Be careful what you eat

Today Sugar Calloway is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Quiche of Death, the latest novel in the Sugar & Spice mystery series.

Welcome, Sugar. 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.

Well, I live in St. Ignatius, a small town in Iowa. But I guess, St. Ignatius lives inside the Sugar & Spice Mystery Series. Don’t you just love that name? It’s called that after the cookbook business that I own with my best friend, blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer.

The story kind of starts just as we are starting our business. You see, we publish cookbooks. But not just any kind of cookbooks – these are community cookbooks. You know, the kind where the glee club or the church group or the soccer team collects recipes, puts them in a book, and then sells the cookbooks as a fundraiser. Dixie and I help them do that.

The series started with Game of Scones and then moved on to Risky Biscuits and I don’t know if I should broadcast this or not, but there were murders in both of those books. Which Dixie and I solved, by the way.

And now, here we are, in Quiche of Death. We are working on something a bit different – a cookbook for the Arbor family. And they have invited us to spend the weekend with them at a family get-together. The weekend gathering seemed like a good way to collect the recipes they wanted include and maybe pick up some colorful stories to include as sidebars in the book. But I have to say I can already tell, there are some weird dynamics going on with this group.

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

My writer is what I would call a control freak. She figures it all out ahead of time and expects me to stay in line. Though I don’t always do as I’m told.  So sometimes I like to throw a wrench in her well-oiled machine. For instance, she had not planned on a little explosion in the middle of the story. But I thought it was more fun than what she had in mind. And then there was the glue incident…

How did you evolve as the main character?

I’m not really sure. I guess I kind of like being in charge and so it just shook out that way. I’m not pushy, but when I decide to dig into something, I stay the course. I’m not snoopy, but I’m willing to keep asking questions. Plus, I’m the outlier. Most everyone in the books has lived in St. Ignatius most of their lives and I’m new to the town. Sort of an outsider.

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

Oh, my stars, where do I start? I adore my best-friend and business partner
Dixie Spicer. She has a heart as big as all outdoors. If you find yourself in any kind of trouble and need help, she’ll be there. Plus, she’s the best cook in the world and I get to taste whatever she’s cooking.

And then there’s Greer Gooder, my landlady and my role model. She is self-sufficient, no nonsense, unwaveringly upbeat. When I am eighty, I want to be just like her.

And I can’t forget, Max Windsor. Greer calls him Handsome Max and he’s all that and more. He’s an extremely talented professional photographer and we use to take photos of the food for the cookbooks. Why am I partial to Max? I like his intensity when he’s working. I like his vivid blue eyes. Most of all, I like that he gets me.

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

Do you mean place as in the actual location? Well, as I said earlier, I live in St. Ignatius, which I love.

I rent a house, though I have my sights set on buying it when Greer is ready to sell. It’s a beautiful Queen Anne Victorian on a big lot with a maple tree that turns a bright beautiful crimson red in the fall. The yard is bordered by lilac bushes and oh my, the wonderful smell in spring. The only drawback is my neighbor, Mrs. Pickett, who just plain doesn’t like me. I’ve tried and tried to be friendly, but no dice. I truly believe that one day I’ll break her with my kindness.

The town itself is a beautiful clean midwestern community with a town square that has a limestone courthouse at its center. The square is bordered on all four corners by local shops. One of my favorites is the Red Hen Diner, a chicken-themed restaurant where not only does everyone know your name, pretty much everyone also knows your business. A handy spot when I’m trying to solve a murder.

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

Well, one important thing to note is that though the books are focused around solving murders, we have a lot of fun, too.

Though I have to say, that’s mostly thanks to me. Remember what I said about the explosion. And the glue.

Thank you for answering my questions, Sugar, and good luck to you and your author, Mary Lee Ashford, with Quiche of Death, the latest book in the Sugar & Spice mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Sugar and her author, Mary Lee Ashford by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, 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 – Google Books – Apple Books

About Mary Lee Ashford: Mary is a lifelong bibliophile, and avid reader, and supporter of public libraries. In addition to writing the Sugar and Spice 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 past board member of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest chapter, as well as a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of AmericaKiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC internet group Guppies. She loves encouraging other writers and is a frequent presenter for writers’ groups. 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 currently resides in the midwest with her husband, Tim, and cat, Zoey. Her delights are reading and enjoying her two sons and daughters-in-law, and six grandchildren.

