A Calculated Whisk

Today Jaymie Leighton Müller is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about A Calculated Whisk, the latest novel in the Vintage Kitchen mystery series.

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

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

I’m Jaymie Leighton Müller, part of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries; I collect vintage kitchen stuff, write a vintage recipe cooking column and volunteer at the local historic house as the kitchen expert! A Calculated Whisk is #10 in the series. I honestly don’t know how it happens, but I appear to have a knack for tripping over dead bodies. Once that happens, well… I have to know who killed them. I care deeply about my community and these kinds of disruptions are painful to all of us. This time, it almost feels like my fault; you see, the victim was on her way to see me, to tell me… well, if I knew what she was going to tell me, I’d know who killed her, right? But I will figure it out.

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

She thinks she’s in control, but once a horrible thing happens, it’s my way of figuring things out that moves the investigation along. In this case I was involved from the beginning even before the murder, and if I wasn’t the way I am – inquisitive, emotional, unwilling to let my community suffer – Victoria wouldn’t have anything to write. I know how these things work; one of my college friends is Melody Heath, a romance and suspense writer, and she’s moaned in my ear about how her characters think they know everything and want it all their way. I tell her to just set them free… let them do what they’ll do. 

How did you evolve as the main character?

In the beginning I was suffering through a very bad breakup, the kind that has you staying up late to cry and driving past your lost love’s new girlfriend’s house in the middle of the night. Joel dumped me right before Christmas a few years ago. It was painful, but growth comes with pain. From there I dated a millionaire, yearned for a hunky detective who looked like he was right out of a romance novel (my not-so-secret addiction) and then found the love of my life, a junk store owning Christmas tree farmer. And Joel’s now-ex (Heidi Lockland) is one of my best friends. Go figure. And I now solve murder mysteries. I’ve come a long way.

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

My hubby, Jakob and my adorable step-daughter Jocie are two; I love them both unreservedly. Having a daughter is a new experience for me, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. But there’s also Val Nibley, my best friend and partner in crime, and Mrs. Stubbs, the irascible and occasionally crotchety nonagenarian who often has valuable tips and knows everything about the past in Queensville, Michigan. Val knows everyone and everything, and she’s the thoughtful counterpoint to my occasional impulsiveness. Mrs. S is just… she’s wonderful. She keeps me grounded and gives me pointers. She reads and thinks about crime a lot, and both women are great to bounce theories off of.

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

Home… and that’s why it’s so awful. When murder happens close to you, everything changes in the blink of an eye. I need to figure it all out so I can feel safe again, and look at the dark forest across from our home without the shadow of fear darkening it. I need to figure this out, or it will haunt me. And I need to figure it out to bring peace to a family that is suffering.

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

This is a hard one for me; someone I was just getting to know lost their life while on their way to talk to me. I feel… responsible. But I promise, we’ll figure it out in the end. With the help of my friends and my community, we will root out the evil (and murder is evil, no mistake about that) and find justice for the victims and their loved ones. Is there more than one victim? I’m not sure yet; maybe. But I’ll figure that out, too. Come with me and follow my journey.

Thank you for answering my questions, Jaymie, and good luck to you and your author, Victoria Hamilton, with A Calculated Whisk, the latest book in the Vintage Kitchen mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Jaymie and her author, Victoria Hamilton by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram and Pinterest pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N  – Kobo

About Victoria Hamilton: Victoria Hamilton is the pseudonym of nationally bestselling romance author Donna Lea Simpson. Victoria is the bestselling author of three mystery series, the Lady Anne Addison Mysteries, the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, and the Merry Muffin Mysteries. She also writes a Regency-set historical mystery series, starting with A Gentlewoman’s Guide to Murder.  

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

The Rewired series

Today Alexander Mukte, author of the Rewired books, is visiting Ascroft, eh? to introduce himself and his writing.

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

What are your favorite TV shows?

I like shows that make me laugh. When I feel like a lighthearted mystery, Psych and Monk never disappoint. My wife and I just started re-watching Modern Family, too, which is so good.

What is your favorite meal?

It’s hard to choose just one. I really enjoy chicken and dumplings, bbq brisket, and salmon. But, if I had to choose, when we honeymooned in Vancouver, my wife and I had this amazing sushi. It was the first time we had izakaya, and we tried something called torched aburi pressed sushi. It blew our minds. It’s been years, and we still talk about it.

If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?

I’m actually writing a series of novels now, The Rewired Series. The first two installments are available now, The Recruiter and Deeply Rooted Dreams. It’s a genre-bending series that weaves together elements of mystery, visionary, and speculative fiction. As the name suggests, The series is about how we rewire our thinking around who we are as human beings and what’s possible. With characters that span across books and time, these novels are designed to be edge-of-your-seat, engaging mysteries that you’ll want to revisit again and again.

Is there a writer you idolize? If so who?

The person that comes to mind is actually a musician (and mogul), Jay-Z. While he’s not known for writing his lyrics down, they are his words. If you look across his body of work and pay attention to his messages, there’s a lot of impactful stuff there. His work has influenced me to make smart financial decisions, aspire to greatness, be disciplined and put in work, and own my art.

There are, of course, writers I admire as well, including Malcolm Gladwell, Mark Miodownik, and Annie Jacobsen. I love learning new things and understanding how the world around me works.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

For The Recruiter, we thought about the purpose of the main character, Ori. Part of his purpose is to identify and foster talent, not just for his company but also for something bigger… no spoilers!

For Deeply Rooted Dreams, it’s relevant for a couple of reasons. Malik works with trees and their root systems, and he has a dream/ambition that could impact generations. Dreams also play a role in both books.

EXCERPT FROM THE RECRUITER:
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Prologue

“Did you think we were going to let you get away with it?” The man’s voice was both incredulous and triumphant. The light from the full moon began to fill the room as Ori’s eyes adjusted. He inhaled deeply. The man continued as if he was talking to himself, “We knew you were up to something. Did you actually think that you stood a chance?” Ori surveyed the room. He squinted to focus on his surroundings.

“Are you listening to me?” the man continued speaking while Ori remained silent, not acknowledging him. Ori made out three bodies in the room with him: one talking, one holding a flashlight, and a third one close to what looked like the door.

The shack was an old cabin but was well built. No lights were turned on, nor was there a fire burning, so as not to attract any unwanted attention. The natural moonlight was perfect to illuminate most of the space. In the areas where the moonlight did not reach, there was the glow of a bright flashlight. This flashlight was suddenly pointed directly into Ori’s eyes.

Thanks for answering my questions, Alexander, and good luck with the Rewired books.

Readers can learn more about Alexander Mukte by visiting his Amazon, Goodreads, Bookbub and Instagram pages.

Alexander Mukte will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here to enter the contest.

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

The Recruiter, the first novel in the series is available online at Amazon Barnes & NobleKoboApple Books. The universal book link is: https://books2read.com/u/bovWNv

Deeply Rooted Dreams (Book 2) universal book link: https://books2read.com/u/mZa1e5

About Alexander Mukte: Alexander had an active imagination his whole life, but it wasn’t until the birth of his son that he began putting the stories in his mind on paper. He wanted to be an example of someone pursuing his passion, dreaming big, and taking chances.

Alexander loves people, their stories, and their backgrounds as well as what shapes them, how they think, and what they dream about. He has a passion for learning and is known by most as an intensely curious person who eagerly soaks up anything and everything he can. He dreamt of a career that allowed him to learn new things every day. In writing, he has found a life that allows him to do just that.

After graduating with a degree in business, Alexander volunteered in the U.S. Peace Corps where he aided in creating sustainable small business ventures in Central America. Before taking this leap of faith, Alexander did Business Development and Consulting for large domestic and international companies. These experiences weave themselves into the characters, places and stories he creates.

An avid traveler, Alexander enjoys exploring new places with his family. He was raised in Southeastern Arizona, and now calls Georgia home, along with his wife and two sons. 

The Recruiter is Alexander’s first novel, though perhaps the 39th in his mind. We hope you enjoy it, and Deeply Rooted Dreams, as much as we have.

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

Deadly Summer Nights

Today Elizabeth Grady is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Deadly Summer Nights, the latest novel in the Catskill Summer Resort mystery series.

Welcome, Elizabeth. 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. My name is Elizabeth Grady and I am the manager of Haggerman’s Catskills Resort. It’s 1953 and my mother his inherited the hotel and asked me to run it for her. I’m still not entirely sure if that’s a good idea. My first appearance in print is in Deadly Summer Nights, coming September 7 from Berkley.  Deadly Director’s Cut, will be out next year.

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too? I hope I get my two cents in now and again.

How did you evolve as the main character? Vicki’s idea right from the beginning was to have a young woman running her mother’s resort.  The mother, Olivia Peters, is a retired Broadway star and I’m a bookkeeper. We couldn’t be more different.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?  Fortunately, we were able to talk my best friend, Velvet McNally, into coming to work for us as the outdoor activities coordinator. I was raised mostly by my mother’s sister, Tatiana, while Olivia was off pursing stardom, and Aunt Tatiana is here as the head of housekeeping.  Aunt Tatiana is practical, Russian, down to earth. She keeps me focused.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story? Hagerman’s Catskills  Resort is THE place to be in the summer of 1953. We have everything you need for your family-focused summer vacation. Just don’t look behind the scenes, where I am. And pay no attention to rumours that the dead man was part of a communist cell operating out of my hotel.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book? It’s the 1950s. Think girdles and stockings, fancy cocktails, grand ballrooms, cigarette smoke (and more cigarette smoke), angel food cake and Cheeze Whiz on celery, Reds under the beds and slow moving fans.

It’s the Catskills. Comedians and big bands and glamorous singers. Paddle boats and bellhops, tomato cocktails and Jello-salads, swimsuit competitions and dance instructors.

As I said, just don’t look behind the scenes.

Thank you for answering my questions, Elizabeth, and good luck to you and your author, Vicki Delany, with Deadly Summer Nights, the latest book in the Catskill Summer Resort mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Elizabeth and her author, Vicki Delany 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 – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound

About Vicki Delany: Vicki is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than forty books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea by the Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series for Crooked Lane Books, the Catskill Resort mysteries for Penguin Random House, and the Lighthouse Library series (as Eva Gates) for Crooked Lane.

Vicki is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It Crime Writing Festival. Her work has been nominated for the Derringer, the Bony Blithe, the Ontario Library Association Golden Oak, and the Arthur Ellis Awards. Vicki is the recipient of the 2019 Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to Canadian crime writing. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Posted in Archives, September 2021 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Malice in Miami

Today Barbara Venkataraman is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Malice in Miami, her latest novel in the Jamie Quinn Mystery series.

Welcome, Barbara. 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.

Malice in Miami is the sixth book in the Jamie Quinn Cozy Mystery Series. Jamie is a family lawyer who somehow keeps finding herself in the middle of murder investigations. She can always count on the support of Marmaduke Broussard III, a PI who is her former client and a good-time Charlie who works out of a bar, as well as her brilliant friend Grace, also an attorney, and her boyfriend Kip, an adventurous tree-hugger type.

In Malice in Miami, Jamie is loving life–and why wouldn’t she? Her boyfriend Kip is back from Australia, her long-lost dad finally has his visa and she’s about to start her dream job at an art foundation. But it all falls apart when Jamie is accused of stealing priceless art from a rare book collection. If she can’t find out who framed her, she can kiss her dream job good-bye–and her law license too. Meanwhile, Kip has problems of his own. Now an environmental activist, he uncovers a deadly secret–one that just might get him killed. Jamie’s in trouble, Kip’s in danger, and Duke Broussard has gone AWOL. How could Jamie’s favorite P.I. abandon her at a time like this?

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

The chaos of my brain, ha ha. I collect interesting news articles about a variety of topics and when it’s time to write a new Jamie Quinn Mystery I reread them to see what pops into my head. In this instance, I homed in on efforts to eradicate the pythons taking over the Everglades; Veterans who hunt pythons to deal with their PTSD; art thieves stealing rare books and maps from libraries; the sugar industry polluting Florida with the blessing of the politicians that they fund; birth defects caused by pesticides; a beautiful Miami mansion called Vizcaya, built by a rich industrialist in the early 20th century, and a case of mistaken identity. I let it all percolate until it somehow comes together as a story.

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

Jamie always gets her man–or woman–in the end. While I do point out some real-world problems within the body of the story I always try to show what’s being done about these problems. Mostly, I like to make readers aware of the issues, like pythons eradicating so many animals and birds in the Everglades. Jamie always has good intentions and tries to do the right thing although it frequently blows up in her face. Then, with help from her friends and family, she picks herself up again and charges forward. I guess the theme is that doing the right thing works out eventually, more or less.

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

All my characters are based on combinations of people I know. For example, Jamie’s best friend Grace has qualities from several of my friends. Each one thinks Grace is her so I just let them think that. Jamie Quinn, the protagonist, is my alter ego. She is like me but on steroids, with more phobias and hang-ups, and she is constantly thrust into uncomfortable situations. Like me, she is self-deprecating, helpful to a fault, and can’t say no to a sad story. Having Jamie go through all that is therapeutic for me; I have to admit she’s my favorite. The world revolves around her but it wouldn’t be a universe without her quirky friends and family.

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

In this case, I have been to Vizcaya, the beautiful mansion in Miami, many times and I love it there, but since we were in the middle of a pandemic, I relied on books, websites and videos to capture the elegance and beauty of the place. As for the Everglades, I have also been there but I have never hunted pythons, nor do I intend to. I watched hours of videos about python hunts until pythons were slithering into my dreams. I feel confident that I conveyed my squeamishness and horror when I described Jamie going on a python hunt with her boyfriend Kip.

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

Since I know very little about anything I have to do tons of research. Sometimes I can just copy and paste facts I need for the story to the bottom of the manuscript for easy reference. For Malice in Miami though, I had to do so much research that I printed everything and sorted it into folders titled: pythons; sugar industry; pesticides; art thieves; art foundations; worker’s compensation cases; and Erin Brockovich.

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

The best compliment I get from readers is how they would really like to be friends with Jamie. I tell them I feel the same way.

Thank you for answering my questions, Barbara, and good luck with Malice in Miami, your latest novel in the Jamie Quinn Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Barbara by visiting the author’s Amazon Author page and her Goodreads page.

The novel is available online at  Amazon

About Barbara Venkataraman: Barbara is an attorney and author of the award-winning Jamie Quinn Cozy Mystery series, as well as Teatime with Mrs. Grammar PersonQuirky Essays for Quirky People, and A Year of Shorts: Flash Fiction. Her books have won numerous awards including Indie Book of the Day, First Place in the 2016 Chanticleer Murder & Mayhem Mystery Writing Competition, Gold Medal in the Readers’ Favorite Contest for Memoir, and Two-time Finalist in the Kindle Book Awards. She also co-authored Accidental Activist: Justice for the Groveland Four with her son Josh about his four-year quest to obtain posthumous pardons for The Groveland Four.

Posted in September 2021 | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

The House on Crow Mountain

Today Rebecca Lee Smith, author of The House on Crow Mountain, is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about the beginnings of her writing career.

Welcome, Rebecca. I’ll turn the floor over to you –       

You Had to Be There

(At least, I did.)

Before I discovered how much I loved writing mysteries on the cozy side, I wrote a couple of romances. The setting for my first book (written waaay back in the 80’s) was a lovely little village outside of London, England, with a magnificent estate near the edge of town (isn’t there always?) called Ashford Manor. Looking back, the whole setup was some kind of weird cross between Downton Abbey and Hogwarts. I’d never been to England. At the time, I don’t even think I knew anybody who had been to England. But I’d always wanted to go, and I loved to read books and watch movies and TV shows that took place there. So it never occurred to me that setting a book in a country I had never visited would put me at a disadvantage. My heroine was American, after all, and I thought a quaint English village within walking distance of London, whether one existed or not, would be a wonderful place to spend time in my head while I banged out a 55,000 word manuscript in my quest to get published.

I was wrong.

Some authors can do it. They can write about places they will never set foot in and find it exhilarating. Most of them do it so well, and make their settings seem so real, that few of their readers ever suspect they are creating worlds solely from their own imaginations. I am not that author. A writer’s imagination is a powerful thing, but it can only take you so far. Today, the Internet, which didn’t exist when I was piecing together my version of the English countryside, is even more powerful. Now, I could go online and visit those places virtually. I could walk my characters through a country church graveyard or have them sit on a bench in Hyde Park, and see exactly what they were seeing. I did eventually visit Hyde Park in London, and it had a very different vibe than I’d written for it. I had envisioned a fun space with crowded family picnics and peals of spontaneous laughter, but it was much more stately and serene. I had tried to make the visual images in my book, from the streets of London to Ashford Manor’s maid’s quarters, feel authentic. But back then, I had no real way of validating it.

I didn’t realize how exhausting all this would be, and how much of a time suck, until I set my third book, which I later sold, in the mountains of North Carolina, a place I live near and have visited hundreds of times. It was like breathing a sigh of relief. Like coming home and kicking off shoes that pinched my toes. Finally, I could describe an atmosphere I was familiar with and concentrate on the mystery plot. The sounds and smells of a damp hardwood forest, the sight of a lone crow soaring over the hazy Blue Ridge Mountains, the woozy feeling I get from standing too close to the edge of a scenic overlook: these are the things I could close my eyes and conjure instantly without worrying about whether or not I was getting it right.

I drug that old manuscript out of the drawer the other day and thumbed through it. It wasn’t as bad as I remembered. Oh, the dialogue was cringeworthy. And I used at least fifty adverbs per page. And anyone with half a brain would have guessed the ending long before the end of Chapter One. But I had to ask myself: Would a reader actually believe the space my characters inhabited in the world was somewhere across the pond in England? The answer is—maybe.

As long as they’ve never been there.

Thank you for sharing this with us, Rebecca, and good luck with The House on Crow Mountain.

Readers can learn more about Rebecca Lee Smith by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available online at the following retailers:

 Amazon – B & N

About Rebecca Lee Smith: Rebecca lives with her husband and a dog named Wilbur in the beautiful misty mountains of East Tennessee, where the people are charming, soulful, and just a little bit crazy. She’s been everything from a tax collector to a stay-at-home-mom to an award-winning professional actress and director. When she’s not churning out small-town cozy-ish mysteries, she loves to travel the world, go to the Outer Banks for her ocean fix, watch old movies, and make her day complete by answering the Final Jeopardy! question. Her Southern roots and the affectionate appreciation she has for the rural towns she lives near inspire the settings and characters she writes about.

Posted in Archives, August 2021 | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Death by Leprechaun

Today Lana Hansen is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Death by Leprechaun, the latest novel in the Travel Can Be Murder mystery series.

Welcome, Lana. 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, there! I am Lana, Hansen, a tour guide for Wanderlust Tours. We are a Seattle-based company that specializing in week-long trips to several fabulous European cities. Our high-end tours cater primarily to older, wealthier clients but do sometimes attract a younger couple or family.

In Death by Leprechaun, I have to sleuth out who killed an Irish journalist in order to set my friend Jeremy free. Our trip to Dublin got off to a great start and I was excited to have both Jeremy and his wife on my tour. We got to see many incredible sights before the journalist was murdered in a pub my group was present at.

After the police took my friend into custody, I promised Jeremy’s wife that I would do all I could to help prove he didn’t do it. However, I soon discovered that, if Jeremy was not the killer then the murderer was someone else in my tour group. We were the only people close enough to the victim that we could have harmed him without anyone else seeing it happen. My only choice now is to continue leading the tour as if nothing is the matter and hope the real killer slips up. Jeremy’s freedom depends on it.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have had to deal with a murder during a tour. Death by Leprechaun is the sixth of my adventures during which a client of mine is either murderer or accused of killing someone. The police have not been much help in finding the real killer, but then they didn’t know the murder victim or potential suspects as well as I do.

Ms. Alderson has made it a habit of recording the tours during which someone dies, in her books. She’s even had the audacity to call the series “Travel Can Be Murder”. That’s pessimistic thinking, if you ask me. Travel is usually a fun and uplifting experience!

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

Jennifer S. Alderson may have created me, but I am my own woman.

How did you evolve as the main character?

When Ms. Alderson began writing about me, I was recently divorced, had just lost my job, and was about to lose my home. Taking this job was not a choice, but a way of paying back my landlord, Dotty Thompson. She is the owner of Wanderlust Tours and needed a guide at the last minute. Since I had once worked as a kayaking guide, she figured I would be up for the challenge. But let’s face it – it was Christmas Eve and she had little choice. Still, I am glad it worked out that way. I have fallen in love with the work and now I can’t imagine doing anything else for a living.

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

Randy Wright is the little brother I never had. He was the first guide I trained at Wanderlust Tours and we have become great friends outside of work, as well. A few months ago, after a Christmas tour of Rome, I got to witness Randy getting married to his wife Gloria in Tuscany! I also have Randy to thank for introducing me to his older brother, Alex. Alex Wright is the love of my life and we recently moved in together.

Our boss Dotty is an incredible woman and I often seek her advice when things go wrong on a tour. She really is a mother figure to me. Seeing as she has no offspring of her own, she does tend to treat her employees like her children – in a good way! She also takes great care of my cat when I am out of town. Despite a few health problems, she was able to join our Mother’s Day tour to the Netherlands a few months ago, which made the week even more special, despite my own mother being accused of murder!

Willow Jeffries is the sister I never had. She runs a yoga studio in Fremont, the neighborhood in Seattle that we both live in. When we aren’t exercising or thrift store shopping together, we love to cook extravagant meals. That woman is my rock and I know I can always count on her to be there for me. It was a blast having Willow and her wife, Jane, join us on my Valentine’s Day tour to Paris. I’m so glad we were able to prove that Jane was not a killer before the week was through!

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

This tour takes place in Ireland in March, which means lots of rain punctuated with suddenly sunny skies that make you look for rainbows and leprechauns guarding their pots of gold. This city is magical! Seeing the Book of Kells, walking through Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, listening to great live music, and kissing the Blarney Stone, were wonderful experiences. Though I would have preferred spending my free time searching for shamrocks and leprechauns, instead of having to deal with another murder!

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

Death by Leprechaun is the sixth tour that Alderson has recorded, and I believe she is planning on writing about my upcoming trip to Andalucía, Spain, as well. I’ve heard her mumbling about Death by Flamenco – I don’t know how she comes up with these silly titles! Her assumption that someone will die during my upcoming tour is rather negative, if you ask me. Personally, I can’t wait to eat tapas, try dancing the flamenco, and see how the locals celebrate Easter in Seville! Perhaps, just this once, no one will be murdered along the way…

Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog!

[(Author’s note – Unfortunately Lana’s wish for a fatality-free tour is squashed when a travel writer is murdered in the theatre her tour group is learning to dance the flamenco. But don’t tell her that!]

You’re welcome, Lana, and thank you for answering my questions. Good luck to you and your author, Jennifer S. Alderson, with Death by Leprechaun, the latest book in the Travel Can Be Murder mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Lana and her author, Jennifer S. Alderson by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub, and Amazon Author pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available online at  AMAZON

About Jennifer S. Alderson: Jennifer was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in the Netherlands. Jennifer’s love of travel, art, and culture inspires her award-winning Zelda Richardson Mystery series, Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mysteries, and standalone stories. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.

Posted in Archives, August 2021 | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Deadly Cypher

Today Olivia Redmond is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Deadly Cypher: A World War II mystery, the latest novel in the Deadly series.

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

Tell us about the novel you live inside:

I’m Olivia Redmond, Livvy to my friends, and I am currently working for Britain’s spymaster in Deadly Cypher. World War II has started, although nothing much has happened yet. I’ve been sent to Bletchley Park to learn why one of the codebreakers in this super-secret facility has been murdered.

This is the seventh in The Deadly Series that started when my first husband was killed. Not only did I have to investigate his death, since the police wrote it off as suicide and I could tell that was impossible, but I also needed to find a job to afford our, now my, flat. I obtained a job from a friend’s father on his newspaper that came with some secret assignments. That led to me being noticed by the spymaster who borrows me from the newspaper on occasion.

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

Apparently, I don’t get enough of a say, since I like a comfortable life, and Kate Parker has a bad habit of sending me into dangerous situations. She sent me into countries just before or after the Nazis moved in, she has me help people escape, and she puts me in dreary accommodations. Fortunately, she introduced me to my current husband, a wonderful man, but since he’s a British army captain, he’s been around very little since the war began.

How did you evolve as the main character?

The Deadly Series is the story of my life. Starting with my first husband’s murder in the autumn of 1937, Kate has been chronicling my adventures.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? Why are you partial to them?

There’s Adam Redmond, of course. My husband. I adore him for so many reasons. In Deadly Cypher, I share a story with the other seven young women who are billeted with me in the servants’ quarters of an estate, the two older servants who still live there to take care of the owners, and the male codebreakers we work with on a daily basis. I particularly like Rosalie Billingsthorpe, one of my fellow German translators, who has a couple of secrets of her own.

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

Bletchley Park is a manor house surrounded by high, wire fences, sentries, and secrecy. I work in a temporary building on the grounds, drafty and cold with poor lighting. No one can tell anyone else what they are doing, which makes it harder to find out why the woman who had my desk before me was murdered. She was killed outside the estate where she, and now I, live. The main part of the house and some of the grounds are used for an army camp, and the earl and countess who own the estate live upstairs from us in the servants’ wing with the cook and housemaid who continue to work for them. The cook provides our meals, and the food, at least, is wonderful.

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

It’s fun. It’s puzzling. Everyone has secrets and it’s my job to sort out the harmless fibs from the lethal lies. Plus, I’ll give you a look into the early days of World War II. You’ll enjoy it. Come join me in Deadly Cypher.

Thank you for answering my questions, Olivia, and good luck to you and your author, Kate Parker, with Deadly Cypher: A World War II mystery, the latest book in the Deadly series.

Readers can learn more about Olivia and her author, Kate Parker by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, and Bookbub pages.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon –  Apple –  Kobo – B&N

About Kate Parker: With her love of travel, Kate Parker sets her novels overseas. Once home from her research trips and armed with hot tea and chocolate, she can be found clicking away on her keyboard, hiking the hills of central North Carolina, and spoiling her 90 pound muse puppy. She’d tell you what she did before she retired, but then she’d have to use certain skills to eliminate you. She pens stories to entertain readers who enjoy action and murder in tales about plucky heroines, quirky characters, and difficult situations in a bygone era. Her stories are sweet, as in no graphic sex, violence, or language. Her heroines remain ladylike while chasing murderers and escaping danger. Well, as ladylike as scratching, punching, and kicking can be.

Posted in Archives, August 2021 | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cajun Kiss of Death

Today Magnolia “Maggie” Crozat is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Cajun Kiss of Death, the latest novel in the Cajun Country mystery series.

Welcome, Maggie. 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. Yes, my name is Magnolia “Maggie” Crozat, and I live inside the Cajun Country Mystery series. Here’s how my author describes the series. Artist Magnolia Marie “Maggie” Crozat returns home to Pelican, Louisiana – town motto, “Yes, We Peli-CAN!” – to help her family run the family historic home as a bed and breakfast. She must juggle her commitment to her family with her commitment to her art and career, as well as a burgeoning relationship with divorced detective Bo Durand. All this is complicated by a surprising number of murders in the small village of Pelican and its environs. The discerning eye Maggie has developed as an artist coupled with her family’s locally respected genealogical lineage make her an investigative asset to the employee and cash-strapped local police department. The Cajun Country Mysteries are cozies with a spicy twist.

I’m flattered she said I have a “discerning eye,” lol! In Cajun Kiss of Death, the seventh book in the series, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. A celebrity chef is opening a restaurant in town, but he’s bringing a big pot of trouble with him. On top of that, I may have a stalker, gulp. So it’s shaping up to more a scary than sweet holiday.

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too? I think my author channels me! We’re pretty much in tune with each other.

How did you evolve as the main character? My author wanted to create someone who feels like a fish out of water in their own hometown. I returned to Pelican feeling like I never really belonged there. I’ve evolved to be an essential part of a community I’ve come to love with all my heart. I can’t imagine living anywhere else now.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them? Of course, there’s my fiancé Bo Durand, a local detective. But I really, really love sharing stories with my grand-mere. She presents to the world as a bit of a grand dame, but she’s really a pistol – and a hilarious one at that!

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story? I start off in a wonderful, wonderful place. (Can’t disclose too much or I’ll be spoiling the story.) But as the story continues and loved ones find themselves in jeopardy – and then my own life might be in danger – it’s all I can do to stay strong and keep my sense of humor.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book? I love Pelican and this series so much. It’s an honor to be its protagonist and I’m grateful to every reader who seeks out my stories.

Thank you for answering my questions, Maggie, and good luck to you and your author, Ellen Byron, with Cajun Kiss of Death, the latest book in the Cajun Country mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Maggie and her author, Ellen Byron by visiting the author’s Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub, and Instagram pages. You can also subscribe to her newsletter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 PenguinRandomHouse – Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound

About Ellen Byron: Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty awards for Best Humorous Mystery. She writes the Catering Hall Mystery series, which are inspired by her real-life, under the name Maria DiRico. Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like WINGS, JUST SHOOT ME, and FAIRLY ODD PARENTS. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart.

Posted in Archives, August 2021 | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

To Fetch a Killer

Today several characters from To Fetch A Killer are visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about these four fun ‘tails’ of chaos and murder.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Greetings Diane. Thank you so much for inviting the Mutt Mysteries authors to share the exciting news of their latest release, To Fetch a Killer—Four Fun “Tails” of Chaos and Murder.  We appreciate all you do to support writers, especially those with a cozy flavor. We realize it gets unwieldly with all four of us answering all the questions, so we’ve tag-teamed on the interview questions, letting everyone have a chance.

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

To Fetch a Killer, Four Fun “Tails” of Chaos and Murder is the fourth installment in the Mutt Mysteries series. Each of the books is comprised of four novellas by four experienced cozy mystery authors. Three of the stories have continuing characters, but not continuing stories…in other words they do not need to be read in order. All feature a dead body and an amateur sleuth, assisted by their trusty canine companion(s) of course! In order to give you a little taste of each of the stories, the contributing authors (Maria Hudgins, Teresa Inge, Heather Weidner and Jayne Ormerod) have taken turns answering the questions.

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

MARIA HUDGINS, author of “Sandy Paws”: As for who is in control of our story, my writer, Maria, (I like to think of her as my secretary) and I have a tenuous relationship. Since I cannot hear, she answers the phone and deals with pesky people like editors and agents. I craft the stories. She complains that I don’t listen to her.  And it’s a good thing because Maria has no imagination at all and she’s probably the most boring person I’ve ever met. So the answer is, I control the story and Maria checks my grammar.

TERESA INGE, author of “A New Leash on Death”: I definitely get a say. Sometimes the author takes me and Cagney and Lacey in different directions like the Outerbanks of North Carolina and the Eastern Shore of Virginia, but I jump off the page and reel her back in to not go on wild goose chases. But I love going to different places. 

How did you evolve as the main character?

TERESA: Since each story revolves around my life, I am the main character and have grown throughout each book with my business the Woof-Pack Dog Walkers and my personal life.

HEATHER WEIDNER, author of “Wags to Riches”: Hi, I’m Oliver, and I’m in charge of security at the Amelia Speedway in Central Virginia. So far, I’ve helped my pal Cassidy solve two murders. One in To Fetch a Scoundrel and this one in To Fetch a Killer. Cassidy owns the racetrack, and I love that I get to live and work there every day.

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

HEATHER: The Cassidy and Oliver stories are fun to write. Cassidy inherits the track when her father dies, and she leaves her full-time job to manage the day-to-day operations. Her dog, Oliver is the Rottweiler, who she affectionately calls the Director of Security. Years ago, my dad used to race his MG at small tracks in Virginia, so it’s fun to set these stories at a made-up track in rural Virginia.

JAYNE ORMEROD, author of “Bone Appétit”: When a guest drops dead at a dinner party with food prepared by personal chef Molly Perkins, she needs help trying to clear her name. Enter best friend Becca Kilpatrick, who is her sounding board and partner-in-crime-solving. And of course, no Mutt Mysteries story would be complete without a mutt. Tater, a large Newfoundland dog, is with them every step of the way.

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

JAYNE: I am a personal chef for a very wealthy family, and have full control of the ultra-gourmet kitchen in the Wade’s 5,000-square-foot beachfront “cottage.” After my work is done, the sandy shores of the Atlantic Ocean are a few steps away. The perfect place to relax, unwind, and observe the many moods of the sea.

MARIA: We are staying at a six-bedroom house on the Atlantic coast of Virginia. The house is only five years old and it’s right on the beach. Walking takes you past a long row of very similar houses, all rental properties.

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

First, thank you Dianne for allowing us to introduce our characters. You do such a great service promoting writers, and we appreciate the opportunity to share our stories with your followers.

When it comes to the Mutt Mysteries stories, each sleuth/dog partnership is unique, but all ascribe to the mantra, “You’re never fully dressed without dog fur on your clothes.” We hope everyone enjoys reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them!

Thank you for answering my questions, everyone, and good luck to with To Fetch a Killer—Four Fun “Tails” of Chaos and Murder.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – Apple Books – Nook – Kobo

For more information about the authors and their stories, please check out the website at www.MuttMysteries.com

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A Scone of Contention

Today Lucy Burdette is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about A Scone of Contention, her latest novel in the Key West Food Critic mystery series.

Welcome, Lucy. 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.

A SCONE OF CONTENTION is the 11th book in the Key West food critic mystery series. Though the characters will be familiar, much of the action in A Scone of Contention takes place in Scotland rather than Key West. My husband and I and several dear friends and my sister took a trip to Scotland in 2019—many scenes happen in places we visited. Believe me it was a pleasure and a relief to be immersing myself in that magical place over the past nine months of the pandemic!

The series features food critic Hayley Snow, who lives on a houseboat in Key West. There are important recurring characters who’ve developed over the course of eleven books, including her next-door neighbor, octogenarian Miss Gloria, her tarot-card-reading pal Lorenzo, her detective husband Nathan Bransford. The setting is the real Key West with lots of local highlights and food featured. However, no one is ever poisoned in a real restaurant!

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

I was trying to think of ways to keep the series fresh after ten books. And I had set up #10, THE KEY LIME CRIME, so that some of the characters could travel to Scotland, at least for part of the book. This will be Hayley and Nathan’s delayed honeymoon to visit Nathan’s sister. A few other favorite characters horned into the trip, which is based on a trip I took to Scotland with my husband in 2019.

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

One subject that connects Key West to Scotland is the idea of “thin places.”

It’s always about family, and complicated family dynamics.

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

Food is, of course, central to this series. I try to make sure that food in my mysteries reveals something deeper about the characters who are eating or discussing it. (At the end I include recipes because it seems only fair to provide them after readers have salivated for pages and pages!) But I’ve noticed while reading books by amazing crime fiction writer Ann Cleeves that she uses food and eating to do exactly that—show character and deepen suspense. She is by no means a culinary mystery writer, but I so admire a line like this from Raven Black: “She tried to imagine Mr. Ross, sitting at their kitchen table while her mother hacked at the overcooked meat and picked away at him with her questions.” Doesn’t that make you think of murder?

Thanks for answering my questions, Lucy, and good luck with A Scone of Contention, the latest book in theKey West Food Critic Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound – PenguinRandomHouse

About Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib): Lucy is the author of 19 mysteries, including A Scone of Contention, the eleventh book in the Key West series featuring food critic Hayley Snow. THE KEY LIME CRIME won the bronze medal for popular fiction in the Florida Book Awards. Lucy’s books and stories have also been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s a past president of Sisters in Crime, and currently serving as president of the Friends of the Key West Library.

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