Enjoy some Mayhem & Magic!

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

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: Forensics by Val McDermid

This book was what is says and more.  It delves into various forensic disciplines in depth and explores the history and development of each.  It stresses what is true and not true about each area and relates historic and recent cases where it has been applied.  Entomology, Blood Spatter analysis, DNA, Forensic psychology and Fingerprinting are just some of the categories.  The research is excellent and her narrative is very engaging and easy to understand.

With all the tv shows, movies and documentary series regarding crime, I think this is a fantastic read to see what they are all talking about.

Terri

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Guest Blogger - Elaine Viets -On Going Dark Again

Going Dark Again
By Elaine Viets


           After 15 years of writing cozy and traditional mysteries, I'm back writing hard-boiled, forensic novels. I'm writing the darker Angela Richman, death investigator mysteries. Brain Storm is the first mystery in this new series.
            A death investigator works for the medical examiner's office. At a murder, the DI is in charge of the body. The police handle the rest of the crime scene.
          Angela is a death investigator in mythical Chouteau Country, Missouri, stronghold of the overprivileged and the people who serve them.
          My death investigator mysteries aren't too gory – not like Patricia Cornwell's "I boiled my dead boyfriend's head." This series is more like the TV show Forensic Files, without the commercials.
          I've come home.
          My first series, the Francesca Vierling newspaper mysteries, was hardboiled.  Then, when the publishing division was wiped out, I switched to the traditional Dead-End Job mysteries, featuring Helen Hawthorne. The Art of Murder, the 15th novel in the series is just out. I also wrote ten cozy Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper mysteries.
         
          I love both series, but wanted to write dark mysteries again. But I didn't want to do another police procedural or a private eye with a dead wife or a drinking problem. Other writers had done those and done them well.
          But death investigators were a profession many readers didn't know about. Janet Rudolph, founder of Mystery ReadersInternational, agreed. She believes Angela Richman is the only death investigator series. Last January, I passed the Medicolegal Death Investigators Training Course for forensic professionals at St. Louis University. I wanted the training – and the contacts – to make the new series accurate.
          Now that I'm writing dark again, my writing has changed. Here's what happened when I jumped from cozies to hard-boiled
          My characters can cuss. Angela Richman's best friend and colleague is Katie, Chouteau County assistant medical examiner Dr. Katherine Kelly Stern. Pathologists tend to be eccentric, and Katie is based on a real pathologist who’d perfected the art of swearing. Her profanity was a mood indicator. I could tell how angry she was by whether she used "fricking," "freaking," or the ultimate F-bomb and how often she employed these and other cuss words. Oddly enough, when she swore, the words didn't sound offensive.
          Katie cusses with style and grace in Brain Storm
          Body counts.  In cozy and traditional mysteries, the murders take place offstage. In the new death investigator series, readers aren't forced to take a blood bath, but they will see crime scenes and forensic procedures. They'll get a firsthand look at the sights, sounds, even the smells of death.
          Real weapons. In cozy mysteries, when Josie Marcus battles killers, she resorts to “domestic violence," using kitchen tools, gardening equipment, and whatever she can grab for weapons.
          Helen Hawthorne in the Dead-End Job mysteries is a little bolder. She's armed with pepper spray to take down killers, though in Checked Out she did get sprayed
with her own weapon.
          In Brain Storm, when Angela confronted the killer, she was in an office, surrounded by the standard supplies: wastebaskets, chairs, coffee mugs, letter openers. I was prepared to have Angela grab one, when it dawned on me: Wait! This isn't a cozy.


         I can use firepower.
          So Angela shot the killer in the head. It felt so good.

          Brain Storm is on sale as a trade paperback, audio and e-book amzn.to/2awPsIe
           
                Win an autographed hardcover of Elaine’s seventh Dead-End Job mystery, Clubbed to Death. http://elaineviets.com/index.php?id=contests












Monday, September 12, 2016

Review: Need by Joelle Charbonneau

In Notttawa, High school students receive requests to join
NEED, a new social networking site.  They get to ask for something they need and then they are requested to complete a task and then what they asked for is provided (not always in the way they expect).  Soon all the students are participating and some are getting new iPods and other goodies.  Then the tasks they are asked to do become darker and some kids are dying.

The main character, Kaylee, asks for something that is truly a need (not a want) - a kidney for her sick brother.  What it will take for that to happen is worse than she could have imagined.

Labels
This is a wonderful story told from the point-of-view of many of the teens.  It makes you think of the differences between wants and true needs and what people are willing to do under the cloak of anonymity.  I loved this book.  It made me think while enjoying the ride.

The big question of WHY?  who is behind it, is very unexpected.

Terri

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Review: The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

Erika is at work again, in London after an investigation went very wrong in Manchester where her husband was killed.  A girl is found frozen under the ice who turns out to be a wealthy doctor of a powerful and rich family.  The family wants to control the investigation's direction and Erika is having none of it and as she digs deeper, she finds it isn't just the one murder she needs to worry about but several.

I liked both Erika and the supporting team members (Particularly Moss) and it was a solid read.  

Sometimes I didn't agree with her choices (like hijacking a press conference) but that is what makes intriguing characters.

Terri


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

MAYHEM AND A WRITER’S LIFE
(The Story of Daisy Gumm Majesty, etc.)

2002 was when I was stricken with the greatest idea of what I laughingly call my writing career: Daisy Gumm Majesty. Daisy was born in my own home city of Pasadena, California, and still lived there with her family. The first book was set in 1920. What’s more, Daisy earned her living as a phony spiritualist, because she could make more money doing that than she could doing any of the other work designated for women at the time, and she had to support her war-injured husband Billy. I wanted the books to be historical cozy mysteries. Amy Garvey, my editor at Kensington, told Linda Kruger, my agent, that she and the late, great Kate Duffy, one of the big muckety-mucks at Kensington, loved the idea for the books but that they thought the books didn’t have enough mystery in them. Therefore, they asked me to remove the dead bodies, add a subsidiary romance (because the heroine was already married) and they’d market them as romances. I did, they did, and the books tanked. The books were STRONG SPIRITS (I got a complimentary letter from a copy editor for that book) and FINE SPIRITS.

Kate Duffy actually called to apologize for the poor marketing of my dearly beloved “Spirits” books. I appreciated her phone call but was crushed that I wouldn’t be able to write more Daisy novels. I’d already begun thinking about a series featuring survivors of the Titanic disaster, which I told Kate about during that telephone call. She was enthusiastic, so I worked up proposals for a series of three books. Since the “Spirits” books bombed, the Powers That Be at Kensington asked me to take a new name. It was thus that Anne Robins (my two daughters’ names) was born.

I was in a dreadful funk over the demise of Daisy and had a hard time writing the first Titanic book. Amy Garvey had gone the way of all good editors (she left Kensington and began writing her own books), and I was turned over to Hillary Sares. Hillary was wonderful, and she helped me very much with A PERFECT STRANGER, the first book in the series. After A PERFECT STRANGER the other books come more easily:

A PERFECT ROMANCE (which is my favorite of the series, being in the nature of a romp. Also, the heroine of the piece was rich, a state that was beginning to appeal to me more and more), and

A PERFECT WEDDING

I suggested A PERFECT AFFAIR and A PERFECT DIVORCE, but Hillary didn’t think those would go over well.

About that time a writing buddy, Mimi Riser, asked if I’d be willing to pen a book or two for a new publisher, New Age Dimensions, which had been established by a friend of hers. Feeling abused and mistreated, I penned another historical cozy mystery (a MYSTERY, darn it!) set in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1923. You can see that I’d somehow managed to get myself stuck in the 1920s. It’s a fascinating era, but I’m not quite sure why I like to stick around in it so much. At any rate, PECOS VALLEY DIAMOND was published by NAD in 2005, and I also wrote its sequel, PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL. These books starred Annabelle Blue, who worked at her family’s mercantile store in Roswell, and featured Phil Gunderson, Annabelle’s erstwhile boyfriend, whom Annabelle dragged along with her into various adventures. Unfortunately for all of us who were connected with NAD, it was financially crushed by Hurricane Wilma in the great hurricane epidemic of 2005. So there I was, stuck with PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL and no place to put it.

Since I was still mourning the loss of Daisy Gumm Majesty and was really sick of writing sex scenes, I started writing LOST AMONG THE ANGELS, yet another historical cozy mystery, this one set in Los Angeles, CA, in 1926. Mercy Allcutt, the heroine of the book, was kind of a consolation prize for me after the death of Daisy. Again, Kensington didn’t think the mystery a big-enough element in the book. They were probably right, but I was lost again.

And then true tragedy struck when Linda Kruger decided to retire from agenting in order to care for her then two-year-old son Tyler. What, I ask you, kind of priority is that???? I was horribly crushed and didn’t know what to do.

Fortunately, by that time I’d begun editing for Five Star, a publisher that primarily targets libraries. Since I figured what the heck (a recurring theme in my life), I asked if I could submit a book to then. I was told I could, but that just because I edited for them didn’t mean I had any special pull and that my books had to be vetted just like anyone else’s. That was okay with me. By that time, I’d decided I didn’t exactly have my finger on the pulse of the reading public and that it didn’t matter that I have a niftier turn of phrase than, say, Dan Brown. Mind you, I respect and admire Dan Brown, and even sort of liked the Da Vinci Code. The point is that he’s rich and I’m not, so that tells you how much writing skills mean in the overall scheme of things.

Luckily for me, the other Five Star editors, those who read my manuscripts, seemed to have liked them, because Five Star has published:

LOST AMONG THE ANGELS,
CACTUS FLOWER,
SIERRA RANSOM,
ANGEL’S FLIGHT,
FALLEN ANGELS, and
THANKSGIVING ANGELS

And then—glory hallelujah!—Five Star bought the third book in my Daisy Gumm Majesty series, HIGH SPIRITS. Not only that, but they also took on the fourth through the seventh books in the series, HUNGRY SPIRITS, GENTEEL SPIRITS, ANCIENT SPIRITS and SPIRITS REVIVED.

And then, on a whim, I sent Five Star PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL, the sole survivor of my New Age Dimensions days, and Five Star decided to publish it! Therefore, PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL was published some time in 2011. Since the book is set in Roswell, New Mexico, which pretty much looked in 1923 exactly as it looked in 1883, the twenties didn’t do a whole lot of roaring there, but Roswell’s citizens did their best. After PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL came PECOS VALLEY RAINBOW. I don’t know if I’ll write any further PECOS VALLEY books. I’m getting old and tired, and writing really doesn’t pay for itself. The only good thing so far about my writing life is that I can now supplement my social security income via my editing work for Five Star, which pays ever so much better than writing ever did.

A caveat to that last statement: A couple of year ago, Jeanne Glidewell, whose books I used to edit for Five Star, told me about ePublishing Works, run by the amazing team, Nina and Brian Paules. They’ve taken over my Daisy books, and have since published DARK SPIRITS, SPIRITS ONSTAGE, UNSETTLED SPIRITS, BRUISED SPIRITS, and will publish SPIRITS UNITED if I ever finish writing it. They’ve also repackaged some of my old historical romances and my historical paranormal romances.

By the way, I never wanted to write paranormal books. I was asked to do so by Berkley, and one (if one is me) doesn’t argue with one’s publisher.

Also, bless their hearts, ePW is taking over my Mercy Allcutt books, although there’s some kerfuffle about the rights to the last Mercy book, THANKSGIVING ANGELS. By the way, FALLEN ANGELS, Mercy’s third book, won the New Mexico/Arizona Book of the Year Award for mystery/suspense. I belong to the George C. Scott school of contest-dom and don’t generally hold with writing contests. That’s because I honestly don’t think you can successfully judge all books in the same manner as you can, say, oranges or lemon-meringue pie or Girl Scout cookies or whatever. I prefer Samoas. Other folks love Thin Mints, you know? Every writer has his or her own voice. Some folks like a particular author’s voice and stories, and some people don’t, and there’s no accounting for taste.

And that, as you’re probably pleased to know, is it for this month’s blog. Whew! That was long.

If you’d like to enter my September contest, during which I’ll let you pick whatever book you want if I have it (that I’ve written, of course), send me an email at alice@aliceduncan.net. Also, please visit my web page at http://aliceduncan.net/ and my Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925

Thanks!