Posted in Archives, July 2020 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Meet the Countess of Harleigh

Today Dianne Freeman is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder, her latest novel in the Countess of Harleigh mystery series.

Welcome, Dianne. 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.

I write the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series set in late Victorian London. The central character, Frances Wynn is a former American Heiress, now widow to the Earl of Harleigh. When the series begins, Frances has just finished her mourning period for her late husband and moved to a posh neighborhood in London to start a new life for herself and her young daughter. The ghosts of her old life follow her however, and she finds herself a suspect in a case of murder.

In A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder, the third book in the series, Frances is planning a simple wedding in the countryside for her sister, Lily. Everyone is having a lovely time until the servants, the wedding party, and even the guests begin to fall victim to mysterious “accidents.” The injuries are bad enough, but when someone dies, Frances is driven to find out if someone is trying to put an end to this wedding—or just to the groom.

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

A Victorian house party personifies the British upper-crust for me—all those aristocrats at play and behaving badly. What better place to set a murder mystery? Even with a murderer on the loose, it would be an egregious breach of manners to leave before the designated date, so the only choice is to find the killer.

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

When she was eighteen, Frances married the man her mother chose for her. It was an exchange of money for a title. Now, ten years later, her mother is interfering with Lily’s choice for a husband, so their mother/daughter relationship and how they come to an understanding plays a role in the story.

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

My characters come to me pretty well formed. I learn to understand them by examining their pasts. I don’t write biographies for them. I rely on one or two experiences that shaped their lives. Frances plays the leading role because she’s my favorite. She has so much to learn and so much to give and she’s always willing and eager to do both. She adopted the British “stay calm and carry on” attitude, so even when everything is chaotic, she remains unflappable.

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

I don’t enjoy a lot of description myself, so I tend to stay away from it. However, letting the characters interact with the setting will let readers experience it through the character’s eyes, or ears, or nose.

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

Historical fiction requires a lot of research. I spend much of my time in the pages of the British Newspaper Archive. The news stories let me know if any major event took place during the time of my story and what interested the people of that time. There were newspapers that dealt specifically with crime so I can learn not only what type of crime the people of London were dealing with, but how the police managed to solve and prosecute the cases. Even the classified ads help in determining things like where my characters can afford to live and how much their servants can expect to earn.

For A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder I needed to learn about the leisure activities of the late Victorian era—the types of pastimes one might find at a country house party. I also needed to find a country house, something I could use as a model for Risings, George Hazelton’s family seat. Fortunately, I enjoy research and hope these details transport the reader to another time.

Thanks for answering my questions, Dianne, and good luck with A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder, the latest book in theCountess of Harleigh Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

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

About Dianne Freeman: Dianne is the acclaimed author of the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series. She is an Agatha Award and Lefty Award finalist, as well as a nominee for the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award from Mystery Writers of America. She spent thirty years working in corporate accounting and finance and now writes full-time. Born and raised in Michigan, she and her husband now split their time between Michigan and Arizona.

Posted in Archives, July 2020 | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

From Beer to Eternity

Today Chloe Jackson is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about From Beer to Eternity, the first novel in the Chloe Jackson, Sea Glass Saloon mystery series.

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

Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too. Hi, I’m Chloe Jackson and this is my debut in the Sea Glass Saloon mystery series. So I’m excited (and a little nervous, but don’t tell anyone!) In From Beer to Eternity I work at a beach bar – the Sea Glass Saloon in the panhandle of Florida. Normally, I’m a children’s librarian in Chicago so this has been a scary change for me. The worst part is the woman I’m here to help (my best friend Boone’s grandmother) doesn’t want me here! But I promised Boone I’d help her so you can see what a terrible situation I’ve been thrown into. (Looks at writer – shakes fist.) And then I found one of our patrons dead behind the bar. Let me tell you that was no fun at all. Next thing I know Boone’s grandmother is suspect numero uno and the only way I’m ever going to make it back to Chicago is to find the real killer. If I make it out of this mess there are more books in the series – she’s writing the second one, A Time to Swill, now. From page one she is putting me through a lot.

