A Side of Murder

Today Samantha (Sam) Barnes is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about A Side of Murder, the first novel in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series.

Welcome, Sam. 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.

My name is Samantha Barnes (Sam to my friends), and at the moment I’m living inside a novel called A Side of Murder.  I never intended to live in a book that had “murder” in the title.  I just wanted to go back home to Cape Cod and lie low for a bit while my YouTube notoriety died down (long story, two chefs, one of them me, one my ex-husband, both with chefs knives, you get the picture).  Next thing I know, I’m living in this Cape Cod Foodie series and falling over dead bodies right and left.  And then finding out whodunit.  That part’s kind of fun, I have to admit.  And there are other benefits.  There’s my charming hometown of Fair Harbor, population, 6,798. Actually, 6,797.  Now.

But it’s not all murder and mayhem. There’s sailing on Crystal Bay.  And writing restaurant reviews and food features for the Cape Cod Clarion.  What’s not to like about free food?  Unless, of course, it comes with a side of murder…

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

We have our little disagreements, but she’s the boss, you know?  For instance, just because I stand six foot one inch in my stocking feet, she thinks I’m brave.  She sends me out to confront killers!  I mean, what kind of friend does that?  But she also knows my heart is sore, so she has provided me with a love interest in the form of a pretty hot harbor master, Jason Captiva. Unfortunately, Jason and I have some history to work through, so all is not smooth sailing (pun intended).  And she gave me a ginormous puppy, for Pete’s sake. I never wanted a dog.  Or the falling down house that he came with.  And then she goes and writes it in the first person (in other words, AS ME), so it sounds like all this was my big idea!

How did you evolve as the main character?

Well, my writer was once a restaurant reviewer in New York and she’s always had friends in the restaurant business, so she knows food and she knows that world. And she is still a total foodie. But life took her in other (wonderful) directions, and I sometimes think creating yours truly was her way of imagining what the road not taken might have been like.  But equally important, she’s an unapologetic cheerleader for Cape Cod, and she needed someone like me to help her bring paradise to life.

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

Oh, yeah, I have THE BEST other characters in the history of cozies (in my humble opinion).  I have my BFF since we were Minnows together in swimming lessons, Jenny Singleton, who comes with three boys whose names I can never remember so I just call them Thing One, Thing Two and Thing Three.  And there’s my organic farmer buddy, Miles Tanner, who looks exactly like the overgrown five-year-old he is.  If five-year-olds had big, bushy lumberjack beards.

But best of all is my new next door neighbor, Helene Greenberg, a sixty-ish librarian with a mane of silver curls, rings on every finger and a wardrobe that seems to be made entirely of scarves.  I just LOVE Helene.  She has amazing insights into people (and into me, which can be uncomfortable because she also says exactly what she thinks). 

And in defense of the aforementioned ginormous puppy, despite my best efforts, we are now attached at the hip.  And I couldn’t be more grateful.

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

It’s probably easiest to describe Fair Harbor the way I do in the actual book:

Fair Haven, when I was growing up, was very much a small town.  It had grown, of course, since I’d left, but it still maintained its old-fashioned charm, with Nelson’s grocery store, Livingston’s pharmacy, Karen’s Penny Candy, the Shear Beauty hair salon and Taylor’s Department Store all lined up like cheerful soldiers along Main Street.

The town is clustered around the shores of Crystal Bay.  You know how Oprah is always asking people what their one true thing is?  Well, this is my one true thing:  Crystal Bay is the most gloriously beautiful body of water in the world.  On a crisp mid-May morning, dazzled by the sunlight sparkling on its deep blue waters, entranced by the new green mantling its small, uninhabited islands, taking great breaths of the fresh salt breeze, one could be forgiven for thinking that this was what the dawn of the world had looked like.

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

Well, I do think it’s important to point out that even though this is a murder mystery, it’s also very much about food, friends and family.  Cooking for and sharing a meal with people you love is, in my opinion, one of life’s great gifts.  And my writer cannot wait until we can all do that again.

Thank you for answering my questions, Sam, and good luck to you and your author, Amy Pershing, with A Side of Murder, the first book in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Sam and her author, Amy Pershing by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads and Instagram pages.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Bookshop.org – Books A Million – Indiebound – Target – Hudson Booksellers – Powells

About Amy Pershing: Amy is a lifelong mystery lover and wordsmith who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod. In her previous incarnations she was an assistant editor at Viking Penguin, a restaurant reviewer for Playbill magazine’s Restaurant Reporter, and a journalist at the Rome (Italy) Daily American before eventually going on to lead employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago (with the final college tuition bill paid), she waved goodbye to Wall Street in order to write full time (and spend more time sailing on Cape Cod!). A Side of Murder is the first book in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series featuring Samantha Barnes, a disgraced but resilient ex-chef and the world’s most reluctant YouTube star. While Sam tries to balance her new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie” with her complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends, a falling-down house and a ginormous puppy, she also discovers a new talent – a propensity for falling over dead bodies … and for solving crime.

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

The Hiker’s Guide to Murder

Today Jodi Linton is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Hiker’s Guide to Murder, the latest novel in the Soutwest Exposure mystery series.

Welcome, Jodi. 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 Hiker’s Guide to Murder is the second book in my Southwest Exposure Mystery Series. The book follows outdoors guide Andie Sullivan after she stumbles on a dead body while on a hike with her brother. In this book, Andie is pitted against her friend, the sheriff, as they race to uncover the truth about the killer. As to the series, it follows Andie, an outdoors guide, in New Mexico and various crime cases as she tries to keep her mountain community and tourist safe.

Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from? I recently went on a hike with my husband and kids, and before it was over my kids were whining that if we didn’t stop now, they’d die. So, that’s how I got the idea for a hiking murder case. Lol.

Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it? Proving a person’s worth. I have this tug-of-war between Andie and Sheriff Mars, and in this particular book, I wanted them both to show their value in each other’s life. That neither can survive or do their job without the other. 

How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them? When I’m thinking about characters, I think about what type of job they’ll have, and from there I create the plot and side characters around them. At the moment, my favourite character is Sheriff Zac Mars. He’s fun to write, with his wit and drive to get Andie to see he’s the only person for her, despite their age difference.

How do you bring to life the place you are writing about? I like to choose places I’ve been or live around to help me bring to life the location. If I’ve visited or even lived in the area, I get a better sense of the location and can describe it.

What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel? For the Southwest Exposure Mysteries, I vacation in the area I fictionalized for my series. We normally spend at least three to four trips in the mountains at various times throughout the year.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book? It’s an adventurous, whodunnit in the mountains, with a splash of romance. And it has chipmunks.

Thanks for answering my questions, Jodi, and good luck with The Hiker’s Guide to Murder, the latest book in theSouthwest Exposure Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Jodi and her writing by visiting her website and Jodi’s Book Corner, as well as her Bookbub and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available online at Amazon

From Jodi Linton: I’m just a girl from Texas, minus the big hair…and oh, yeah, a horse. My crew consists of two kiddos, one which inherited my makeup addiction, and a husband still living out his garage band dreams, but in our closet next to my shoe collection.

I love to hang out with my readers, discussing books, recipes and just everyday shenanigans. I got started in the romance community, which you might know a few of my books from there. Now, I’m all about the cozies…and the coffee. Yeah, can’t forget that.

I’d love for you to come and join my reader group, Jodi’s Book Corner or come like me on Facebook to discover my books. And chat. Naturally.

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

Hiss H for Homicide

Today Nick, the cat, is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Hiss H for Homicide, the latest novel in the Nick and Nora mystery series.

Welcome, Nick. 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.

Nick the cat:  Meow, yes, HISS H FOR HOMICIDE is the fourth in the Nick and Nora mystery series.  My human, Nora Charles is an ex-investigaive reporter who returns to her hometown of Cruz, California, to run her deceased  mother’s sandwich shop.  She adopts me, a tubby tuxedo cat who formerly belonged to a PI who right now is MIA.  I help her solve  mysteries by communicating with her via my favorite toy, Scrabble Tiles. In Hiss H for Homicide Nora and I try to clear Desiree, her mother’s friend and a romance writer, of murdering her writing partner who was going off on her own with a steamy tell-all!

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

Well, the writer thinks she controls it but I have to tell you, once I get started detecting I just cannot be stopped!  Call it feline intuition, meow.

How did you evolve as the main character?

Nora and I both share the spotlight as main characters, but I have to admit I have a bit of an edge. After all, I’m cool, I’m cute, and I’m a cat. What more could anyone ask?

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

I really like Ollie – Oliver Sampson, my former owner’s partner.  He’s what humans refer to as a ‘cool cat’. I also like Chantal, Nora’s bestie. She’s the one who encouraged Nora to adopt me.  I do hate, though, when she wants to try out her new cat collars that she designs on me!  I’m just not a cat who likes to be confined by anything!

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

I am usually the one who figures everything out—it’s that feline intuition, remember—and the ways I communicate my findings to Nora are prevalent throughout the book.

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

Fans have asked for more of this series since Penguin discontinued it in 2016 and four years later, thanks to Beyond the Page, Nick and Nora are back!!!  and, I hope, better than ever.  I hope fans will agree it was worth the wait.

Thank you for answering my questions, Nick, and good luck to you and your author, T.C. LoTempio, with Hiss H for Homicide, the latest book in the Nick and Nora mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Nick and his author, T.C. LoTempio by visiting the author’s website, her Facebook page and Rocco’s blog.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N – KOBO – Google Play

About T.C. LoTempio: While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic.  She and her cat pen the Nick and Nora mystery series originally from Berkley Prime Crime and now with Beyond the Page Publishing.  They also write the Cat Rescue series from Crooked Lane and the Pet Shop series, originally published by Midnight Ink and continued in 2021 with book two, KILLERS OF A FEATHER, from Beyond the Page.

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

Meet Maizie Albright Star Detective

Today Maizie Albright is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about 18 ½ Disguises, the latest novel in the Maizie Albright Star Detective mystery series.

Welcome, Maizie. 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 live inside a novel? As far as I know, I live in Black Pine, Georgia.

I used to live in Hollywood, although we’d moved around whenever Vicki —  my ex-manager/still-mother — wanted new digs, but it was always in the LA area: Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills, Malibu. But now I live in Black Pine, Georgia, a lake resort town in the North Georgia Mountains. Black Pine was created by rich Southerns and rich carpetbaggers looking for the Gilded Age version of air conditioning — fresh mountain air. The lake came later during the WPA when they also wanted a lake view for their mountain homes and a place to park their baby yachts.

There are still rich people who resort in Black Pine, but now many of them are from Hollywood like me. However, they are here because the industry moved many studios and filming locations to Georgia where the taxes, land, and labor are cheaper and you still get good weather most of the year.

I moved to Black Pine because that’s where I was born and where my father still lives. Also because a nice judge told me I couldn’t stay in California.

Nine months ago, I moved to Georgia and approached Wyatt Nash of Nash Security Solutions about giving me a job. He was the only private investigator in town, and I had ten days to get a job in something that had nothing to do with the entertainment industry. This was also part of my probation by Judge Ellis. I had starred in Julia Pinkerton, Teen Detective when I was younger and loved acting as a detective. Now I wanted the chance to become one as a second career.

That’s where we began. With me asking (begging) Wyatt Nash to hire me. Then me losing the woman our client asked him to watch.

That episode, I mean case, is called 15 Minutes.

Nash and I progressed from there. From mentor-mentee to dating. He refused to date me while we worked together. Fortunately/unfortunately, he lost his business and I now work for someone else.

I’m also a much better investigator now. So much so, I’m on my first independent case. Mainly because I found my murdered friend, a costume designer.  Unfortunately, I had my other friend with me when we found her and she demanded I find this killer before they find her.

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

The only person who’s had control over me was Vicki, my ex-manager/still-mother. To be fair, I was a child actress and she’s the Queen of Negotiations. I’m more like a Princess of Non-Confrontation and as such, easily subject to her.

How did you evolve as the main character?

My ex-therapist Renata and I have worked very hard at my evolution into a self-actualized, self-assured woman. I’m still working on it. Getting out of Hollywood helped. Getting out of my contracts with Vicki really helped, although I still technically work for her. I’d say with each case (now I’m on number 7) I’ve grown as an individual and as an investigator. My relationship with Nash is growing, too.

Also my waist size but that’s because I now live in Georgia and saturated fats are kind of a way of life here.

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

Wyatt Nash of Nash Security Solutions, of course. He’s my original boss and now we’re dating so he still gives me advice and helps me on cases. Lamar, an ex-cop who owns the donut shop that houses Nash Security Solutions, is usually around to give me advice, too. Lamar also gives me donuts and hugs, which I like even better.

My two Black Pine besties, Tiffany and Rhonda, work at LA HAIR, but I see them not only as stylists but as my Black Pine life coaches. They like to “keep it real” which can be painful, but pain is good for the soul, right?

Vicki, my ex-manager/still-mother, is always somewhere nearby. Usually, a whiff of Chanel No. 5 alerts me to her presence because it tends to make my stomach clench.

And I live with my father and his family, including my six-year-old half-sister Remi, so they’re usually around, too. Daddy is the founder and CEO of DeerNose, the hunting apparel company. Unique to the fashion world because the fabric is scented. Scented with deer pee, which makes it even more unique. Unfortunately.

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

The story begins in my old friend, Lorena Cortez’s, adorable bungalow in historic downtown Black Pine. Lorena is a retired costume designer, and when I was in high school, we worked together on the set of Julia Pinkerton, Teen Detective. My friend Rhonda and I walked over from the Queen Anne home next door to bring Lorena to her new charitable foundation’s kick-off event, a masquerade gala.

Unfortunately, Lorena never made it to the gala.

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

I hope they enjoy my seventh case! Thanks so much for having me here!

You’re welcome, and thank you for answering my questions, Maizie. Good luck to you and your author, Larissa Reinhart, with 18 ½ Disguises, the latest book in the Maizie Albright Star Detective mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Maizie and her author, Larissa Reinhart by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub and Pinterest pages.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Kobo

About Larissa Reinhart: A Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Larissa writes the award-winning Cherry Tucker Mystery, Maizie Albright Star Detective, and Finley Goodhart Crime Caper series. She loves to tell funny stories about women, looking for love (and dead bodies) in all the wrong places.

Larissa, her family, and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit, lived in Nagoya, Japan, but have returned to Peachtree City, Georgia. You can see them on HGTV’s House Hunters International “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya” episode. Larissa loves books, food, and traveling with her family. You can often see her adventures on Instagram (and her little dog, too).

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

Caught up in the Rhino Charge

Today Rose Hardie is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Rhino Charge, the latest novel in the Kenya Kanga mystery series.

Welcome, Rose. 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, I’m Rose Hardie although I’m known as ‘Mama Rose’ in the Kenya Kanga Mystery series and in my local community. 

Rhino Charge involves my third investigation.  I thought I was taking a break, from my part-time role as a community vet, to officiate at the Rhino Charge event and I didn’t expect to get caught up in another murder. 

The Rhino Charge event is a 4×4 off-road team fundraising competition and this year it was held in Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

I’ve attended the event for many years with my husband Craig, and I was disappointed that this time he was too ill to accompany me.  But a young friend, Chloe Collins, volunteered to join me as an official.

Another friend, Thabiti, a young African man, had also been offered a place in one of the teams, as a mechanic, so I was excited to see how he fared. 

Unfortunately, it all went wrong and during the event and Thabiti’s driver, and team captain, was injured when his vehicle crashed.  He later died.

When it looked like Thabiti was going to be blamed for the driver’s death myself and Chloe, along with some other friends at the event, set out to clear his name.  This we did, but with rather distressing results.  It amazes me that even at my age—65 if you must know—I’m still learning about human nature.

As I said, this was my third case.  I initially became involved in a murder investigation when Thabiti asked me to help solve his mother’s death.  She had been a good friend of mine although something happened which drove us apart.  I wish we could have resolved matters properly before she died.  Anyway, we solved that case and it was written up in Fowl Murder.

My second case is documented in Tusk Justice, the second book in the Kenya Kanga Mystery series.  It occurred during a wildlife conference and summit about protecting African elephants.  One of the principle speakers was stabbed to death.  I helped a young police constable solve that particular crime as her boss, Commissioner Akida, was tied up in Nairobi.

I hope I can take a break from solving crimes for a while as I want to spend some more time with Craig, who really isn’t very well.

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

I know Victoria struggled with writing this story.  Since she finished Tusk Justice, she launched the series, home-schooled her children, and moved house and country, from the UK to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The story involves a lot of characters and two rival Rhino Charge teams so getting them all straight in her head, and clearly written onto paper, took some time and a lot of revision.  Once she knew where the story was heading, I was able to have my say on the story details and how it evolved.

How did you evolve as the main character?

It was during my first investigation into the death of Thabiti’s mother, Aisha.  Thabiti is a nervous young man and he finds it very hard to approach people, particularly strangers, to speak to them and ask questions.  I was happy to do this and we solved his mother’s murder.

I have to admit, I’m rather nosy and I have been accused of listening into other people’s conversations.   But I love to work out why people do what they do and piece together snippets of seemingly meaningless or unimportant information. 

As for the cases is Tusk Justice and Rhino Charge, I just happened to be in the right place at the wrong time and was drawn into the mysteries.

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

I’m very lucky to have many great characters to share my story with, and we are becoming a competent detective team. 

There are Chloe and Thabiti, who I’ve already mentioned.  Chloe is rather glamourous and new to Kenya.  She finds our way of life rather baffling, but is determined to become part of the local community.  Thabiti had an issue at university and can’t decide whether or not to return.  He is becoming friendly with a young Indian girl, Marina, and hopefully the two of them can determine what to do with their lives.

Then there is my ‘guardian angel’, Sam Mwamba.  He is an officer in the Kenya Wildlife Service who works for Kenya’s anti-poaching unit.  I understand he does a lot of undercover work, but he always seems to turn up when there’s trouble brewing.  He has a clever and attractive girlfriend, Constable Wachira, who helped me solve the case in Tusk Justice.

In my hometown of Nanyuki there is Dr Emma who, as the only qualified vet, is technically my boss.  I help her with her many and varied animal patients.

Of course, I mustn’t forget my husband Craig, and what he lacks in mobility, he provides in common sense and support.  We were reunited with our son Chris in Tusk Justice, but he has returned to the UK.  I hope he will visit again soon.

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

Rhino Charge is set in Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Reserve.  Visitors flock to it in the hope of witnessing a herd of wildebeest cross the Mara River without being snapped up by waiting crocodiles.

The Mara is an area of savannah wilderness in the south-west corner of Kenya.  It borders Tanzania where it joins the much larger Serengeti National Park.

Unlike most designated wildlife areas in Kenya, the Mara is not a National Park so it is not overseen by the Kenya Wildlife Service.  At its cores is the Mara triangle, which is run as a non-profit organisation working with Maasai communities and local government.  Surrounding it are private conservancies where lodges and safari companies lease land from Maasai tribes.  It is one of these conservancies that Rhino Charge is set.

The beauty of the Mara, and the number and diversity of its animals, is under threat by pressure from the ever increasing human population on its borders.  Whilst the conservancies enforce strict grazing regimes, with their Maasai landowners, in the central Mara reserve thousands of cattle illegally enter at night.

The result is overgrazing, which leads to a reduction in wildlife numbers.  In addition, tribesmen have been known to retaliate against predators of their cattle.  Two of the lion stars of the BBC Documentary Big Cat Diary were poisoned and died.  The future of the area hangs in the balance.

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

If you like reading books to escape to exotic locations, and enjoy learning about different cultures and ways of life, then I believe you will enjoy the Kenya Kanga Mystery series.

Here are what other readers have said about Rhino Charge:

“A murder mystery with a lot of wonderful characters and a can’t put down plot.” ✭✭✭✭✭ Goodreads Reviewer

“This is an outstanding book in an already excellent series.” ✭✭✭✭✭ BookBub Reviewer

““I just love her books! I really like to take my time and savour every words. A wonderful mystery with real characters, the descriptive scenes it’s like being there.” ✭✭✭✭✭ Goodreads Reviewer

Thank you for answering my questions, Rose, and good luck to you and your author, Victoria Tait, with Rhino Charge, the latest book in the Kenya Kanga mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Rose and her author, Victoria Tait, by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest pages.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – B&N – Kobo

About Victoria Tait: Victoria is the author of the enchanting Kenya Kanga Mystery series.  She’s drawn on her 8 years of experience living in rural Kenya, with her family, to write vivid and evocative descriptions.  Her readers feel the heat, taste the dryness, and smell the dust of Africa.  Her elderly amateur sleuth, “Mama Rose” Hardie is Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple reincarnated and living in Kenya.

Like all good military wives, Victoria follows the beat of the drum and has recently moved to war-scarred Sarajevo in Bosnia. She has two fast growing teenage boys.  She enjoys horse riding and mountain biking but is apprehensive about learning to ski.  Victoria is looking forward to the sun, sand, and seafood of neighbouring Croatia when the world returns to normal.

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

Death by Intermission

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

Today Abby McCree is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Death by Intermission, the latest novel in the Abby McCree mystery series.

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

My name is Abby McCree, and I’m the amateur sleuth in my own cozy series, The Abby McCree Mysteries by Alexis Morgan. The series begins shortly after I moved into the Victorian house I inherited from my favorite aunt. I’d recently gone through a divorce and sold my half of our business to my ex-husband. Moving to Snowberry Creek in Washington State offered me a new start and a chance to figure out what should come next in my life. There were a few surprises along the way. For example, I didn’t expect the house to come with a ninety-five pound mastiff roommate or a handsome tenant in the small mother-in-law house on the back of the property. Along with the other people I’ve met in town, Zeke and Tripp Blackston have made my new life quite an adventure. Sadly, so have the murders I’ve come across along the way.

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

While the author might have come up with the basic premise of the series, I’ve definitely had quite a lot of influence on how the stories have played out. For example, Alexis had no idea how much I love to bake—especially when I’m stressed—and that I keep the freezer stocked with cookies of all kinds to share with my friends and sometimes with total strangers! Alexis definitely knew I grew up living with my mother after she and my dad got divorced. However, she didn’t know what my current relationship with my mom was like. It also came as a surprise to her that I’m quite the pool shark!  

How did you evolve as the main character?

When I first moved to Snowberry Creek, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my permanent home or a temporary stop while I got the house ready to put on the market. As soon as I moved in, my late aunt’s friends bullied me into finishing out my aunt’s term of office as president of the quilting guild. In truth, it was just their way of getting me involved in the happenings in Snowberry Creek, and I have to admit they succeeded big time. Thanks to them, I’ve started putting down roots here in town, making new friends, and finding a new sense of purpose in my life. That’s the upside. The downside is that once you volunteer to help one time, everyone else with a garage sale or committee to run comes calling.  

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

First, I’d have to say that I really love Zeke, my canine companion. He might drool and shed like crazy, but his unconditional love means everything to me. My aunt adopted him from a local shelter. As a result, we don’t know much about Zeke’s former life other than it wasn’t good. Seeing life in Snowberry Creek as a chance to start over is something the two of us have in common. Zeke has also helped save my life a time or two, so he’s not only loyal but very brave.

Tripp, my tenant, also plays an important role in my life. He recently left the army after twenty years of serving in the Special Forces. He’s now attending a local university to finish his degree. Funny thing about Tripp—he’s never once told me what his major is and finds all of my guesses to be wildly entertaining. We enjoy each other’s company to the point that sometimes it seems we might be poised at the edge of becoming something more than simply friends. Well, except when I get drawn into another murder investigation that places me in danger. Tripp claims my adventures have taken years off his life. He and the local police chief, also a friend of mine, both consider me a magnet for trouble. While I don’t appreciate them saying that, I can’t actually say they are wrong.   

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

Snowberry Creek is a small town located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. No matter which way you look, the surrounding area is beautiful. In addition to the Cascades, one of the volcanoes in the state, Mount Rainier, forms part of the backdrop of the town. There’s also a national forest filled with towering cedars and Douglas firs. The people are friendly and definitely made me feel welcome when I moved to town.

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

DEATH BY INTERMISSION is the fourth book in my series. For the first time readers will meet my mother, Phoebe McCree. Sadly, Mom is with me when I discover a dead body after a movie-in-the-park night event where I was in charge. Things get complicated—and a bit dangerous—after that.

Thank you for answering my questions, Abby, and good luck to you and your author, Alexis Morgan, with Death by Intermission, the latest book in the Abby McCree mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Abby and her author, Alexis Morgan by visiting the author’s website and blog, and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N –  Kobo – GooglePlay  –  IndieBound 

About Alexis Morgan: Alexis is the USA Today bestselling author of over forty-five novels, novellas, and short stories that span a variety of genres: American West historicals (as Pat Pritchard); paranormal and fantasy romances; contemporary romances; and cozy mysteries. A RITA® Award-finalist, Alexis Morgan is a member of RWA and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Washington State.

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

Aloe & Goodbye

Today Ruby Shaw is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Aloe & Goodbye, the first novel in the Ruby Shaw mystery series.

Welcome, Ruby. 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.

My name is Ruby Shaw. I live in a cozy mystery titled Aloe and Goodbye. It’s the first book in the Ruby Shaw Mysteries, which is about me—I’m an artist from New York City—and my daughter Allie who enter the witness protection program and must start over with new identities to stay safe.

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

The author put me in witness protection, plopped me into this town, and set up the murder of a local real estate maven the night we moved in. Janice Peacock points me in the right direction, but she has told me she is often surprised by what I discover. While I explored my new terraced, barren backyard, I found a glass vase used to kill our neighbor the night we moved in. When I met the townspeople, I discovered each of their motives for killing Mrs. Stramtussle, my now-deceased neighbor.

How did you evolve as the main character?

When I first came to the town of Paradise, Arizona, I was frightened and felt vulnerable. I had a new name and identity, and I wasn’t sure how I should interact with others or what to tell people about myself and my daughter. As I continued to live in town, I realized I could be myself without being my old self and that I had an excellent opportunity to start over in life—something that not many of us get to do. By the time we catch the murderer, I have become a new, better version of myself—I found employment (after getting fired from a couple of jobs), I learned to accept help, and I learned that I could find other creative endeavors to fulfill me. And while not the most important thing, I may have found a boyfriend, which gives me hope that I can live in this tiny town with my daughter and be happy.

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

Of course, I am most partial to my daughter Allie. She’s twelve now and a bit of a handful. She’s entered that pre-teen phase when her attitude and clothing are equally dark. It’s such a change from the delightful girl she was just months ago. Our move to Paradise, leaving behind all her friends and the life she knew in New York, has been hard on her. I’m trying my best to be supportive of her during this difficult time. Every once in a while, I see a glimmer of the old Allie—a sweet girl—but I know that things will be challenging as she enters adolescence.

I’m also partial to the cook at Bette’s Place. His name is Luke, and in addition to being a chef, he has a farm on the edge of town. I like his rugged looks, but what I adore is his gentle nature and his passion for gardening—especially succulents. Luke has taught me a lot about cacti. He even gave me a small barrel cactus, which Allie thinks is hilarious. I think it was a sweet gesture and way better than a bouquet that dies in a matter of days.

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

Paradise, Arizona, is nothing like the name implies. The whole town clings to the side of a steep, rocky mountain. There are no flat roads in this town. Even the main street has a switchback in the middle of it. Allie and I are getting a lot of exercise walking up and down the hill to and from our house since the marshals didn’t think we needed a car. I beg to differ. I haven’t yet convinced Victor, the marshal who is our contact in the witness protection program, that a car would be helpful.

One of the best things about Paradise is that it’s full of artists and other creative people. Even though I can’t be an artist, I feel like I’m with kindred spirits in this town.

As for our house, it’s nothing like my beautiful art-filled apartment, just off of Central Park. In a word, our place in Paradise is scruffy. In my more optimistic moments, I like to think of it as vintage. I can tell you this: It’s not the Ritz-Carlton.

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

I’d like to say that this is such an unusual and fulfilling journey. I thought my life was over when Victor dumped us in this god-forsaken little town. I’m learning to love it here and appreciate the new version of me. I don’t know what the future for Allie and me will hold, but I know it will be fantastic.

Thank you for answering my questions, Ruby, and good luck to you and your author, Janice Peacock, with Aloe & Goodbye, the first book in the Ruby Shaw mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Ruby and her author, Janice Peacock by visiting the author’s website.

The novel is available online at  Amazon

About Janice Peacock: Janice is a cozy mystery author who specializes in craft and hobby mysteries. She loves to write about artists who find new ways to live their lives and perhaps catch a criminal or two in the process. While working in a glass studio with several colorful and quirky artists, she was inspired to write the Glass Bead Mystery Series. The Ruby Shaw Mysteries, which are set in a small hillside mining town, were inspired by her trips to Jerome, Arizona, and Jacksonville, Oregon.

When Janice isn’t writing about amateur detectives, she wields a 2,500-degree torch to melt glass and create one-of-kind beads and jewelry. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and an undisclosed number of cats.

Posted in February 2021 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Drop by the Cackleberry Club Today

Today New York Times Bestselling Author Laura Childs is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Egg Shooters, her latest novel in the Cackleberry Club Mystery series.

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

Tell us about your new novel EGG SHOOTERS. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series as well.

When Suzanne Dietz drops by the hospital to drop off a thermos of chili for her fiancé, Dr. Sam Hazelet, she runs smack dab into a pharmacy robbery. As a guard is brutally gunned down and a friend wounded, Suzanne heaves her thermos at the gunman, splattering him with hot chili. Now Suzanne becomes part and parcel of the drama – working to solve the robbery, seek out the killer, and save the reputation of a nurse accused of being a conspirator. Juggling multiple suspects, a busy restaurant, tea parties, and catered dinners, Suzanne maintains her good humor (yes, this book is funny) and keeps her romance with the good doctor sizzling. Egg Shooters is book nine in my Cackleberry Club Mystery series featuring this intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. In the tradition of all my previous cozy mysteries, I guarantee that Egg Shooters will not disappoint when it comes to heart-warming humor, a breathless pace, and homespun recipes!

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

The shooting – a surprise assault – was easy, it’s happening all around us. Also, I love the idea of three female entrepreneurs – Suzanne, Toni, and Petra – running a small town diner called the Cackleberry Club Café. Mornings they whip up egg strata and slumbering volcanoes for their customers, then work a double shift as amateur sleuths. My characters and storyline prove that these women are funny, resourceful, and talented. They don’t necessarily want to run a Fortune 500 company but they do want to do something that is entrepreneurial, creative, and nurturing.

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

Most definitely the theme is female friendship – and smart women dropped into difficult circumstances.

How do you create your characters? Do you have favorites? Is so, why are you partial to them?

My characters are much like a bunch of people in a crowded elevator. They’re mumbling, talking, and jostling to get out. The ones that talk the loudest end up being my main characters. They’re the ones with big personalities who either commit a crime or step up to solve a mystery and save the day.

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

Creating a “sense of place” is one of the most critical things an author can inject in a book. Place can be homey and loving such as the case with the Cackleberry Club, or desolate and forbidding. Place sets the tone and mood. Often times, place can be the thing your characters are struggling to find, to get to. Think of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial or The Wizard of Oz – the overlying theme being “I want to go home, I need to find my place.”

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

To be honest, I don’t do a lot of research. Most of the time, I start with an idea or premise – an unexpected murder – or an underdog type who desperately needs help. Then I toss my main character into the chaos, add a few nasty suspects, and let her sort things out. It’s the sorting out that’s the fun part for me to write!

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

Halfway between a cozy and a thriller (a thrillzy!) Egg Shooters offers an exciting read with tea, knitting, cake decorating, a dash of spirituality, and good sleuthing with three women who are over forty and proud of it.  You’ll also flip over Cackleberry Club recipes like cherry pie muffins and drunken pecan chicken!

Thanks for answering my questions, Laura, and good luck with Egg Shooters, the latest book in theCackleberry Club Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon   B&N  Kobo   Google Play  IndieBound

Gerry Schmitt, who writes under the pen name Laura Childs is now adding two more series that are harder-edged Wednesday February 26, 2014 in Plymouth. (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

About Laura Childs: Laura is the author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. All have been on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller lists. Recently, Book Riot named her mysteries to their list of “25 of the All Time Best Cozy Mystery Series.” In herprevious life Laura was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, and has a Chinese Shar-Pei named Lotus.

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

Murder can haunt your handiwork

Today I’m doing something a bit different. Below is an excerpt from Murder Can Haunt Your Handiwork to introduce you to the latest novel in the Haunted Craft Fair Mysteries by Rose Pressey.

Let’s start with a bit about the novel: Rising up against the beautiful backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Biltmore Estate is a magnificent mansion in Asheville, North Carolina, built as a summer home for George Washington Vanderbilt II—yes, of those Vanderbilts—during the Gilded Age. Nowadays, it’s the site of an annual craft fair. Unfortunately, it’s also about to become a crime scene . . .

Celeste is hard to miss as she pulls up with her pink and white Shasta trailer and adorable Chihuahua, Van Gogh—Van for short. But before she can show off her artwork at the fair, a tour guide is found strangled by a velvet rope barrier and a valuable painting goes missing. With a rogues’ gallery of sketchy suspects, Celeste welcomes the help of a pair of handsome detectives—and a ghost with a special interest in the case . . .

And here’s the excerpt:

“Caleb and Pierce were here for the arts and crafts fair.

Caleb and I had met at another craft fair in Gatlinburg. He’d been working undercover, but he was quite a good artist, too. Pierce had mysteriously taken up art recently. I was suspicious that he might have done it so that he could come to the craft fair, too; then Caleb and I wouldn’t be alone here. If that were true, it was awfully sweet.

Caleb and I had gone on several dates. We had quite a good amount in common, since we both were into art and both of us had dogs. Caleb had an adorable German Shepherd named Gum Shoe. But Pierce was smart and handsome, and surprisingly, he had a sense of humor when he wasn’t being the tough cop.

“What happens next?” I asked. “Will they drag me away to the slammer?”

“As far as I know, you’re not going to the slammer.”

Caleb used air quotes. “What do you mean by ‘what happens next’?”

“How will they find who did this to her? Will the fair continue?”

“First, they have to confirm that it was a homicide. Second, I assume the fair will continue. They’ll probably try to act as if nothing happened,” Caleb said.

A photographer from the police department was snapping photos, making flashes of bright light in rapid succession. Occupancy in the room had swollen, and now I was feeling claustrophobic. I had to get out of here soon.

“I think we can safely assume that it was murder,” I said as I pulled at the neck of my T-shirt. With every passing second, I found it harder to breathe.

“Oh no. I can see the amateur sleuth wheels turning in your head. Maybe it would be a good idea if you didn’t get involved,” Caleb said.

“Not get involved? Not get involved?” I gestured widely with my hand. “I have to get involved now. I’m practically a detective on the case now. After all, I was the first one on the scene. That means I have to get involved.”

Readers can learn more about Rose Pressey by visiting her website, her blog and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon  – B&N  – Kobo – Google Play  – IndieBound 

About Rose Pressey: Rose Pressey is the USA Today bestselling author of the Haunted Craft Fair Mysteries and the Haunted Vintage Mystery Series. She enjoys writing quirky and fun novels with a paranormal twist. The paranormal has always captured her interest. The thought of finding answers to the unexplained fascinates her.

When she’s not writing about werewolves, vampires, and every other supernatural creature, she loves eating cupcakes with sprinkles, reading, spending time with family, and listening to oldies from the fifties. Yeah, she loves Elvis. She can’t help myself. Rose lives in the beautiful commonwealth of Kentucky with her husband, son, and three sassy Chihuahuas.

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

Join Us in the Beloved Bookroom

Today Trudell Becket is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Broken Spine, the first novel in the Beloved Bookroom mystery series.

Welcome, Trudell. 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.

Oh, hello there. I didn’t notice you at first. Most strangers to our town don’t come into the library. They’re here to go fishing on the lake or to hunt. The town of Cypress in South Carolina isn’t much more than a dot-on-a-map-blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of small town. But it’s my home, and for that matter the only place I’ve ever called home. Who am I? I’m Trudell Becket, assistant librarian.

You’ve stepped into the first book of the Beloved Bookroom Mystery series. And what a day to come into the book, too. There’s trouble afoot. The town manager is converting my beloved library into a high-tech bookless library. You heard that right. He’s getting rid of all of these lovely books. He’s selling some and sending all the rest to the landfill. Nothing I’ve said can get him to change his mind. I’m at my wits end, you know?

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

Oh, the writer thinks she’s in control. But—come a little closer, I don’t want her to hear this—she doesn’t control anything. What she calls fiction is my life. I’m as real as anything and you’d better not get in my way when it comes to protecting my library. Yes, you heard that right. I might simply be an assistant librarian, but this library is mine. It’s yours too. Our public librarians belong to everyone. Don’t ever forget that. And I’ll do whatever is necessary to protect the Cypress library from being destroyed.

How did you evolve as the main character?

Well, I didn’t kill the town manager. That’s not why the story is about me. Sure, the situation at the library pushed me to the edge. Sure, I did some things that on the surface may appear to be illegal. But I’m the quiet neighbor that goes around killing people. Actually, I don’t think I can ever go back to being the quiet, meek librarian. I got a taste for justice as I set out to prove my innocence and I like this new assertive me.

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

Cypress is filled with so many interesting characters. (And I mean that in the nicest way.) For example, while my best friend since kindergarten, Tori Green, has a killer fashion sense, she is unfortunately a man-killer when it comes to the men in her life. She’s been married and divorced four times, which really isn’t fair since I haven’t yet found my first “Mister Right” or even “Mister Right Now.” Tori owns Perks, the town’s only coffee shop and is the best, best friend any girl could ever ask for. Thanks to her, I’m bolder, braver than I could ever be on my own.

She’s not my only close friend. Flossie Finnegan-Baker writes bestselling novels. She’s also traveled the world and has some amazing stories to tell. She spends most of her days at the library writing. That’s how I got to know her. She dresses like a hippy in brightly colored tie-dyed dresses, which makes sense since she’s forty years older than me. Like Tori, she has a personality that’s as strong as the winds at the eye of a hurricane. Unlike Tori, she has the wisdom to go with those years.

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

As I already mentioned, I live in Cypress, South Carolina. It’s a small town in the middle of the state. It’s located on the shores of Lake Marion, which helps attracts seasonal tourists. The town is named after the grand cypress trees that can be found growing in the nearby marshes and even lining Main Street. Although we’re not rich and the buildings may need to be fixed up, the people in the community are the best you can find anywhere. We pull together and help each other. And what I did for the library was my way of helping my fellow book-loving residents.

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

Y’all need to read The Broken Spine. And after you’re done reading it, tell a friend to read it. It’s entertaining. Plus, there’s an adorable cat that makes my life miserable at first and then wonderful.

Thank you for answering my questions, Trudell, and good luck to you and your author, Dorothy St. James, with The Broken Spine, the first book in the Beloved Bookroom mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Trudell and her author, Dorothy St. James by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Bookbub and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – IndieBound – Bookshop – B&N 

About Dorothy St. James: Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband, a crazy dog, and fluffy cat. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.

Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn’t as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.

* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including: Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: “amazing”, “perfect”, “filled with emotion”, and “lined with danger.”

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