Dead of Winter Break

Today Kelly Brakenhoff is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Dead of Winter Break, her latest novel in the Cassandra Sato mystery series.

Welcome, Kelly. 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.

Dead of Winter Break is the third in the Cassandra Sato Mystery Series and takes place between the fall and spring semesters when most of the campus is closed for the holidays.

Cassandra Sato, the smart, witty Morton College administrator, has traded in her designer heels for furry boots and she’s buried under her first Nebraska blizzard. Housebreaking her new dog isn’t going according to plan; neither is pinch hitting as dorm supervisor over the holidays while everyone else enjoys family time or vacation.

Her boss is dead, and the police are calling it a burglary gone wrong. When the killer comes after her, it’s going to take more than Andy Summers, the campus security director with a not-so-secret crush on her, to keep her out of deep trouble.

Once again, the entire college squad is in action, including Meg, Cinda, and Professor Bryant, shoveling through knee-deep suspects, wisecracking their way through this fast-paced, holiday themed whodunit.

Cassandra’s first Christmas in Nebraska could be her last unless her friends help unravel the mystery and housebreak her dog.

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

There’s a kernel of Nebraska uniqueness in each of my stories. My brother-in-law sells seed corn to local farmers and kindly explained the importance of soybean seeds to this city girl. Huge lawsuits in recent years impacted large seed corporations and the trade agreements or tariffs related to international trade of farm goods. If you live in the Midwest for twenty-five years, you pick up some of this stuff by osmosis. Once I did a deep research dive, I realized how important proprietary seeds are to the bottom lines of local farmers and international corporations. Like most people, I was pretty oblivious to how all of that boils down to what’s available on my grocery store shelves and the price of consumer goods. Foreign countries actually send spies to farms to steal the drought and disease resistant seeds and use them in their own countries. It seemed like the perfect motive for murder!

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

In the first two books of the series, Cassandra’s predicament as a fish out of water helped readers relate to her difficulties getting used to her new home in Nebraska. Now that she’s settled in a bit, I threw a few obstacles to disrupt her plan for a quiet, restful winter break between semesters.

Winter in the Midwest isn’t for wimps and Cassandra quickly learns what it feels like to shovel snow off her driveway. She has a new dog, Murphy—her first pet ever—and she’s learning some ASL so she can chat with her Deaf students and colleague, Dr. Bryant. All of these changes push Cassandra to her limits.

By the end of the holidays, Cassandra has to decide the depths of her commitment to her long-term career goals and balancing those with a healthier home life. Can an orphaned dog worm his way into her heart?

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

I’m a pretty concrete thinker. Usually I start with a first name of someone I know, then I add a last name of another person. Then I choose the way someone I’ve seen looks, the way another person talks or walks, and a funny phrase someone else says. I mash all those people together to come up with my characters. Then when I’m writing dialogue, I imagine, “How would so-an-so say that?” Or “How would that person walk into a room?” It helps me visualize the scene and the conversation.

The more books I write in this series, the more I get to know about the background of all the characters. I already was attached to Cassandra and her bestie Meg. In Dead of Winter Break, she spends more time with her quirky friend Cinda and Dr. Bryant.

Dr. Bryant started off as a small character in a few scenes, like an extra on a movie set. Quickly I realized his life experiences are so different than Cassandra’s that she finds him fascinating and wants to know him more.

Bryant has become such an important part of Morton College; I could see him getting his own short story or novel in the future.

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

It helps that I’ve lived in Nebraska for twenty-five years. Real towns and college buildings flash in my head as I write the scenes. I think those details come through in the books. Many readers have told me that they enjoy visiting fictional Morton campus again with each new book and seeing what the characters are up to now.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but for this book I actually took a road trip to a nearby town that figured in the ending scenes. It was a wonderful excuse to drive in the country on a warm summer day, the top down on my Mini Cooper convertible, after being cooped up for months at home because of the pandemic. I took photos of the places I wanted to include in the story so I could envision the scenes better while I wrote them.

It was so much fun, I think I’ll do that again with my next book. When I reach a point where I’m struggling to imagine what comes next, I’ll take a drive to spot locations and see what happens next.

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

Since I’m an extrovert, I like to interview local experts about background information I might need. For Dead of Winter Break, I talked to my brother-in-law who works for a farmers’ cooperative, a global studies college professor who knows about food shortages around the world, and another friend who is Deaf and a pilot because I had some questions about aviation practices in small airports. Talking to someone face to face (or on zoom) is better than simple internet searches because those people give me real stories or a flavor for how it feels to do their job. I think those authentic experiences make their way into the book and make the overall story better.

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

2020 has been quite a year of ups and downs. If you’re looking for a fun, quick escape during the holidays, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Dead of Winter Break. If you haven’t read the previous books, you’ll still be able to follow along with this story.

Wishing you a peaceful holiday season, good health, and a better 2021. As Cassandra would say, “Mele Kalikimaka and Hauoli Makahiki Hou!”

Thanks for answering my questions, Kelly, and good luck with Dead of Winter Break, the latest book in the Cassandra Sato Mystery series.

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

The novel is available online at Amazon 

About Kelly Brackenhoff: Kelly writes the Cassandra Sato Mystery series including DEATH BY DISSERTATION, a 2020 RONE Award Mystery Finalist, DEAD WEEK, “a diverting whodunit,” (Publishers Weekly), and DEAD OF WINTER BREAK available in November 2020.

Kelly is an American Sign Language Interpreter whose motivation for learning ASL began in high school when she wanted to converse with her deaf friends.  NEVER MIND and FARTS MAKE NOISE, her children’s picture books featuring Duke the Deaf Dog and illustrated by her sister, Theresa Murray, have quickly become popular with children, parents, and educators for promoting inclusive conversations about children with differences. The mother of four young adults and a German Wirehair Pointer, Kelly and her husband call Nebraska home.

Posted in Archives, November 2020 | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cat Conundrum

Today Mollie Hunt is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Cat Conundrum, her latest novel in the Crazy Cat Lady mystery series.

Welcome, Mollie. 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.

Hello, Dianne. Thanks for having me on today. Cat Conundrum is the latest addition to my Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery Series, featuring Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip. This seventh in the series finds Lynley on the wild Washington coast with her friend, Special Agent Denny Paris. The pair are all set to give a presentation on shelter cats at a prestigious cat summit. Little do they know they will be confronted with not one, not two, not three, but four bizarre murders!

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

Here is the blurb for Cat Conundrum:

A locked room. A dead man. The cat is the only witness, and he isn’t talking.

Doesn’t every author want to pen a locked-room mystery? I sure did. I also wanted to take Lynley to Long Beach, where I personally spend a lot of time writing. I wanted to give her a chance to explore her relationship with Denny, the young humane investigator who saved her life. I wanted to incorporate a gigantic Maine Coon cat. Knowing those details, I sat down and let the story write itself.

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

The fundamental theme to all my Crazy Cat Lady stories is one of kindness and animal advocacy. That may seem odd since the books involve murder, but there is always a happy ending. Like my hero, Lynley Cannon, I am a cat shelter volunteer, and it comes from that place of helping the vulnerable, those who cannot speak for themselves, that motivates everything Lynley does. Whether it’s fostering a lost cat or helping a bullied woman find her voice, Lynley is ready to sacrifice her comfort, and sometimes her safety, for others.

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

For the most part, my characters create themselves. I usually begin with someone I know or have known, but by the time the character starts walking and talking on the page, they have taken on a life of their own. Lynley is my favourite character because she started out as an offshoot of myself. She has since grown her own way, blossoming into the person I would like to be rather than the person I am. I also enjoy Denny Paris, the animal cop, because he brings a police presence into the mix. Frannie Desoto, Lynley’s inimitable best friend is fun to work with, as is Lynley’s teenage granddaughter, Seleia, who is growing up in the series. The most astonishing character has been Carol Mackey, Lynley’s eighty-four-year-old mother. Boy was I surprised when she pulled a gun out of her purse and began shooting at the bad guy! 

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

I follow the advice of another mystery writer, Cara Black. She recommends putting senses, colours, dialog, and action on every page. Red is always a good bet for energizing a scene.

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

Research is the key to a convincing story, even with fiction. If something isn’t believable, it can knock the reader right out of the tale, and they may never come back again. For the most part, I write what I know. Whether on the set of a TV show (Cat Call), at a comic-con (Cosmic Cat), or hanging out at the beach (Cat Conundrum), I have done it myself.

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

Cat Conundrum is for cat-lovers who like clean mysteries with a little bite to them. I include cat tips, tricks, and facts at the beginning of each chapter.

Thanks for answering my questions, Mollie, and good luck with Cat Conundrum, the latest book in theCrazy Cat Lady Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Mollie and her writing by visiting her blogsite and her Facebook, Goodreads, and Fire Star Author pages.

The novel is available online at  Amazon

About Mollie Hunt: Native Oregonian Mollie Hunt has always had an affinity for cats, so it was a short step for her to become a cat writer. Mollie Hunt writes the award-winning Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series featuring Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip, and the Cat Seasons sci-fantasy tetralogy where cats save the world. She also pens a bit of cat poetry.

Mollie is a member of the Oregon Writers’ Colony, Sisters in Crime, the Cat Writers’ Association, and NIWA. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and a varying number of cats. Like Lynley, she is a grateful shelter volunteer.

Posted in Archives, November 2020 | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

As Good As Can Be

Today William A Glass, author of the coming of age novel, As Good As Can Be, is visiting Ascroft, eh? to introduce himself and his writing.

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

What prompted you to write about this historical event?

As Good As Can Be is about Dave Knight, a wayward boy who grows up during the 1950s and ‘60s.  He’s an army brat and his father is an alcoholic.  I was prompted to write this story because Dave and I have much in common. 

How closely did you stick to the historical facts? If you used them loosely, how did you decide whether to deviate from them?

My novel is heavily autobiographical.  The names of characters have been changed, time frames have been compressed in some cases, and tedious repetitive scenes were cut.  Some events take place out of order.  Other than that, the only significant deviation from historical facts is that one of the characters dies from her first suicide attempt rather than her last.  This was done to spare the reader from this character’s lengthy decline.

What research did you do for this book?

I used Google to fact-check myself.  For example, to make sure that a song I remembered playing on the radio during an episode was popular at that time.  Other than verifying my memory, little research was necessary as Dave’s life closely parallels mine.

Do you use a mixture of historic figures and invented characters in the novel? Which is more difficult to write? Which do you prefer to write and why?

All the characters in As Good As Can Be are based on real people.  I probably shouldn’t admit that for legal reasons, but I’m not too worried about getting sued.  Regarding invented characters, I truly admire authors who write about imaginary figures in entirely fictional stories.  My next project is going to be along those lines.

In an historical novel you must vividly re-create a place and people in a bygone era. How did you bring the place and people you are writing about to life?

That’s a great question!  My answer is that my life proved to be great fodder for a novel.  I grew up in an out-of-control military family (five wild children, invalid Mom, crazy drunken Dad) and we frequently moved.  My earliest memory is attending kindergarten in the basement of the US embassy in Tehran around 1950.  This story begged to be told and there’s no way I could have failed to bring it to life.  Especially since I was willing to spend ten years and 27 complete rewrites to do it!!

There often seems to be more scope in historical novels for male characters rather than female characters. Do you prefer to write one sex or the other? And, if so, why?

I have no preference for writing female or male characters.  I grew up with three sisters, and while we fought non-stop, the experience was invaluable.  I learned that generalizing about people based on their sex will cost you an appreciation for their complexity and uniqueness as individuals.  That said, As Good As Can Be centers around a boy and his Dad.  While there are many interesting female characters, father and son get the most lines!

Thanks for having me as a guest on Ascroft, eh?  I enjoyed the interview!

You’re welcome, Bill, and good luck with As Good As Can Be.

Readers can learn more about William A Glass and his writing by visiting his website, and his Goodreads page.

William A. Glass will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here to enter the contest.

For more chances to win, visit the rest of the stops on Charlotte’s tour. Click here.

The novel is available online at Amazon.

About William A Glass: Bill is a retired business executive now living in South Carolina with his wife, Bettina.  She teaches high school German while Bill coaches soccer at a small college.  Their three sons, Alex, Robert, and Gordon, have all graduated from college and moved away to pursue careers. For recreation, Bettina and Bill enjoy hiking and camping out.  Usually, they take their dog, Scout, along.  When the weather permits, Bill commutes to work on his motorcycle. 

Posted in Archives, November 2020 | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Meet the characters in the Mutt Mysteries

Today some of the characters from To Fetch A Villain are visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about the collection of stories in this latest book in the Mutt Mysteries series.

Welcome, folks. 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.

About the Mutt Mysteries:

Old dogs and new tricks abound in To Fetch a Villain, the third installment in the Mutt Mysteries series. This collection of four novellas illustrates why dogs are our best friends and the perfect companions for digging up clues, solving crimes, and bringing villains to justice. Let sleeping dogs lie? Not when the MUTTS are on the case!
RUFF DAY by Jayne Ormerod
Store owner Darby Moore suffers through a “ruff” day when a dead body is discovered in her custom dog house. With her best friend topping the suspect’s list, Darby knows the police are barking up the wrong tree. It’s up to Darby’s Great Dane Mr. Belvedere to channel his inner Scooby-Doo and save the day.
AT YOUR SERVICE by Maria Hudgins
Mystery writer Jessica Chastain is deaf and relies on her service dog Trey who acts as Jessica’s ears. Kim, a Bichon like Trey, is the latest addition to their family. But life is not a walk in the park when someone threatens all they hold dear. Together they take on an unethical breeder and dog-napper, whose bite is worse than his bark.
A SHOT IN THE BARK by Teresa Inge
Dog-loving Catt Ramsey hires an ex-con as her handyman to help with her dog-walking business at the same time a crime wave hits the neighborhood. But it’s Catt who is accused of murder. She enlists the help of family, friends, and her dogs Cagney and Lacey to prove man’s best friend can be crime’s worst enemy.
STRUT YOUR MUTT by Heather Weidner
Sassy PI Delanie Fitzgerald attends the Strut Your Mutt festival, where her business partner’s English bulldog is a finalist in a pampered doggie pageant. The dog’s new-found fame leads to a client with a missing poodle. Delanie and her team put paws to the pavement, sniff out clues, and show the villain that when you lie with the dogs, you wake up with fleas.

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

Heather: I’m Delanie Fitzgerald, and I’m a private investigator from Central Virginia. I own Falcon Investigations with my computer-hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds. And his sidekick, Margaret the English bulldog, hangs out in the office. She’s not that much security, but she’s really good at taking naps and snacking.

Heather’s a plotter who plans out the mysteries, but sometimes, I jump in and take the story in a new direction.

Maria: Maria Hudgins is a good listener and a good observer. She just tells you, in her own words, what me and Kim and Jessie do. She writes it all on a laptop computer she keeps at her house. She lets me read what she’s written before she submits it (whatever that means). Do I get a say? No. I just do what I have to do and trust Maria to tell the story like it really happened.

Jayne: My name is Darby Agnes Moore, and I live inside “Ruff Day”, a story included in To Fetch a Villain, Four Fun “Tails” of Malfeasance and Murder. This is the third installment of the Mutt Mysteries series. Each of the books includes four novellas written by four talented cozy mystery authors. All feature a dog and a mystery. You can read about all of the books at muttmysteries.com.

This is my first appearance in a Mutt Mystery, or any mystery, for that matter. My life was pretty mundane as the sole proprietor of a dog boutique in the small coastal town of Bay Vista, North Carolina. Don’t get me wrong…life was not without challenges, like earning enough money to pay rent every month and meet payroll every week.  Thank goodness Mr. Belvedere, my best sales agent, takes his pay in kibble.  (Mr. Belvedere is my silver Great Dane, by the way.) But I nearly lost my entire business when I stumbled across a dead body. Mr. Belvedere and I teamed up to track down the killer. It turned out to be quite an adventure!  I really hope Jayne invites Mr. Belvedere and me back for more. We had a lot of fun in this story.

Jayne, my writer, puts me in some terrible situations, but it’s up to me to get myself…and my dog…out safely.

Teresa: I am Catt Ramsey, dog walker extraordinaire. I own the Woof-Pack dog walkers in Virginia Beach. I appear in all the Mutt Mysteries books with my dogs Cagney and Lacey, two Yorkshire Terriers who help me solve crime and murder. Oh…and my sister Em and her boyfriend Jonathan Ray appear in each book to help us solve cases. 

 Oh, I get a say! Sometimes my writer tries to steer me in one direction when I am out and about in Virginia Beach trying to solve a murder, but I get my way in the end to catch the villain. 

How did you evolve as the main character?

Heather: I first appeared in Secret Lives and Private Eyes, and there are currently two other books in the series that document my investigations and antics. I tend to get myself in some humorous situations. This is the first time that I’ve appeared in the Mutt Mysteries series.

In this novella, “Strut Your Mutt,” Duncan and Margaret help me to find a show dog who has been dognapped.

Maria: Evolve? I didn’t evolve. I grew up and got sent to a service dog trainer. I know I’m smarter than the average dog so I can handle my job which is helping Jessie and being her ears. Our writer, Maria, says she used to have a Bichon named Hamilton and he looked a lot like me.

Jayne: Sifting through clues and interrogating potential killers in a way they don’t suspect you are on to them is a skill set not possessed by many. I am better than I used to be, but still have some things to learn. It also ignited in me an interest in a career as a Private Investigator. In my free time, of course. Mr. Belvedere and I make a pretty good team. We’re partners in crime-solving.

Teresa: I’ve grown my business throughout each book and have become more business savvy with the Woof-Pack dog walkers. I have more clients now and have hired a dependable staff including my sister Em. 

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

Heather: I share my stories with Duncan Reynolds. He’s a whiz at making computers cough up all kinds of information from the dark web that I don’t have access to. Most of my investigations are centered around interviews, stakeouts, and good old gumshoe research. Duncan’s sidekick is a brown and white log with legs, Margaret, the English bulldog who goes everywhere with him. She hangs out in the office on most days and loves napping and snacking.

Maria: My owner, Jessie, is a great lady. I would do anything for her. My new “sister” Kim has problems, but she grows on you. One thing I’ve learned about Kim. She never gives up. With my help, I think she’ll be okay.

Jayne: If so, why are you partial to them? Yes! My BFF Tianna Platt is with me in this one. She is also a sole proprietor, running the Jamaican Jubilee food truck. She makes the best Jerk Chicken Sammie. We have been best friends since third grade. Well, except for the “lost year,” as Tianna calls it, when she disappeared. I still don’t know all the details. We meet for breakfast every Monday and discuss the highs and lows, the ups and downs, the seemingly insurmountable challenges of being small busines owners in a small town. She isn’t quite as subtle as I am when it comes to solving a murder, but her heart is in the right place.

Teresa: My sister Em. Although we don’t always see eye-to-eye, she loves solving cases as much as I do. She’s a perfect side kick. 

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

Heather: I live in Chesterfield County, Virginia. It’s about thirty miles west of the capital city Richmond. I own my own private investigative business, and my work takes me all around the rural and urban areas of Central Virginia.

Maria: I live in a tall house in Tidewater Virginia. You can see the ocean from the highest windows. I have a nice fenced-in yard to play in. We have lots of birds and squirrels. Sometimes we have to stay inside. Like when we have a hurricane.

Jayne: Bay Vista is a super cute coastal town that relies on tourists needing an escape from the hustle and bustle of big city life. Main Street is lined with shops, like my own Ruff Day Doggie Boutique and Dog Washing. Next door is Mermaid Mania, a gift shop that tilts more toward whimsical and fanciful than coastal. On the other side is Get Lit Bookstore and Wine Bar. It sells literary fiction exclusively, while I’m more of a genre girl, but the wine selection is impressive. Of course, we have our share of marinas and places to rent all manner of water-going vessels. And no coastal town would be complete without a smattering of fishing-excursion kiosks. The Chamber of Commerce counts almost one-hundred small businesses. The big draw, of course, is the thirteen miles of sandy beach with free parking. Right in the center we have a lovely park that borders the beach, which is a popular destination for tourists and residents alike (not getting sandy on your lunch break is my motivation for enjoying a brown-bag lunch there.)

Teresa: Virginia Beach is a tourist area with beautiful beaches, an active boardwalk, great seafood, but lots of mischief. 

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

Heather: The Mutt Mysteries is a collection of our dog-themed novellas. They are cozy mysteries that center around our furry best friends. If you’d like to read more about Delanie, Duncan, and Margaret, check out the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries.

Maria: I would just like to remind the readers to be nice to service dogs and remember that they are working so don’t pet them. Also, if you know anyone who is abusing a dog, do something! Only humans can prevent animal abuse.

Jayne: My writer had to explain to me that this is a “cozy” mystery, meaning all the violence happens off stage. So there is nothing scary here, just a fun romp with an amateur sleuth and a big dog. I hope you all enjoy reading it!

Thank you, Dianne, for allowing me to share my story!  Wishing you and your readers good health and good spirits!

Teresa: Keep on the lookout for me, Catt Ramsey, my two dogs Cagney and Lacey, sister Em, and boyfriend Jonathan Ray in future Mutt Mysteries books!

Thank you for answering my questions, everyone, and good luck to you and your authors, Teresa Inge, Jayne Omerod, Maria Hudgins, and Heather Weidner, with To Fetch A Villain, the latest book in the Mutt Mysteries series. Readers can learn more about the series by visiting its website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

The novel is available online at  Amazon 

About the Authors:

Teresa Inge: Teresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Today, she doesn’t carry a rod like her idol, but she hotrods. Love of reading mysteries and writing professional articles led to writing short fiction and novellas. She is president of Sisters in Crime Mystery by the Sea Chapter and author of short mysteries in Virginia is for Mysteries, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Coastal Crimes: Mysteries by the Sea, and Murder by the Glass.

Website: www.TeresaInge.com

Website and Blog: http://www.teresainge.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@teresainge7

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/teresa.h.inge

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/teresa.h.inge/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/teresainge

Amazon Authors: https://www.amazon.com/Teresa-Inge/e/B06XGZ7RTG

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/teresainge7/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/teresa-inge-cap-07687820/

BookBub: https://www.blurb.com/user/teresainge?profile_preview=true

AllAuthor: https://allauthor.com/author/teresaingeauthor/

Jayne Ormerod: Jayne Ormerod grew up in a small Ohio town then went on to a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her degree in accountancy, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor.) She married a naval officer and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, have settled into a cozy cottage by the sea. Jayne’s publishing credits include two novels, five novellas, and eight short mysteries. A complete list can be found on her website.

Website: www.JayneOrmerod.com

Maria Hudgins: Maria Hudgins is a mystery writer and former teacher of oceanography, biology, earth science and chemistry. She has written six Dotsy Lamb Travel Mysteries, set in Italy, Scotland, The Greek Islands, Switzerland, England, and Turkey. She loves to travel but is currently housebound due to the pandemic. Her love of archaeology has led her to write two Lacy Glass Archaeology Mysteries. Maria has worked on digs on the Isle of Man (neolithic) and in Montana (dinosaurs), and has traveled extensively in Egypt and Turkey, studying ancient sites. She lives in Hampton, Virginia with her snowshoe cat, Lulu.

Website: www.mariahudgins.com

Facebook: Maria Hudgins

Heather Weidner: Heather Weidner writes the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series set in Virginia (Secret Lives and Private Eyes, The Tulip Shirt Murders, and Glitter, Glam, and Contraband), and her Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries launch October 2021.Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime – Chessie, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers. Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.

Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherWeidner1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherWeidnerAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heather_mystery_writer/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121854.Heather_Weidner

Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/HeatherBWeidner/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-weidner-0064b233?trk=hp-identity-name

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-weidner-d6430278-c5c9-4b10-b911-340828fc7003

AllAuthor: https://allauthor.com/profile/heatherweidner/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyBjyB0zz-M1DaM-rU1bXGA?view_as=subscriber

Posted in Archives, November 2020, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Would you believe there’s Crime in Cornwall?

Today Claire Barclay is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Crime in Cornwall, the latest novel in the British Book Tour mysteries series.

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

Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
I am Claire Barclay, owner of The British Mystery Book Tours. I take my tourists to the sites of mystery novels in Britain. In Crime in Cornwall we go to Cornwall in the beautiful southwest of England. I’m not a sleuth, but anyone would have been curious about who murdered the Oliver Nott, the author, in my neighbor’s garden. I was burning to know who did it and willing to watch and note who looked suspicious. This is the second book in the series. In the first, I keep my tourists close to home in Hampshire (Hazards in Hampshire)—you’d think that would be safe, but no! Poison was a problem. In the third book, I go to Yorkshire (Perils in Yorkshire), such a beautiful spot, so wild. In the fourth (Danger in Edinburgh) I’m in Edinburgh, the stately city, steeped in a murderous history.

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

I’m a strong personality, if I do say so myself, and I have definite ideas about what I should and should not be doing or saying. The writer guides the plot ,but I get to use my own voice in the dialogue.

How did you evolve as the main character?

I have to admit I seem to be a reserved type of personality—at least others see me that way. But on the inside, I’m adventurous. I started a business of my own—that’s an adventure. My new legacy from my step-father facilitated this, but I’d  travelled a lot, worked in many countries and arrived at my mid-forties reasonably successful and solvent and ready for adventure. Still, I wasn’t prepared for a love affair, and  Detective Inspector Mark Evans, isn’t an easy man. I might not be up for this challenge. 

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

My sister Deidre is a love. She’s nine years younger than me, a rational, organized thinker and a barrister taking on the defense and sometimes the prosecution of murderers. A very smart woman, my sister—and a managing one, sometimes to the point of irritation. I’m partial to her because she loves me and I love her. 

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

Cornwall is a magical place, not just because it is the home of the legendary King Author, but because its very cliffs seem to tell stories of smugglers and romance. Not that the Cornish are romantic. A more practical, sensible people you couldn’t find. They see themselves as independent with remnants of their own language and an accent that takes some concentration to understand—and they have their own flag.  

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

I love taking my tourists to the sties of mystery novels and listening to them talk about the authors of the area, They are so opinionated! It helped that Deidre and my niece Kala came with us to the coast and to Penzance for a few days. Deirdre sorted out some of the disquieting clues that jumped to my attention. Of course, I couldn’t enjoy the tour as much as I wanted to in this book because I had a murderer getting in my way.

Thank you for answering my questions, Claire, and good luck to you and your author, Emma Dakin, with Crime in Cornwall, the latest book in the British Book Tour mysteries series.

Readers can learn more about Claire and her author, Emma Dakin by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, and Goodreads pages. You can also Join Her Newsletter. She sends out information once a month and you will get a free chapter of a book when you join.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon  – B&N IndieBound

About Emma Dakin: Emma lives in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. She has over twenty-five trade published books of mystery and adventure for teens and middle-grade children and non-fiction for teens and adults. Her love of the British countryside and villages and her addiction to cozy mysteries now keep her writing about characters who live and work in those villages. She introduces readers to the problems that disturb that idyllic setting.

Posted in Archives, November 2020 | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

What happened where you live during the war?

Have you ever wondered what the area where you live was like during the Second World War?

I like to tell stories sparked by interesting items that catch my attention and I’ve found inspiration in a many different places. Since one of the genres I write is historical fiction, sometimes that’s something I read in an old newspaper or a history text, or maybe something I’ve noticed in the landscape around me. My historical series, The Yankee Years, was inspired by the area where I live in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The county has a rich and varied wartime history and, after I moved to the area almost two decades ago and learned about this history, I became fascinated by it.

The war was a pivotal point in Northern Ireland’s history and the influx of Allied troops had a major impact on the economy and culture of County Fermanagh. Army camps and Air Force flying-boat bases sprang up, and the population of the county grew until approximately a quarter of the entire population were military personnel. Fermanagh must have been so different from the quiet rural area that I know and imagining this really intrigued me. The events during the war and their impact on the county grabbed my imagination and that’s how my historical saga series was born.

Despite the impact the war had on Fermanagh, there was an interesting dichotomy in the county. The old way of life was disrupted and challenged by the incomers from unfamiliar cultures but, at the same time, fundamental aspects of rural life didn’t change so I can easily imagine what farm life was like at that time as small farms are still very much the same today. The continuity of this way of life through the generations is another feature of the province that fascinates me.

As we mark Remembrance Day today, how much do you know about the wartime history of the place you live? If you delve into it, you may make some amazing discoveries.

And why not dip into a wartime story set in Fermanagh? Allies After All is free here.

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

Not a bad place to get Bogged Down

Today Lavender (Lew) Lewis is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Bogged Down, the first novel in the Vashon Island mystery series.

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

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

I feel very fortunate to be the main character in Bogged Down (A Vashon Island Mystery). It’s the first in what I hope will be a successful series because it’s a wonderful place to live. I have a walk-in cabin on a sandy beach, good friends who tolerate my flaws, two self-centered cats that I adore, and a great place to practice my favorite sport – woods parkour. Because I’m an HR investigator, I often get a peek at the underbellies of organizations in the greater Seattle area. But I also do consulting for a lot of organizations with admirable missions and dedicated employees. Unfortunately, you never know when even a good organization may harbor ill-will strong enough to end in murder. That’s why I didn’t anticipate what happened in Bogged Down.

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

My personality and athleticism gives some sway in how the story evolves. I admit, I’m not the most personable individual. In fact, some might say I can be overly abrupt and sarcastic at times. That means I can’t be put into situations that require charm and finesse to succeed. I mean, Charlotte can try, but it doesn’t work. On the other hand, I can be counted on to move quickly through the woods – even at night – as well as leap across barriers and even defend myself if necessary. When my writer is working on the plot, she knows she can rely on me for certain things but not others, and that tends to drive what happens.

How did you evolve as the main character?

I grew up in Alaska in a commune. My mother was what is often referred to as a free spirit. She wasn’t controlling; in fact, she was very hands-off as a mother. But the commune enforced strict rules for girls, very conservative rules. That’s why I ran away and joined the army at 17. Serving in the military gave my life direction and paid for my education. Then I met JJ, a colleague and my best friend. When he moved from Seattle to Vashon Island, I followed. I was leading a happy and calm life on the island…until I came across a body in a bog.

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

As I mentioned, JJ is my best friend. He’s always there for me when I need him. He tolerates my flaws. And he has enough charm for both of us – everyone loves him. He’s my buffer to the world of people. I’m also fond of my elderly neighbor, Beatrice. She keeps on eye on me and my two cats without demanding anything in return. In this mystery I also enjoyed meeting Chewie. Even though I didn’t care much for his sexist nicknames for me, I appreciated his offbeat lifestyle and his two identical and scary Dobermans, both named Spike.

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

Vashon Island is a semi-rural community filled with independent people willing to put up with being a ferry ride away from the city. In exchange for the inconvenience of living on an island, there are lovely forest trails, a fair number of small farms, enough birds to satisfy Audubon enthusiasts, and some friendly and some not-so-friendly wildlife. Vashon’s motto is “Keep Vashon Weird.” In support of their motto, people on the island seem to have a penchant for antique tractors, quirky roadside art, and an unusual annual parade that includes grocery employees doing choreographed shopping cart maneuvers. Oh, and did I mention that one year their honorary mayor was Sid, the goat?

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

Although I tend to be a loner, I do value the time spent with readers. So, if you would like to know more about what happened after I discovered the body in the bog…join me in Bogged Down.

Thank you for answering my questions, Lew, and good luck to you and your author, Charlotte Stuart, with Bogged Down, the first book in the Vashon Island mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Lew and her author, Charlotte Stuart by visiting the author’s 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 – Vashon Bookshop – IndieBound 

About Charlotte Stuart: In a world filled with uncertainty and too little chocolate, Charlotte Stuart has a passion for writing lighthearted mysteries with a pinch of adventure and a dollop of humor. She began her career in academia, spent nine years commercial salmon fishing in Alaska, was a partner in a consulting group, and a VP for a credit union. Currently, she is the VP for Puget Sound Sisters in Crime and lives and writes on Vashon Island in Washington State’s Puget Sound. She spends time each day entertained by herons, seals, eagles, and other wildlife.

Posted in Archives, November 2020 | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The Madness of Mercury

Today Connie di Marco is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Madness of Mercury, the latest novel in the Zodiac mystery series.

Welcome, Connie. 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 Madness of Mercury is the first book in the Zodiac Mysteries featuring Julia Bonatti, a San Francisco astrologer who never thought murder would be part of her practice.  The next books to be released are All Signs Point to Murder (#2) and Tail of the Dragon (#3).  And more to come after that. 

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

My protagonist Julia has a private practice, and she also writes an astrological advice column for the Chronicle, AskZodia.  Julia receives a letter from a woman concerned because her mother has joined a so-called church and is required to sign over all her money and property.  Julia advises the woman to have this church investigated.  But Julia soon discovers her outspoken advice has made her the target of a cult preacher, Reverend Roy and his Army of the Prophet, who will stop at nothing to silence those who stand in his way. 

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

If I had to put a theme into one or two words, I guess I would say “deceit” and “betrayal.”  I was living in San Francisco during the time that the crimes of Reverend Jim Jones and his People’s Temple were exposed.  (There’s more information about this terrible history on my website.)  And I’ve always been suspicious of those who would use faith or religion for profit or to control others, and equally appalled by people who would give up autonomy over their lives and put their faith in a guru-like figure. 

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

The core characters in the Zodiac Mysteries are Julia, of course, and her two best friends.  Gale owns the Mystic Eye, an occult bookshop where Julia visits often and their friend Cheryl who manages the shop.  Julia’s parents died when she was very young and she was raised by her grandmother Gloria.  Kuan Lee is her other “family member.”  Kuan lives in the first floor apartment of Gloria’s house and practices Chinese medicine and herbology.  Julia considers him her honorary grandfather.  I felt it was important for Julia to have real roots and connections.  So I guess I’d have to say all of the core characters are my favorites and appear in every story.  Julia also has a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, but it’s really her astrology clients who involve her in crime-solving. 

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

There’s an awful lot to draw upon when writing about a place like San Francisco.  It’s a beautiful city with astonishing views, but also dark alleys and secret stairways.  One day might be windy and clear, another fogbound.  Julia has a small apartment near the western end of the city between the Golden Gate straits and the Pacific Ocean.  She loves her neighborhood where the fog rolls in like clockwork every afternoon and she loves to hear the voices of the foghorns from her window. 

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

There wasn’t much research really needed for this book.  Just for my own information, I did review the facts and stories around Jim Jones and his People’s Temple.  I was already aware of much of the history, but it was helpful to recall how much influence, political and social, that Jones had, support that enabled him to operate in the city.  Many people had great faith in him but in the end were horrified by his deeds. 

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

I just hope people really enjoy Julia’s very first adventure!

Thank you for answering my questions, Connie, and good with The Madness of Mercury, the latest book in the Zodiac mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Connie by visiting the author’s website and blog, and her Facebook and Goodreads pages. Readers can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available online at  Amazon

About Connie di Marco: Connie is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti.  The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series will be re-released in October 2020.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime.  You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook.  Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

Posted in Archives, November 2020 | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

No Gravestone Unturned

Today Sneaky the Library Cat is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about No Gravestone Unturned, the latest novel in the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series.

Welcome, Sneaky. 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.

Hello. I’m Sneaky the Library Cat, and I’m the cat main character in the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series that also features my human, Alicia, the librarian. The series currently consists of five books including my new one along with three short eBooks. Each story is a new mystery that takes place in the small town of Cobble Cove, a fictional location in upstate New York. After the first four books in the series, my author Debbie decided to give me a larger role by making my thoughts visible to the reader. This first started in Sneaky’s Christmas Mystery, an eBook that won the special MUSE medallion from the Cat Writers’ Association.

My current book, No Gravestone Unturned, a full-length mystery, has me playing almost as big a role as Alicia. In fact, I actually witness the murder of a man in the Cobble Cove cemetery that occurs on Halloween night. Not to give much of the story away, but I also get to work with my gal pal, Kittykai, the inn cat again and Salem, a black cat who is visiting the inn with one of Alicia’s husband John’s cousins who have come to town to bury their mother. There’s something not right about those cousins, and I don’t trust Salem all that much either. There’s a family secret that ties into the murder, and Alicia and I are determined to find it. That’s all I will say for now.

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

I always get a say. Debbie can deal with the human characters, but I direct her approach to the pet characters.

How did you evolve as the main character?

I’ve been featured in the series from the time Alicia came to town in our first mystery, A Stone’s Throw. Although my thoughts were hidden from the reader back then, I was still able to alert Alicia to some clues. To continue my role in Debbie’s mysteries, I began to demand more visibility including a cover image on her third book, Written in Stone, and my own blog where I interview other pet characters: https://sneakylibrarycat.wordpress.com. My final demands were met, as I discussed above, when Debbie began allowing readers a look into my mind, thoughts, and feelings. I am a happy cat camper now.

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

Kittykai, the female calico that I have a crush on, entered the storyline in Love on the Rocks, and I have enjoyed having her as my cat co-star. At the time this book was published, Debbie also adopted a calico kitten named Hermione and her dark-furred brother, Harry. In the following two eBooks and this new release, she uses Hermione to help her characterize Kittykai, and I’m very pleased with the job she’s done.

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

In this book, it’s scary. Not only do I witness a murder, but I get stuck somewhere that is difficult to escape from. I won’t reveal whether I do or not, although Debbie prefers happy endings. But don’t get me wrong, I also have some fun in this book. I ride in a hospital trolley, play in fall leaves, and search through the inn where I discover a pool table with balls that I can bat into holes.

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

I think I covered most of what readers would like to know including my blog. I hope they will check out No Gravestone Unturned because I purrsonally feel it’s the best of the series so far. They can still understand it if they haven’t read the previous books, but I recommend that they do to see how Alicia, I, and the other Cobble Cove residents develop.

Thank you for featuring my character interview. Meow for now.

You’re welcome, Sneaky. Good luck to you and your author, Debbie De Louise, with No Gravestone Unturned, the latest book in the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Sneaky and her author, Debbie De Louise, by visiting the author’s Amazon page and her Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available online at  Amazon

About Debbie De Louise: Debbie is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Long Island Authors Group, and the Cat Writers’ Association. She has a BA in English and an MLS in Library Science from Long Island University. Her novels include the four books of the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series: A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceWritten in Stoneand Love on the RocksDebbie has also written a romantic comedy novella, When Jack Trumps Acea paranormal romance, Cloudy Rainbowand the standalone mysteries Reason to Die and Sea Scope. Her latest book, Memory Makers, is a medical thriller. She lives on Long Island with her husband, Anthony; daughter, Holly; and three cats, Stripey, Harry, and Hermione.

Posted in Archives, November 2020 | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Broadcast 4 Murder

Today Sophie (Phee) Kimball is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Broadcast 4 Murder, the latest novel in the Sophie Kimball mystery series.

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

Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too. I’m the amateur sleuth in the novel and a reluctant one at that. I’m a bookkeeper/accountant for an investigative firm and somehow, I seem to get roped into solving murders in my mother’s senior retirement community right here in Arizona. This time, the victim was discovered by my mother (who else?) during her first foray into radio broadcasting. Broadcast 4 Murder is the seventh novel in the Sophie Kimball Mysteries. It’s meant to make you laugh and guess whodunit.

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too? I get plenty of say in my acerbic comments and inner thoughts. It’s the only way I survive. The writers do control the plot but sometimes, my actions lead them in new and different directions.

How did you evolve as the main character? I was hesitant and unassertive in the first two novels, but as the series progressed, so did my backbone. In fact, I was taking charge of the sleuthing rather than being cajoled and nagged into it. In addition, my love life evolved as well. Spoiler alert – the romance blossomed and continues to do so.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them? I love sharing the story with my well-meaning, gossipy mother and her quirky book club lady friends. Everything’s a hoot around them. Wish I could say the same for her neurotic Chiweenie, Streetman. Still, that little dog has a way of growing on you.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story? It’s an active senior community and everyone is involved in everyone else’s business. It’s like a caldron that keeps bubbling. Thank goodness I live in a neighboring community.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book? The authors are really into hyperbole and humor as well as creating twists and turns that keep readers’ heads spinning. If you’re looking for a fun ride and some belly laughs, you are in the right place.

Thank you for answering my questions, Sophie, and good luck to you and your author, J. C. Eaton, with Broadcast 4 Murder, the latest book in the Sophie Kimball mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Sophie and her author, J. C. Eaton, by visiting the author’s website and Facebook page.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

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

J.C. Eaton is the wife and husband team of Ann I. Goldfarb and James E. Clapp, authors of the Sophie Kimball Mystery Series and the Wine Trail Mysteries. A New York native and former middle school principal, Ann has published eight award-winning and highly acclaimed YA time travel mysteries. James is a U.S. Navy veteran and retired tasting room manager for a large upscale New York winery. 

Posted in November 2020 | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment