Poker Face

Today Paty Jager, author of Poker Face, is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about writing unique characters.

Welcome, Paty. I’ll turn the floor over to you:

Since my first attempts at writing, I’ve always been outside the box of what editors, agents, and publishers wanted. I have always written books that have topics not usually mentioned in genre fiction or a mix of cultures in the characters, or even disabilities. I have been writing inclusive before it was a thing.

I have admiration and empathy for Indigenous people. I am inspired by their beliefs and culture, I have empathy for the way they have been treated, and I admire their facing all adversities. That is why I do my research, talk to people in the tribes I write about, and try my best to show the good and the bad of their lives.

The main character of my new Spotted Pony Casino Mysteries is a female disabled veteran who grew up on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. This is a reservation in NE Oregon where the Umatilla, Cayuse, and Walla Walla tribes were banished to during the treaties. There are also some Nez Perce from marriages and very few true Cayuse tribal members. They are a strong group or tribes who are resilient and have learned to use technology and embrace moving into the future all while also managing to hang onto their roots and culture.

 Dela Alvaro isn’t Indigenous. Her mother is Swedish and her father was Hispanic. Dela grew up on the reservation where her mother taught school. Going to school with the reservation children, she bonded and made strong friendships.  After school she joined the army and planned to make a career in the Military Police. However, while out on a mission, their jeep was hit by an IED. Two years later, after surgeries and rehab, she returns to the reservation having lost her career and no longer being able to become an Oregon State Trooper or join any other law enforcement organization.

As a lower leg amputee, Dela has had to change her expectations for a job. She also has to learn how to deal with life as an amputee. I nor anyone in my family is an amputee. So I have been watching Youtube videos and have joined a Facebook group for lower limb amputees to read how they cope, what obstacles they come across. Reading some of their vents has helped me to better see how they feel and react to situations.

I do this with any culture, occupation, or as in this case, disability I come across to help me portray the character as best I can.

I take being as factual as possible in my fiction seriously.

Dela does get a job as assistant to the Head of Security at the Spotted Pony Casino where she is first introduced in my Gabriel Hawke Novel, Stolen Butterfly. During the course of that book, the head of security is caught aiding human trafficking and Dela is move to interim Head of Security. A job she takes very serious knowing it is as close as she’s going to get to a job in law enforcement with her disability. The only problem: a casino employee is stabbed and shoved in a laundry chute. Now it’s solve the murder or be demoted.

Do some of your favorite books or series have characters who are unique? In what way are they unique?

Thank you for telling us about your characters, Paty, and good luck with Poker Face, the latest book in the Spotted Pony Casino mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon  – B&N – Kobo

About Paty Jager: Paty is an award-winning author of 51 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

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

The Corpse with the Iron Will

Today Cathy Ace is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Corpse with the Iron Will, her latest novel in the Cait Morgan Mystery series.

Welcome, Cathy. 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.

Thanks for having me! The Corpse with the Iron Will is the tenth Cait Morgan Mystery. Each book features Cait Morgan and her now-husband Bud Anderson, and there are some infrequently recurring characters, but – other than that – there’s a whole new group of suspects in each book, because each is set in a different country, as Cait and Bud travel the world. A lot of reviewers say my books can be read as standalones, which is great, because I aim to write them that way!

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

Although they are not the same as each other at all, a dear friend of our family, and his death, inspired this story. He is mentioned in the Acknowledgements of the book as having inspired the character at the heart of this story (the titular corpse); he was a gifted plantsman who specialized in hybridizing rhododendrons. My husband and I knew him for decades and were the ones who made the daily calls and visits to him that Cait and Bud do for their neighbour in the book. We miss him and his phenomenal knowledge a great deal, but his story is NOT the one I tell in the book!

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

This tenth book is very much a response to the pandemic: I didn’t want to write a “pandemic” book, and have decided that COVID 19 will not be mentioned in any Cait books…but I did want to explore the way Cait and Bud react to their usual understanding of the concepts of “home” and “community” when they are confronted with death on their doorstep…I think we’ve all realized that “home” and “community” mean something different to us these days.

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

Cait’s been with me for many years, and I am pretty sure everyone who meets me knows she’s somewhat based on me: like me she’s a Welshwoman who migrated to Canada; like me she’s a bit overindulgent when it comes to food; like me (apparently!) she’s a bit nosey and bossy! All of this means I like her enormously, though she and I are not one and the same – I’m delighted to tell you I don’t tend to trip over corpses wherever I go!

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

Each Cait Morgan Mystery is set in a different country; I planned this from the start because I have led a wandering life…living and working in many places, so Cait gets to share my love and enthusiasm for visiting new places, and I also get to share my love of art, architecture, and history…and food and drink.

