Looking for old fashioned heroes and heroines

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Today Shelly Frome is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Miranda and the D-Day Caper.

Welcome, Shelly. 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.

SF: Miranda and the D-Day Caper is a standalone meaning that it centers on a singular issue or dilemma, follows all the ups and downs in a certain trajectory and finally resolves.

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

SF: In a sense, the mystery is a hunt for the endgame–what is this subterfuge all about?  What dire event eventually has to take place or be thwarted and why?  What truly is at stake here well beyond the abduction of a stray cat which, in effect, is only an initial clue?

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

D DAy coverSF: Underneath it all is a battle between small town virtues that currently seem to have been lost along the wayside, like truth, decency and integrity as opposed to ultra right-wing machinations in service to the retention of power at any cost.  I suppose the dubious tactics of the current administration finally got to me as I began longing for the days of my childhood when radio programs and comic books gave me something to believe in:  heroes and heroines I could identify with, leaders I could trust, noble lost causes that were worth fighting for.

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

SF: As a former professional actor I am able to inhabit all my characters who, in a way, are a composite of roles I have played, countless movies I’ve seen, plays I’ve watched, radio shows I’ve listened to, and colorful people I have met. In effect, they just come to me in terms of who can drive this tale forward and who can provide conflict and a viable counterpoint.  And, as a former professional actor I love all my characters, even the cat, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to bring them truly to life. They would be just pawns.

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

SF: The setting is vital. Places and cultures I know all too well. Even the weather patterns. All of it affects everything that happens. My innate sense of truth guides me in terms of what would happen in these given circumstances when, for instance, Miranda approached the reopening of the tailgate market in Black Mountain on a crisp, vibrant Saturday morning in April? What mood would she be in and how would she great the venders in their popup tents?

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

SF: There are realities I know absolutely nothing about like, in this instance, detonating devices that are, on the face of it, hard to detect. In this case, Vin, my anti-hero knows all about such things and to “play him” I have to obtain this knowledge and use it like it was simply every day, received wisdom.

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

SF: Miranda and her cousin Skip have an antic, loveable quality that I’m sure will see readers through. They may even find themselves rooting for Duffy the stray cat.

Thanks for answering my questions, Shelly, and good luck with Miranda and the D-Day Caper.

Readers can learn more about Shelly and his writing by visiting his Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub and Instagrampages. You can also follow him on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon B&N  Kobo Apple Books IndieBound IPG

D Dy authorAbout Shelly Frome: Shelly is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He is also a features writer for Gannett Media’s Black Mountain News. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, Tinseltown Riff, Murder Run, Moon Games and The Secluded Village Murders.  Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. Miranda and the D-Day Caper is his latest foray into the world of crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

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

Did You Know That A Small Town Can Be Murder?

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Today Angel Delaight is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about A Small Town Can Be Murder, the novel she has found herself in.

Welcome, Angel. 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 Angel Delaight and I live in A Small Town Can Be Murder. Who knew small towns could be so interesting. I grew up in Chicago and I chose an untraditional woman’s career. I am a carpenter, and I wore many hats in my dad’s construction company. He decided to retire, and I decided it was time to strike out on my own. I happened to be driving through Whistle Stop, Minnesota and fell in love with an old Victorian House there. It was uninhabited and in need of repair. I decided then and there I would try small town living and rehab the old Victorian. I thought for once I would lead a quiet life in a small town out of the big city of Chicago where it wasn’t unusual to find squatters or even dead homeless people in the properties we bought. However, on my first day in town I found a dead body in my new home, met Barney Pipe, the policeman and a very handsome bed-and-breakfast owner. And… my dad moved to town. It wasn’t very quiet but it was mysterious, especially when strange things happened in my house. I hope you visit. Whistle Stop is interesting and it is the name of the new series by my author, Julie Seedorf.

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

Oh no, I control her or should I say the story gets away from both of us. We never know what is going to happen from beginning to end. She can’t keep up with my small town happenings and I can’t keep up with her. We make a very interesting mix, and then the animals disrupt our plans too. Those critters have a way of doing that.

How did you evolve as the main character?

I was a very strong woman when I moved to Whistle Stop. I never married because all the men wanted me to change my career and have a traditional life with them. I always got cold feet at the last moment because I was afraid I would lose myself. Moving to Whistle Stop and getting involved in the community and history of the small town made me realize I can be strong, but I can also ask for help. It is part of small town living.

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

small town coverI met many interesting people, such as Matthew Harkin and his Aunt Mayme. Then there is Barney Pipe, one of the policeman who has eyes for the medical examiner, Lila Henshaw. One of my favorite people is Eudora Brown. At least she became that once I got used to her tapping me with her cane.

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

I grew up in a small town and Whistle Stop is modeled a little after my life in a small community. Everyone knows everyone and what you are doing before you are doing it and occasionally that is frustrating, but there is no better place to be when you need help and support. I wanted to reflect that in my book.

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

This book is a little more serious than my other series. While I want it to be enjoyable, I also wanted to touch on subjects close to my heart which I hope I did in the storyline. As writers, no matter which genre we write in, I feel we have the responsibility to bring awareness to some subjects. In my Granny books, I touch on Alzheimer’s which has plagued my family. In this book, I touch on Domestic Abuse, which is also close to my heart right now.

Thanks for answering my questions, Angel, and good luck to you and your author, Julie Seedorf with A Small Town Can Be Murder, the first book in the Whistle Stop Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – Kobo – BarnesandNoble.comSmashwords – Apple – Skye Bridge Publishing

small town authorAbout Julie Seedorf: Julie has worn many hats throughout her life such as working as a waitress, nursing home activities person, office manager and finally a computer repair person eventually owning her own computer sales and repair business. She never forgot her love of writing and quit her computer business in 2012 after signing a contract with Cozy Cat Press for Granny Hooks A Crook, the first book in her Fuchsia, Minnesota Series.

Adding five more books to the Fuchsia Series, adding a Brilliant, Minnesota Series and writing a column for local newspapers feeds her writing creativity. This year the Whistle Stop series was born. Small towns have her heart and she hopes to convey that in her new series.She also dabbles a bit in watercolor painting and hopes to eventually add pictures to her children’s book series, Granny’s In Trouble.

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

Meet Sheriff Bet Rivers

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Today Elizabeth “Bet” Rivers is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about All We Buried, the novel she features in.

Welcome. 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.

All We Buried is the first novel I appear in. I’m very hopeful there will be a second. My author is working on one now, so I’m rooting for her.

My story starts out when I return to Washington State to fill in for my father as interim sheriff in my tiny hometown. After my father dies, I have a big decision to make: stay and fight for his seat or return to Los Angeles and the plans I had in place for my future.

If that wasn’t enough, a visiting scientist finds a Jane Doe—floating dead in a nearby lake. So now I’m also facing my first homicide investigation.

AllWeBuriedCoverNow, don’t get me wrong, I wanted to become a detective down in LA—but that would be a very different process. I would work with an experienced partner and have all the resources of the biggest police department in the country.

Instead, I have a couple deputies, one of whom wants my job, and a septuagenarian office manager who thinks she’s better at law enforcement than I am.

It’s going to be a challenge to discover an identity for Jane Doe, let alone figure out who killed her, but I am deeply committed to returning her to her family and holding someone accountable for her death.

You’ll have to read the book and see how you think I did . . . and if I made the right decision for my life in the end.

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

I am proud to say we finally work as a team. It took us a long time to get to this place. She fought against us working together for YEARS, which got a little frustrating. But I’m a very patient character and knew that once she started to trust me, she’d realize we’re better off as a duo.

How did you evolve as the main character?

There was never any question I’d have my own story. I’m patient, but I’m also strong. I just kept pushing at my writer’s mind, reminding her that the draft she was working on wasn’t finished. That no matter how many rejections we got, if she kept rewriting (and listening to me) we would find a home. And we did!

I’m so happy to be a character with Crooked Lane Books. The best thing about our long journey was that now my writer and I have amazing support from our agent Madelyn Burt and the developmental editor at our publisher. Our editor, Jenny Chen, forced my writer to pay more attention to me, so it worked out for everyone.

But just to be clear, there was never any question I was going to be the protagonist of this story. One thing that did develop a LOT, however, in the final rewrites, was to dig deep into my motivations. I can’t tell you how good it felt to have those finally get unburied.

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

My favorite fellow character is Schweitzer. He was my father’s Anatolian shepherd. Once my father died, Schweitz had to learn that I was going to be his person. It wasn’t easy to win him over, but our relationship is the best thing in my world.

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

My hometown of Collier, Washington, is pretty amazing. It’s a lot like Roslyn, Washington, which you may remember was the location where they shot Northern Exposure. My writer lives about an hour west of Roslyn, so she knows the area really well.

There’s a road that runs north and slightly east of Roslyn, called Highway 97. If you go up 97, you’ll find an old road leading up into the mountains called Old Blewitt Pass Highway. If you drive up that road, and pictured Roslyn there, high in a hanging valley, that would be Collier.

It’s isolated and filled with Doug firs and ponderosa pines. There are a lot of good fly fishing rivers and elk abound, there’s no hunting permitted on our valley floor and they seem to know they’re protected. But I have to warn you to stay out of the lake. It’s not safe to get too near the water.

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

We’re like a train traveling up a mountain. We chug along, gaining speed, until we reach the crest, then we fly down the other side. If that’s your kind of mystery, I think you’ll enjoy all our time together. Come spend time in Collier, it’s a wonderful place to be, even with the occasional murder.

Thanks for answering my questions, Bet, and good luck to you and your author, Elena Taylor, with All We Buried, the first book in the Sheriff Bet Rivers Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon:   Barnes& Noble  Books-A-Million  IndieBound

CREDIT MARK PERLSTEINAbout Elena Taylor: Elena Taylor spent several years working in theater as a playwright, director, designer, and educator before turning her storytelling skills to fiction. Her first series, the Eddie Shoes Mysteries, written under the name Elena Hartwell, introduced a quirky mother/daughter crime-fighting duo. With All We Buried, Elena returns to her dramatic roots and brings readers a much more serious and atmospheric novel. Located in her beloved Washington State, Elena uses her connection to the environment to produce a forbidding story of small-town secrets and things that won’t stay buried. Elena is also a senior editor with Allegory Editing, a developmental editing house, where she works one-on-one with writers to shape and polish manuscripts, short stories, and plays. If you’d like to work with Elena, visit www.allegoryediting.com.When she’s not writing or coaching writing, her favorite place to be is at the farm with her horses, Jasper and Radar, or at her home, on the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in North Bend, Washington, with her husband, their dog, Polar, and their cats, Coal Train and Cocoa. Elena holds a B.A. from the University of San Diego, a M.Ed. from the University of Washington, Tacoma, and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.

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

Why Me? That’s the question today

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Today Bryn Baczek, the main character in Why Me?: Chimeras, Conundrums and Dead Goldfish is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about the novel.

Welcome, Bryn. 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

BB: Why Me? Chimeras, Conundrums and Dead Goldfish is the first in the series featuring me and my good friends Logan and Sophie. The tentative title for the second is Who me? Fraud, Mental Floss and Aphrodite. I’m very lucky to be in this series. I get to drink all the coffee I want, live on a classic wood sailboat, share my home with a loveable but cantankerous cat, and interrupt my normal life as a management consultant with the adrenaline rush of an occasional adventure. I do have to put up with criticism from several family members, but being an aunt to three wonderful children makes up for that. All in all, I lead a very satisfying life.

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

BB: My writer hears my voice in her head, but she doesn’t always understand what I’m saying right away. Of course, that’s partly my fault. I change my mind a lot. And sometimes I don’t end up where I intended to go. Life is complicated.

How did you evolve as the main character?

Why me coverBB: I was born on a boat in a small marina. Like my good friend, Logan, I’m tall and have red hair. People often assume we’re related. My cat, Macavity, and I both have two different colored eyes. That’s why I adopted him when I went with a friend to find a cat for her. I never wanted a cat, but now I can’t imagine my life without him. Logan is my soulmate, Macavity is part muse part familiar, and Sophie is my best friend and has been since we were kids. Together we manage to bump into disturbing situations and solve mysteries.

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

BB: I’m very fond of my brother’s twins and his older daughter by his first wife. They light up my life with their youth and energy. And, when they are on good behavior, I’m also fond of my parents and my brother. Unfortunately, my mother and brother are seldom on good behavior.

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

BB: This story begins with me being absolutely miserable. I’m in the Scottish Highlands, hiking alone in a downpour, surrounded by a swarm of midges, horrible bugs that don’t have enough sense to get out of the rain. After coming across a body, I finish my vacation on a more pleasant note and return to my urban marina home in Seattle. My consulting office is in a building at the marina, so my daily commute is short. I’m happy living and working at the marina, surrounded by boats and water and just one dock away from two liveaboard friends.

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

BB: Some people have very rigid expectations about cozy mysteries, and my story violates a few of the rules. I’m traveling in Scotland at the beginning of the book. I’m perhaps not as nice as most cozy protagonists. And I get involved in serious issues as well as trying to discover who did it. Although I don’t get stalked by serial killers or get tortured by sadistic psychopaths, Miss Marple I’m not. I do, however, wear sensible shoes and try to approach the mysteries I encounter with logic and intelligence. As well as with a smattering of humor.

Thanks for answering my questions, Bryn, and good luck to you and your author, Charlotte Stuart, with Why Me: Chimeras, Condundrums and Dead Goldfish, the first book in this new series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon  – Barnes and Noble – IndieBound

Charlotte L StuartAbout Charlotte Stuart: In a world filled with uncertainty and too little chocolate, Charlotte Stuart, PhD, has taught college courses in communication, gone commercial fishing in Alaska, and was the VP of HR and Training for a large credit union. Her current passion is for writing lighthearted mysteries with a pinch of adventure and a dollop of humor. She is the VP for the Puget Sound Sisters in Crime. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys watching herons, eagles, seals and other sea life from her Vashon Island home office.

Posted in April 2020, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How Karen Shughart Weeds Out Words

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Today Karen Shughart author of Murder in the Cemetery, An Edmund DeCleryk mystery is joining us at Ascroft, eh?

Welcome Karen. Why don’t I turn the floor over to you:

As amazing as it seems, I actually like that you are seriously interested in and fine and awesome with whatever I said to you in my last email. Seriously. I love that you don’t freak out when I include nonsense in them. LOL. And that you don’t think I’m ridiculous. Whatever. I like your funny responses and hope you don’t think I’m an idiot or stupid by saying this. You are really nice, and I very much want you to continue to be very happy.

If you’re completely puzzled after reading the above paragraph, I don’t blame you. I admit, I’m the guilty one. It’s terrible, and I wrote it, but there was a method to my madness. Read further, and I’ll explain.

I worked for more than a year writing the second book in the Edmund DeCleryk series, Murder in the Cemetery. After several drafts, I was ready to edit and polish the copy, which for me was the most difficult part. When I started writing the book, I wrote down everything I could think of that would create and enhance the plot. After I was relatively satisfied with what I’d created, my next step was to look for inconsistencies. For example, in book one, Murder in the Museum, one of the characters and his wife had recently welcomed their second grandchild. A year-and-half later, in this second book, the grandchild was in kindergarten. Whoops!

As I continued to read through the book, I became aware of extraneous narrative. Annie, wife of Ed and a sleuth in her own right, provides an intern who is working on a project for her with contact information for her friend, Charles, who had a large role in book one and expertise in the field the intern is researching. As much as I wanted him to reappear in book two, I realized that the intern didn’t need Charles’ help and never would. Goodbye, Charles.

MurderintheCemeteryI’m pretty good at spelling, grammar and punctuation. I won a spelling bee at my school when I was nine or ten. I was also an English teacher, for gosh sake. That said, I always find errors. Sometimes my brain works faster than my fingers as they pound away at the keyboard; I make mistakes. During that phase in the book I read carefully and very slowly; I don’t want my publisher to think I am illiterate or careless, heaven forbid.

Now we come to the reason for the paragraph at the beginning of this blog. Almost every word is one that’s overused. I know from experience that it’s easy to include them. Sometimes, we get attached to certain phrases or want to pad the word count. Sometimes it’s completely unintentional. If we want our writing to flow, if we want it to look professional, these must be either be winnowed down or deleted. At least most of them.

Using computer software, I can search my document for a certain word, and it’s highlighted every time it appears. It’s frustrating because sometimes the computer can’t distinguish the as in was from the word as. Still, it’s a good tool. It takes time, but once I identified these overused words in the book, I was able to rewrite sentences that were original, creative. And, hopefully for you, the reader, much more compelling.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Karen. Readers can learn more about Karen and her writing by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn and Hometown Reads/Rochester Reads pages. You can also follow her blog.

The novel is available online at the following retailers:

 Amazon Paperback  – Amazon Kindle 

Shughart, Murder CEmeteryAbout Karen Shughart: Karen studied English Literature at S.U.N.Y Buffalo, received a B.A. in Comprehensive Literature from the University of Pittsburgh and completed graduate courses in English from Shippensburg University. In addition to Murder in the Cemetery (book two of the Edmund DeCleryk Cozy mystery series), she is also the author of Murder in the Museum (book one of the series), two non-fiction books and has worked as an editor, publicist, photographer, journalist, teacher and non-profit executive. Before moving to a small village on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, Karen and her husband resided in south central Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg.

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

Teresa Trent is my guest today

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Today Teresa Trent is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Die Die Blackbird, her latest novel in the Piney Woods mystery series.

Welcome, Teresa. 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.

TT: Die Die Blackbird is the third book in the Piney Woods Series. Piney Woods, Texas, is an oil bust town that was saved by warehousing. When Nora Alexander first comes to town, she finds that a place that is new to her is her home and comes to love the people in it, including the handsome lawman Tuck Watson. Nora and Tuck’s relationship is becoming serious, but she is having a problem with the idea of them moving in together. She becomes part-owner of the historic Tunie Hotel, which becomes the central setting in the series. In Die Die Blackbird, paranormal investigators have come to town to try and have a conversation with the ghost of Sam Houston. They believe he has gold left from the battle of Santa Anna and wouldn’t mind getting their hands on it. The local merchants find themselves at the mercy of the Alamo Runners, a local biker gang. On top of all that, Nora spends much her time trying to keep the peace between a quilting group and the paranormal investigators who are all wanting to use the same spaces in the hotel.

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

DieDieBlackbird_frontCover_RGBTT: The idea for this mystery stems from my love of watching paranormal investigators on the Travel Channel and constantly asking myself, is they for real? I have a passage in the book where the ghost hunters have garbled background noise and attribute to a full-blown sentence. Yeah, right.  I believe in the paranormal because I’ve lived in a couple of haunted houses, but that doesn’t mean I’m a patsy for every “investigator” with an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recorder.

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

TT: This is going to sound hokey, but they come to me. Suddenly, I see a person in the scene, and sometimes I even get a name. I ask myself, how does this character further the plot and support the protagonist or antagonist. Can this character make me smile or cry? Those usually turn out to be my favorite characters. Every cast has to have a heart, whether it is an older person who gives patient and wise advice or someone else who has seen trouble but still chooses to do the right thing.

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

TT: I try to make my settings come to life by using the five senses. I have a sensitive nose, so I try to think and describe different smells as well as colors, weather, and light. The environment in a small town is nothing like the city, so I try to bring that in. People are more likely to have hung their own Christmas lights, mow their own lawns, and that casserole on the table didn’t come from the grocery store ready-made.

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

TT: My research varies from the method of murder to how you run a small-town hotel. My brother has been in the hotel business for over twenty years, so he is my involuntary research assistant. In this book, I watched paranormal tv, learned a few things about Sam Houston, researched dentistry, and visited a garage repair shop.

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

TT: I hope you enjoy Die Die Blackbird. I had fun building the relationship between Nora and Tuck. Every time I write a book in my fictional Piney Woods, I enjoy visiting with the characters and growing them just a little. Yes, doctor, I do have people talking to me in my head, but it’s okay. If I don’t like them…

Thanks for answering my questions, Teresa, and good luck with Die Die Blackbird, the latest book in the Piney Woods mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Teresa 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 

die authorAbout Teresa Trent: Teresa writes cozy mysteries that take place in small towns in Texas. The Piney Woods Series came to be because her older brother worked in the hotel industry for over twenty years and would relate all the things and people he had experienced. Because Teresa loves history and a little bit of the paranormal, the Tunie Hotel was born! Teresa is also the author of the Pecan Bayou Cozy Mystery Series.

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

Enjoy this unrestricted travel experience

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Today A.R. Kennedy is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Sleuth on Safari, her first novel in the Traveler cozy mystery series.

Welcome, A.R.. 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.

ARK: Sleuth on Safari is the first in The Traveler Cozy Mystery series. In Sleuth on Safari, Naomi and her estranged sister are off on a trip of a lifetime—an African safari, a bucket list trip for Naomi on which she got a last-minute deal. Naomi thinks traveling with her sister will be the worst part of her African safari until she finds one of their fellow travelers, the unlikable Dr. Higgins, dead. She gets more adventure than she bargained for when she starts investigating what she thinks is murder but the luxury lodge says was a tragic accident. She only has a few vacation days, and a few game drives, to find the killer.

The second book, R.I.P. in Reykjavik, is set in Iceland. Each book will be set in a foreign country with Naomi traveling with a different family member.    

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

Sleuth_cover_eBook_1563x2500ARK: It came to me when I was on safari, having dinner with a guide and fellow travelers. I was surprised why escorts were needed on the lodge’s grounds at night. From there, the idea was born for a murder on a safari. (You have to read the book to find out why escorts are needed!)

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

ARK: In each novel, Naomi travels with a family member. Their relationships change as a result. You learn a lot about someone when traveling together (and when investigating a murder).

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

ARK: I love all my characters! I read once that every character has a little bit of the author in them.

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

ARK: In The Traveler Cozy Mystery Series, I use my photo albums and notes from my trip to make the place come to life. Each book will be set in a different foreign location that I have traveled to.

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

ARK: While traveling, I take lots of photos and notes and I consult them regularly to give an accurate view of the area. While writing the novels, I also research local foods and delicacies—Naomi is a more adventurous eater then me! For Sleuth on Safari, I used YouTube to watch videos of other travelers’ animal encounters.

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

ARK: I hope my new series inspires people to travel.

Thanks for answering my questions, A.R., and good luck with Sleuth on Safari, the first book in the Taveler cozy mystery series.

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

The novel is available online at Amazon 

IMG_8118About A. R. Kennedy: She lives in Long Beach, New York, with her two pups. She works hard to put food on the floor for them. As her favorite T-shirt says, ‘I work so my dog can have a better life’. She’s an avid traveler. But don’t worry. While she’s away, her parents dote on their grand-puppies even more than she does. Her writing is a combination of her love of travel, animals, and the journey we all take to find ourselves.

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

Discover a hidden world

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Today Astoria Wright is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Mysterious Merchandise, her first novel in A Witch’s Thrift Shop mystery series.

Welcome, Astoria. 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.

AW: Mysterious Merchandise is the first book in A Witch’s Thrift Shop mystery series. The story begins when antique shop salesclerk Alice Adelcraft follows a black cat into an alley, which turns out to be an entire hidden street with stores exclusive to witches and wizards. That’s right! There’s a secret magical community in Alice’s college town of Urbana. But that’s not all. Along with A Witch’s Thrift Shop, Alice finds a dead body! Now, she has to find the killer and keep the others from finding out she’s not really a witch, or they’d wipe her memory – all of it!

It’s one mystery after another on Magic Row. Join the fun and intrique by reading Mysterious Merchandise today!

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

Mysterious Merchandise coverAW: I love thrift shops! You can always find something unusual, rare, or unique. Occassionally, I also find a thing or two that makes me ask: What is this? Maybe it’s something magical. And maybe there are customers out there who know just what to do with these magical items.

My first thoughts were of a character named Alice, working in an antique shop where these strange customers come in looking for those kind of magical items. Then, I thought: What if there was an antique shop, or better yet, a thrift shop with inventory just for those kind of customers – witches and wizards? Thus, A Witch’s Thrift Shop was born.

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

AW: Yes on both! The theme in all the books I’ve planned for the series is about belonging and connection. We live side by side with others and we don’t connect. I live in a community where I don’t know most of my neighbors. Sure, it’s peaceful and quiet, but that’s not a community. In some cities, connection and community are so rare I’m sure there are hidden communities that we don’t know exist. OK, maybe there’s not one like Magic Row, but who knows?

As to the subject matter – Alice’s identity is in question through each book and that will be a topic underlying the series as a whole.

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

AW: I don’t know. They just kind of appear on page. I don’t think I can pick a favorite, but I do really like the main character in this series, Alice. She’s down to earth, can be defensive but recognizes that about herself, and is protective of people she sees as vulnerable because she sees herself in them. She has a lot of growing to do and I’m glad to be able to write about that.

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

AW: Urbana was a name I made up, because I wanted a cozy mystery about a smaller community within a larger urban setting. The character of Alice I felt like belonged in a city and specifically a college town. But, and here’s the weird part, there is exactly 1 town in the USA named Urbana. And it’s a college town!

I will say that the Urbana in the books is not meant to be the one that exists in real life. Whenever I write a setting, I draw from books I’ve read, movies and shows I watch, but more than anything from my own experiences. I’ve lived in cities, small towns and even in another country for a while. But I’ve never been to the real Urbana and couldn’t describe anything about it accurately. So, the Urbana of A Witch’s Thrift Shop is, for all intents and purposes, a completely fictional place.

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

AW: When I first got the idea, I read about witches & wizards, various systems of magic (fictional and real), orphans, and how foster care works to get ideas about the characters. For settings, I use Google Images to help me picture various backgrounds and then I sort of merge images in my mind to create a fictional place. I have to see it in my mind – so, yes, I’ve got a city, the streets, the layouts, etc. in my mind that I can “travel” through as the stories unfold.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about th: e book?

AW: If you like paranormal cozy mysteries, black cats, witches and wizards, genies, and all things magical, I hope you’ll pick up this book.

Thanks for answering my questions, Astoria, and good luck with Mysterious Merchandise, the first book in A Witch’s Thrift Shop mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Kobo – Audible

Astoria WrightAbout Astoria Wright: She is a cozy fantasy author and a poet who is inspired by rainy days, good books, and positive people. She is often found sitting by a window or in her backyard sipping tea or coffee and writing or reading cozy mysteries, fantasy novels, or poetry. Join her mailing list at www.astoriawright.com to see stories, poems, and thoughts that she only shares there.

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

A challenge to what fairy tales teach us

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Today Phyllis M. Newman author of Clearing in the Woods is joining us at Ascroft, eh? to tell us a little about her new novel.

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

Thank you for the opportunity to introduce Clearing in the Woods. My story presents Roberta Blankenship as an unhappy wife and mother who has lived a life of sacrifice, one that denies herself for the sake of her entitled adult children and her ungrateful husband. After years of pushing aside her own hopes and dreams to promote those of her family, Roberta rebels. We’ve all been there, right? But Roberta takes it to the next level and flees to Alaska, the farthest point she can get from the Midwest without a passport, to start a new life on her own terms.

CLEARING IN THE WOODSRoberta is a flawed yet sympathetic character. She is both cynic and romantic, jaded and enthusiastic, willfully ignorant and prescient. My goal was to create an unlikeable character, one who is self-absorbed and angry, and then transform her into someone we can all identify with. To accomplish this, I employed classic fairy tales, which are rich in symbols and archetypes. Insight into the meanings of these tropes and classic roles allows the reader to understand the tales, and therefore life, on a deeper level.

In her quest for self-fulfillment, Roberta repeatedly defies the rules that fairytales endeavor to teach us:

Don’t go into the woods alone.

You must not stray from the path.

Don’t question authority.

Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

You must be home by midnight.

Don’t talk to strangers.

Only innocence and goodness are rewarded with undying love.

Roberta refuses to play by the rules and embraces the world on her own terms. This leads to harrowing experiences including kidnapping, deceit, and murder. As a result, Roberta must face her dark side (the archetypal witch in classic tales) and reach some profound understanding, making connections that tap into deeper levels of consciousness to bridge a universal truth. Roberta rejects what she knows and what is expected of her to thrive and survive. She eventually is forced to become the classic heroine who takes the initiative, who grows in strength and understanding beyond her wildest dreams. After all, fairy tales are essentially about a kind of death and rebirth, leading to powerful transformations.

At the beginning of Roberta’s travails, she is a dreamy, cerebral character haunted by missed opportunities, beset by anger and resentment weighted by the isolation and alienation experienced by the career homemaker. By the end of Roberta’s story, she has not only saved her own life, she has also discovered the truth about her current circumstances and about her life in general. In other words, she has prevailed in the most meaningful and effective way possible. She has solved the mystery of the crimes surrounding her and comes to understand the story behind her mother’s unhappiness, something that heretofore has blighted Roberta’s existence.

Roberta’s story is one of discovery and transformation, just like in the fairy tales we all grew up with. I have established character and foreshadowed events by referencing not only fairy tales, but also pop-culture, classic literature, and mythology. This helps the story resonate with charm and humor, making Roberta’s world profoundly real.

Thanks for introducing the novel to us, Phyllis. Readers can learn more about Phyllis and her writing by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter (@phyllismnewman2).

The novel is available online at  Amazon 

JPeg headshotAbout Phyllis M. Newman: Phyllis is a native southerner. Born in New Orleans, she spent formative years in Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, and on a dairy farm in Ross County, Ohio. After a long career in finance and human resources at The Ohio State University, she turned her attention to writing fiction. She published a noir mystery, “Kat’s Eye” in 2015, a Gothic mystery, “The Vanished Bride of Northfield House” in 2018, and the suspense thriller “Clearing in the Woods” in 2019. Today she lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three perpetually unimpressed cats, none of whom venture far from home.

 

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

Easter Hair Hunt

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Today Nancy J Cohen is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Easter Hair Hunt, her latest novel in the Bad Hair Day mystery series.

Welcome, Nancy. 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.

EASTER HAIR HUNTNJC: Easter Hair Hunt is #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Hairstylist Marla Vail solves crimes in sultry South Florida in this series that Publishers Weekly calls “fast-paced and jaunty.” Besides the 16 full-length novels, this series includes a short story, novella, and cookbook.

In Easter Hair Hunt, Marla attends an Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor. Her friend Blinky is playing the Easter bunny. Blinky, a client at Marla’s salon, has hired Marla to fix her hair for the charity luncheon that follows. But once the children’s event is over, Marla can’t find Blinky anywhere. As she’s searching the grounds, she stumbles across a costumed figure sprawled on the lawn and still as a dead hare. Afraid Blinky has fainted in the stuffy costume, Marla summons help. As rescuers pull off the face mask, Marla is shocked to discover a stranger in her friend’s place. Soon it’s a race against time as Marla attempts to hunt down her friend before Blinky becomes the next victim.

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

NJC: I was inspired by Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens in Washington D.C. so I modelled the setting after this historical site. I’d previously written Haunted Hair Nights, a novella set around Halloween. So I wanted to do another holiday story. The timeline for Easter Hair Hunt fit in naturally after the events in the previous title, Trimmed to Death. It follows Marla’s progression as a soon-to-be new mother.

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

NJC: The theme is about change, which is happening to Marla with her first pregnancy and also because her mother announces that she plans to get married and move a short distance away. These changes reflect things going on in my own life. Nothing stays static forever, and change doesn’t come easily. But you have to adapt and move on.

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

NJC: I have two sets of characters for each story. One set is the recurrent cast who are Marla’s friends, family, and colleagues. The other set involves the suspects. These are people who can be more quirky. But the ones who are more memorable arise from the recurrent cast. Aside from Marla and Dalton, these would include Marla’s best friend Tally, her mom Anita, deli owner Arnie and fellow stylist Nicole. Oh, and don’t forget the dogs, Spooks and Lucky.

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

NJC: Whenever possible, I visit the places so I can take photos and notes. Then it’s all about using the five senses to bring a location alive. Unique characteristics, seasonal celebrations, local festivals, and regional foods all add to the ambiance. I started including recipes in my stories and that led to A Bad Hair Day Cookbook. This title has 160+ quick and easy recipes plus anecdotes written by Marla and excerpts from the books. Easter Hair Hunt includes recipes as well. The setting here stems from my visit to the Hillwood Estate.

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

NJC: The research required depends on each story. Usually I like to address a topic that interests me so I can learn something new. For Easter Hair Hunt, topics included beekeeping, honey production, love bugs, Faberge eggs, Russian nesting dolls, stamp collecting, and the history of the U.S. Postal Service. I had a blast visiting the postal museum in Washington D.C. It’s a fascinating place that really needs more than one visit to absorb all the exhibits.

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

NJC: You don’t have to read the earlier books to enjoy Easter Hair Hunt. You can jump into any of my titles, and then if you like the story, go back to book one. They’re all complete mysteries, although the characters do evolve from book to book. After reading this latest tale, you’ll never look at an Easter egg hunt in quite the same way again.

Thanks for answering my questions, Nancy, and good luck with Easter Hair Hunt, the latest book in the Bad Hair Day Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon Kindle –  Amazon Print –  

B&N –  Kobo – Apple – Books2Read – IndieBound – Goodreads – BookBub –

Website 

PubPinkAbout Nancy J. Cohen: Nancy writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have been named Best Cozy Mystery by Suspense Magazine, won a Readers’ Favorite gold medal and a RONE Award, earned first place in the Chanticleer International Book Awards and third place in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy’s instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery, was nominated for an Agatha Award, earned first place in the Royal Palm Literary Awards and the TopShelf Magazine Book Awards, and won a gold medal in the President’s Book Awards. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, Nancy is a past president of  Florida Romance Writers and Mystery Writers of America Florida Chapter. She is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, she enjoys cooking, fine dining, cruising, and visiting Disney World.

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