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too? Between us, I let the writer think she’s in control. It’s just easier that way, but we all know who is really calling the shots – me!

How did you evolve as the main character? I was the obvious choice even though the writer had a lot of trouble naming me. I was like “hello, I’m Chloe” but she didn’t pay any attention. When we finally got over that hurdle we had to pick a car (vintage red Volkswagen Beetle), find a place for me to live (she really put me through the paces with that one), and agree on my backstory. Native Chicagoan that had a tragic incident happen when I was ten that pretty much shaped my entire life. She also saddled me with two older brothers – go figure. Everyone has different ways of dealing with their tragedies, but I’m still trying to figure all of that out.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them? Joaquín Diaz – fisherman by morning, bartender the rest of the time. He has more moves than Elvis and Ricky Martin combined. He’s my first friend in Emerald Cove and he’s the pacifier to the oil and water that defines the uneasy relationship between Boone’s grandmother and me.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story? It is stunning! White sandy beaches, aquamarine water in the Gulf of Mexico. And even though the bar I work in is called a “saloon” it’s more tiki hut than western bar. The view is spectacular. There’s a reason they call this area the Emerald Coast. Tourists flock to the place so the traffic can be iffy.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book? I quickly found out that dealing with drunks and toddlers wasn’t that different. My librarian voice works well with bar patrons. And whew, am I glad I took the self-defense course for librarians when it was offered. I didn’t think I’d ever need it, but I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Thanks for answering my questions, Chloe, and good luck to you and your author, Sherry Harris with From Beer to Eternity, the first book in the Chloe Jackson, Sea Glass Saloon Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Sherry and her writing by visiting her publisher’s website, her website and her Facebook page.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

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

About Sherry Harris: Sherry is the Agatha Award-nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery series and the upcoming Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mysteries. She is a past president of Sisters in Crime, and a member of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers.

In her spare time, Sherry loves reading and is a patent-holding inventor. Sherry, her husband, and guard dog Lily are living in northern Virginia until they figure out where they want to move to next.

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Larceny at the Library

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Today Kit Marshall is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Larceny at the Library, the latest novel in the Washington Whodunit mystery series.

Welcome, Kit. 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.

“Larceny at the Library” is set at one of my favorite places in the world, the Library of Congress. My husband works at the Library of Congress, and that fact makes it a convenient setting for this book.

I’m a full-time congressional staffer in Washington, D.C. and a part-time sleuth. This is my sixth murder mystery, and I’m starting to get the hang of it.

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

LARCENY AT THE LIBRARY_Front CoverMy writer (or my “creator”) has the final say, but sometimes I offer my opinion about how I would react to a situation or how I might respond to a snarky comment. I’m not shy about sharing my opinion.

How did you evolve as the main character?

When I first started solving murder mysteries, I wasn’t very confident in my skills to investigate. Over time, I’ve become more confident. I didn’t have a high degree of self-possession in those early stories, but now I’m in charge and I know what to do when a dead body shows up!

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

Of course, I’m partial to my husband Doug, who directs the scholarly center at the Library of Congress. Also, my best friend Meg, who works with me in Congress – she’s always doing something crazy. There’s also my younger brother Sebastian, who recently moved to Washington, D.C. and my beagle mutt Clarence. I’m lucky to have so many family members and friends help me solve the mysteries that materialize right in front of me!

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

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the word. It’s also one of the most beautiful buildings in Washington, D.C. Thousands of really smart people work there, and it’s considered a national treasure by our elected officials who serve in Congress. If you’re visiting our nation’s capital, you need to go to the Library of Congress to experience it for yourself!  Or, go online at www.loc.gov for a virtual visit.

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

I worked at the Library of Congress for over a decade in a variety of positions, and I’m really excited for the debut of “Larceny at the Library.”  It has special meaning for me. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it.

Thank you for answering my questions, Kit, and good luck to you and your author with Larceny at the Library, the latest book in the Washington Whodunit series.

Readers can learn more about Kit and her author, Colleen J Shogan, by visiting the author’s 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

Shogan 2019About Colleen J. Shogan: Colleen has been reading mysteries since the age of six. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at several universities and previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as a senior executive at the Library of Congress. She is currently the Senior Vice President of the White House Historical Association.

Colleen is a member of Sisters in Crime. “Stabbing in the Senate” was awarded the Next Generation Indie prize for Best Mystery in 2016. “Homicide in the House” was a 2017 finalist for the RONE Award for Best Mystery. “Calamity at the Continental Club” was a 2018 finalist in the “best cozy mystery” at Killer Nashville. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan.

Posted in Archives, July 2020, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nine New Stories Available Today

Mystery FB

Today is an exciting day for me. I’ve been working with several other authors this year on a collection of cozy mystery short stories and novellas and today is launch day for Mystery Follows Her.

Nine new cozy mystery stories for only .99 cents or pence (depending where you live). And more than 400 pages to read. 

Mystery Follows Her is a collection of intriguing and light-hearted stories written by authors from across the globe, including two NYT Bestselling authors.

Mystery small fileThe stories will lead you through dangerous city streets, quaint villages, and locales across the globe. Uncover the clues to the crimes with feisty female sleuths of all ages.

My contribution to the collection, Thanksgiving and Theft, takes Lois Stone, the main character in the Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries series, back to Toronto to visit friends for Thanksgiving weekend. Wandering through her old neighbourhood, she interrupts a mugging in the same park where her husband was attacked and died three years previously. Lois’s heart goes out to the victim when she learns that the woman’s last gift from her deceased husband is one of the things the thief has stolen. Knowing this, she has to help find the mugger and get that gift back. And so begins a mystery filled weekend.

The collection is officially launched today and copies are available from the following retailers:

KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/mystery-follows-her

AMAZON EBOOK: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BTN6HN2

BARNES & NOBLEhttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mystery-follows-her-dianne-ascroft/1137236707

APPLE BOOKShttps://books.apple.com/us/book/id1520314527

It’s also available in paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/8832249138

Posted in Archives, July 2020, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel Can Be Murder

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Today Jennifer S. Alderson is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Death by Windmill, her latest novel in the Travel Can Be Murder mystery series.

Welcome, Jennifer. 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.

In Death by Windmill, tour guide Lana Hansen must sleuth out who killed one of her guests, in order to set her own mother free.

Death by Windmill is the third book in my Travel Can Be Murder cozy mystery series. In this book, tour guide Lana Hansen is leading a Mother’s Day-themed tour through the Netherlands when one of her guests either plummets from, or is pushed off of, a windmill. Lana’s mother is arrested for the crime, but Lana is certain she did not do it, and must figure out who did before her tour through the Netherlands is over!

In my Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery series, Lana Hansen leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly. Making travel a central part of the series means each story is set in a different location, instead of the same small town. However, because I don’t want these novels to turn into travelogues, the confrontations, eavesdropping, and sleuthing take place during the group’s day tours, so readers get a mystery and trip in one.

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

DEATH BY WINDMILLThe murder in Death by Windmill came to me while visiting the Zaanse Schans, a tiny village famous for its windmills that is quite close of Amsterdam. When I was standing up on one of the windmill’s observation platforms – a wide balcony skirting the outside – and watching the massive blades swooshing by, all I could think was what a great way that would be to kill someone. Luckily, my husband – who was accompanying me at the time – knows that I only murder on paper!

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

Each story is set during a different holiday, which helps give readers a point of reference and me a way to tailor the murder and storyline to another theme. These holidays also help me to choose the location of each book.

For example, Death on the Danube: A New Year’s Murder in Budapest, the first book in the series, takes place in Budapest during New Year’s Eve. Because the city is famous for its fireworks shows and winter markets, I thought this would be a wonderful setting and holiday theme to start the series off with.

In book two, Death by Baguette: A Valentine’s Day Murder in Paris, Lana is accused of murdering her boyfriend in the City of Love. In Death by Windmill: A Mother’s Day Murder in Amsterdam, Lana’s mother is the prime suspect in a tourist’s death. I figured Amsterdam, the flower capital of the world, would be a good setting for this story!

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

The older main characters in this series are inspired by my own extensive family, or at least partially so. Lana’s boss, Dotty Thompson, may be my favorite because she is based on two of my favorite aunts – Jean and Dutch, two incredibly strong, wonderful, and independent women who I greatly admired. Unfortunately both are now deceased. Writing the dialog between Lana and Dotty is like going back in time for me, as I try to think of how my aunts would have responded. It’s quite fun to do!

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

I bring the locations to life by including what readers would see, smell, taste, and hear while visiting those cities. It does help that I have personally visited each of the locations I am describing, often multiple times.

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

Though I choose settings I have already visited, in some cases it has been several years since I’ve been. And as we all know, cities are constantly evolving! To start writing the descriptions of place, I revisit my old photos, maps, and journals and draw from my own memories. Once I’ve finished that process, I do read recent travel blogs to ensure that the places I am describing still exist and have not been significantly altered since my last visit.

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

I know a book can never truly replace the experience of travel, yet I do hope my cozy mysteries help sate readers’ wanderlust during these turbulent times!

Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog!

Thank you for answering my questions, Jennifer, and good luck with Death by Windmill, the latest book in the Travel Can Be Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Jennifer 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 at the following online retailers:

AmazonBarnes and Noble

About Jennifer S. Alderson: Jennifer was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and JenniferSAlderson_thumbcurrently lives in Amsterdam. Jennifer’s love of travel, art, and culture inspires her award-winning Zelda Richardson Mystery series, Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mysteries, and standalone stories.

After traveling extensively around Asia, Oceania, and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before settling in the Netherlands. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.

Posted in Archives, July 2020, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Still Knife Painting

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Today Cheryl Hollon is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Still Knife Painting, her first novel in the Paint & Shine mystery series.

Welcome, Cheryl. 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.

Still Knife Painting is the first book in the Paint & Shine Mystery Series. I’m writing the third book and will turn it over to my editor at Kensington Books in the middle of July. The mysteries are about a young woman who starts a cultural adventure business in a rural community in eastern Kentucky.

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

STILL KNIFE PAINTINGI was born in Hazel Green, Kentucky where most of my family have been farmers, engineers, musicians, and my grandmother was the postmistress for Trent, Ky. Although my parents moved to Dayton, Ohio when I was incredibly young, I spent most of my summers living with my grandparents and running wild like a barn kitten.

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

The strength of family bonds and creativity through art. Everyone I know from that area has an artistic talent for painting, embroidery, quilting, dressmaking, cooking, and fantastically beautiful flower gardens.

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

A cobble together a Frankenstein collection of traits – trying on this quality and adding on that quirk. They I play around with the name until they suddenly everything snaps into place and they become themselves.

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

I’ve been to the farmhouse described in the books several times a year since I was a toddler. After I left home, it became a summer house for my parents. Their favorite time to visit was for a few weeks in the spring and a longer visit in the fall.

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

Of course, internet and e-mail are a writer’s best friend. But I have to good fortune to still have cousins there who live right down the road from my father’s farmhouse.

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

While I was drafting the first book in this series, my father had a bad fall and ended up in a rehabilitation facility to regain his strength. Unfortunately, his health took a bad turn and he passed away while I was writing the second book. I am so thankful we had time to share long conversations about his happy boyhood in this remarkable corner of eastern Kentucky.

Thanks for answering my questions, Cheryl, and good luck with Still Knife Painting, the first book in the Paint & Shine Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Cheryl and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter (@CherylHollon).

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon B&N   Kobo

Author Hollon Photo (1)About Cheryl Hollon: Cheryl now writes full-time after she left an engineering career of designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind her house in St. Petersburg, Florida, Cheryl and her husband design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass, and painted glass artworks.

Posted in Archives, July 2020, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christmas is coming – watch out!

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Today Christina Freeburn is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Dash Away All, her latest novel in the Merry & Bright Handcrafted mystery series.

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

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

Yes, Dash Away All is the third book in the Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery series. DASH AWAY ALLThe series all have a Christmassy title: Not A Creature Was Stirring (1), Better Watch Out (2), and Dash Away All (3). The series features Merry Winters, an empty nester who specializes in handcrafting Christmas décor and gift items. After Merry’s children grow up and move out, she decided it was time to stretch her dreams and herself as her children were no longer dependent on her. Her first throw-all-caution-to-the-wind moment though led her investigating a murder to keep herself out of jail.

In this book, Merry is excited that she’s having a big dream-come-true moment after being hired as the on-site crafter for a Christmas mystery movie titled Dash Away All. She loves all things Christmas, especially Christmas movies and is now, in a way, going to be in one. Her joy is short-lived when the night she arrives things start going very wrong, and the Queen of Christmas movies Luna Carmichael is a little more grinchy than one expects from a Christmas icon.

When Luna’s assistant Marie dies in an accident, Merry discovers things that points to the accident being not quite so accidental, and she can’t help wondering if Luna was the real target. And worse, Merry doesn’t know who to trust as everyone on the set seems to either be keeping secrets or creating an alternative truth.

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

I wanted to write a Christmas-in-July book and figured that a Christmas movie set was the perfect way to bring the holiday into the summertime. And with Merry being a crafter having her hired to create the crafts was a great reason she was hired for the movie but…can’t say anymore as I don’t want to give anything away.

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

I wanted to explore the issue of “editing” personal stories and how much are we entitled to know about another person. I scrapbook and in some of the groups I’m in there have been discussions about whether it’s dishonest not to document everything in a family scrapbook (the bad memories along with the good), or if individuals have the right to keep some of their personal story private. With Merry having been abandoned as a baby, I felt this was a good theme to explore with her, especially with the backdrop of a movie where people are pretending to be someone else.

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

I tend to create characters differently for each book. For this one, there were roles I needed filled for the story to be balanced and some of the characters came from that. My main characters usually are a result from me wanting to deal with something in my life and I find that easier to do it through the heroines. Usually that’s where my themes and the “heart” struggle for the character comes from…I’ve never had to do any amateur sleuthing.

I have a hard time saying any of the characters are my favorite as it feels like I’m picking one child over another. I will admit that some characters are more fun to write than others. I love writing Merry because of all the Christmas I get to add in when she’s in the story. In the Merry & Bright series, I have a great time writing Cornelius who is a bah humbug to Merry’s Christmas cheer. And Ebenezer, Merry’s guinea pig, is so a blast to write. I love creating mischief he can get into.

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

I always set the main part of my stories in a fictional town, so I “steal” from a couple of different places I have visited or lived and use those pieces to create the location. It’s hard for me to find an actual place that fits what I need for the book I’m working on and it works better for me to just make up my own town.

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

For this book, I did some research on Christmas movie making. I wanted to make sure I had enough details to add authenticity to the scenes and in a way that seemed natural for Merry to know since the book is written in first person. When there was something that she wouldn’t know, I worked on her learning about in a way that was natural considering her role in the movie.

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

This book had even me confused on who the murderer was. It switched three different times. I always start the book knowing who and why of the crime but this time the who and why switched after a character “told” me what the secondary secret (the true big secret) they were keeping. And even then, I was wrong and didn’t see who the killer was into working on the first edit. Fortunately, my wonderful editor was on board with me reworking the story, so the real culprit was revealed. What was interesting about all of this is there were already clues in the book pointing to this person that I hadn’t realized were there.

Thanks for answering my questions, Christina, and good luck with Dash Away All, the latest book in the Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Christina and her writing by visiting her website and blog, 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

christinaAbout Christina Freeburn: Christinas has always loved books. There was nothing better than picking up a story and being transported to another place. The love of reading evolved into the love of writing and she’s been writing since her teenage years. Her first novel was a 2003 Library of Virginia Literary Award nominee. Her mysteries series, Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery and Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mysteries, are a mix of crafty and crime and feature heroines whose crafting time is interrupted by crime solving.

Christina served in the US Army and has also worked as a paralegal, librarian, church secretary, and golf shop pro. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, dog, and a rarely seen cat except by those who are afraid and allergic to felines.

Posted in Archives, July 2020, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

A sprinkling of murder

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Today Daryl Wood Gerber is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about A Sprinkling of Murder, her first novel in the Fairy Garden mystery series.

Welcome, Daryl. 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.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog. My new book is A SPRINKLING OF MURDER. It is the first in a series. Fairy garden store owner Courtney Kelly believes in inviting magic into one’s life. But when uninvited trouble enters her shop, she’ll need more than a sprinkling of her imagination to solve a murder.

What is a fairy garden? It’s sort of like doll-housing for your garden. A person makes miniature gardens using fairy figurines and features like fairy doors and houses.

The series is set in the charming town, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, and features Courtney Kelly, a former landscaper, who realized she wasn’t happy and needed to spread her wings. With a small inheritance that she received from her nana, she started Open Your Imagination. Soon after, she met Fiona, who by all intents and purposes is a fairy-in-training. When you read the story, you’ll learn why.

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

A Sprinkling of Murder_TRDI was at a Renaissance Faire and I fell in love with the art of fairy gardens. A woman who was there glowed with a lovely energy. I wanted to connect with that same glow. I found a garden store not far from me that focused on fairy gardens. There aren’t a lot of them. For me, it was Kismet! I went to the store and fell in love with everything there. So, I decided to create a character who could live the life of a shop owner who brings joy to customers by helping them design fairy gardens. It’s well known that seeing a fairy will bring luck into one’s life.

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

There is a lot of animosity toward Courtney, the protagonist, and her whimsical shop. One shop owner believes it should be banned from town. Another thinks Courtney is trying to take over his lease. I wanted to show how bias and misconceptions could lead to a bad end. But by the end of the story, there is a positive outcome, and some who didn’t believe in fairies, will come to their senses.

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

First, I come up with a name, age, and description. Then I focus on the character’s dreams or goals. I fell in love with Courtney—a name I’ve loved all my life—the moment she came to me. She was fully formed. She’d lost her mother at the age of ten. She lost her ability to see fairies at that moment. She needed to turn her life around. She needed what I’d felt the moment I first visited a fairy garden store—hope. Whimsy. A career that would make her smile. I adore her pluck. I love her relationship with her father.  And I absolutely love the relationship she forms with Fiona, a fairy-in-training, who can be an imp but who is also fiercely loyal to Courtney and desperately wants to find the truth.

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

I grew up in California and visited Carmel often. It is a place that I find calming and filled with spirituality. Though Carmel is already laid out as a town, I read up on its courtyards and shopping areas and decided to create a fictional courtyard for Courtney’s business. To anchor myself, I drew maps and more maps. Where the fictional shops are. What the interior décor looks like. What the shapes of the shops are. What’s across the street—another fictional courtyard. When I planned out the interior of Courtney’s shop, I paid attention to where she would sell specialty items like tea sets and wind chimes, and where her office was, and then I focused on the exterior patio, where she sells fairy figurines, gives classes, and has weekend teas. You should see the wall behind my computer—maps and layouts taped everywhere.

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

I visited Carmel and took a ton of pictures, visited the library, went to the post office, studied the people. I had so much fun. When I returned home, I read lots of articles about Carmel. In addition, I’ve studied all sorts of fairy garden sites. I’ve made over thirty fairy gardens in my backyard (Check out the pictures on my website as well as on my Pinterest page and my other social media platforms). Right outside my office, there is a garden nook, and I created a fairy village there. Seeing my miniature creations brings me joy and inspiration.

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

This is the first time I’ve written something magical. Notice that I use the word magical and not paranormal. It was quite a challenge once I gave into continuing with the idea. I’ve read many mysteries featuring witches and ghosts and even gargoyles, but to write this kind of mystery myself was daunting. Would it resonate? Would my foodie readers shy away from something so fanciful? Would I be able to find the “voice” that the story needed to keep the mystery the central theme, and the “world” a reality? I’m happy to say that reviews have been lovely and positive. And for my foodie readers . . . there are weekend teas at Open Your Imagination, so I do include recipes at the end of the books. Don’t miss the caramel blondies!

Thanks for answering my questions, Daryl, and good luck with A Sprinkling of Murder, the first book in the Fairy Garden Mystery series.

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

To enter the author’s Rafflecopter giveaway draw for 3 books, a tote bag, tea and more: Click here.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N

Daryl Gerber0869 300dpiAbout Daryl Wood Gerber: Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber writes the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries as well as the French Bistro Mysteries. In June 2020, her new series, the Fairy Garden Mysteries debuts. As Avery Aames, she pens the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. Daryl also writes the Aspen Adams novels of suspense as well as stand-alone suspense. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, garden, and read, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Posted in Archives, July 2020, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mysterious Full Moon stories

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Today Cate Conte is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Witch Hunt, her first novel in the Full Moon mystery series.

Welcome, Cate. 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! My new book, Witch Hunt, is the first in the Full Moon Mystery Series, featuring crystal shop owner Violet Mooney, who discovers that she’s a witch.

Here’s a blurb about it:

WITCH-HUNT (1)Murder isn’t always crystal-clear . . . especially when the prime suspect discovers she’s a witch.

Violet Mooney owns The Full Moon crystal shop in quaint North Harbor, Connecticut. Still grieving her beloved grandmother’s recent unexpected death, she takes comfort in her fat orange cat Monty and her work. Not everyone in town is thrilled with her business, however. When disagreeable town councilwoman Carla Fernandez picks a fight over Violet’s “voodoo shop,” the two have a very public confrontation. Of course, when Carla turns up dead, Violet gets little sympathy from the police as suspect #1.

But the shock of two policemen showing up at her door pales in comparison to the sudden appearance of her estranged mother Fiona and a surprise sister, Zoe. What Fiona reveals will rock her world and her sense of self—and reawaken her long-dormant mysterious power. Good thing. She’s gonna need it . . .

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

I used to be a reporter in a past life, and I saw firsthand the nastiness that occurred at the local level relating to business and politics. It always fascinated me, and I saw an opportunity to couple that here with a common but wildly inaccurate belief that things like crystals and other metaphysical practices are “bad” or “evil” or “voodoo.” The set-up of the mortal murder happens when local councilwoman Carla Fernandez accuses Violet very publicly of operating a voodoo shop – and she later winds up strangled in the local fountain, with Violet as the prime suspect. Of course Violet didn’t do it, but it was a nice way to tie the two ideas together.

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

There are a lot of themes in this book! In most of my books, I tend to explore family relationships – especially mother/daughter relationships, and that is true in this case as well. Violet and her mother have been separated for 27 years, so there’s a lot to unpack in that relationship and I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves over the series.

I also wanted to touch on the idea of power, and how the quest for it can lead people astray and potentially cause a ripple effect of ugliness throughout the world, which is an element in the magickal world Violet winds up inhabiting.

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

I like to take traits, habits, physical appearance and other quirks from people I know and blend together into my characters. They all also have a (small) bit of me in them – for instance, the protagonist of my Pawsitively Organic Mysteries (by my alter ego Liz Mugavero) featured an animal loving, coffee drinking protagonist. While those two traits clearly mirror mine, Stan Connor was also tall (not me), long (also not me) and a gourmet pet food chef (definitely not me).

Violet is also a coffee drinker, as is Maddie James in my Cat Cafe Mysteries, and they both also love animals. And I definitely share Violet’s love of crystals.

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

I like to take real towns and fictionalize them – meaning, I keep elements of the real place but change it up to suit the needs of the story. And I change the names, too. I find it’s not so great to murder someone in a coffee shop and use the same name as your favorite coffee shop – they tend to not let you back in when you do things like that! So by building off of what already exists, it helps me capture the feeling of the place when I’m making other things up.

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

It really depends on the story. For this book, I’ve done research on witches and crystals my whole life – but I still spend a ton of time researching lesser-known stones and their healing properties so when readers are in the store with Violet they feel like they are learning something. For past books I’ve done things like work in a funeral home, tour a dairy farm, and spend time in Newport, RI (definitely the most fun!).

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

I had a ton of fun writing it and I hope you do reading it! I love magic and witchy things and being able to incorporate all that into a book is really a dream come true.

Thanks for answering my questions, Cate, and good luck with Witch Hunt, the first book in the Full Moon Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – B&N – Kobo

Liz-Mugavero-photo-199x300About Cate Conte: Cate is the alter ego of Liz Mugavero. Liz is the author of the Pawsitively Organic Mystery series from Kensington Books, the first of which was an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel. Cate is the author of the new Full Moon Mysteries for Kensington and writes the Cat Cafe Mystery series for Minotaur Books. As you can imagine, her canine and feline rescues demand the best organic food and treats around. She is a member of Sisters in Crime National, Sisters in Crime New England, Mystery Writers of America, and the Cat Writers’ Association. She currently lives in Connecticut.

Posted in July 2020, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment