Murder can haunt your handiwork

Today I’m doing something a bit different. Below is an excerpt from Murder Can Haunt Your Handiwork to introduce you to the latest novel in the Haunted Craft Fair Mysteries by Rose Pressey.

Let’s start with a bit about the novel: Rising up against the beautiful backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Biltmore Estate is a magnificent mansion in Asheville, North Carolina, built as a summer home for George Washington Vanderbilt II—yes, of those Vanderbilts—during the Gilded Age. Nowadays, it’s the site of an annual craft fair. Unfortunately, it’s also about to become a crime scene . . .

Celeste is hard to miss as she pulls up with her pink and white Shasta trailer and adorable Chihuahua, Van Gogh—Van for short. But before she can show off her artwork at the fair, a tour guide is found strangled by a velvet rope barrier and a valuable painting goes missing. With a rogues’ gallery of sketchy suspects, Celeste welcomes the help of a pair of handsome detectives—and a ghost with a special interest in the case . . .

And here’s the excerpt:

“Caleb and Pierce were here for the arts and crafts fair.

Caleb and I had met at another craft fair in Gatlinburg. He’d been working undercover, but he was quite a good artist, too. Pierce had mysteriously taken up art recently. I was suspicious that he might have done it so that he could come to the craft fair, too; then Caleb and I wouldn’t be alone here. If that were true, it was awfully sweet.

Caleb and I had gone on several dates. We had quite a good amount in common, since we both were into art and both of us had dogs. Caleb had an adorable German Shepherd named Gum Shoe. But Pierce was smart and handsome, and surprisingly, he had a sense of humor when he wasn’t being the tough cop.

“What happens next?” I asked. “Will they drag me away to the slammer?”

“As far as I know, you’re not going to the slammer.”

Caleb used air quotes. “What do you mean by ‘what happens next’?”

“How will they find who did this to her? Will the fair continue?”

“First, they have to confirm that it was a homicide. Second, I assume the fair will continue. They’ll probably try to act as if nothing happened,” Caleb said.

A photographer from the police department was snapping photos, making flashes of bright light in rapid succession. Occupancy in the room had swollen, and now I was feeling claustrophobic. I had to get out of here soon.

“I think we can safely assume that it was murder,” I said as I pulled at the neck of my T-shirt. With every passing second, I found it harder to breathe.

“Oh no. I can see the amateur sleuth wheels turning in your head. Maybe it would be a good idea if you didn’t get involved,” Caleb said.

“Not get involved? Not get involved?” I gestured widely with my hand. “I have to get involved now. I’m practically a detective on the case now. After all, I was the first one on the scene. That means I have to get involved.”

Readers can learn more about Rose Pressey by visiting her website, her blog and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

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

About Rose Pressey: Rose Pressey is the USA Today bestselling author of the Haunted Craft Fair Mysteries and the Haunted Vintage Mystery Series. She enjoys writing quirky and fun novels with a paranormal twist. The paranormal has always captured her interest. The thought of finding answers to the unexplained fascinates her.

When she’s not writing about werewolves, vampires, and every other supernatural creature, she loves eating cupcakes with sprinkles, reading, spending time with family, and listening to oldies from the fifties. Yeah, she loves Elvis. She can’t help myself. Rose lives in the beautiful commonwealth of Kentucky with her husband, son, and three sassy Chihuahuas.

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

Join Us in the Beloved Bookroom

Today Trudell Becket is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Broken Spine, the first novel in the Beloved Bookroom mystery series.

Welcome, Trudell. 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.

Oh, hello there. I didn’t notice you at first. Most strangers to our town don’t come into the library. They’re here to go fishing on the lake or to hunt. The town of Cypress in South Carolina isn’t much more than a dot-on-a-map-blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of small town. But it’s my home, and for that matter the only place I’ve ever called home. Who am I? I’m Trudell Becket, assistant librarian.

You’ve stepped into the first book of the Beloved Bookroom Mystery series. And what a day to come into the book, too. There’s trouble afoot. The town manager is converting my beloved library into a high-tech bookless library. You heard that right. He’s getting rid of all of these lovely books. He’s selling some and sending all the rest to the landfill. Nothing I’ve said can get him to change his mind. I’m at my wits end, you know?

