She Sees More Than You Would Expect

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Today Tanya R. Taylor is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Blind Sight, the first novel in the Lucille Pfiffer mystery series.

Welcome, Tanya. 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.

BLIND SIGHT (LUCILLE PFIFFER MYSTERY SERIES book one) REGTRT: Lucille Pfiffer is a blind woman who’s also a heroine. Her determination to solve the mystery surrounding the death of a beautiful young lady in book one – BLIND SIGHT – is crucial to the right person being brought to justice. In book two – BLIND ESCAPE – she finds herself entangled in a murder mystery, but also becomes a target for extortion. Each book will have an exciting plot that readers can devour and many more books are planned for this series.

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

TRT: I was outside in a parking lot waiting for my daughter when the idea popped into my mind about this older lady being completely blind, but yet being able to see what was going on around her. She ultimately takes it upon herself to solve a puzzling mystery concerning the death of a beautiful young lady and proves to everyone that even though she has a disability, she’s not hindered by it.

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

TRT: I guess the idea stemmed from the fact that my father was dealing with Glaucoma issues at the time (he’s now passed away) and I was trying to find remedies to help improve his vision. It was something that was at the forefront of my mind and it just so happened that one day as I was outside in a parking lot waiting for my daughter, the idea popped into my head about this older lady being completely blind, but yet being able to see what was going on around her. She ultimately proves to everyone that even though she has a disability, she’s not hindered by it and can even unravel puzzling mysteries that might otherwise remain unsolved. I sat there in the car, pressed the record button on my cell phone and created the plot.

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

TRT: Although all the characters in BLIND SIGHT are interesting, my absolute favorite are the protagonist Lucille Pfiifer and Vanilla, her brave and wise Shih Tzu dog.

I really like them because Lucille is strong, in spite of her disability, and she stands up for those she cares about. Vanilla is fun and also in her mind, Lucille’s protector. She’s so adorable.

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

TRT: I envision it in my mind (everything about it) and do my best to write it the way I envision it.

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

TRT: The internet is just a fingertip away, so anything I need to know, I research online. Thankfully, I didn’t need to do that much research for this book since we own a Shih Tzu also named Vanilla and she’s my inspiration.

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

TRT: BLIND SIGHT is a cozy mystery with a bit of humor as well. The second book in the series, BLIND ESCAPE, will be released on September 5th.

Thanks for answering my questions, Tanya, and good luck with Blind Sight, the first book in the Lucille Pfiffer Mystery series.

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

The novel is available online at  Amazon 

Photo - Tanya (normal size)About Tanya R. Taylor: Tanya has wowed readers with her riveting plots and compelling themes. She is the author of several #1 bestsellers on Amazon and published her first book titled: ‘A Killing Rage’ as a young adult. She has worked in the Financial arena and is also a seasoned ghostwriter. Her book ‘Cornelius’ climbed to #1 in the Teen & Young-adult Multi-generational Family Fiction category. And her supernatural, suspense/thrillers – ‘CARA’ and ‘INFESTATION: A Small Town Nightmare’ are multiple times #1 international bestsellers. Tanya writes in various genres including Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Thrillers, Science-fiction, Mystery and Suspense. She has a passion for the welfare of children.

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Is There A Time For Murder?

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Today T.C. Lotempio is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Time for Murder is Meow, the first novel in the Purr N Bark Pet Shop mystery series.

Welcome, T.C. Let’s get started, shall we?

THE TIME FOR MURDER IS MEOW COVERTell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

TCL: The Time for Murder is Meow is the first in the Pet Shop series.  It’s about Crishell, “Shell” McMillan, a former actress who inherits her aunt’s pet shop and decides it’s time for a career change. When the woman who was giving her a hard time about donating her aunt’s poster collection to the local museum is found dead, Shell is tagged as suspect #1 and she and her former co-star Gary, have to work hard to clear her name.

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

TCL: I’d been reading a few blogs by agents and one mentioned they’d like to see a good mystery that centered around a movie memorabilia shop, so I wrote that.  Then an editor wanted me to change the setting to a pet shop, so I did that.  Then the editor got let go, but my agent managed to place the book with another publisher.

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

TCL: It’s about being able to re-invent yourself, which is what I did myself. After years of slaving at dead end jobs, I finally caught a break and am doing what I love to do – write.

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

TCL: I always try to put a little bit of myself and people I know into all of my characters. Do I have a favorite? That’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child LOL. But we all have favorites, and I confess I’m partial to Nick, the tubby feline hero of the Nick and Nora series.

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

TCL: I try to visualize myself in each scene, acting it out.

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

TCL: It depends on what I’m writing about.  I like to do research on small towns to get a feel for what I can put in the background of the book, for example, I’ll research local bookstores, libraries, coffee shops, etc.

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

TCL: If you’re in the mood for a spirited heroine, a good mystery and two feisty felines, this is the book for you!

Thanks for answering my questions, T.C., and good luck with The Time for Murder is Meow, the first book in the Purr N Bark Pet Shop Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about T.C. and her writing by visiting her website and her blog.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon   B&N   IndieBound 

Here’s an excerpt from TIME FOR MURDER IS MEOW:

“After I hung up from Max I flopped down in the worn chair behind the register and leaned back, my hands laced behind my neck.  Max’s parting words bothered me more than I cared to admit, and a twinge of guilt arrowed through me at the thought I might possibly cost Gary this job.  Kahlua hopped up on my lap and swatted my chin with her paw.  “You’re right, Kahlua,” I said.  “Max might have been exaggerating, hoping to play on my sympathy. Gary’s a big boy and a good actor.  He’ll push through no matter what the role.”

It was high time I thought about what was best for me for a change.  As Aunt Tillie used to say, “If you don’t put yourself first, it’s a sure bet no one else will.”  Well, it was high time I did that. I’d put everyone else’s needs above mine, far too often, most recently with disastrous results.  I glanced at my hand – the empty third finger of my left hand, specifically – and a small sigh escaped my lips.

Everything happens for a reason.