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

Each novel is slightly different, depending on the focus. For this book I had to dig deep into my own psyche to check on how I feel about my neighbours (fictional versions!) and also find out how local law enforcement would deal with “the situation they are faced with” (sorry, I cannot say more – spoilers!) in this specific locale. I also fed my inspiration by constantly wandering our five-acre garden (when I wasn’t working in it).

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

I hope you can tell as you read it how very much I enjoyed writing it!

Thanks for answering my questions, Cathy, and good luck with The Corpse with the Iron Will, the latest book in the Cait Morgan Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Cathy and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook, Goodreads and Instagram (@cathyace1) pages. You can also follow her on Twitter (@AceCathy
).

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – Kobo

About Cathy Ace: Cathy was born and raised in Swansea, Wales, then migrated to Canada aged 40. Having traveled the world (for business and pleasure) for decades, Cathy put her knowledge of the cultures, history, art, and food she encountered to good use in the Cait Morgan Mysteries – a series of traditional whodunits featuring a globetrotting Welsh Canadian professor of criminal psychology. These books have been optioned by Free@LastTV (Agatha Raisin). Ace also writes the #1 Amazon bestselling WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries, featuring four female PIs (one is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish, one English). They tackle quirky, quintessentially British cases from a Welsh stately home in the rolling countryside of the Wye Valley. Her standalone tale of psychological suspense, The Wrong Boy, also became an amazon #1 bestseller, and is due to become a bilingual TV mini series. Cathy lives on five rural acres in British Columbia, where her ever-supportive husband ensures she’s able to work full-time as an author, and enjoy her other great passion – gardening. She’s been shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Award three times in four years, winning in 2015, has won an IPPY Award, and was shortlisted for an IBA Award and an Arthur Ellis Award.

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

Flea Market Felony

Today Tricia L. Sanders, author of Flea Market Felony, the latest book in the Mattie & Mo Mystery series, is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about discovering her passion for writing.

Welcome, Tricia. I’ll turn the floor over to you:

My fourth grade teacher helped me discover my passion for writing. Our assignment was due at the end of the week, and we were asked to write a story about something impossible. I remember stressing—if one can stress at the age of 9—about what would be impossible. As the week lurched toward Friday, I remember starting and stopping numerous story ideas. The trashcan next to my mom’s desk, where I discarded the various story starts, filled to overflowing with crumpled sheets of notebook paper. We didn’t have computers back then, nor could my family afford a typewriter—not that I knew how to use one anyway.

I must have sharpened a dozen pencils to the nub which was quite a task given we didn’t have a pencil sharpener. The task was completed with my mother’s paring knife over the kitchen wastebasket, shaving the wood away from the lead much like we peeled carrots. Mom, having given up trying to help me, stood over my shoulder reminding me to be careful and not cut off a finger.

It was on one of my trips between the kitchen and the living room where I overheard an advertisement on the radio about Christmas and how it only comes once a year that the idea for my story took root. What if Santa came in July when no one was expecting him? What if he snuck in, and I was the only one who saw him? What if he let me pet a reindeer, took me for a ride in his sleigh, then swore me to secrecy?

I ran to the desk, tore a fresh sheet of paper from my notebook, and the story sprang to life. Christmas in July flowed onto the page. The next morning when I handed in the pages, I beamed. My teacher was so pleased with my effort, she entered my story into a contest our local newspaper was sponsoring. It won first place and was published in the newspaper.

My writing endeavors soon graduated to re-writing the endings of the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books I read. I rewrote the ad copy on cereal boxes as I ate my breakfast, created a newspaper for my dolls. I was the editor and writer and created news stories about each one of the dolls—complete with a gossip column. My teen years found me writing angsty poetry and brooding songs.

Later in life I wrote training material and developed curriculum for my employer, never as satisfying as the made-up stories. It wasn’t until I took an early retirement that I finally returned to my love of writing fiction. Thirty-nine years after that first story I wrote and published my first novel—on a laptop this time.

Thanks for visiting and sharing how your love for writing developed, Tricia. Good luck with Flea Market Felony, the latest book in theMattie & Mo mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Tricia and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook, Bookbub, Pinterest and Youtube pages. Readers can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – Books2Read 

About Tricia L. Sanders: Tricia L. Sanders lives in the Austin, Texas area and writes about women with class, sass, and a touch of kickass. A former instructional designer and corporate trainer, she traded in curriculum writing for novel writing, because she hates bullet points and loves to make stuff up. And fiction is more fun than training guides and lesson plans.

When she isn’t writing, Tricia is busy crossing dreams off her bucket list. With all 50 states checked, she’s concentrating on foreign interests. She’s an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, so don’t get between her and the television when a game is on. Currently, she is working on a mystery series set in the fictional town of Wickford, Missouri. Another project in the works is a women’s fiction road trip adventure.

Her essays have appeared in Sasee, ByLine, The Cuivre River Anthology, and Great American Outhouse Stories; The Whole Truth and Nothing Butt. She is a proud member of The Lit Ladies, six women writing their truths into fiction.

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

Murder in the Family

Today Eve Appel Egret is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Murder in the Family, the latest novel in the Eve Appel mystery series.

Welcome, Eve. 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 Eve Appel Egret, and for the last few years I’ve inhabited the Eve Appel Mysteries. There are eight books in the series, the eighth one having been released by Camel Press in April. It’s entitled Murder in the Family. I’m a gal from Connecticut who has settled in rural Florida to open a high-end consignment shop with my best friend Madeleine. Before we could even get our business off the ground, on opening day I found someone stabbed to death on our dressing room floor. Murder may attract customers in the short run, but it’s never good for business long term. Anger fueled my determination to track down the killer. And that’s the way it has remained throughout all eight of the books: Someone gets murdered, and I jump in to save the day. Of course, I have a lot of help from my family and friends who sometimes caution me against acting precipitously, but I don’t really know the meaning of curbing my curiosity.

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

The writer thinks she creates these stories, but what does she know? I’m a tall, spunky, in-your-face kind of woman, one who can run in high heels and who is in the prime of her life. The writer is much older than me and she does nothing but sit at her computer and dream up crazy stories. I’m the action member of the pair, so I guess I must concede that we both have a hand in the stories. BUT the series wouldn’t be as filled with deeds requiring physical stamina, skill and sheer boldness if my chubby creator had to do them. She’s nothing without me.

How did you evolve as the main character?

The writer got this idea for a short story featuring me as the main character. She submitted it to a contest (Sleuthfest Short Story Contest sponsored by Mystery Writers of America, Florida Chapter 2009) and won first place. She liked me as the protagonist so much (not everyone who meets me feels the same as I can be a bit too much because I can’t seem to ever keep my mouth under control) and the rural Florida setting is unique, so she decided she had the makings of a series. I do have to thank her for introducing me to my husband Sammy. Along with not reining in my curiosity, the writer gave me the best husband and family ever.

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

I’m a very fortunate women to have been raised by a grandmother who is my role model for snoopiness, for my best friend who taught me some manner and social appropriateness, and for my mob boss friend, Nappi, who gets me and supports me as much as any other man except for my husband and his family.  Along with my husband’s family members, especially his grandfather, who are all Miccosukee, Sammy loves me more than I probably deserve. He and I have been through some trying times including getting lost in the swamps of Florida, but together we’ve come through. And my mob boss friend has connections that have helped me ferret out some really awful criminals. Without him I would be lost. Police detective Frida Martinez has always backed me up although she worries about the relationship between Nappi and me, but just between us, I’m not certain he’s really part of the mob. So you see, it’s as if I have an entire posse to work with.

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

Physically, I’ve settled in rural Florida and am happy here. I’ve surprised myself at how well this city gal has become a country dweller. I don’t even miss the fine restaurants in the city as long as there’s barbeque, slaw and a good scotch available at the Burnt Biscuit Bar and Grill. I still, however, insist upon wearing my stiletto heels. No cowboy boots for this fashionista!

This new book finds me pregnant with Sammy and my second child. We have one girl already, Netty, a clone of me with her sassy mouth and stubborn attitude, and we have three adopted sons, children from Sammy’s half-brother. I still own the consignment shop with Madeleine, but I’m devoting more and more time apprenticing with Crusty McNabb, a local private detective. The work is perfect for me. How do I find time to do everything? Well, there are a few problems, but you can see how well I handle some of them and not others in Murder in the Family.

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

You’re going to love being introduced to the swamps of Florida, a place you might think would be creepy. It’s much more than that. It has its share of creatures you might not like, snakes, alligators, feral pigs, and humans engaging in bad behavior, but it also has its share of wild beauty, broad vistas with grazing cattle, cowboys on horseback, exotic birds and sunsets you won’t see anywhere else. The people here are as rugged as the land. They might hold beliefs I don’t agree with, but they are strong and determined… like me.

Thank you for answering my questions, Eve, and good luck to you and your author, Lesley Diehl, with Murder in the Family, the latest book in the Eve Appel mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Eve and her author, Lesley Diehl, by visiting the author’s website and blog, and her Facebook, and Goodreads pages.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon Kindle – Amazon Paperback – B&N Nook – B&N Paperback

About Lesley Diehl: Cows, Lesley learned growing up on a farm, have a twisted sense of humor. They chased her when she went to the field to herd them in for milking, and one ate the lovely red mitten her grandmother knitted for her. Determining that agriculture wasn’t a good career choice, instead she uses her country roots and her training as a psychologist to concoct stories designed to make people laugh in the face of murder. “A good chuckle,” says Lesley,” keeps us emotionally well-oiled long into our old age.” She is the author of several cozy mystery series and numerous short stories.

Posted in June 2021 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Three Ds – Donuts, Deception & Death

Today Eloise Brightly is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Donuts, Deception & Death, her first novel in the Paradise Beach Cozy Mystery series.

Welcome, Eloise. 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.

Donuts, Deception, and Death is the first book in the Paradise Beach Cozy Mystery series. Daisy’s life hasn’t been easy. Her husband passed away six years ago, and she made the best of the situation, opening a bed and breakfast in the house they inherited from his parents. She loves her B&B and her cats, but her neighbor not, not so much. Daisy has every reason to want her neighbor gone since the woman took Daisy’s business name and used it for her new B&B. When the neighbor ends up dead, Daisy is the prime suspect. She has to solve the case by finding the real killer, and run her B&B.

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

I live in a beach town that isn’t anywhere near as quaint as Paradise Shores, but it does provide me with inspiration. People can be quirky in small towns and their antics can show a darker side sometimes.

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

The main theme is living after disappointing events happen. Life isn’t always easy, but people can move on. Recovery and mourning take different paths for everyone, and Daisy’s path of rebuilding her life is inspirational for me.

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

I try to create characters who have gone through difficulty, but they find the silver lining eventually. Daisy has overcome so much, and her upbeat outlook on life is one she has to keep choosing to live. Stuff happens to her, but she keeps pushing forward even when bad things happen.

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

The characters in my stories love where they live. They are the spice that makes the town come to life. Whether quirky or strait laced, the characters make the town better.

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

I’ve tried to make this series realistic in some ways, but also fun and filled with excitement. I grew up reading Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who series and though I’ll never match her grace or style, I love how she wove her stories so much I chose to write cozy mysteries. With improvements in criminal investigations, real cops are a bit better at finding out who murdered the victim, but in my story, it will always be the female sleuth who solves the case. I’ve spent time taking writing classes for mystery authors, searching out information necessary to write a convincing mystery, but more importantly, I hope the stories are enjoyable for the readers

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

I hope the reader finds Donuts, Deception, and Death to be an enjoyable read. The next book, Cupcakes, Collusion, and Casualties will feature Daisy solving another murder that hits very close to home.

Thanks for answering my questions, Eloise, and good luck with Donuts, Deception & Death, the first book in the Paradise Beach Cozy Mystery series.

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

The novel is available online at Amazon.

About Eloise Brightly: Eloise loves cozy mysteries. Crime fiction is her favorite. She enjoys figuring out whodunit while curled up before a roaring fire with a mug of hot cocoa. She lives on the eastern seaboard and combs the beaches while watching dolphins play, searching for inspiration for another mystery series.

Posted in June 2021 | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

How many is too many?

Today Debra H. Goldstein is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Four Cuts Too Many, her latest novel in the Sarah Blair 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.

Four Cuts Too Many is the fourth book in Kensington’s Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. Sarah Blair is a woman who finds being in the kitchen more frightening than murder. Introduced in One Taste Too Many as having been married at eighteen, divorced by twenty-eight, with the only thing she got out of the marriage being RahRah, her Siamese cat, Sarah has evolved from being shell shocked to gaining some confidence in her abilities. Although she thinks she is the last person capable of solving murders, her concern for family and friends, particularly her twin sister, mother, and two friends who work in her sister’s restaurant, consistently compel her to become involved in finding out whodunit.

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

Like Sarah, the kitchen is not my natural habitat. Consequently, to write this series I did extensive research behind the scenes in restaurants and talking to friends whose positions ran from owner/chef to waiter/busboy. As I learned about the culinary world, I became interested in how chefs learn their skills and how important their tools, especially their knives, are to them. Realizing that the culinary world can be competitive, gave me the idea to intwine culinary education, knife skills, and knife cuts together to create a path of death and intrigue.

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

In Four Cuts Too Many, the theme of loyalty underlies the story, as does the comparison of the education system and the economics of running small businesses – in this case all tied to the culinary world. The development of my interest in these things is ironic in that I, like Sarah, find the kitchen frightening. I’m as liable to catch the oven on fire as I am to properly sear a steak.

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

Two of the greatest influences for my creation of the Sarah Blair mystery series characters are living in the South and being the mother of twins. Although my twins are boy-girl, their personalities are so different that I often kidded that I gave birth to a litter. Creating Sarah, who is afraid of the kitchen, and her twin, Chef Emily, let me play off that kind of relationship and its ramifications in a small Southern town where everyone knows everybody and everything. It also let me create the twins’ mother as a woman from whose mouth phrases like “Bless Your Heart” flow with honey. I’m very partial to these three characters, but my favourite is RahRah, Sarah’s Siamese cat. RahRah doesn’t talk or think out loud. Instead, he communicates like a real cat – through his behavior. One minute he can be cuddly, the next a true alpha cat. I love his spirit and his influence on the other characters in the book because RahRah’s presence reflects the relationships pet owners and pets have.

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

I don’t bring the place I’m writing about to life. Rather descriptions and sensations of the place itself bring it to life for readers. Beliefs about small Southern towns are ingrained in all of us, but I hope my writing takes apart any myths and lets the reader absorb the flavor of the place I am writing about.

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

Besides reading and googling, most of my research for the Sarah Blair series has been hands on. For One Taste Too Many, I spent time in the restaurants of our community and talking with people who worked all jobs in the establishments or who were involved in economic development related to the culinary industry. Two Bites Too Many, which continued the underlying themes of restaurants and economic development, addressed animal shelters and rescue animals. For that, I visited shelters and interviewed owners of rescued animals. Three Treats Too Many included the community motorcycle club which was anything but the TV stereotype. For that book, I talked to folks who rode for fun and comradery and whose involvement in their motorcycle club included raising money and awareness for local charities. Now, for Four Cuts Too Many, I spent more time getting hands on lessons in the impact of different knives and knife cuts, while interviewing educators in both the culinary and the college world.

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

Four Cuts Too Many, like the other three books in the Sarah Blair series, is meant to be a fun and easy beach, airplane, bedside read. Although each book addresses social issues, none beat the reader over the head with them. What does resonate for the reader is love and loyalty for friends and family.

Thanks for answering my questions, Debra, and good luck with Four Cuts Too Many, the latest book in the Sarah Blair Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Debra and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook and Bookbub pages.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

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

About Debra H. Goldstein: Judge Debra H. Goldstein writes Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series (Three Treats Too Many, Two Bites Too ManyOne Taste Too Many). She also authored Should Have Played Poker and IPPY Award-winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories have been named Agatha, Anthony, Derringer finalists. Debra serves on the national boards of Mystery Writers of America and is president of SEMWA. She previously was on Sisters in Crime’s national board and president of SinC’s Guppy Chapter.

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

Death by Donut

Today JJ MacGregor is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Death by Donut, the latest novel in the Pismawallops PTA mystery series.

Welcome, JJ. 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, this is JJ MacGregor, and I’m the sleuth in Rebecca M. Douglass’s Pismawallops PTA mysteries, though I never set out to be. I live on Pismawallops Island, in Washington State. We’re way up almost in Canada, so it’s cold and wet a lot on the island, which means we have to drink a lot of coffee, which is always best with espresso brownies. My fondness for the local bakery might have been why I got messed up in this latest murder, but not even a corpse before I’ve finished my coffee will keep me away from the Have-A-Bite bakery.

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

I’m pretty sure Ms. Douglass thinks she’s in charge, but I have never been good at doing and saying what I’m told to, so sometimes I get to make things happen my way. She keeps sending me back to that scary Mrs. Halsey, though. If I had my way, I’d never go near that woman again, ever.

How did you evolve as the main character?

I’m sure I’ve grown in a number of ways, besides the obvious one that comes from my fondness for brownies. But Kitty says that I’ve learned not to be so scared of loving people, and I admit it can feel good. I used to push Ron Karlson away when he flirted with me, but now I mean to marry him, just as soon as I’m good and ready.

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

Kitty Padgett is my best friend, and I always share the fun of finding clues and sorting out the island’s problems with her. She was the first person who made me feel welcome on Pismawallops. She won’t admit it, but islanders can sometimes be a bit clannish, and it’s hard to break into their circles. She took me on because I was willing to work for the PTA, and work hard.

Or course, I’ll share any story you like with Ron Karlson. Eventually, I’ll even share my house, though probably not my espresso brownies.

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

You want to know about the Have-A-Bite Bakery? I can tell you it’s the best place in the world. You walk in the door and the smell of really good coffee and the best baked goods you ever met about knocks you over. Just make sure that Jasmine fixes your espresso, never Moira. Trust me on this one.

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

Look, if you are trying to ask when the wedding will be, you can just get in line with all the others! Oh, wait. Kitty says you just want to know about the case and I shouldn’t be so paranoid.

It’s a bit of a shock in a place as small as Pismawallops when we lose one of our own, and it seems like we are always so busy, it’s hard to have to stop everything to solve mysteries. The police should do it, of course, but there’s only Ron and Karla—she’s the deputy, the only one who matters—and they can’t do everything. I just want to help out a little, and I certainly never meant to get so involved…

Well, hey, I need to go pick up the kids from school, so thanks for having me over for this visit. Stop in if you ever make it up to Pismawallops!

Thank you for answering my questions, JJ, and good luck to you and your author, Rebecca M. Douglass, with Death by Donut, the latest book in the Pismawallops PTA mystery series.

Readers can learn more about JJ and her author, Rebecca M. Douglass by visiting her Amazon and Smashwords author’s pages, and her Facebook and Goodreads pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon –  Smashwords    B&N     iTunes     Kobo 

About Rebecca M. Douglass: Rebecca was raised in Washington State on an island only a little bigger than Pismawallops. Though she has lived most of her adult life in California, the salt waters of Puget Sound continue to call to her and she enjoys owning an island in the Salish Sea, even if she had to invent one to do so! Rebecca has written a number of children’s books as well as her Pismawallops PTA mysteries and has had short stories published in several anthologies. When she isn’t writing, she likes to spend her free time hiking and biking, and her vacations exploring the outdoor world by camping, hiking, and backpacking.

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

You found a body where? The beaver pond?

Today Keri Isles is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Body in the Beaver Pond, the first novel in the Keri Isles Event Planner Mystery series.

Welcome, Keri. 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 Keri Isles and my life turned completely upside-down when I divorced my cheating jerk of a husband. Even though I ended up with the Christmas tree farm in the Cascade Mountains rather than the Seattle townhouse, I’m definitely better off without him.

I lost my event planner job shortly after the divorce, so for now, I’m concentrating on the Christmas trees. I’m the first to admit I don’t know how to run the tree farm, but I’m learning and my neighbors in the mountain valley offer advice and lend a hand when I’m totally drowning.

Eh, speaking of drowning, my dog accidently found a body in my beaver pond and I swear, I had nothing to do with it. Since the local law enforcement officers seem to think I killed the guy, I rounded up the archaeology students from the dig on my neighbor’s property, a bad boy photographer, and assorted eccentric neighbors to find the killer and clear my name.

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

What makes you think anyone is in control of my life? Since I’m living it, and it gets more interesting every day, I’m clearly feeding the story line to the woman who writes it down.

How did you evolve as the main character?

I was shell shocked when I landed in the mountains, on a tree farm in the middle of nowhere. But ya know, while I still miss parts of life in Seattle—and I really miss the steady paycheck from my event planner job—I’m learning to love both the farm and the town. I’ve always stood up for myself, but there is nothing like a murder rap hanging over your head to make you grow a spine and learn what real friends are like.

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

Where to start? My best friend, CoCo, runs a great café in Liberty Falls, the small, not-ready-to-admit-it’s-a-tourist-town near my farm. Not only is she a warm, generous person, she’s also an amazing cook. She’s trying to teach me to cook. Really simple—okay, idiot proof, although I’d never admit it aloud—cooking is all I can manage. Just ask my ex-husband. He’ll be thrilled to note it’s one of my many shortcomings.

Then there’s my neighbor, Bill, who I wish would adopt me. Seriously, he lends me tools, helps me understand life in the valley, and ran off the protestors who had me trapped up on High Bridge Road. (You’ll need to read the story to understand them. Well, if it’s possible to understand them.) There’s also Richard, my attorney. Our relationship is probably as strange as the contract I signed when he started working for me. Or maybe that should be I work for him…

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

I mentioned before that I live on a Christmas tree farm in a mountain valley outside the small town of Liberty Falls. The farm is amazing, several hundred acres along a mountain river. The beavers dammed the river’s side stream, creating the pond in front of my cottage. The cottage itself? Not so much. It was built at the turn of the century, the one where the 1800s turned into the 1900s. The plumbing is suspect, a mama bird built her nest inside one of the walls, and it’s a good thing I’m short since it has seven-foot ceilings. Apparently, people were much shorter 125 years ago.

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

I hope you’ll visit me, the farm, and Liberty Falls. I’ve learned a lot about myself and other people during this transition. Other than the dead body and the murder accusation, it’s been a lot of fun.

Getting used to my new friends and neighbors helping me out has been an adjustment after life in Seattle. I’m not completely sure if Coco is helping me or tying me down with her other attempts to assist/manage my life. For example, in that five degrees of separation in small town thing, CoCo’s husband’s brother-in-law is on the city council, and they convinced the council to hire me as the new event planner for Liberty Falls. I hear my first gig—Pioneer Days—is the focus of my next story, Peril in the Pony Ring.

Thank you for answering my questions, Keri, and good luck to you and your author, Cathy Perkins, with The Body in the Beaver Pond, the first book in the Keri Isles Event Planner mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Keri and her author, Cathy Perkins 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  Nook   Kobo

About Cathy Perkins: Cathy’s suspense writing lurks behind a financial day-job, where she learned firsthand the camouflage, hide-in-plain-sight skills employed by her villains. A member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers, she has coordinated conferences, contests and debut author programs, and is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill.

When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. Born and raised in South Carolina, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.

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

Jackal & Hide

Today Victoria Tait is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Jackal & Hide, the latest book in her Kenya Kanga mysteries series.

Welcome, Victoria. 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.

Jackal and Hide is the fourth book in my Kenya Kanga Mystery series.  The series is set in Kenya and revolves around a silver-haired amateur sleuth.  She is a community vet and with her diverse group of friends she helps the local police solve crimes.

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

The idea for the story came from one of Miss Marple’s Tuesday Night Club tales, in Agatha Christie’s The Thirteen Problems.  I am intrigued by how people see each other and that wearing something bright, or bold, can alter that perception.

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

My books follow the calendar year around actual events which take place in Kenya.  Jackal & Hide is set in June when the Lewa Marathon takes place. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is a UNESCO Heritage site.  The marathon is renowned for its tough course, along dirt roads over undulating African plains.  Runners usually see wildlife such as giraffes, zebra and gazelles.  Some characters compete in the marathon and the story’s events take place around and during it.

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

For my characters, I have an idea of the type of personality I need for the role, and then the person begins to take shape in my mind.  I sometime look up images of people on the internet, and once I find someone I’m able to build their character.

In each book I’ve introduced characters, and many join the journey and continue through the series.  Sometimes, seemingly unimportant characters muscle their way in and demand more prominent roles in future stories.

Jackal & Hide has a large cast.  Mama Rose, the protagonist, has personal issues which tend to pull her away from the main mystery.  The other characters take up the investigation and effectively report back to her, and she solves the crime in the end.  Of all my books so far, characterisation dominate this story and adds a huge depth to it.  I was in tears when I wrote some scenes.

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

Mama Rose’s home town, and locations such as Dormans coffee shop, were introduced in previous books.  Another restaurant where characters spend time, and the local cottage hospital, are based on actual places which I have adapted for the story.

Aureus Lodge is also based on a real property in Borana conservancy.  Although I have not visited it, I have stayed at similar lodges, and I’ve used images from the internet to develop Aureus, and describe it in the book.  Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, and the Lewa Marathon, are based on my own experiences of running and helping at the event.

I try to describe the look, feel and smell of the locations.  In respect of the conservancies I wanted to portray my own feeling of insignificance in a vast and generally untamed landscape.

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

I’ve now developed a process whereby I write notes in a separate A4 booklet for each book.  I think of a theme, or topic, which I research and write up in the booklet.  This may lead me to consider other themes, and although I don’t use everything I research, I’m drawn into the story world.

Some of the themes are factual such as looking after baby ostriches, or reintroducing jackals into the wild.  Other topics are more character based such as the impact an illness, or an event in a character’s past, might have on the way that person views the world.

Regarding plot, I start with a theme and develop it out.  I consider potential causes of death, how a murder could take place and be covered up, and how the murderer and victim interact with established characters.

Whilst writing the book I continue researching particular aspects as they arise and jot my ideas in my booklet. 

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

The first three books in the series have introduced characters and the issues they face.  Jackal & Hide develops and expands on these and draws various threads together.  The subtitle is a ‘Compassionate Cozy Murder Mystery’ because there is sorrow and grief, and the characters need to help each other cope with it.  As I said previously, I was very emotional writing the story, and I hope readers feel some of that when they read the book. I hope you enjoy Jackal & Hide.

Thank you for answering my questions, Victoria, and good luck with Jackal & Hide, the latest book in the Kenya Kanga mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Victoria Tait by visiting the author’s website and her Goodreads and Bookbub pages.

The novel is available online at the following retailers:

Amazon    Kobo    Barnes & Noble    Apple   Google Play    Books2Read

About Victoria Tait: Victoria is the author of the enchanting Kenya Kanga Mystery series.  She’s drawn on 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 currently lives in Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  She has two fast growing teenage boys and enjoys horse riding and mountain biking.

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

Beyond a Reasonable (no, not Doubt) – Donut

Today Ginger Bolton is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Beyond a Reasonable Donut, the latest book in her Deputy Donut mysteries series.

Welcome, Ginger. 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.

BEYOND A REASONABLE DONUT is the fifth book in the Deputy Donut Mystery Series. Emily Westhill and Tom Westhill, the father of Emily’s late husband own Deputy Donut, a café in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin. The café is named after Emily’s cat, who is usually called Dep. Tom has retired from being Fallingbrook’s police chief. Emily was once a 911 operator. Her two best friends since junior high are a police officer and an emergency medical technician. Other friends include another police officer, the fire chief and a detective. When there are crimes in the community, Deputy Donut is a good place to overhear rumors and pick up clues. . . .

In BEYOND A REASONABLE DONUT, Fallingbrook is celebrating Friday the Thirteenth with a Faker’s Dozen Carnival. In addition to the usual fair foods, games, and rides, an entire tent is devoted to good luck and bad luck. No one expects bad luck, but Emily and Nina, who is helping her make and sell “corny” fritters at the festival, end up with more than their share of it. First, a bucket of powdered sugar goes missing, then a magician causes bills from their cash drawer to disappear. Later that night, Emily finds the mime who had appeared to be helping the magician in Nina’s loft. Nina is nowhere around, and the bucket of powdered sugar has magically reappeared. The mime has the worst luck of all. She apparently fell from Nina’s ladder while throwing handfuls of powdered sugar at the drying paint of the masterpiece that is to be the focus of Nina’s solo show at a prestigious art gallery. Despite Emily’s attempts to save the mime, the woman is suffocating with her head in the bucket of sugar. Nina shows up almost immediately. She’s angry about the damage to her painting, and other clues point to her as the mime’s attacker. Emily knows that Nina would never have done such a terrible thing. Can she prove it in time for Nina to attend the wedding of two of their friends and the opening of Nina’s art show?

The books in the Deputy Donut Mystery Series are, in order:

            SURVIVAL OF THE FRITTERS

            GOODBYE CRULLER WORLD

            JEALOUSY FILLED DONUTS

            BOSTON SCREAM MURDER

            BEYOND A REASONABLE DONUT

            DECK THE DONUTS (in stores October 26, 2021)

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

In the previous book, BOSTON SCREAM MURDER, it seems that Nina’s dreams of becoming an artist might be about to come true. But how well did we really know Nina, and what might she do if she encounters potholes in the road to success (or failure?)

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

Luck, both good and bad, and how people cope with whatever life throws at them underlies the story. The idea of focusing on luck came when I decided to set the story around a Friday the thirteenth festival.

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

Each book has two sets of characters, the regulars and villains and victims of the current story.

In creating the regular cast, I try to come up with people who can work together to solve a murder in a way that will be entertaining to the reader and make the reader want to visit them in their setting again.

The suspects don’t usually appear in later books. To create them, I need to figure out a motive for murder. I have to give the victim and the villain(s) histories. They and all the other suspects need to seem like they could be real. A lot of their backstory never gets into the novel, but I know the characters fairly well before I start writing. They often write to me from their individual viewpoints, giving me their thoughts and feelings and their explanations and justifications for what they do.

I like my regular cast best. To me, they can become alarmingly real. For a split second, I might think I see them walking down the street or passing in a car or bus. Imaginary friends! (Villains can seem to alarmingly real, also, but we won’t think about that.)

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

I hope that I bring Fallingbrook and Deputy Donut to life! I draw maps, and I picture each setting. And when I describe them, I try to involve more than sight and hearing. Luckily, there can be delicious fragrances in a coffee and donut shop….

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

My entire life has been a form of research. Readers of the Deputy Donut Mysteries will probably see my love of northern forests and lakes, and they’ll probably see the influence of gothic suspense novels in chases through the woods at night. Specific to this series, my research tends to be in the kitchen with a deep fryer. And flour and sugar on nearly every surface. And visits to coffee and donut shops are often required. Yes, definitely necessary . . .

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

Those who like a touch of romance in their cozy mysteries won’t, I hope, be disappointed. Emily and her late husband’s detective partner, Brent, share a deep grief that keeps them apart. Emily doesn’t think she’s ready to date again. We don’t know for certain what Brent thinks about possibly dating Emily, but the astute reader probably began to figure it out beginning in the first book of the series. And many readers will want both Emily and Brent to find happiness, one way or another. BEYOND A REASONABLE DONUT might bring them a little closer. Might, I said . . .

Thank you for answering my questions, Ginger, and good luck with Beyond a Reasonable Donut, the latest book in the Deputy Donut mystery series.

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

The novel is available online at the following retailers:

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

About Ginger Bolton: Ginger writes the Deputy Donut mystery series—coffee, donuts, cops, danger, and one curious cat. The first four books in the series are SURVIVAL OF THE FRITTERS, GOODBYE CRULLER WORLD, JEALOUSY FILLED DONUTS, and the latest, BOSTON SCREAM MURDER. JEALOUSY FILLED DONUTS was chosen as the Woman’s World Best New Cozy Mystery of the week and was named as one of Dollycas’s Best Reads of 2019. BEYOND A REASONABLE DONUT will be on store shelves May 25, 2021. When Ginger isn’t writing or reading, she’s crocheting, knitting, sewing, or generally causing trouble. She’s also fond of donuts and coffee. As Janet Bolin, Ginger wrote the Threadville Mysteries—murder and mayhem in a village of crafty shops.

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