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

Oh, the writer thinks she’s in control. But—come a little closer, I don’t want her to hear this—she doesn’t control anything. What she calls fiction is my life. I’m as real as anything and you’d better not get in my way when it comes to protecting my library. Yes, you heard that right. I might simply be an assistant librarian, but this library is mine. It’s yours too. Our public librarians belong to everyone. Don’t ever forget that. And I’ll do whatever is necessary to protect the Cypress library from being destroyed.

How did you evolve as the main character?

Well, I didn’t kill the town manager. That’s not why the story is about me. Sure, the situation at the library pushed me to the edge. Sure, I did some things that on the surface may appear to be illegal. But I’m the quiet neighbor that goes around killing people. Actually, I don’t think I can ever go back to being the quiet, meek librarian. I got a taste for justice as I set out to prove my innocence and I like this new assertive me.

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

Cypress is filled with so many interesting characters. (And I mean that in the nicest way.) For example, while my best friend since kindergarten, Tori Green, has a killer fashion sense, she is unfortunately a man-killer when it comes to the men in her life. She’s been married and divorced four times, which really isn’t fair since I haven’t yet found my first “Mister Right” or even “Mister Right Now.” Tori owns Perks, the town’s only coffee shop and is the best, best friend any girl could ever ask for. Thanks to her, I’m bolder, braver than I could ever be on my own.

She’s not my only close friend. Flossie Finnegan-Baker writes bestselling novels. She’s also traveled the world and has some amazing stories to tell. She spends most of her days at the library writing. That’s how I got to know her. She dresses like a hippy in brightly colored tie-dyed dresses, which makes sense since she’s forty years older than me. Like Tori, she has a personality that’s as strong as the winds at the eye of a hurricane. Unlike Tori, she has the wisdom to go with those years.

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

As I already mentioned, I live in Cypress, South Carolina. It’s a small town in the middle of the state. It’s located on the shores of Lake Marion, which helps attracts seasonal tourists. The town is named after the grand cypress trees that can be found growing in the nearby marshes and even lining Main Street. Although we’re not rich and the buildings may need to be fixed up, the people in the community are the best you can find anywhere. We pull together and help each other. And what I did for the library was my way of helping my fellow book-loving residents.

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

Y’all need to read The Broken Spine. And after you’re done reading it, tell a friend to read it. It’s entertaining. Plus, there’s an adorable cat that makes my life miserable at first and then wonderful.

Thank you for answering my questions, Trudell, and good luck to you and your author, Dorothy St. James, with The Broken Spine, the first book in the Beloved Bookroom mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Trudell and her author, Dorothy St. James by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Bookbub and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – IndieBound – Bookshop – B&N 

About Dorothy St. James: Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband, a crazy dog, and fluffy cat. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.

Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn’t as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.

* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including: Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: “amazing”, “perfect”, “filled with emotion”, and “lined with danger.”

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

Wedding Bear Blues

Today Sasha Silverman is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Wedding Bear Blues, the latest novel in the Teddy Bear mystery series.

Welcome, Sasha. 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 Sasha Silverman – I manage my family’s Silver Bear Shop in Silver Hollow, located in southeast Michigan. My uncle supervises the factory where we produce teddy bears and accessories. I’m always busy with sales in the shop, giving tours, and planning special events, like our annual Teddy Bear Picnic (Bearly Departed) after the Labor Day village parade, a teddy bear tea during the Oktobear Fest (Bear Witness to Murder), the annual tree lighting ceremony, plus a Bearzaar and Holiday Open House (Have Yourself A Beary Little Murder). This time my sister Maddie and I are bridesmaids for a friend (Wedding Bear Blues), but we’re also planning a charity fundraiser to set a Guinness World Record for collecting the most teddy bears.

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

From what I understand, Meg Macy begins with an outline for each book. Not that we stick to that, of course, since sometimes things happen which tweak the outline and surprise us all. I’m not all that thrilled about stumbling over dead bodies, since the local cop keeps calling me a “body magnet” and others call me Nancy Drew. I’m also really tired of being put in dangerous situations confronting killers, either. Augh. Meg nearly got me killed in each case. But while the county homicide detective keeps telling me to “stick to selling teddy bears”, I think he appreciates my help in solving the murders and seeing justice served.

How did you evolve as the main character?

After my divorce (from a total narcissist who cheated on our wedding day and through the nine months we were hitched), I returned home to Silver Hollow to recover from heartbreak. Family is important to me, and they helped me regain my footing – plus my dad wanted to retire – and begged me to take over for him. I love seeing kids coming in to buy bears and costumes to dress them up, like tutus and ballet slippers, baseball uniforms, or poodle skirts. I also give tours to explain the process of making teddies and watching our staff sew, stuff, and finish the details. And after seven years of being single, I’m now involved with a great guy who supports me and shares the same goals.

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

My sister Maddie is a big help, along with my best friends – we get together for frequent Guilty Pleasures Gossip Club meetings and discuss the murders and possible suspects. My significant other, Jay Kirby, is pretty busy with his own career as a wood carver, but he tries to help out as well in solving these terrible crimes.

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

Since I’m a (reluctant) bridesmaid – my sister volunteered me after a closer friend of the bride had to cancel – Maddie and I end up at the local hotel for the rehearsal dinner. The Regency Hotel is fairly pricey. It’s also the only place to stay in Silver Hollow, so visitors don’t have much choice. I also caught sight of my ex-husband having dinner with his new fiancée and her parents. Oy. Plus there’s the animosity between the best man and his former fiancée, the bride’s sister, who threatened him at the church. Not a peaceful time, to say the least. I did get to admire Jay’s ice sculpture, however, since he’s taken up carving for special occasions and at ice festivals during the winter.

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

While readers don’t have to start with book 1, it might help to understand how I came to get involved in all this murder and mayhem. Enjoy!

Thank you for answering my questions, Sasha, and good luck to you and your author, Meg Macy, with Wedding Bear Blues, the latest book in the Teddy Bear mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Sasha and her author, Meg Macy by visiting the author’s Website and her Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

AMAZON     B&N    KOBO      Google Play

About Meg Macy: Award-winning mystery author Meg Macy lives in Southeast Michigan, close enough to Ann Arbor, Chelsea, and Dexter — the setting of her “Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear” cozy mysteries for Kensington. She is also one-half of the writing team of D.E. Ireland for the Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins mysteries; two books, Wouldn’t It Be Deadly and Get Me to the Grave On Time were Agatha Award finalists for Best Historical. Meg’s first published book, Double Crossing, won the 2012 Best First Novel Spur Award from Western Writers of America. Meg loves reading historical and cozy mysteries, gardening, crafts, and watercolor painting.

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

Artistic License to Kill

Today Paula Darnell is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Artistic License to Kill, her first novel in A Fine Art Mystery series.

Welcome, Paula. 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.

Artistic License to Kill is the first book in my cozy mystery series, A Fine Art Mystery. The main character, our amateur sleuth, is artist Amanda Trent, who’s starting over in a new town, with the goal of making her living as a full-time artist after her husband dumps her for a woman who is younger than their son. In the series, mystery and mayhem pop up as Amanda navigates the local art scene, where she’s a member of the Roadrunner, a cooperative gallery.

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

The idea for the setting came from my own experiences being a member of a couple of cooperative art galleries and an art guild, where I’m on the board of directors. I can’t really pinpoint where the idea for the mystery came from (it’s a mystery to me!).

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

Yes, the theme is based on the idea that many women have that it would be fantastic to turn a hobby or an avocation into a full-time business and actually make money from doing what they love. Although it’s touch and go for Amanda sometimes, earning her living from her art fulfils her dream.

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

My characters sometimes arise from a plot necessity. They may have characteristics I’ve observed in people, but they’re never based on a real person. My favorite characters are always my sleuths.

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

I always use settings with which I’m familiar; for example, my DIY Diva Mystery series takes place in a guard-gated community, which is governed by a homeowners’ association with lots of rules and regulations. Since I live in such a community myself, it’s easy to write about a fictional version of one.

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

I sometimes need to research details, but since I often write about places and situations I know about, I spend more time writing than researching.

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

I hope readers enjoy the book!

Thanks for answering my questions, Paula, and good luck with Artistic License to Kill, the first book in A Fine Art Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – Apple Books – Barnes & Noble – Kobo

About Paula Darnell: Award-winning author Paula Darnell is a former college instructor who has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in English and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in English with a Writing Emphasis. Artistic License to Kill is the first book in her Fine Art Mystery series. She’s also the author of the DIY Diva Mystery series and The Six-Week Solution, a historical mystery set in Nevada. She resides in Las Vegas with her husband Gary and their Pyrador Rocky.

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

Wishing You Good Company This Christmas

It’s almost Christmas so I’m jotting down a few thoughts about the holidays. Every year I have a theme for this seasonal post. I’ve written about the wonder and happiness that Christmas tree and mantelpiece lights inspire for me, how warm and happy memories of holidays past can lift your spirits, the traditions that mean Christmas for me and others, and the way that seasonal songs stir our hearts and memories.

And in most of the posts I can’t help mentioning lots about lights and tinsel. I just love to watch them sparkle. But this year my thoughts aren’t filled with sparkly things. They are bit more reflective. Yes, I’ve decorated the house to bursting like every other year, and added a couple new decorations even though it’s unlikely that anyone other than my husband and I will be around to see them.

But I’ve been thinking about how the worldwide pandemic is likely to make this a more solitary holiday than other years. Our family has decided not to gather the three families together for our traditional Christmas dinner. We will each spend the day at our own houses with a brief get together (spaced well apart) at one house in the afternoon.

It’s been a rather solitary year overall, hasn’t it? Many places have seen lockdowns and most advise us to keep our distance from others. We see loved ones less often than normal, and those in care homes even less frequently.

And our farm got even quieter this autumn when we sold our oldest cow, Fifi, and her two offspring (a 2 year old bullock and last year’s calf). Fifi was almost nine and we had had her since she was three weeks old. She was an intelligent animal with a mind of her own, and she wasn’t shy to let us know when she wanted something. With the cattle gone, we have no livestock now and the farmyard seems very empty. But I’ve discovered that we aren’t as alone on the farm as we might believe.

Our small farm is at the end of a half mile single track lane. No one passes our front door unless they are coming to see us. We are also rather removed from our neighbours on the lane.

With more than twenty acres of farmland surrounding my house, I have lots of space to roam. We’ve always had a variety of wildlife sharing the land with us, but with fewer human visitors recently, they have become bolder. Among our furry and feathered neighbours, I’ve seen deer, hares, foxes, a badger, mice, a red squirrel, and a pine martin in the fields near the house. And sometimes even closer than the fields. There’s also bats, pheasants and various other birds in the sky above us.

For several weeks this summer, each morning I watched a young hare hop through a gap between buildings from the farmyard to the street behind our house on his mission to find new grass in the next field. As he passed the dining room window, only feet from me on the other side of the glass, he sometimes stopped and nosed around the ground or stood on his hind legs and sniffed the air before he scurried on, completely unaware of me. On another occasion a pine martin was even bolder as he slunk across the pavement and climbed onto the roof of one of the outbuildings behind the house as I watched him through the window. Inquisitive and agile, he explored his surroundings thoroughly before he went on his way.

A small herd of deer often venture into the field in front of our house at dusk. The does quietly drift into the field, grazing in short snatches, often lifting their heads to dart glances around them, on the lookout for danger. As the summer ended, their calves had grown big enough to accompany them out into the open space. These tiny, dark creatures timidly poked around the edges of the field, ready to flee from any noise, waiting for their mothers. Early one morning last summer I watched a doe graze her way across the field in front of our house until she was only a few yards from one of our half-grown calves. The two animals stopped grazing long enough to raise their heads and look at each other, each one considering what risk the other posed, before they continued their breakfast, each unperturbed by the presence of the other.

In the autumn, as I walked up the lane at dusk, shadows flitted over my head and raced up the lane ahead of me. The bats were silent, steady companions on my evening walks.

More recently the pheasants have been roaming along the lane and through the fields. These beautiful birds are graceful and comic at the same time, long, elegant necks and heads stretching toward the sky as they race on stubby legs past our front door. Huddled in bunches, they seem to compete against each other in endless road and cross country races. Maybe I should get them some miniature florescent vests to wear in order to keep them safe.

And always there are brightly coloured robins, flitting from one post to the next, weaving in and out through the holly, rarely still.

Even though I don’t always see my furry and feathered neighbours, it’s good to know they are there. The place isn’t so solitary with them near.

What about where you live? If you are distanced from family and friends this year, what other companions do you have? Your pets, the neighbourhood cats and dogs, the local wildlife? The world is never as empty as we might think it is.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and there’s only a few hours until the festivities begin. Even if you can’t be with those you love, I hope you won’t feel too alone. I’d like to wish you good company, and a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.

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

The second Century Cottage Cozy Mystery novel is here

I’m pleased to tell you that The Heritage Heist, the second novel in the Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries series, has just been released this week. It’s available as an ebook and a paperback, and the ebook is reduced to .99 cents/pence for the holiday season.

The novel has been a while coming as I had to squeeze in a couple novellas and several short stories while I was writing it, but it’s finally here and I hope you’ll find it worth the wait.

Let me tell you a bit about the book:

A fall fair, a cornered craftsman, an heirloom heist. When an antique quilt that is a cherished part of Fenwater’s past disappears from the market before her town’s fall fair, it’s up to Lois to resolve the quilt quandary.

Middle-aged widow Lois is enjoying her second season in her new town and her century house, away from the dangers of big city life in Toronto. She can’t wait to experience her first old-fashioned fall fair, complete with hot apple cider. But when the local market is burgled, her enthusiasm for the upcoming festival plummets. During the break-in one of the security guards is badly injured and an antique quilt, on loan from the museum, vanishes. Her friend, Bruce, designed and built the display case and has one of only two keys to secure it. That makes him a prime suspect in the theft. Lois won’t let Bruce’s reputation, nor the trust his customers have in the bespoke furnituremaker, be damaged by the allegation. She’s determined to piece the clues together to find the quilt, clear Bruce’s name and save a piece of Fenwater’s history. The Century Cottage Cozy Mystery series is set in rural Ontario, Canada during the early 1980s.

You can find the ebook here:

https://books2read.com/u/4XLYBN

I’d also like to tell you about another book that was released this month.

Wartime Christmas Tales: a WWII Flash Fiction anthology was released on December 1st as a perma-free book on all major retailers.

The authors of these stories write Second World War fiction, and as a thank you to our valued readers and to boost spirits during this difficult year, we put together this collection.

These are heartwarming short stories in a wide range of genres, set in WWII in places around the world. We hope you will like them. And if you do, please give us a rating or a review!! I especially hope you’ll enjoy my story, A Letter Home, which is the opening story. It’s a tale of a homesick GI who is far from home at Christmas 1943 but finds a way to beat the mail censor and send his family the gift of knowing he’s safe and well.

Download the book on your favourite retailer here: https://books2read.com/u/4XLDk7

Happy reading during the holiday season!

Posted in Archives, December 2020 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The latest Fermanagh Miscellany is now available

I’m pleased to tell you that Fermanagh Miscellany 2021, the annual anthology produced by Fermanagh Authors’ Association, has just been released. As always it’s a diverse mix of fact, fiction and poetry. Inside you’ll find articles ranging from Newtownbutler to Belleek and points in between, featuring Fermanagh history and heritage, poetry, creative writing and some of Fermanagh’s notable people of the past.

The topics of the articles include a Derrygonnelly priest in the Boer War; Phillip Callaghan’s service in Belleek in WW2; reflections on the life of Barbara Chapman, Newtownbutler historian, the era of recitations on stage, radio and pub, family history from newspapers, Alexander Puskin’s Fermanagh links, fishing on the Erne; public works in 1901, Pandemic isolation and cameo thoughts that recall people and places and finally a poetic accusation that after all “the Butler did it.”

Going Home, my story in this year’s book, centres on the theme of home, and discovering where it is.

The front cover of the book is an eye catching image of Gad Island in Upper Lough Erne with its round tower symbolising to a degree the isolation we have all experienced in these pandemic times.

The book costs £5 and can be had posted in the UK for £7 P&P from Email – adam4eves@aol.com or orangefleece741@gmail.comAvailable in the Belleek area in Gilmartin’s, Rooneys, Palm Bush and Novel Idea Ballyshannon.

Posted in Archives, December 2020 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Peppermint Cream Die – blending Christmas and Crime

Today Kayla Jeffries is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Peppermint Cream Die, the first novel in the HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) mystery series.

Welcome, Kayla. 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 Kayla Jeffries, the protagonist of Peppermint Cream Die. The book tells the story of how I helped solve the murder of my very good friend, Trudy Dillingham. Although I am an introverted HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) and get overstimulated easily, I had to do something to help bring her killer to justice! It was stressful but worth it. Along the way, I met a really good guy, Jason, who is now my boyfriend (!), and I ended up with the sweetest all-white American shorthair cats, Sugar and Flour. I did a lot of baking, too. It was Christmastime, so I had tons of orders to fulfill for my home bakery business.

Peppermint Cream Die is the first installment of The HSP Mysteries. My author is waiting for copy-edits on the second book (Stabbed in the Tart, about the murder of a fellow chef) and is writing the third one now (Sourdough Dead, in which my boyfriend is accused of murder). She better get to it; I have a lot to say! Ha, ha.

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

I definitely get a say! Fortunately, Carol is also an HSP, so she understands what it’s like for me. We don’t argue too much. <grin>

How did you evolve as the main character?

At the beginning of Peppermint Cream Die, I was still getting over a bad break-up that had affected me a great deal (HSPs have a hard time getting over negative experiences). I was reluctant to date Jason, and not even 100 percent sure about adopting Sugar! (Flour came a little later). By the end of the book, I had completely changed. Sugar and Flour are now my adorable, trusted companions, and I can’t imagine life without them. As for Jason—well, you’ll just have to see.

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

My best friend, Isabella Valera, is a waitress at our community’s restaurant, and is my perfect counterpoint. She is extroverted, flirty, up for anything, and an all-around great person. She is studying for the law school admission test, and I know she’s going to do great!

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

I live in Seaside Shores, which is a non-gated planned community in Oceanville, California. Oh, my gosh, it is so beautiful here. I absolutely adore living so close to the Pacific Ocean. The sounds, the smells, the feeling of sand between my toes…it’s the perfect place for an HSP who processes sensory experiences at a deep level.

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

I really hope you enjoy it!

Thank you for answering my questions, Kayla, and good luck to you and your author, Carol E. Ayer, with Peppermint Cream Die, the first book in the HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Kayla and her author, Carol E. Ayer by visiting the author’s website and blog, and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N – Kobo

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About Carol Ayer: Carol is a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), and lives halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento with her cat, Rainn.  When she’s not writing, she’s reading mysteries and thrillers or watching movies and cooking shows. As a native Californian, she visits the ocean as often as possible.

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

Erin’s Children, the sequel to Kelegeen

Today Meg O’Connor Quinn is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Erin’s Children, the sequel to Kelegeen.

Welcome, Meg. 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 Meg O’Connor Quinn, a main character in the novel, Erin’s Children, the sequel to Eileen O’Finlan’s debut novel Kelegeen. Besides being the name of the book, Kelegeen was also the name of the village in Ireland where I lived. I left Ireland and came to America to escape the Great Hunger, or as most non-Irish folks call it, the Potato Famine. I didn’t want to leave my home and family, but we were all dying of disease and starvation. I did it so that I could find work and send back money to save what was left of my family.

Erin’s Children tells of my life in America where I found work as a domestic servant with a family in Worcester, Massachusetts. It is hard work – all that cooking and cleaning – but it pays well enough for me to help my family, buy a passage ticket to bring over my sister, Kathleen, and save some for myself.

The biggest problem for me is that I got married immediately before leaving Ireland only to find out that I have to keep my marriage a secret in America.  Even though I work hard, my life here is far better than my life in Ireland even before the starving, except that I miss my family something awful, of course. I’m conflicted because I know that when my husband, Rory, is finally able to join me, it will bring my new life of relative ease to an end and plunge me back into poverty. You see, the employment opportunities are good for single Irish women with so many middle class Yankees wanting a servant, but too many places won’t hire Irish men. They even put up signs that say, ‘No Irish Need Apply.’ The few places that will hire Irish men pay poorly. I can’t keep a live-in job if I’m married, but it’s the only job that will pay enough to keep me out of poverty. Besides, once an Irish woman marries, she’s expected not to work outside the home anymore. After all, the wee ones will be coming and a woman can’t very well take them to work with her. So, I’m in a terrible conundrum. If Rory joins me here I’ll be with the man I love, but I’ll go back to being poor, living in a slum. If he doesn’t come, I can go on with my life of free room and board and a decent salary, but without the man I love and miss with all my heart.

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

I suppose Eileen O’Finlan thinks she’s in control. We’re in her head, after all. She thinks she’s making up the story, but to tell the truth, it’s us who decide what will happen. I can’t tell you how many times she’s had something in mind, but we changed it. We just blocked the path she thought to take the story and moved it in a totally different direction. She’s a good sport about it, though. She even seems to like it when we take control.

How did you evolve as the main character?

I was one of the main characters in Kelegeen and since I’m the one who came to America first, it’s only natural that I should continue on as one of the main characters in Erin’s Children. However, like in Kelegeen, where I shared main character status with Father Brian O’Malley, in Erin’s Children I share it with my sister, Kathleen O’Connor.

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

My sister, Kathleen, was an important, though not main, character in Kelegeen. In Erin’s Children she about steals the show. Truly, I don’t mind. I had my turn, now it’s hers. Kathleen’s the one with the wildest adventures. She, too, is a domestic servant, but the family she works for are awful. They’re bigoted, arrogant, and in the case of the eldest son, predatory. The young daughter, Clara, is the one bright spot in the family and it’s mainly for her that Kathleen stays with them as long as she does. Eventually, she’s forced to leave, though,and where she goes from there – well I’ll not give it away, but I’ll just say it involves some ladies of questionable reputations, a maze of secret underground tunnels, some nuns, and, eventually the opportunity of a lifetime.

Another of my favorite characters is a young woman named Nuala O’Flaherty. I met her when I first came to America. She’s also a domestic servant. She helped me become accustomed to Yankee ways. She’s even the one who told me to keep my marriage a secret. Nuala and I are alike is some ways. We’re both stubborn, determined, and quick-tempered. Whereas I’m tall, she’s a tiny thing, though you’d not want to cross her. She’s a real spitfire. Nuala is my best friend in America. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

My employer, Emily Claprood, is also a favorite. She’s a kind, fair-minded woman. Over the years of working for the Claproods, I come to be accepted as almost one of the family. That’s mainly due to Mrs. Claprood who sets the tone for the Claprood family. They’re good people, the Claproods. I’m fortunate to have them as my employers.

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

In Erin’s Children I live in the ever-growing city of Worcester in Massachusetts. My story takes the reader through the decade of the 1850s.  It’s nothing like life in my little village of Kelegeen back in Ireland. Sometimes, I think I’m dreaming and I’ll wake up back in the one-room, thatched roof cottage, on a dirt floor, sick from hunger. But no, ’tis real! I live with and work for the Claprood family. They’ve got a lovely home with rooms – aye rooms – more than one. Lots more. And I clean them all! But I get to eat three times a day. I have a little room of my own in the attic. It’s cramped and stuffy, but it’s all mine.

I work from before the sun rises until after the family has gone to bed for the night. I do the cooking (which I hate – I call the stove ‘The Beast’), the cleaning, and the laundry. The best days are Thursday afternoons. Almost all domestic servants have Thursday afternoons off. That’s when I get together with Kathleen and Nuala and we find all sorts of merry things to do. We also have Sunday morning off so we can attend Mass at Saint John’s Church. Other than that, we work.

My employer, Mrs. Claprood is an ardent abolitionist, her husband, Chester is the co-owner of the Claprood – Pratt Iron Foundry. (Arthur Pratt is the other co-owner. It is his family for whom Kathleen works.) The Claproods have three nearly grown children, Oliver who is preparing to go into business with his father, and Pamela and Deborah, both of whom are devoted to botany to the point that they’ve turned one of the house’s parlors into a conservatory. They are very taken with the language of flowers. Apparently, it’s all the rage, though I think it’s silly. If you’ve got something to say, just say it. Why waste time with hidden messages. Who ever heard of letting flowers do your talking for you?

This city, in fact this whole country, is alien to me and to Kathleen. One of the hardest things for us is the realization that we are unwanted. There is a terrible political party called the Know Nothings that have gained power and they are determined to send all Irish Catholic immigrants back to Ireland. They’re convinced that we’re all part of a plot for the pope to take over America, though I don’t know where they got such a foolish idea. In any case, they hate us and want us out of their country. So along with working our fingers to the bone and learning the ways of a new and very different culture, we must deal with the constant threat of being shipped back to the deadly starvation and disease that assails Ireland.

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

One thing of which you can be sure, we Irish are a resilient people. We’ll fight like banshees to make our way in this country. And we’ll do it on our terms by keeping our faith and our culture. At the same time, we’ll forge strong bonds with Yankees who are kind people of real integrity, like Mrs. Claprood, Clara Pratt, and a darlin’ of a gentleman named Hiram Archer.

In Erin’s Children you’ll see what life was like for us Irish immigrants who came to escape the Great Hunger. You’ll experience our joys, sorrows, fears, and accomplishments. You’ll find out what was happening in America politically what with the Know Nothings and their nativist shenanigans and the bitter fight over slavery that many fear is going to lead to war.

Let the characters of Erin’s Children draw you into our world, our thoughts, our dilemmas, our triumphs. It will be an experience to remember!

Thank you for answering my questions, Meg, and good luck to you and your author, Eileen O’Finlan, with Erin’s Children, the sequel to Kelegeen.

Readers can learn more about Meg and her author, Eileen O’Finlan by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads and BWL Publishing Inc. Author pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N

About Eileen O’Finlan: Eileen writes historical fiction, telling the stories on history’s margins, the things rarely taught in the classroom. For her, that’s where history really gets fun. Her promise to her readers is to craft stories that will thoroughly immerse them in another time and place.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, her family moved to Worcester when she was two.  Four years later they moved to Holden where Eileen grew up and where she now resides.

Eileen holds a Bachelor’s degree in history and a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry.  She works full time for the Diocese of Worcester and teaches online courses in Catholic studies for the University of Dayton, Ohio.  Erin’s Children is her second novel and the sequel to her debut novel, Kelegeen.

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

On Deadly Tides

Today Penny Brannigan is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about On Deadly Tides, the latest novel in the Penny Brannigan mystery series.

Welcome, Penny. 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! My name is Penny Brannigan and I’m the protagonist in On Deadly Tides. This is my eleventh outing as an amateur sleuth in my own mystery series. I’m a Canadian who has lived in beautiful North Wales for about thirty years, where the series is set.

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

I’d say we follow the 80-20 rule. Eighty per cent of the time I take the lead. My author is smart enough to recognize that this is my story, not hers. She lets the story unfold the way I want to tell it, because after all, everything happens to me, not her. I’m glad she listens to me. A few books back she thought it would be a good idea if I got involved with a police detective inspector, but I wasn’t having it, and the romance fizzled out.

How did you evolve as the main character?

When the series opened, I was running a little nail bar in the town of Llanelen. Now, with my partner, Victoria Hopkirk, I’m the co-owner of a successful spa. I’ve definitely become more business savvy, and I’ve also gained confidence as an amateur sleuth because I’ve learned to trust my instincts. I’ve also grown as an artist, and in On Deadly Tides the owner of a local gallery invites me to participate in a Christmas exhibit. This invitation leads to some pretty interesting developments, I must say.

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 Mrs. Lloyd, the town’s former post mistress. She’s always good for a laugh, through her unintentional humour, even if she does sometimes drive us crazy. In fact, there have been times when it occurred to me that Mrs. Lloyd might be my author’s favourite character.

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

The story opens on the picturesque island of Anglesey, set in the Irish Sea off the coast of North Wales, where I was enjoying a painting holiday. And there’s lots of scenic subjects for a painter to choose from – a lighthouse, a ruined castle, stunning views across the Menai Strait to the mountains of Snowdonia, quaint little fishing villages – it’s all here. I live in the beautiful market town of Llanelen, as my author calls it, but the real name of the town is Llanrwst. I love it here. We’ve got a beautiful seventeenth century bridge, lovely stone houses, spectacular views, countryside walks … everything you could possibly want. I never imagined I would leave Llanelen, but then something happened in On Deadly Tides to change my mind. Or maybe I should say, someone happened …

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

There are some big changes for me in On Deadly Tides, and if you’ve been following my story, I think you’ll be happy for me. If you haven’t been following my story, you can read the book as a stand alone. And if you’d like to get caught up on my series, the ebook version of Remembering the Dead, the previous title in my series, is on special offer until the end of November for $1.99. You can order it here.

It only remains for me to thank Dianne Ascroft for giving me this opportunity to tell you a little bit about myself and my new book, and to thank my readers for all their support. Hope to see you soon in North Wales!

Thank you for dropping by, Penny, and good luck to you and your author, Elizabeth J. Duncan, with On Deadly Tides, the latest book in the Penny Brannigan mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Penny and her author, Elizabeth J. Duncan by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon    B&N    Kobo

About Elizabeth J. Duncan: A two-time winner of the Bloody Words (Bony Blithe) Award for Canada’s best light mystery, Elizabeth J. Duncan is the author of two series: the Penny Brannigan mysteries set in North Wales and Shakespeare in the Catskills featuring costume designer Charlotte Fairfax. A former journalist, public relations practitioner, and college professor, Elizabeth is a faculty member of the Humber School for Writers. She divides her time between Toronto, Canada and Llandudno, North Wales.

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