A mental picture of Patrick rose in my mind’s eye, and I resolutely pushed it away. I’d been so certain he was the one.  I’d spend hours in my trailer between scenes, fantasizing about the perfect life we’d have together and then, in one afternoon, it had all come crashing down. I’d flung my four-carat diamond ring at Patrick and the script girl he was in bed with, stormed out of the apartment and never looked back. A month later the show was cancelled, and three weeks after that I was on a plane to Fox Hollow. And now here I sat, sorting through boxes of catnip balls and doggie chew toys. Go figure.

The bell above the shop door tinkled, jostling me out of my reverie and reminding me once again I’d forgotten to lock the door.  “I’m sorry, we’re not open for business yet,” I began, and then stopped short.  Three people stood grouped in the doorway, two women and a man. One woman was short and stout. She had flame colored hair (think Lucille Ball, only REDDER) teased up off her head and anchored with what had to be at least a pound of hairspray. She wore an aqua and orange flowered caftan a size too small which served to accentuate her generous frame instead of hiding it. Her age was hard to judge but I placed her as approximately ten years older than myself, late forties to mid-fifties. The man was around the same age. He had a brown beard shot with streaks of grey, and kind eyes behind large, tortoise framed glasses. His jeans were neat and pressed, and held up by multicolored suspenders with a thread of glitter running through them.

The other girl was a good bit younger than either of her companions.  I placed her a bit younger than myself, late twenties, early thirties tops. She had long, luxurious dark brown, almost black hair that flowed across her shoulders like a waterfall. I couldn’t see her eyes behind the massive Jackie O sunglasses she wore, but I was betting they were the same color as the hair. Her slender frame was accentuated by the skintight Capri jeans and tank top she wore. Toenails painted a bright blue peeped out from flip-flops of the same color. The girl carried a massive basket wrapped in yellow cellophane.

“Welcome to Fox Hollow,” they chorused, almost as if they’d either rehearsed it or else done it a million times before. It was hard to tell which.  “We know you’re not open yet,” the redhead added.  “But we saw the light on, so we figured maybe this was as good a time as any.”  She held out her hand. “Rita Sakowski.  I run the coffee shop up the block.  Sweet Perks.”

“Oh, yes.” I gave an enthusiastic nod. “I did notice your shop.  I’m rather a coffee nut.  Sorry I haven’t had time to stop in yet, but I’ve been busy.”

“Oh, we know,” Rita gushed. “You’re Crishell Marlowe, the actress, Tillie’s niece. I’ve always loved that name. It’s so unusual. How did you think of it, or did some Hollywood bigwig do it for you?”

“Nope. If anyone’s to blame, it’s my parents.” I took the hand she shoved in front of me and let her pump it up and down. “They couldn’t decide between Shelley and Christine, so they invented Crishell. It’s kind of a mouthful for most people, though, so I go by my nickname. Shell.” I paused. “I should also mention I’m using my real last name now. McMillan.”

“Oh.”  Rita dropped my hand abruptly. Her smile faltered just a bit and then it was back in place. “Well, I have to tell you everyone in Fox Hollow is just thrilled you’ve decided to keep Tillie’s legacy alive.”

I smiled back. “It’s my pleasure.”  I waved a hand around the store.  “I’ve been taking inventory.  I wanted to open it next week, but I doubt I’ll be ready much before the end of the month. As you can see, there’s still a lot of work to be done.  I have to restock a lot of items, and, of course, get some pets in here.”

Rita nodded.  “Of course.  Tillie did let things slack off a bit those last few months.  I guess we should have been quicker to take that as a sign something was wrong.  Your aunt never slacked off. Never.”

We were all silent for a few seconds, and then the man reached out and took my hand. “Well, I’m pleased to meet you, Shell McMillan. I’m Ron Webb. Webb’s Florists.  My store is right next door to Rita’s.” He grinned. “Sure comes in handy during the slow hours when I need a cup of java or a fresh baked scone to pick me up.”

The brunette reached up to brush a strand of hair from her glasses. I noted the blue polish on the fingernails had added glitter. “And I’m Olivia Niven,” she said. “My claim to fame is running the dance academy on Main Street.” She wrinkled her nose at me and looked pointedly at my feet. “Do you dance, Shell?”

“Not very well. I turned down Dancing on Air because I have two left feet. My co-star, Gary Presser was on last season though. He came in second.”

“I know. I voted for him. He got robbed.” Olivia looked me up and down. “I bet I could make a passable dancer out of you,” she laughed and flicked her hand dismissively. “If I can train the Boswell twins to win last year’s annual competition, I can train anyone.”

“That’s true,” Rita’s red hair swayed to and fro as she nodded. “Talk about left feet, those girls had ‘em, and now, well, you should see them foxtrot.”

Olivia shot me a mischievous grin. “Come by the studio. My girls will be thrilled to meet you.  The boys even more so.  They were all big Spy Anyone fans.” She shifted the basket to her other hand and whipped off the sunglasses, and I saw her eyes were indeed the same color as the hair, maybe even a shade darker. “So,” she reached out to tap the top of the basket. “We just came over to give you this small token to welcome you to the shop community, and to offer any help you might need.”

Rita gave Olivia a small nudge, and the younger woman held out the basket to me. Through the cellophane I saw cookies, cakes, an assortment of gourmet teas and coffees, and a small plant.

“Some treats Rita, Ron and I put together,” Olivia said, with a sidelong glance at her companions. “To be honest, it was mostly Rita. Enjoy.”

“Thanks.” I had to grip the basket hard. It was really loaded down. “This was very nice of you.”

Rita waved her hand carelessly. “Oh, don’t mention it sweetie. We all loved your aunt, and this store is one of the most popular in Fox Hollow. When the tour buses come through, they always make a stop here. Nothing people like better than to take a little souvenier home to their pets. Oh, and you might want to give Kathleen Power a call.  She knits the most darling doggie and kitty sweaters and booties.  Your aunt used to sell them for her all the time, on consignment.”

“Thanks, I’ll do that.” I smiled. “I hope I can live up to my aunt’s reputation.”

“I’m sure you will, dear.” Rita hesitated and then added, “I have to say, we were all surprised when we heard that you would be moving here and taking over the store.”

