Legally Blind Luck

Today James J. Cudney is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Legally Blind Luck, his latest novel in the Braxton Campus mystery series.

Welcome, James. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

Legally Blind Luck is the 7th book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries. The series follows all the rules in the cozy mystery sub-genre, but it pushes the limits with more complexity and side stories than the traditional approach. The setting and plots focus on Kellan Ayrwick, a 30-something single father who’s returned to his Pennsylvania hometown and accepted a job teaching at a local college. He comes from a large family, is dating the sheriff, and has many women in his life who try to run it for him, including his mother, grandmother, ex-wife, girlfriend, boss, and some close friends.

In this latest book, Kellan’s uncle somehow got involved with a mysterious African talisman that was cursed by Queen Tessa many centuries ago. Kellan is asked to work with the head of the Art department to ensure the college’s newest exhibit is successful. Unfortunately, a bunch of museum folks and art connoisseurs descend upon Braxton, which also piques the curiosity of an FBI agent Kellan’s met before. One of them ends up dead, and a blind woman is intent on getting a hold of Kellan to tell him a secret about his uncle. Queen Tessa’s curse is causing people to do some strange things, and when it all comes together, Kellan finds himself near death once more. But he does solve the mystery, even if the repercussions for his future are graver than last time.

Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?

Each book, I pick a different department or building on the campus that becomes the primary focus. I hadn’t done much with the art world, and in the last book, we knew Kellan’s uncle was returning from South Africa to visit his son. I wanted to add something above and beyond the norm, a curse. Even though it’s not real, people tend to believe in these types of things… and their reactions often lead them astray. I created a fictional tribal leader and tied her into some existing characters, then decided to bring in the culture of another country. It’s hard to send Kellan outside the US as a college professor (and still have all his supporting characters help him solve the crime), so I brought the world to him this time.

Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?

In a very small way, yes. The curse is about a vendetta… a grudge. People can hold them for a very long time. In the most dire of circumstances, it leads to death. Would a curse from 350 years ago truly prompt a person alive today to seek revenge? Yes, if you put the right spin on the curse and what it causes someone else to believe. I can’t say much more, but this plays into people’s impressions of themselves and those they are closest too. Ultimately, there is a lesson here, but readers won’t learn it until the very last chapter.

How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?

I am not partial these days. There are over 140 characters in the Braxton Campus Mysteries now. Add another 10 for the Christmas novella coming out this fall. Everyone ties back to 10 or 12 core families who founded the area in the past. There is a fine balance to creating a setting that is real but also allows for murder and death. I can’t kill the same family members or make villains of every family, so there are tenuous connections to people who live in Braxton as well as strong bonds by blood. I love that I brought in characters from early books again, people who were casually referred to and had little back story at the time. Now, they are critical to understanding what’s going on in Braxton these days. Take for instance, Jordan Ballantine from Academic Curveball. He was a suspect (and maybe the killer, I won’t say here) in the debut of the series. We have heard little about or from him since that book. Now, his father is around, and I’ve fit him in so easily, I can’t imagine it being any different from the beginning. Lindsey Endicott is another one… we meet his ex-wife and son, only hinted at in the past. Fern has a sister that we meet in this book. So many ways to keep the sense of intimacy within the pages.

How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?

Details. Reality. Imagination. A small town is nothing but a small town if you can’t create places people want to visit. In Legally Blind Luck, the president’s office (which appeared in past books) now has a name – Prentiss Hall. Ursula has remodelled it since the last book she was in, and now we understand her personality and the way she wants the college to be perceived. The science department built a man-made pond on campus… it serves as the backdrop for a few scenes in this book, but it also creates an atmosphere where the town and campus become familiar over time. I want to live here!

What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?

Usually, very little. I rely on creativity and imagination. This time, I did research a bit of South Africa’s geography to ensure I lined up with some truths about the location in terms of mountains, sea, and safaris. I had to do a little digging about the differences between the FBI and ICE, when it comes to international issues. And two characters are modelled after people in reality, so I had to find a bunch of descriptions and photos to get the voices and physical characteristics correct.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?

As readers have come to know about this series, I end with a few cliffhangers. Sometimes, they are huge… like in the last book with the Orlando Airport incident. I had to choose when to start this book carefully. If I picked up the moment the last one left off, I’d have to handle a ton of grief, funeral scenes, and pain. Instead, I chose to fast-forward 10 weeks so that characters could be in a reasonably more balanced mood. Death changes people, but you can get through a day without crying at some point. If this were a different series, I could’ve focused on the sad parts… but Braxton is based in humor, in particular Kellan’s sarcastic personality. I’m happy with how it turned out in the end, but I know it will leave some readers concerned that we missed 10 weeks of potential clues and tender moments. That said… be prepared for another whopper of a cliffhanger at the end of Legally Blind Luck.

Thanks for answering my questions, James, and good luck with Legally Blind Luck, the latest book in theBraxton Campus Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about James and his writing by visiting his website and his Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub, Pinterest and Instagram pages. You can also follow him on Twitter.

The novel is available online at Amazon.

About James J. Cudney: James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media, hospitality, and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote short stories, poems, and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I committed to focusing my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing, and publishing.

Posted in April 2021, Archives | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Is there Paws for Alarm?

Today Amy Hueston is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Paws for Alarm, her latest novel in the Caninie Confections mystery series.

Welcome, Amy. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

Yes! The series is the Canine Confections mystery series and the central location is a dog bakery on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. Paws for Concern is the 1st in the series, Paws for Alarm is the 2nd in series and out March 22, 2021 and Paws for Murder will be out in the summer of 2021. It is a clean, cozy mystery meaning, no gore, no naughty words, only good, clean murderous fun.

Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?

I needed something involving baking and dogs and wa la!  A murder in a dog bakery! I’m a big fan of both pastry and dogs. And twisty mysteries (and thrillers).

Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?

All dogs deserve love. And you can never eat too many cannoli.

How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?

A combination of different people and dogs whom I meet. My favorite characters are the not so nice ones. Snippy and witchy. I’m partial to them because I love their confidence, even if maybe they should watch their mouth a little more.

How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?

I think about the real Palm Beach and how it feels to walk on Worth Avenue. It’s a little magical, Worth Avenue and Palm Beach. Sure, there’s sun and sand and fancy shops and mansions but there’s something indescribable in the air, indefinable. I think on that and then…write.

What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?

Drive an hour and half south, get off the exit, and park in one of the parking spots running along Worth Avenue.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?

Though I love to read and write twisty psychological thrillers and even horror, I also like to read and write safe, clean, cozy mysteries. They have the twists of the suspense books I love but I always know I don’t have to get too nervous, no physical or psychological damage or darkness will find its way onto the pages. That’s comforting when all you want is to cuddle up with your dog on the couch and disappear into another world.

Thanks so much for having me!

You’re welcome, Amy. Thanks for answering my questions and good luck with Paws for Alarm, the latest book in the Canine Confections Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Amy and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook, Goodreads and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – B&N 

About Amy Hueston: Amy writes mini-mysteries for Woman’s World magazine when she isn’t writing mystery and suspense novels. The first 3 books in her Canine Confections mystery series have an abundance of dogs and pastries, two of her favorite things, and will be available in 2021. Amy is also a professional singer who has performed nationally and internationally. A sought-after singer in South Florida, Amy draws on these experiences when writing.

Posted in April 2021, Archives | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Blind Switch

Today Lyn Farrell is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Blind Switch, her first novel in the Rosedale Investigations mystery series.

Welcome, Lyn. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

“The Blind Switch” is the first book in a new series called “Rosedale Investigations,” a private investigator practice headed by PD Pascoe, Wayne Nichols and Dory Clarkson as well as young Billy Jo Bradley.

PD Pascoe is a retired detective formerly with the Nashville, PD. Wayne Nichols is also a retired detective. He worked with the Rosedale Sheriff’s office for twenty plus years. Dory Clarkson is an Investigator who also recently retired from the Rosedale Sheriff Office. She worked there more years than she cares to remember. Billy Jo is twenty-one, and before PD hired her and provided her with an apartment, was waitressing, going to community college at night, and living in her car. 

The cases that come to Rosedale Investigations are varied and range from missing persons the police have given up on, infidelity, and theft the clients don’t choose to report to the police.

In the 2nd book in the series “The Blind Split” the team investigates a missing mother and child. The child is finally found in a deserted farmhouse, but the mother seems to have vanished. In the third book in the series, “Blind Sided” they are asked to investigate the provenance of a 100 year old painting.  

Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?

Years ago I read a book about an adopted girl who finds her birth mother. The mother was by then married and had two more children. She had never told her husband about the first child. The story stayed with me and became the central idea for the first client. Cara Summerfield, who comes to the PI agency in “The Blind Switch,” wants them to find her birth son.     

Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?

The major theme in the story concerns a young couple, Tracey and Danny, who are struggling to afford to buy a home. Tracey is a beautician. Danny is a thoroughbred racehorse trainer and he gets in trouble with gambling when trying to get enough money together to make a down payment on the house.

I see many young people struggling with rising costs of living today. Many turn to drugs or drink because of the stress. There are always consequences. Danny gets beat up by some thugs who collect gambling debts. I feel sorry for young people who must live on the edge if they don’t have college degrees. And the rising cost of higher education is criminal.  

How do you create your characters? Do you have favorite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?

Wayne Nichols, Dory Clarkson and PD Pascoe are characters my daughter Lisa and I created for the Mae December mystery series. We wrote those mysteries together under the penname of Lia Farrell.

Billy Jo Bradley is a new character for this series and I had fun creating her. I gave her a difficult life situation. Her mother recently died of cancer. Her father was never in the picture and in fact Billy Jo doesn’t know who he is. Her only other relative was her mother’s father, Hector, who died recently. Hector served in the Army during the Viet Nam War with PD Pascoe. When he was dying, he contacted PD and asked him to look out for Billy Jo. PD stepped up and found her, offered her a job and a place to live.   

I’m partial to Billy Jo because she’s much like me. I had a tough, poverty-stricken childhood, and am driven to achieve in life in part due to my hard-knocks background. Like Billy Jo, I also have had opportunities knock when I was on the edge. Billy Jo is grateful to PD for what he has done for her and loves him as a grandfather. She enjoys opera and listens to it because it helps her solve problems.

How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?

The setting for the novel is a small fictional town of Rosedale, Tennessee. It too was created for the Mae December mysteries. All I had to do for this new novel was to create a renovated house for the PI business. I gave Billy Jo an apartment upstairs in the house.

Everyone who writes mysteries is indebted to Agatha Christie. She is the Queen of the “cozy” or small town mystery. Rosedale, Tennessee is much like the little towns in Dame Christie’s mysteries where everyone knows everyone. The major source of information for solving small town crimes is always the “house to house” interviews. Although many times police report to colleagues that nobody saw or heard anything, this is never true. Somebody always knows something. It’s only a matter of tracking down the knowledgeable individual.  

What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?

I am fortunate to have in my extended family circle several people who are experts in their fields. I have an ER doctor, a high level police officer, a child psychologist, and I worked for years in the medical school where I encountered a wealth of stories.

In addition, I use the internet, although I am very careful to double check what I find. I also read widely, both fiction and non-fiction. And I love the streaming service called “Britbox” that carries all the old British mysteries.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?

“The Blind Switch” is the first traditionally published book I have written on my own without my daughter. It was both fun and challenging and I hope more than anything else that people will enjoy my story.

Thanks for answering my questions, Lyn, and good luck with The Blind Switch, the first book in Rosedale Investigations mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Lyn and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook page.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N – Kobo

About Lyn Farrell: Lynda J. Farquhar (penname Lyn Farrell) holds a master’s degree in English and a Ph.D. in Higher Education/Administration from Michigan State University. Prior to her retirement from MSU, she was a professor in the College of Human Medicine where she worked for 30+ years. When she retired, she returned to her first love, writing, and self-published a YA Trilogy, “Tales of the Skygrass Kingdom.” Subsequently, she and her daughter, Lisa Fitzsimmons, wrote a 7-book mystery series, “The Mae December Mysteries,” published by Camel Press under their joint penname, Lia Farrell. Marketing efforts for the Mae December mysteries, as well as much work by Camel on subsidiary rights, deal with Harlequin, have resulted in sales of 22,000+ (to date) for the series. She is now writing a new mystery series, “Rosedale Investigations.” The first is titled, “The Blind Switch” and was released in January 2021.

Posted in April 2021, Archives | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Fog Ladies Family Matters

Today Enid Carmichael is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Fog Ladies Family Matters, the latest novel in the San Francisco Cozy Murder Mystery series.

Welcome, Enid. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

I’m Enid Carmichael, and I’m eighty years old when The Fog Ladies cozy murder mystery series starts. I’m the oldest Fog Lady, more than half a century older than Sarah, the young doctor-in-training who lives in our building. We all live together in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco that is even older than me. Sarah is not very suspicious, probably because she doesn’t have our life experience. She’s a Fog Lady, though, and we Fog Ladies stick together, solving crimes and meeting murderers. In The Fog Ladies: Family Matters, we get to meet lady killer who supposedly hacked up her husband with a machete-like blade they used to trim the hedges. What a woman!

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?

Writer? What writer? I am in sole control of my destiny. In Book 1, the “writer” had no idea that I would get addicted to Starbucks lattes and steal my neighbors’ newspaper coupons to get more. Or that I would end up almost dead in the ICU. How did I survive? That’s the “writer’s” problem, not mine. In Book 2, though, I would have liked more time with the actual murderer. Why does everything interesting in the book have to happen to goody-two-shoes Francis Noonan?

How did you evolve as the main character?

Interesting question. One major theme of The Fog Ladies: Family Matters  is something the killer said. People never change. Well, holier-than-thou Harriet Flynn has had a complete transformation. And Alma Gordon has found love at age seventy-five. What is she thinking? Sarah’s not the cowed young thing she once was. Frances Noonan inexplicably started baking her molasses cookies again, and she hasn’t made those since her husband of forty years, Bill, died. But me? The world has changed enough. Why should I?

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?

We are the Fog Ladies, and you can count on us like you can count on early morning San Francisco fog burning off by midday. We are five ladies of a certain age, joining forces as each woman became a widow, plus me, divorced, plus that young doctor I told you about. We are invincible.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?

We live in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco, where we know everything about everyone and there are no secrets, especially from me with my apartment perched above the front door. In Book 1, our building is a little too cozy, with a killer among us and nowhere to hide. In Book 2, we venture farther out, to a worn-out women’s prison in central California to meet the lady killer and to a family resort on the rugged California coast near Big Sur.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?

I’ve been called a busybody and a lush, but who else is protecting us night and day from dark forces that lurk inside and out? Hmm? Hmm? Darn tootin’ good thing we have a crusader for safety in our building. I see a man walking back and forth on the sidewalk outside. I can see him from my window, but he can’t see me. I checked. He’s up to no good, I can tell. Could he be our killer? Then there’s the celebrity lawyer. Alma Gordon is in love with him and his slick ways and shiny hair. Little does she know this man is not what he appears on television. And what about the family resort? Could nefarious types hide there? I may be the most suspicious Fog Lady, but someone has to be. Because in The Fog Ladies: Family Matters, a young mother’s life depends on it.

Thank you for answering my questions, Enid, and good luck to you and your author, Susan McCormick, with The Fog Ladies Family Matters, the latest book in the San Francisco Cozy Murder Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Enid and her author, Susan McCormick by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub, and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – B&N 

About Susan McCormick: Susan is a writer and doctor who lives in Seattle. She graduated from Smith College and George Washington University School of Medicine, with additional medical training in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, where she lived in an elegant apartment building much like the one in the book. Susan served as a doctor in the U.S. Army for nine years before moving to the Pacific Northwest and civilian practice as a gastroenterologist. In addition to the Fog Ladies series, she also wrote Granny Can’t Remember Me, a lighthearted picture book about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and The Antidote, a timely middle grade medical fantasy released May 2021. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two sons. She loves giant dogs and has loved an English Mastiff, Earl, and two Newfoundlands, Edward and Albert.

Posted in April 2021, Archives | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The Corpse Who Knew Too Much

Today Debra Sennefelder is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Corpse Who Knew Too Much, the latest novel in the Food Blogger mystery series.

Welcome, Debra. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

THE CORPSE WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is the fourth book in the Food Blogger mystery series featuring Hope Early who writes the food blog, Hope at Home. A high school friend, who now how hosts a true crime podcast, returns to Jefferson determined to find out what happened to her mother twenty years ago. Joyce Markham disappeared without a trace. Devon asks for Hope’s help. When Devon disappears, Hope realizes her friend had gotten too close to a killer and she’s determined to find justice for Devon and her mother.

Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?

It came from my interest in true crime podcasts and cold cases.

Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?

There are a couple of things I love to explore in my books and they are relationships and the theory that you never really know someone. I’ve always been fascinated by those subjects. The dynamics of various relationships, how people put on a façade for the public while in private they are different, the secrets people keep buried so deeply no one would ever guess it. Fascinating.

How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?

Sometimes it feels that I meet my characters rather than create them because they come to me pretty much fully formed.

How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?

I feel it’s the characters that bring Jefferson (the fictional town in the Food Blogger series) to life.

What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?

I don’t do a lot of research for the Food Blogger books. Instead, I do a lot of recipe testing. I also keep up-to-date on blogging so that I can write Hope authentically. A lot has changed with blogging since I was a food blogger.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?

I’d like readers to know that I enjoyed putting Hope in a situation that she was very uncomfortable with but she found a way to make the moment her own. When you read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Thank you for answering my questions, Debra, and good with The Corpse Who Knew Too Much, the latest book in the Food Blogger mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Debra by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook and Instagram pages.

The novel is available online at the following retailers:

Amazon – Barnes & Noble –  Kensington – Kobo – Google Play

About Debra Sennefelder: Debra is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery.

Her first novel, THE UNINVITED CORPSE (A Food Blogger mystery) was published in 2018. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person.

Born and raised in New York City, where she majored in her hobby of fashion buying, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in retail and publishing before becoming a full-time author. Her writing companion is her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih Tzu, Connie.

Posted in April 2021 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son

Today Tootsie is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son, the latest novel in the Becks Ruchinsky mystery series.

Welcome, Tootsie. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

Thanks, Bud, for having me here. I’m Tootsie and my daughter, Becks, thinks she’s the protagonist, but she don’t know nothing. Tries to foist me off as her sidekick. This writer broad, Joan Lipinsky Cochran, included me in her Becks Ruchinsky Murder Mystery series because she knows what’s good for her. Last book, The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter, is about Becks search into my past as a member of the Jewish mafia. Claims it nearly cost her life.  The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son is about the murder of a Hasidic kid Becks told her son she’d protect … and blew it. Found him floating in a canal and had to go gallivanting off to secretive Hasidic communities and into the South Beach night club scene to find the killer.

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?

Like I said, this writer broad knows what’s good for her and if I want to take over and go in my own direction, so be it.

How did you evolve as the main character?

Okay, maybe I’m not the main character. But I should be.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?

Finally, the old man lets me talk. I’m Becks and, to tell you the truth, I never know what’s going to come out of Tootsie’s mouth. So that’s fun … usually. He’s got a lot of connections, some of them not so nice, in Miami so he’s helpful there. Plus he’s smart and determined and occasionally provides some useful advice. My friend Maya’s a sexpot/private eye so she’s great at digging up information –mostly through her databases and police buddies – and has the savvy and charm when I need her to hit the club scene. I’m a former investigative reporter working as a food and cookbook writer. I keep stumbling over murders that the police claim are accidents.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?

My husband, Daniel, just moved back in after a one-year separation and we’re working that out. He’s not that thrilled with my detecting and I’m not that thrilled with his trying to tell me how to live my life. My son Gabe’s getting along better, despite his Asperger’s syndrome, which is why I couldn’t disappoint him when he asked me to shelter his Hasidic friend.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?

It was tough breaching the Hasidic community and much of what I learned there challenged my basic belief systems concerning religion. My son, on the other hand, dove right in, growing sideburns and praying around the clock like the friend who was murdered.

Thank you for answering my questions, Tootsie and Becks, and good luck to you and your author, Joan Lipinsky Cochrane, with The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son, the latest book in the Becks Ruchinsky mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Tootsie and Becks and their author, Joan Lipinsky Cochrane by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available online at  Amazon

About Joan Lipinsky Cochran: Joan is a South Florida-based writer whose crime and mystery novels focus on subcultures of American Judaism. In her latest novel, The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son, her protagonist is compelled to explore the glitzy South Beach nightclub scene and the secretive world of Hasidic Judaism to find a killer. It is the second in The Becks Ruchinsky Mystery Series. The first, The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter, is the story of a woman whose world is upended – and life threatened – when she discovers her father was a member of the Jewish mafia.

Posted in Archives, March 2021 | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Final Harvest

Today Barbara Howard is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Final Harvest, her first novel in the Finding Home mystery series.

Welcome, Barbara. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

Final Harvest is Book One of the 3-part Finding Home Mystery Series. It is about Traci Simmons who has been fired from another job and must decide if it’s time to give up her home and start fresh in another town. But, when her elderly neighbor dies mysteriously, she is pulled into leading a crusade to save the neighbor’s urban farm and find the killer. Through her new and unexpected relationship with these invisible people, Traci faces her own insecurities to learn what home really means. The story continues in the third and fourth books in the series as Traci and her boyfriend are the target of the killer’s revenge and they finally discover who has been behind all the terrible events.

Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?  

I was inspired by my observations and the people in the different cities and towns where I have lived and how they felt about family and community.

Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it? 

Yes, the backdrop to the story involves homelessness and coping with anxiety and how much strength it takes for some people to achieve what others may consider simple milestones in life. I think we could all be kinder.

How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?

My characters evolve as I throw them into conflict throughout the plot. Randall Wells is a favorite of mine because I am very protective of the important people in my life. By the third book in the series, Milo’s Journey, Jules is my favorite because her quiet presence she inspires Milo to make one of the biggest decisions in his life. The librarian is the true hero in Final Harvest, as many are in real life.

How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?

I have mental snapshots of towns where I’ve travelled, and I also have old photographs. I give names to all the streets, neighborhoods, stores, schools, etc. There are sounds, landmarks and landscapes that place the reader in the exact spot.

What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?

I contact experts when developing characters; law enforcement, military vets, and sportsmen to help me along with sensitivity readers. I mentioned in book two, Charlotte’s Revenge that someone was holding a fish in a photo. I called a fisherman to ask about what type it should be. The conversation lasted over an hour. It’s a small detail but that didn’t matter. Accuracy is important to me.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?

I hope you enjoy meeting Traci Simmons and the family she builds around her life. I think she’s pretty special.

Thanks for answering my questions, Barbara, and good luck with Final Harvest, the first book in the Finding Home Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Barbara and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook, Goodreads and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available online at  Amazon 

About Barbara Howard:  Barbara is a “not-so-cozy” mystery and YA author of a dozen books, including her most recent trilogy, Finding Home Mystery Series; Final Harvest, Charlotte’s Revenge, and Milo’s Journey. She is a first-generation tech geek turned master gardener with a passion for fresh air, vegan cuisine, and tracing her roots. A big city girl with a small town heart, she returned to her family home in the Midwest after an extensive career as a Department of Defense Project Manager at the Pentagon and spends most of her time treasure hunting, spoiling her fur-babies, growing veggies, and raising chickens.

Posted in Archives, March 2021 | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The Disappearance of Emily

Today Hayden Caldwell is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Disappearance of Emily, the latest novel in the Destiny Falls Mystery and Magic series.

Welcome, Hayden. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

The Destiny Falls Mystery and Magic series is the story of my life. I thought I was a normal person from a small family, living a normal, happy life in Seattle. Little did I know I had an entire family living in an enchanted community that is only accessed through a magical mirror. The first book in the series, Falling into Magic, tells the story of how I landed in Destiny Falls and the dangerous villain who followed me. Don’t worry – it all ends well! Book 2 delves into the history of my mother, Emily, who disappeared two days after my birth. There is a tie between her disappearance and Destiny Falls that I never knew – that nobody knew, and I need to sort through that mystery to protect my entire new family.

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?

The author thinks she knows what’s going to happen, but she’s often totally surprised by an interesting twist that occurs. Sometimes it’s as much a mystery to her as it is to me.

How did you evolve as the main character?

When you are hurled through a magical portal into a place that’s not on any map, you’d better get serious really quick. I had to adapt and adjust everything I ever thought was true about me and the world. When a strange person is threatening you and your family, you need to step up and find courage and ingenuity that you never know you had. I’ve changed more in the past few months than in my previous twenty-six years.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?

I’ve always loved my Himalayan cat, Sassy, but now she’s become so much more than a pet. Now she’s a partner, side-kick, and friend. That’s what happens when your cat can suddenly communicate with you. (And she asked me to mention that she now is to be called Princess Latifa. She always thought the name Sassy was rude…)

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
I’d need a whole book to explain Destiny Falls to you! This town is a character all its own. Oh, not like “a charming little town with character” – I mean, it’s like a CHARACTER. Places change or move around according to your need – if the town deems it necessary. There are enchanted buildings with secrets and surroundings that change over the days, years, and centuries. Oh, and the local library is one of the most magical places you’ll ever visit. It’s what every library wants to be when it grows up. There are mysteries and delights around every corner.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
I hope you’ll come visit me in Destiny Falls. People say once they come here, they never want to leave. Oh, but you CAN leave when you’re done. Even though I can’t. But that’s a long story for another day…

Thank you for answering my questions, Hayden, and good luck to you and your author, Elizabeth Pantley, with The Disappearance of Emily, the latest book in the Destiny Falls Mystery and Magic series.

Readers can learn more about Hayden and her author, Elizabeth Pantley, by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest pages.

The novel is available online at  Amazon

About Elizabeth Pantley: Elizabeth is the international bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents. Her books have been published in over twenty languages. She lives near Seattle and is the mother of four and nana to one. This is her first work of fiction.

Posted in Archives, March 2021 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

What a combination: Tragedy and Truffles

Today Amy Flowers is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Truffles and Tragedy, the latest novel in the Down South Café mystery series.

Welcome, Amy. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

Hi, there. I’m Amy Flowers, and I live inside the Down South Café. My current residence is a book called TRUFFLES AND TRAGEDY. The series began when I bought the café from my hateful, skinflint of a former boss—actually, I bought if from her son after she died. Did I mention I’m the one who found her murdered in her office? No? Well, yeah…that happened. TRUFFLES AND TRAGEDY is my sixth adventure so far.

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?

The writer likes to think she controls everything, but I and my friends also get a say. Sometimes we even have to point her in the right direction of the killer—she goes off on tangents sometimes, and we can see that she’s getting ready to accuse the wrong person. But, hey, she only writes the story—she doesn’t live it like we do—so we cut her some slack.

How did you evolve as the main character?

I feel like I’m maturing all the time. When I first bought the café, I was pretty scared. I hadn’t been out of culinary school for long, my nana had died, and I wanted to do something to make her proud. I still suffer from some insecurities—that’s painfully obvious when I look back at TRUFFLES AND TRAGEDY—but I’m coming into my own as someone my family and friends can rely on.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?

I love sharing the story with my boyfriend, Ryan, and my cousin, Jackie. I love spending time with my mom and Aunt Bess, of course, but I tend to spend more time with Ryan and Jackie. Ryan is wonderful, and I feel confident and happy that he and I will have a future together. Jackie is not only my cousin, but she’s also my best friend; and she works with me at the café. I offered her a partnership once, but she wants to follow her own dreams.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?

In a word, homey. The café offers down-home cooking and a warm, hospitable atmosphere. Winter Garden is a tiny town. In fact, there’s only one other restaurant, and it’s a pizza parlor. The town is bucolic and beautiful. I grew up here, and there’s nowhere I’d rather live.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?

Just that I hope they’ll like it! Thank you for hosting me here on your blog! I’ll have to tell Aunt Bess about it—she’s in her early 80s, and she loves the internet.

Thank you for answering my questions, Amy, and good luck to you and your author, Gayle Leeson, with Truffles and Tragedy, the latest book in the Down South Café mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Amy and her author, Gayle Leeson by visiting the author’s Amazon Author page and her Facebook, Goodreads, and Bookbub pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available online at  Amazon 

About Gayle Leeson: Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. Gayle has also written as Amanda Lee and Gayle Trent. Going forward, Gayle intends to keep her writing under the Gayle Leeson name. She lives with her beautiful family in the hills of Southwest Virginia.

Posted in Archives, March 2021 | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

All That Shines

Today Sage Miller is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about All That Shines, the latest novel in the Glitter Bay mystery series.

Welcome, Sage. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

I’m Sage Miller. I run Vintage Sage, a gently used clothing store in Glitter Bay, Oregon hence the name Glitter Bay Mysteries. I started my shop five years ago in a hole-in-the-wall location. This year my sister, direct from L.A., has joined my staff. Laken is a former supermodel who left the industry–and her jerk of a movie star husband–when she found out she had cancer. We live together in our Grandma Sadie’s former home, as well as working together in my store and solving mysteries.

All That Shines, is our second adventure. My wonderful sister decided to host a fashion show as a grand opening for our new location of Vintage Sage. Between renovating and moving, my stress level was already at an all time high. I was not amused to learn my darling sister hired a Hollywood fashion designer to help us set up the new store. Not only did he show up in the middle of renovations, but he dragged along his protégé.

Then I found Sebastian Hayward III dead. In MY store.

Suddenly half of Los Angeles—all unwelcome guests from Laken’s past—appeared in Vintage Sage. It seemed Sebastian had something they all wanted and it ended up in my store. As much as I didn’t like Sebastian, his friends were worse. I had to solve his murder so I could get rid of them all. Oh, and did I mention Laken roped me into taking part in a fashion show? I swear, my entire life hit an all-time low! I’m no fashion model. I’m a behind the scenes girl!

All That Sparkles, our first adventure, was Laken’s welcome to Glitter Bay. What do a trunk full of vintage clothes, a handsome land developer, and a fifty year old diamond heist have in common? Laken Miller receives a trunk full of expensive vintage clothing and a stack of newspaper clippings about a fifty-year old diamond heist. Now all she has to do is figure out who murdered Tilly San Vicente before the killer silences her as well.

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?

I have to say, Diane is pretty good about listening to us, especially when we demand for something to happen a certain way. If she doesn’t listen when we do the rough draft, one of us can usually get her attention during edits. Of course, if it’s something she doesn’t agree with, she tends to write us into tight spots to see what we do next.

The whole thing with Hamlet and Sebastian showing up made me so upset, but I guess it gave me motivation to solve the mystery so I could get rid of all the riff-raff that showed up afterward.

On the upside, I didn’t expect to meet someone like Quinn Evans. I also didn’t expect I’d like Andy as much as I do.

How did you evolve as the main character?

In All That Sparkles, I was living my best life. Morning yoga, riding my bike everywhere, and seeing this great guy named Jonathan. Then live threw me a few curveballs. Things with Jonathan did not work out. My sister bought “us” a bigger building that overlooked the ocean. Then she brought in Sebastian and his sidekick. At least in all of that, I got to know Andy better, but I’m still wary about his intentions. I don’t have a great track record with men.

All That Shines, just isn’t about pretty things. It also reflects our lives. How we tend to live small and keep to ourselves a lot then suddenly something happens that cracks us open and our lives change. Mostly for the better. I’ve slowly come out of my cocoon, thanks to a little coaxing from my new best friend, Quinn. The funny thing is, I’ve helped her blossom at the same time.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?

You’re going to make me get sappy! Ugh! Okay. Of course I adore my sister Laken. She and I can be oil and vinegar, but she gets me. Most of the time. Okay, sometimes. To be honesty, I don’t know what I’d do without her. She pushes me out of my comfort zone in so many ways.

I wasn’t crazy about Hamlet when I first met him, but when he came out of the closet… Let’s just say if he was still Hamlet, I would’ve pushed him into a cab and shipped him off the first chance I got. When he came out as Quinn… I’m not giving it all away, but I think I found a kindred spirit.

And then there’s Andy. He’s a hunky paramedic with a heart of gold. How could I not be partial to him? He treats me like a princess even when I act like a troll. I really never thought I deserved someone like him, but I’m starting to enjoy it.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?

If you mean a physical place, Glitter Bay is a small coastal town. We have our own marina and a bakery that I adore. They even have vegetarian options thanks to me! I live in a quaint (yup, I’m going to use that word!) little house that used to belong to Grandma Sadie. She sold it to me when she moved to California to teach kids how to surf. The gardens aren’t what they used to be and Sebastian griped about a blind old lady doing the interior design, but it’s home.

Mentally, I was totally overwhelmed until the bitter end. Running Vintage Sage has been my lifelong dream. Moving it, was a nightmare. But, I have to admit, the new location is stunning and is a great showcase for all our clothing, jewelry and the twenty new mannequins… More on that in the book. Anyway, now that the dust has settled and Laken’s new apartment over the store is nearly done, I can breathe. I’m happy to report the new location has also brought us a lot more customers. Right now, I couldn’t be happier.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?

I really don’t want to give away a whole lot, but I learn a lot about myself and other people in this adventure. Despite finding a dead body, dealing with the egos of designers and actors (and my sister!), and painting more walls than I ever had, it was a lot of fun. There was good and bad, but the big finale of the fashion show made up for it all!

I’m also allowed to say we will be back in at least one more adventure. All That Glitters will be next on the list. I’m a bit afraid. I have no idea what sorts of adventures we’ll be thrust into next!

I hope you read all about us. We’ve all had a great time telling our story!

Thank you for answering my questions, Sage, and good luck to you and your author, Diane Bator, with All That Shines, the latest book in the Glitter Bay mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Sage and her author, Diane Bator by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub, Instagram, Fresh Fiction and Pinterest pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N – Kobo

About Diane Bator: Diane is the author of several mystery novels—and series. She’s a member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime Toronto, International Thriller Writers and the Writers Union of Canada. When she’s not writing, she works in a small, professional theatre which will one day be subjected to immortality in a whole new series.

Posted in Archives, March 2021 | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments