. But one of them really rocks her world when he insists he's her long-lost son. Meanwhile, I'm working on the new Alpine, as yet untitled, but it should assure readers that Emma & Company's story doesn’t end just because the alphabet does. And by the way--one of my earlier historical romances--Destiny's Pawn--was released earlier this year.



Monday, March 7, 2016

Review: In The Dark: The True Story of the Blackout Ripper by Simon Read


In 1942, a RAF soldier went on a spree killing over the course of several days. His attacks were vicious and brutal. Killing and attacking primarily prostitutes in London's west end, he was quickly caught and stopped. Gordon Cummings was thought pretentious by his fellow soldiers and he was known for arrogant boasts of his female conquests.  None of them had any idea thought that he was violently attacking and murdering women during the blackout nights of wartime London.

The media attention was dimmed by the German bombings of the city, which is probably why I had never heard of the case. 

The fingerprint analysis evidence was fascinating and what convicted him. The story of the cops and how they developed and used their fingerprinting system was one of my favorite parts of the book actually.

An intense and interesting read.

Terri

Thursday, March 3, 2016

An Interview with Judy Fitzwater

By Pamela James:

Meet Judy Fitzwater, who is a series author and I long ago fell in love with her series characters.


MM: Let's get to know you. Give us the backstory on your writing life and what book you are writing?


JF: First, let me thank you for your kind words about my series. I love writing about Jennifer Marsh and her crazy group of friends. They always make me smile.
While each book in The Jennifer Marsh Mysteries has its own theme, I think at the core of the entire series is the importance of friendship. We all long for those special relationships, and I was very fortunate when I was living in the D.C. area to be invited to join a weekly critique group that became my support group. I doubt I would have ever been published without them. Not only did they help me learn my craft, but they became my cheerleaders and taught me about the business side of publishing. It lasted for several years before it disbanded, and, yes, I had a stack of rejections before I finally got published. Mine, however, was never as big as Jennifer’s. J
Now that I’m publishing independently, I have two talented writer friends with whom I share my manuscripts before I publish them. There’s so much more to writing than just the creative, fun part, like editing and revising, and did I mention editing again and again?
As for my newest project, I just released the 8th Jennifer mystery, DYING AT HONEYMOON INN and have been busy trying to get the word out about it. It’s set in the same location I used for my paranormal romance, VACATIONING WITH THE DEAD. My next book is going to be a fun one. It’s the “other” story of what happened in DYING AT HONEYMOON INN—from the ghosts’ point of view. (Yes, the mansion really is haunted, but Jennifer and Sam and my mystery readers don’t know that.) It should be an interesting challenge. I can’t wait to see how it works out.


MM: Where do you write?


JF: At home. I’m too easily distracted to go to a coffee shop or library or sit in a park to write. I used to write on my desktop in my office, but about three years ago I bought a laptop that I use only for writing. I curl up on the couch or stretch out in the sun room with my computer on my lap and peck away. I don’t allow myself to check e-mail, play games, or shop on the Internet with my laptop. Then I put the book on a thumb drive and transfer it to my desktop for editing. The laptop helps keep me focused.

MM: How many books have you written?


JF: Twelve. There are 8 in the Jennifer Marsh Mystery Series, two suspense novels (they’re great fun to write, lots of adventure and danger), DROWNING IN AIR and NO SAFE

PLACE, one funny ghost romance, VACATIONING WITH THE DEAD, and a non-fiction book about my adventures (and misadventures) in writing, THE ROCKY ROAD TO PUBLISHING. It’s honest and fun and has some helpful advice in it. Oh, and there’re two I’ve never published, plus many partials that may or may not ever get finished.


MM: They say it takes a village to write and publish a book. Who is in your village?


JF:  My husband and our two daughters, like me, are all liberal arts, English majors, so they’re the first part of my village. They are my first readers and critics. Currently I have two writer friends who read every book before I publish it, and who offer plot suggestions, some edits, etc. They’re terrific and can be brutally honest with me. We’re huge fans of each other’s work, so it’s easy to take criticism from them. And, darn it, they’re almost always right. They’re always up for an emergency phone call to offer suggestions when I get stuck or I’ve written myself into a corner. I have a couple of other readers as well, but that’s my main support base.

MM: What message would you like your reader to take away with them when they read your books?

JF: My message is pretty simple. Love the people who are dear to you, treat everyone well, care about those around you, be honest, be loyal, try your best, honor your word, don’t take anything for granted, trust your instincts, and believe that there is goodness in this world.

MM: If you were to host a small dinner party. What meal would you serve? Who would be your guests and tell us what you want to discuss with them?

JF: That’s so funny that you use the word “if”. I know how to cook, I just don’t do it every day. My mom was from Georgia, and my husband and I lived in North Carolina for several years, so there’s a definite Southern slant to my cooking. I know how to make great sausage gravy, cheese grits, and homemade pie crust—all sorts of bad-for-you kinds of food. When I’m entertaining, I like to make casseroles and cold vegetable dishes and salads, so that the food is in the oven and ready in the fridge just before my friends come over, and, hopefully, most of the kitchen is cleaned up. I hate being tied up in the kitchen when I want to be enjoying my guests. Oh, and I make great desserts when I have time—carrot cake, pecan or apple pie—that sort of thing. My guests would be anyone with a curious mind. I love to learn new things and talk to people who do things I’ve never done, who question life, who don’t like pat answers.

MM: Okay now for fun questions. What is your favorite meal, dessert, movie/s, place to vacation, favorite charity or cause, song, do you listen to audio books?

JF: My favorite meal is one I don’t have to cook myself. Dessert—anything chocolate, but especially dark chocolate cake with fudge icing. Movie—American Dreamer, a jewel of a film no one’s ever heard of. It’s about a mystery writer who wins a contest, goes to Paris, hits her head, and thinks she’s a character in a novel. I’ve seen it lots of times and laugh all the way through it. Vacation—visiting with family and friends or going to the beach. We used to go to a lovely Murder Mystery Weekend in Pennsylvania every year. Lots of fun. It even inspired one of my books. I don’t listen to audio books. I do my best plotting when I’m doing mindless chores like laundry and cleaning, so I don’t want to be distracted while my mind is wandering.
MM: Do you binge watch any shows or movies?

JF: I don’t binge watch. Being a writer, I sit too much as it is, so I usually only watch one TV episode or one movie at a time, although there are some shows that grab you by the throat, and it’s hard not to click on the next episode in the DVR. Sometimes I give in, but two’s my limit.

MM: Do you have any hobbies or charity you want to tell us about and do you have any pets that let you live with them?


JF: We had a Norwich Terrier that deigned to live with us for 15 years and a Shih Tzu for nine years before that. Currently we are petless. I love to sleep in in the mornings, and you can’t do that with pets. Besides, Jennifer has Muffy and Mrs. Walker has Tiger, both of whom I really enjoy writing about. One of my daughters has two dogs and four cats, so I have visiting rights with all of them.
As for hobbies, I used to sew and do a lot of crafts—I like to work with my hands—but I don’t do those things very often anymore. I like to play bridge and Trivial Pursuit, but only in teams because I’m really lousy in the sports category. And I’ve been known to throw the occasional “murder” party where guests take on roles to solve a mystery.

MM: 2016 what is in store for you and for your readers this year?


JF: I hope to have the companion book to DYING AT HONEYMOON INN out by late spring. I’ll soon be releasing the last two Jennifer mysteries in paperback editions because readers have asked for them. After I get those things done, I’d like to write another suspense novel. I have an idea for one that’s been pestering me for years.

MM: What life lesson has writing taught you?

JF: To never give up. To believe in myself. To know that if someone else can do it, why can’t I (brain surgery excepted)? That if a person wants something badly enough and is willing to work hard for it, they’ll probably succeed.

MM: What would your protagonist tell us about you?


JF: Wow, that’s a hard one. I think she’d tell you she and I are a lot alike, but we’re not the same. I think she’d say I should have let her get published a lot earlier in the books because she’s a darned good writer and that it isn’t fair that I got published by telling her stories. And that some of the things she does that I think are so funny aren’t at all funny from her perspective, especially when she’s the one taking all the risks by confronting murderers. She probably also wishes I hadn’t made her a vegetarian because I’m not one myself, and who doesn’t like a good hamburger now and then?

MM: Tell us how you write your books?


JF: One page at a time. I start with a hook—an idea I find really intriguing—and I go from there. I never outline, and I frequently don’t know whodunit until I’m well into the book, which means I have to sometimes go back and adjust my plots to make them flow. I also trust my subconscious to put together bits and pieces that I write into a book and find a way to pull them all together.  There’s nothing better than waking up in the morning—or even the middle of the night—and suddenly seeing how it all fits.

MM: Leave us with some author words of wisdom?


JF: Not all books speak to all readers. A writer has to come to terms with that. Some people just aren’t going to “get” my sense of humor or what I’m trying to say or agree with my outlook on life. And that’s okay. If you don’t like an author’s books, then he or she didn’t write them for you. It doesn’t necessarily make the authors bad writers or mean their books are bad, or say anything about your taste. But when an author connects with a reader, it’s very special. It means we’ve done our jobs. We’ve entertained our readers. If we make you think or you pick up a little of our philosophy about life along the way, all the better. I hope you laugh at my comedies and hold your breath when my heroines and heroes are in danger. I just hope you’ve enjoyed the ride when you get to the end.


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