“Oh, don’t be so coy, Rita,” Olivia cut in. She turned to me. “We were shocked. After all, Fox Hollow’s no Hollywood.”

I nodded. “Thank God for that.”

Now that her arms were free, Olivia crossed them over her well endowed chest. “So, you’re really planning on staying and making a go of this? Or is this just a pit stop before your next series?”

Apparently Olivia wasn’t the type to pull any punches. Personally I found that refreshing after living in the phony Hollywood community for so long. “I assure you, I’m here to stay. I’ve retired from show business.”

Olivia’s perfectly arched eyebrow skyrocketed.  “Retired? Really?  I would think that would be hard.  Isn’t it in your blood? I mean, your mother’s an actress too, right?”

I shot her a wry smile. “If that’s true, then I want a transfusion.”

“I was sad to hear about your series,” Rita cut in. “I always watched Spy Anyone. It was one of my favorite shows.”

“Mine too,” said Ron and Olivia nodded. “I watched it for your co-star,” Olivia said with a shrug. “I hope he’s not retiring from show business too.”

“Gary? I doubt it. He’s too much of a ham.”

Olivia leaned one arm on the counter. “Frankly, I’m disappointed. I thought your moving here had something to do with that breakup of yours, you know with that director—OW!” She rubbed at her side and glared at Rita.

“No sense in rehashing things I’m sure Shell must be sick of hearing, right Shell?” Rita said smoothly.

“Oh, for pity’s sakes, the woman lived in Hollywood, the gossip capital of the world. She’s used to it, aren’t you Shell?” Olivia demanded.

“Now now Olivia, don’t put her on the spot,” chided Ron. “She might not want to talk about it.”

“Oh, don’t be silly Ron. Shell’s a public figure. Her life’s been an open book for years,” snapped Olivia. “Besides, I’m curious about this retirement.  What made you decide to give up the bright lights to follow in your aunt’s footsteps?”

“Those bright lights aren’t all they’re cracked up to be,” I said.  “When you’re on a hit show, your life isn’t your own.  As for taking over Aunt Tillie’s business, well, I’ve always loved animals.  I think if I hadn’t been pushed into going into acting, I probably would have gone for a career in veterinary medicine.  And I feel I owe it to my aunt. She was always there for me when I was growing up.  One of my biggest regrets is not having had much contact with her before she passed. No one in our family even knew she was ill.”

Rita made a sympathetic noise. “Don’t beat yourself up over that, dear. No one did. Tillie could be quite close-mouthed when it came to certain things, and her health was one of them.  I doubted she’d have ever told you anything anyway. Tillie never liked folks worrying or fussing over her.”

“But she did enjoy fussing over others,” Olivia put in. “Take her roommate, for example.”

My head swiveled in Olivia’s direction and I let out an astonished gasp. “Roommate? My aunt’s lawyer didn’t mention anything about her having a roommate.”

“No?” Olivia shrugged. “Maybe it slipped his mind.”

“Kind of an important detail to slip up on, don’t you think?” I placed my hands on my hips. “Are you sure about this? I mean, I find it a bit hard to believe my aunt would take in a boarder. She didn’t need the money, and as you’ve already pointed out, she valued her privacy.”

Olivia chuckled. “That’s because you never saw the two of them together. He doted on your aunt, and she was a sucker for him.”

He. A male boarder. A sudden thought occurred to me. “Were my aunt and this boarder involved?”

“Oh, absolutely!” Olivia nodded. “There was nothing Tillie wouldn’t do for him. He had her wrapped around his little finger. Or maybe I should say paw.”

“Paw?”

Eyes twinkling, Olivia reached toward the basket I’d set on the counter, undid the cellophane and crinkled some of it between her fingers. “That should bring him running, see! There he is now.”

I turned and caught a blur of white out of the corner of my eye. The next instant, the blur streaked past me and with one graceful leap landed on all fours right in the center of the counter.

“Oh my God,” I cried. “What is that?”

“Merow,” said the blur. “Owww.”

The others started to laugh. “That,” choked out Olivia. “Is the store mascot and your aunt’s roomie.

“Shell, meet Purrday.”

Toni-LoTempio-Credit-to-Clifton-Animal-Shelter-245x300About 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 from Berkley Prime Crime and the Cat Rescue series from Crooked Lane.  Her latest, the Pet Shop Mysteries, makes its debut August 8 with The Time for Murder is Meow.

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Risky Biscuits

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Today Mary Lee Ashford is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Risky Biscuits, her latest novel in the Sugar & Spice mystery series.

Welcome, Mary. 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.

Risky Biscuits-HighResMLA: Thanks for asking! In Risky Biscuits, Sugar Calloway and Dixie Spicer launched their community cookbook business a few months ago and now have a few solid clients. They’ve taken on The Crack of Dawn Breakfast Club who want to put together a collection of their recipes as a fundraiser to fund refurbishing a shelter at the city park. But things go awry when the key organizer of the group is missing and later found dead. Suddenly Sugar and Dixie find themselves in the midst of a murder investigation that involves secrets both past and present. and more sticky situations than, well, a sticky bun. So, while they are collecting recipes they are also collecting clues much to the chagrin of local law enforcement.

Risky Biscuits is the second book in the Sugar & Spice Mystery Series which begins with genesis of the cookbook business. After losing her job as food editor at a glossy magazine, Rosetta Sugarbaker Calloway – aka “Sugar” isn’t sweet on accepting defeat and crawling back home to her overbearing family in Georgia. So when she has the chance to work with blue-ribbon baker, Dixie Spicer, in peaceful St. Ignatius, Iowa she jumps at the chance to start over from scratch. The first book in the series is Game of Scones.

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

MLA: In most cases for me, the central mystery always starts with a question. In this case, that question was: What if, in my small town where everyone knows everyone else, someone was killed who everyone liked. And if the victim was so well-liked, what could possibly be the motive for murder?

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

MLA: There’s almost always a theme as a part of my books, but I don’t always know what it is until the story unfolds. In the case of Risky Biscuits, the theme is “home.” An important theme to be sure and one that carries a lot of emotion of all of us. In the story, a hometown golden boy has come home to St. Ignatius and his return is the catalyst for all kinds of change. Also, Sugar who is researching her father’s family begins to examine her own definition of home.

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

MLA: Many authors create extensive character sketches or fill out questionnaires about their characters before the get started. While I do keep files on my characters (mostly so I don’t create inconsistencies) I find I learn more and more about them as the book is written. After all, that’s how we get to know people in real life, isn’t it? We get to know bits and pieces about them the longer we know them. And then if we find ourselves in an extreme situation with them we really find out what they’re made of. Hopefully nothing as extreme as a murder in real life, but you get the idea. People (and characters) under pressure reveal who they are at the deepest level.

I’m partial to Sugar because I love her outlook on life. She is feisty but kind-hearted. Fiercely loyal and stubborn in a good way. Even when people are difficult, like her neighbor, Mrs. Pickett, she tries very hard to have patience. Though, make no mistake, Sugar is a strong woman who will stand up for what’s right, defend those she loves, and see things through to the end.

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

MLA: In this series, I choose a setting that I’m very familiar with. I grew up in a small rural town in Iowa. If you remember the book or movie, The Bridges of Madison County, that’s actually where I am from. Although it was fun to write about a fictional setting that has a lot in common with my own background, I think the technique for bringing it to life is much the same as it was for other settings I’ve used.

I like to think about what makes the place unique. What is it about this place that the story I’m writing could only be set there. No other place would work. Only this place.

And then I like to explore, what do the people who live there think about the place. How do they view it? What do they love or hate about it? And next, I think about how do people who don’t live there feel about the place. What’s it like to an outsider? What unique things about the place draw them in? What things about the place drive them crazy?

Because in this case the town is fictional, I don’t get to bring in real snippets of history, but I did research several towns of similar size and characteristics in order to be able to sprinkle in some background for St. Ignatius.

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

MLA: It the case of this series, I did a lot of research about cookbook publishing and talked to people who have similar businesses. Also, there’s a bit of research around police procedures and crime investigation. Though the books are cozy mysteries and not police procedurals, I want to make sure that I’ve not created implausible situations that couldn’t happen in real life.

And then finally, there’s the recipe research, but what’s more fun than finding great ideas for scones and biscuits, right? And, of course, once a recipe is created, it simply must be tested. Check out my Pinterest board if you’re interested in more recipes: www.pinterest.com/maryleeashford

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

MLA: These have been great questions! Thank-you for letting me talk about my books. The only thing that I would add is that I hope readers enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them!

Thanks for answering my questions, Mary, and good luck with Risky Biscuits, the latest book in the Sugar & Spice Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon    Barnes & Noble     Kobo    iBooks

Mary Lee Ashford PhotoAbout Mary Lee Ashford: She is a lifelong bibliophile, and avid reader, and supporter of public libraries. In addition to writing the Sugar & Spice mystery series for Kensington Books, she also writes as half of the writing team of Sparkle Abbey, author of the national bestselling Pampered Pets mystery series from Bell Bridge Books.

Prior to publishing Mary Lee won first place in the Daphne du Maurier contest, sponsored by the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA, and was a finalist in Murder in the Grove’s mystery contest, as well as Killer Nashville’s Claymore Dagger contest.

She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime – Iowa and a current board member of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest chapter, as well as a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC internet group Guppies.

Mary Lee has a passionate interest in creativity and teaches a university level course in Creative Management to MPA candidates, as well as presenting workshops and blogging about creativity. She loves encouraging other writers and is a frequent presenter on a variety of topics at workshops, conferences, and writers’ groups. In her day job, Mary Lee is a Deputy Chief Information Officer. She currently resides in the Midwest with her husband, Tim, and Sparkle, the rescue cat namesake of the Sparkle Abbey pseudonym. Her delights are reading and enjoying her family and especially her six grandchildren.

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Samantha’s Stopping By Today

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Today Samantha Lowe is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Rest, Relax, Run for Your Life, the latest novel in the Ooey, Gooey Bakery mystery series written by Katherine H. Brown.

Welcome, Samantha. Tell me about yourself and the Ooey, Gooey Bakery.

Hi! I’m Samantha Lowe and I’m thrilled to be joining you today. My friend Piper, she isn’t ooeygooey_mockup-updateso big on the public speaking and asked me if I could take today’s post. I’ve never had a problem with the limelight, probably because my mother has been sticking me in etiquette classes, pageants, and town events for as long as I can remember. My mother, Deidra, loves being the center of attention and really embraced her role as mayor’s wife when my father, Gregory, was elected mayor of our little coastal town.

Seashell Bay is a beautiful place to call home. Mother, of course, has aspirations of the White House from what I can tell but I’m content here. Piper and I co-own and operate the Ooey Gooey Goodness Bakery creating delectable desserts and the occasional breakfast or brunch baked good, too. Deciding to drop out of college and go into business nearly gave my mother a stroke; thankfully, I knew it was the best move for me and I’ve never looked back.

I’m not the only disappointment in the family. My brother Griffin took a regular ho-hum job as well rather than following our father into politics. Mother still has hope she can change his mind.

Enough about me! Let me tell you about the bakery. The Ooey Gooey Goodness Bakery is on a quaint little street of shops in the middle of town, accompanied by Flo’s Flowers, Auntie Em’s Antiques, and the Bait & Tackle Store. Flo, our closest shop neighbor, is a pretty regular customer. I’ll be honest, I’ve never had a reason to go in the Bait & Tackle – not a big fisherwoman – and we work so much at the bakery that I’ve never seen the inside of Auntie Em’s either; now that I think of it, I kind of feel badly about that. Hmm. Anyway, our bakery is small but cozy. A little café in the front with cute round bistro tables makes customers feel welcome to hang out and enjoy their treats. The kitchen in the back is awesome; lots of counter space, huge walk-in fridge, large stainless-steel work island. We do a lot of chatting and taste-testing in that kitchen. Piper and I share in the baking but she bakes a larger portion than me. I keep the books and chip in more often with the decorating for special birthday orders. I love to make things pretty, so piping icing onto cakes or themed and shaped cookies is always a blast. Piper says she doesn’t have the patience for all of the detail work that some of them require which makes us the perfect team.

Look at the time! I’ve really got to get back to work. We have extra baking to do; you see, we won a contest for raising money to increase awareness of human trafficking and it kind of made the news. Now, our bakery is more popular than ever which is great but boy are we busy.

I hope to see you all soon at the Ooey Gooey Goodness Bakery. Thanks for letting me stop by!

Thanks for visiting, Samantha, and I look forward to getting to know the Ooey, Gooey Bakery.

Readers can learn more about Samantha and Rest, Relax, Run for your Life by visiting her author’s website and Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub and Instagram pages.

The novel is available online:

 Amazon 

20190129172842_IMG_3255_polarr_1About Katherine Brown: Katherine is a Texas girl, a lover of books, and a weaver of words. Her first official publication was of two children’s books in 2017, which has now grown into five books of the School is Scary series; however, she likes to think her career as a writer started when she sold her parents newsletters of articles about school and poetry for fifty cents per copy as a pre-teen. Married to a wonderful husband and mom of a smart, spunky stepdaughter, Katherine enjoys spending time with family and reading as many new books as she can get her hands on. Her YA series, the Ooey Gooey Bakery Mystery series, is ramping up in 2019 with book 1 released in March and book 2 was released June 1, 2019.

Posted in Archives, August 2019, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Jewel Robbery

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Today Elizabeth McKenna is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Great Jewel Robbery, the first novel in the Front Page mystery series.

Welcome, Elizabeth. 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.

Great-Jewel-Robbery-EBOOK-COVEREM: The Great Jewel Robbery is book one of a new cozy mystery series called A Front Page Mystery. The story is told by Emma, a sports reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Her best friend and roommate, Grace, is also a reporter but for the Life & Style section of the newspaper. Grace is covering a charity gala at a lakeside mansion when one of the auction items, a multimillion-dollar necklace, is stolen. Emma is on hand as Grace’s “plus one” for the event, and they decide to investigate the crime to further their careers.

As the women are reporters for a large newspaper, future stories in the mystery series could be set anywhere, but I anticipate most of them will be in Wisconsin and Illinois. I am setting Emma and Grace up to have some love interests, which will keep them closer to home.

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

EM: Though my first three novels have been romances, I’ve always loved a good mystery. I grew up reading and watching Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie, Columbo, Matlock, Murder She Wrote, Monk, Psych, Law & Order—I could go on and on.

When I set out to write The Great Jewel Robbery, I was under a tremendous time crunch. I had read that Hallmark Publishing was accepting unagented submissions, and as an independent author, this was a great opportunity. Unfortunately, the deadline was less than three months away, and I am a slow writer. I calculated I would need to write at least one thousand words a day—something I’ve never done. That obstacle, along with a non-existent plot, made me ask for help.

Over drinks and a Friday night fish fry, my family and I brainstormed the plot. As I finished each chapter, I sent it to my daughters and my husband to critique. My girls caught typos and grammar, and once I convinced them I wouldn’t be upset, they offered character and plot criticisms. My husband was extremely helpful with the big picture. He’s an engineer with a logical mind that I was grateful to take advantage of.

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

EM: There’s no profound message or theme in The Great Jewel Robbery’s plot. The book I wrote before this one, First Crush Last Love, was so full of angst, pulled from my teens and twenties that I needed to write something light and breezy. The one thing I try to do with all of my books is to make sure that the plot and the characters’ actions are logical or at least understandable. I don’t want convenient things to happen to move the plot along. For example, an early draft of TGJR had Emma leaving the gala and going to the mansion’s rooftop terrace with a man she had just met—alone. I’m not sure what I was thinking, as I am constantly telling my college-aged daughters to never, ever go anywhere alone at a party, nightclub, etc. A beta reader said her inner mom was screaming at Emma, and she was right. So, I changed the scene to include other people on the terrace.

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

EM: Throughout the novels that I’ve written, the one constant has been all of the main characters have big chunks of me and also pieces of my daughters in them. Minor characters are often formed around people I know. I think the characters in my first book, Cera’s Place, will always be my favorite. It’s a historical romance with a tough female main character and a sexy rugged cowboy/ex-soldier. Besides mysteries, I love a good western, and in writing Cera’s Place, I fulfilled some fantasies.

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

EM: Obviously, the internet helps with filling in gaps of my knowledge of a place. I’ve been to the locales of all four of my novels, but two of the stories were historical, so I had to rely on reference books and old newspaper articles, photos, maps, etc. My favorite novels don’t have lengthy descriptions, and I tend to be a concise writer. (I have a Journalism degree and was a technical writer for over twenty years.) I prefer to focus on dialog and actions.

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

EM: The Great Jewel Robbery is set in a village near where I live, and the mansion where most of the story takes place is based on a real-life mansion built around 1900 on Geneva Lake (which is also near where I live). I did some research on the mansion so that I could describe its details and history accurately. I also researched diamond and gem necklaces so that I could set an accurate value. As the main characters are reporters and I was a Journalism major, I didn’t have to do much research for that.

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

EM: I’m hoping readers will enjoy my venture into mystery. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on my romances, which all had touches of mystery. Now, I’ve flipped it around to have mainly mystery with a splash of romance.

Thanks for answering my questions, Elizabeth, and good luck with The Great Jewel Robbery, the first book in the Front Page Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon  –   Barnes & Noble –   Kobo  – Scribd  –  Apple 

Elizabeth McKenna Author picAbout Elizabeth McKenna: Elizbeth’s love of books reaches back to her childhood, where her tastes ranged from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Stephen King’s horror stories. She had never read a romance novel until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She combined her love of history, romance, and a happy ending to write Cera’s Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, is loosely based on her life during her teens and twenties. The Great Jewel Robbery is her debut cozy mystery, and she hopes readers will like it as much as they have enjoyed her romances. Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.

Posted in Archives, August 2019, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Delving into The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs

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Several years ago I read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and was completely enthralled by it so when I heard that the author had written a sequel I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs was released at the end of June and as soon as I got my copy I devoured it.

Here’s what the publisher says about the novel: “New York Times bestselling author Daughters of Temperance_coverKatherine Howe returns to the world of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane with a bewitching story of a New England history professor who must race against time to free her family from a curse.

Connie Goodwin is an expert on America’s fractured past with witchcraft. A young, tenure-track professor in Boston, she’s earned career success by studying the history of magic in colonial America—especially women’s home recipes and medicines—and by exposing society’s threats against women fluent in those skills. But beyond her studies, Connie harbors a secret: She is the direct descendant of a woman tried as a witch in Salem, an ancestor whose abilities were far more magical than the historical record shows. When a hint from her mother and clues from her research lead Connie to the shocking realization that her partner’s life is in danger, she must race to solve the mystery behind a hundreds’-years-long deadly curse.

Flashing back through American history to the lives of certain supernaturally gifted women, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs affectingly reveals not only the special bond that unites one particular matriarchal line, but also explores the many challenges to women’s survival across the decades—and the risks some women are forced to take to protect what they love most.”

As I’ve said, I was delighted to discover that a sequel to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane has been written and I found it easy to lose myself in the new novel. It was satisfying to catch up with Connie Goodwin and her partner, Sam, a decade after the previous book ended. I also enjoyed discovering what had happened to several supporting characters from the original book. The author has a knack for creating very believable characters that I feel as if I know personally.

In this latest novel, there is a fascinating dichotomy between Connie’s life in the rational world of academia and the mystical one the women in her family inhabit, and the author thoughtfully explores the internal and external conflicts that this poses for Connie and how she reconciles the two worlds.

Using the history of New England, the author deftly weaves several plot threads together to tell a convincing story of past and present, and the mystical and the mundane: the lives of the women in Connie’s ancestry and the experiences of Connie and her mother; as well as the supernatural struggle to break an ancient curse and the day to day challenges that Connie’s relationships with her partner, her mother, her friends and her colleagues pose. I was captivated by all the threads within the story and had to keep turning the pages to find out what would happen.

The author’s extensive knowledge of New England shows in her detailed descriptions of Boston and the New England countryside. Connie’s grandmother’s house is so vividly evoked that it feels real. The author’s skilful use of the settings is one of the elements that makes this novel a convincing story.

I eagerly anticipated getting my copy of this novel and I wasn’t disappointed. The characters that almost step off the page and the superb plot make it a gripping read and I recommend it without any reservation to anyone who enjoys a good story.

Readers can learn more about Katherine Howe and her writing by visiting her Facebook and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon   B&N   Kobo  Google Play   IndieBound

Katherine HoweAbout Katherine Howe: She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and The House of Velvet and Glass, as well as the young adult novels, Conversion and The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen. She served as editor of The Penguin Book of Witches and her fiction has been translated into over twenty languages. Descended from three women who were tried for witchcraft in Salem, she and her family live in New England and New York City, where she is at work on her next novel.

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The Subject of Malice

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Today Cynthia Kuhn is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Subject of Malice, her latest novel in the Lila MacLean Academic mysteries series.

Welcome, Cynthia. 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 SUBJECT OF MALICE COVERCK: The Subject of Malice is book four in the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series. They are traditional/cozy/humorous mysteries featuring an English-professor-turned-amateur-sleuth.

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

CK: Academic conferences are fascinating on various levels, and I’ve always wanted to send Lila to one. It’s been in the back of my mind since the beginning of the series. A few years back, I wrote a little bit about it at Jungle Red Writers. Now that I look at the post again, I see that I was comparing an academic conference to Comic Con; my brain apparently kept working on that idea, because The Subject of Malice offers a sort of blending of the two, conceptually.

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

CK: In The Subject of Malice, malice is both the theme of the conference and the reason for the crime. Malice is of course a staple in mysteries, and the series as a whole explores how the competitive nature of academia can lead to hostility, animosity, grudges, etc.

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

CK: Character development takes time and effort—a great deal happens during revision to sharpen and deepen the individuals. But when I first start to write about new characters, it can be as much of a surprise to me as anyone, seeing how they express themselves or think about certain things. (During the first draft phase, when I’m writing fast, anything can happen. Then I revise a million times.) I’m probably most fond of the series regulars—it seems like I should say that, out of loyalty—but they’re all interesting to write, honestly.

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

CK: Description plays a role, though I do try to keep it short and integrated with the action because I am one of those readers who will skip down the page whenever I encounter incredibly long sections about setting in a book.

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

CK: Research is an ongoing thing. When I’m working on a book, I always seek out relevant information as the need arises, whether big or small. Typically, it’s driven by the storyline—for  example, with the first book, I did research on secret societies; with the second book, it was on priceless manuscripts and transportation; with the third, it was haunted buildings, ghost hunters, and opera houses. Along the way, other issues always arise too, like effects of certain substances on the body, order of police procedures, terms for a specific object, etc. In addition, through speakers hosted by professional mystery writing groups and conferences, over the years I have learned about crimes, investigations, weapons, forensics and more (and I’m still learning).

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

CK: Just that if you give it a read, I hope you enjoy. 🙂

Thanks so much for letting me visit today!

You’re welcome, Cynthia, and thanks for answering my questions. Good luck with The Subject of Malice, the latest book in the Lila MacLean Academic Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Cynthia and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook and Goodreads pages. You can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on Twitter (@cynthiakuhn).

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon   B&N     Kobo

CYNTHIA KUHNAbout Cynthia Kuhn: Cynthia writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries: The Semester of Our Discontent, The Art of VanishingThe Spirit in Question, and The Subject of Malice. Honors include an Agatha Award for best first novel and Lefty Award nominations for best humorous mystery. She blogs with Chicks on the Case and is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers.

Posted in Archives, July 2019, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What’s Rita Moreau’s Writing Process?

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Today I’d like to welcome Rita Moreau to Ascroft, eh?. She has dropped by to tell us about her writing process as she created The House on Xenia, her latest novel in the Mary Catherine Mahoney mystery series.

Welcome, Rita. Without any preamble, I’ll turn it over to you:

The Writing Process

One question my readers always ask me is “How do you write a novel?” I usually respond, “You write a novel one page at a time.”

HOUSE ON XENIAThe House on Xenia is my latest novel in the Mary Catherine Mahoney mystery series. I am proud that my readers enjoy my writing and tell me that they enjoy learning something along the way. My novels do fit the definition of cozy in that we have a whodunit featuring an amateur sleuth (Mary Catherine Mahoney), a distinctive setting (Florida), no explicit sex or violence.  With that said I would venture to say my novels are a hybrid genre since I do employ large impersonal groups like drug cartels or secret government agencies. I like to call it a cozy with an edge.  My novels all contain humor and are light and quick reads. No dark themes although I do have a theme in most of my novels. In The House on Xenia I celebrate the strength of a single Mom and in doing so I celebrate my mother who was one of the strongest women I have known in my life.

In The House on Xenia I introduce some new characters along with the zany and quirky characters my readers have come to enjoy.  One is Mabel Gold and she will be the protagonist in a new series I am working on currently.

I also employ what is called the fourth wall, in writing The House on Xenia. The fourth wall is a conceptual barrier between those presenting some kind of a communication and those receiving it. The term originated in the theater, where it refers to the imaginary wall at the front of the stage separating the audience from the performers.

Xenia, (the house on Xenia) is a character in the book that breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the reader. This is employed in films where the characters in films break the fourth wall and talk to us, meaning they ignore the imaginary “wall” that keeps the actors from the audience.

In the movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” the lovable Ferris Bueller (played by Matthew Broderick) is constantly talking to the audience like they’re his best friends. The film makes it clear in the very beginning that it’ll be ignoring the rule of audience movie subject separation. More recently the villainous Frank Underwood breaks the fourth wall in the Netflix series, “House of Cards.”

I also introduced aliens in The House on Xenia. I am from Dayton, Ohio and nearby Dayton is Wright Patterson AFB. I researched the crash at Roswell and Area 51 and how it tied into Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, which was (and may still be) the headquarters of government sponsored UFO investigations.  I weaved that long held rumor into The House on Xenia.

I also hired a house historian who gave me the history of the house I grew up in on Xenia Avenue in Dayton, Ohio. That was very interesting to know the history of the house. I think we all have memories of the house or neighborhood we grew up in that stays with us throughout our life.

I’m always happy to hear my readers tell me that they found humor in my writing and escape from their worries. My job is done.

Thanks for sharing an insight into your writing with us, Rita, and good luck with The House on Xenia, the latest book in the Mary Catherine Mahoney Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Rita and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook and Goodreads pages.

The novel is available online on Amazon 

ritaauthorAbout Rita Moreau: A workaholic by nature, upon retirement, Rita Moreau began work on her bucket list, writing a book. Traveling the national parks with her husband George in a vintage Bluebird motor home, (on George’s list), Rita completed her first novel Bribing Saint Anthony. Back home she completed Nuns! Psychics! & Gypsies! OH! NO, Feisty Nuns, The Russian & Aunt Sophia and The House on Xenia. Rita and her husband live in a postcard called Florida where he has fun telling everyone he is the author’s husband. When not writing she joins PatZi Gil on the Joy on Paper radio program with Book Buzz Mysteries or you can find her teaching fitness classes and doing her best to keep busy. She loves connecting with readers.

Posted in Archives, July 2019, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Can You Do About A Genuine Fix?

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Today J.C. Kenney is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about A Genuine Fix, his latest novel in the Allie Cobb mystery series.

Welcome, J.C.. 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.

Kenney - A Genuine Fix (1)JCK: A Genuine Fix is book two in the Allie Cobb Mysteries series. Set in the fictional southern Indiana town of Rushing Creek, it follows the exploits of amateur sleuth Allie Cobb. She’s got a lot on her plate, that’s for sure.

Running the family literary business while preparing for her best friend’s wedding, chairing a park planning committee, and getting her rescue cat to bond with her boyfriend’s golden retriever doesn’t leave Allie Cobb much time for crime-solving. But when the guy who stood her up the night of her high school senior prom is killed and dumped in a pile of mulch, Allie’s suddenly the prime suspect.

It’s insulting enough that gambler, drunk, and all-around lowlife Georgie Alonso was found on the site of the memorial park honoring Allie’s deceased father. Now she’s fighting to clear her name and hold off a rush to judgment. But politics, decades-old secrets, and a slew of high-profile suspects make dangerous bedfellows as the eve of the park’s grand opening draws nearer. She’ll have to nab a killer soon, before her storybook life gets a bad ending . . .

While the Allie Cobb Mysteries are all set in Rushing Creek, they can be read as standalone stories. Like so many mystery series, though, the books do build on each other, so it can’t hurt reading A Literal Mess, book one of the series, before reading A Genuine Fix.

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

JCK: Every other year, I have a huge pile of landscaping mulch delivered to my home. One day, I found myself wondering how big of a pile would be needed to serve as a murder weapon. That led to some interesting, and creepy, research into what would happen to someone who was buried under a pile of mulch. From there, I needed to figure out the circumstances under which someone could plausibly use mulch to take someone else’s life.

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

JCK: One of my objectives in writing A Genuine Fix was to ask the question of whether the end justifies the means. If so, is something as drastic as murder ever justified? I think a lot of people would say yes when it’s a matter of self-defence, but are there any other circumstances when it might be acceptable?  

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

JCK: As I work on a story idea, I build a cast of characters, initially based on what role they play in the story, for example, the best friend or the chocolate store owner. Once I get my cast of characters in place, I form a picture in my mind of what each character looks like, everything from skin tone to hair color to style of dress. For my main characters, I also think about what their likes and dislikes are. For example, Allie Cobb, my main character, likes to kickbox to heavy metal music. Whenever possible, I try to give my characters enough of a background to make them seem like real people you might have a cup of coffee with.

If I had to choose one character to shine the spotlight on, it would probably have to be Sloane Winchester, Allie’s best friend. Sloane’s a kind-hearted soul whose love of life reminds Allie that there is a lot of good in the world, even on the darkest of days.

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

JCK: I’m fortunate in that the setting for the Allie Cobb Mysteries, Rushing Creek, is modelled after the real-life town of Nashville, Indiana, which is only an hour south of where I live. It’s easy to visit the town for a day or weekend to take pictures, shop, and basically immerse myself in the real-life version of Rushing Creek.

I also have a map of Nashville that I turned into a map of Rushing Creek. Whenever I mention a business, house, or other landmark in one of my stories, I make sure it has a spot on the map. It’s been a wonderful tool to make sure I don’t put two businesses in the same location.

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

JCK: Most of my research tends to focus on two things. The first is Allie’s career as a literary agent. I confer with my literary agent often to make sure I’m getting Allie’s “day job” correct. The second is the murder weapon. I often ask myself, what would it take for someone to die from such-and-such weapon or action. I’ve studied macabre subjects from downing to poisoning to blowing up a propane gas tank. It’s fascinating research because I learn how things work.

I also watch a lot of crime shows and read a lot of mysteries. I never know when I’ll be watching or reading a story and something catches my attention. Murdoch Mysteries is one of my favorites for this kind of research. Plus, it’s a fabulously entertaining show.

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

JCK: I don’t want to give away too much, but readers get to see a lot more of Allie’s cat, Ursi, in A Genuine Fix. There are also a lot of opportunities to get to know some characters better while getting to meet new ones.

Lastly, I want to mention that Allie’s adventures solving crimes aren’t over with A Genuine Fix. Book 3 in the series, A Mysterious Mix Up, arrives next January!

Thanks for answering my questions, J.C., and good luck with A Genuine Fix, the latest book in the Allie Cobb Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about J.C. and his writing by visiting his website and his Facebook and Bookbub pages. You can also follow him on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon   – B&N  – Kobo

JCKenney headshot 10-17About J.C. Kenney: He is the author of the Allie Cobb Mysteries, which are set in the fictional small town of Rushing Creek, Indiana. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife, two sons, and a snuggly kitty cat. He loves motor sports, so when he’s not writing, you can probably find him checking in on the latest from IndyCar and other forms of racing. J.C. is a member of Sisters in Crime.

Posted in Archives, July 2019, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Time Has Run Out For Someone

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Today Suzanne Trauth is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about No More Time, her latest novel in the Dodie O’Dell mystery series.

Welcome, Suzanne. 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.

No More TimeST: My novel No More Time is the fifth book in the Dodie O’Dell mystery series. The series takes place, for the most part, in Etonville, New Jersey, a small town a stone’s throw from New York City. Dodie grew up down the Jersey Shore and lived and worked in Candle Beach. But after Hurricane Sandy destroyed her home and the restaurant she managed, Dodie came north to Etonville where she manages the Windjammer restaurant. Next door to the Windjammer is the Etonville Little Theatre, a community theatre whose members are Dodie’s good friends. In fact, Dodie pops over to see rehearsals and has been known to help out with costumes and lights. Until she gets involved in a murder investigation due to her infamous instincts. Then Dodie becomes Etonville’s amateur detective – but don’t tell her she’s an amateur!

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

ST: Dodie and her current love interest, Etonville’s police chief, have decided to return to the beach for a summer vacation. So…No More Time takes place down the Shore where Dodie’s ex-boyfriend is implicated in the murder of his former business partner. Out of loyalty, Dodie gets drawn into the investigation. Meanwhile, the Etonville Little Theatre is in Candle Beach to take part in the NJ Community Theater Festival. Dodie has agreed to help cater the opening night reception by suggesting theme hors d’oeuvres to match the play titles in the festival. She’s done theme food at the Windjammer restaurant to match the Etonville Little Theatre productions, like Italian night for Romeo and Juliet. So she’s good at it…usually.

My background is in theatre and I visit the Jersey Shore nearly every summer so ideas for this mystery came naturally: a theatre festival, a body on the beach, a trail of clues that lead the reader down the boardwalk, through an arcade, and onto boats.

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

ST: Every book in the series features a play by the Etonville Little Theatre and theme food provided by the Windjammer restaurant. The series is about theatre, food…and murder!

For No More Time, the theme is “acting.” The primary acting is done by the community theatre folks in the festival; but Dodie discovers that quite a few others are “acting” as well: her ex, the murderers, even her boyfriend the police chief! So acting is threaded throughout this mystery.

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

ST: Most of my characters have been with me for a few years…some literally popped into my head without warning, such as my main characters Dodie, police chief Bill, Dodie’s BFFs Lola and Carol. Since Etonville is a small town, a cast of quirky characters is certainly in order. For minor characters, I created the batty Banger sisters, the police code-loving dispatcher Edna, grumpy Vernon and his choir-director wife Mildred. Since each book features the antics of the community theatre, there are lots of opportunities for eccentric characters that come directly out of my theatre experience—the anxious director, the cliché mangling stage manager, the egotistical leading man. And of course each novel has a few new characters who are responsible for the murder!

I love them all! They’re like family. I must confess, however, that Dodie feels like an alter ego. She gets to say and do things I’d love to say and do! I also get a kick out of Penny. Not only is she the uber-stage manager with a whistle, she is my book’s comic relief as she makes her cliché-ridden pronouncements.

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

ST: Etonville is based on a few northern New Jersey towns that I know well. But No More Time takes place in a shore town—Candle Beach—that is based on a beach town I’ve visited frequently. But just to get details correct, I spent a few days last spring ambling around the town, taking pictures, stopping in bars and restaurants, visiting the boardwalk arcade. I got a ton of great ideas that went right into the novel!

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

ST: Spending time at the shore location, of course. But also I did research on a variety of topics: murder weapons, criminal activity, police departments down the Shore, seafood recipes for the restaurants Dodie and Bill visit, and digital forensics—which plays a part in every murder Dodie solves. Since I spent decades in theatre as a director, teacher, producer, and writer, that aspect of the novel came easily to me.

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

ST: Thanks for taking the time to read this interview. Grab a copy of No More Time and head to the pool or beach!

Thanks for answering my questions, Suzanne, and good luck with No More Time, the latest book in the Dodie O’Dell Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – B&N – Kobo

TRAUTH20140627About Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former theatre professor at a university. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Dramatists Guild, and League of Professional Theatre Women. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.

Posted in Archives, July 2019, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment