Belinda Blake has dropped by for a chat

Today Belinda Blake, the main character in Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, is joining us at Ascroft, eh? to tell us a bit about this latest novel in the Exotic Pet-Sitter Mysteries series. Welcome, Belinda. Let’s get started, shall we?

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

BB: My latest mystery is Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. It’s book 2 in the Exotic Pet-Sitter series, because I happen to be an exotic pet-sitter. 🙂 In this book, I’m working at a wolf preserve in Greenwich, Connecticut, and let’s just say things get a bit hairy!

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

BB: My author, Heather Day Gilbert, writes a long synopsis in which she plans out the entire book…but I always like to throw a curveball her way. She gets to know me better with each book, and she actually seems to have a lot of fun stepping into my world!

How did you evolve as the main character?

BB: I was dreamed up from characters my author’s dad created when he entertained his kids with stories on long trips. Both me and my sister, Katrina, as well as our dog, Blitz (from childhood) were story characters. So my author kind of caught up with me, all these years later, and realized I’d turned into an amateur sleuth…so of course she had to write my stories.

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

BB: My sister, Katrina, is a psychologist and although she can read me like a book, I’m always calling on her for advice. My mom and dad are so supportive, and their neighbor Jonas is quite an enigmatic farmer. I also enjoy my home in Greenwich, Connecticut, where my wealthy neighbor, Stone Carrington the fifth, is very friendly.

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

BB: In this one, I land a job working at a wolf preserve on the outskirts of Greenwich, Connecticut. I quickly find out it’s not going to be a walk in the park, but I have to stick with it because I need the income and because I want to continue to be hired by the Greenwich elite, where I’ve been growing my exotic pet-sitting business.

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

BB: I’m kind of a risk-taker (just ask my sister), but this job is definitely not for the faint-hearted. I’ve learned a bit more about the murderer psyche this time around, but somehow I’m not entirely sure this murderer will be easy to peg…

Thanks for introducing yourself and the latest novel in the series to us, Belinda.

Readers can learn more about Belinda and also Heather Day Gilbert, the author of the series, by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter (@heatherdgilbert).

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Kindle    Nook     Kobo      AppleBooks     Google Play

About Heather Day Gilbert: An ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, Heather is the author of the bestselling Exotic Pet-Sitter mystery series. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Like her amateur sleuth Belinda Blake, Heather plays video games, although so far she hasn’t done any exotic pet-sitting or hunted any murderers.

Posted in Archives, October 2019 | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Step into Old Los Angeles with Anne Louise Bannon

Today Anne Louise Bannon is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Death of the City Marshall, her latest novel in the Old Los Angeles mystery series.

Welcome, Anne. 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.

DCMeBookCoverALB: Death of the City Marshal is the second in my Old Los Angeles series, featuring doctor and winemaker Maddie Wilcox in 1870. Maddie is a widow who was brought to Los Angeles by her husband, who bought a vineyard, then died. She spent a lot of time hiding that she holds a medical degree, but that got revealed in the first book, Death of the Zanjero, which is about the politics of water in a very arid climate.

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

ALB: Death of the City Marshal is based on an actual event in Los Angeles City. Marshal William Warren, an exceptional hot head in a town full of them, was shot by his deputy Joseph Dye in a dispute over the bounty on a prostitute. I found out about the event while doing the research for Zanjero and knew I had to play with it. While in real life, Warren died of his wound, I did massage the event a little so that Warren died by other means.

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

ALB: The weird thing about themes is that, for me, they happen. When I try to focus in on one during the writing, it almost always fails. So, in City Marshal, I wasn’t planning on anything, but the theme of finding your home kept coming up. There’s a critical scene with the bad guy who doesn’t want to kill Maddie, but can’t let her get him kicked out of the only home he’s really known.

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

ALB: My characters start by talking to me in my head (it’s very noisy in there). In fact, I had a problem with one in another series that I couldn’t figure out why he was just so flat and blah, and it turned out I’d decided to make him a certain way. I ended up turning everything around in that story because I had an invented person instead of one who talked to me.

Do I have favorites? Well, yeah. Maddie Wilcox and her friend Regina Medina. I love the women of Maddie’s household, Magdalena, Olivia, Juantia, and Maria. Then there are the crew from my 1920s series featuring Freddie Little and Kathy Briscow (that starts with Fascinating Rhythm). In addition to Freddie and Kathy, I’ve totally fallen in love with Freddie’s mother, Gloria, and his younger sister, Honoria. And Kathy’s family is a hoot, too.

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

ALB: I don’t tend to be a very visual person, so I really focus on getting the sound and the feel of the narration right. Maddie, for example, might sound a lot like Louisa May Alcott, because I knew Alcott and Maddie were from the same place and had similar experiences. I’m also getting better at writing the visuals. One thing that helps in the Old Los Angeles series is that Maddie is a clothes horse. She loves dresses of all kinds and describes everyone’s, but especially her own.

Another thing that helps me is maps and floorplans. If I can see where things are, then I can describe them a little better.

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

Anne Louise BannonALB: Being married to an archivist really helps. But even beside that, I read a lot of periodicals from the time period, novels from the time. The tourist literature is a tremendous help, since that records the sort of things most people didn’t bother writing down. I mean, if you know how to make wine, you’re not going to write about it in your diary. On the other hand, if you’re a tourist, you’re going to write about what you saw those people do in that strange place.

Research is pretty much a constant. You never know when a question is going to pop up, and I really hate writing around things.

Thanks for answering my questions, Anne, and good luck with Death of the City Marshall, the latest book in the Old Los Angeles Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Anne and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available online on Amazon.

Posted in Archives, October 2019, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet the Haunted House Ghost

Today James J. Cudney is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Haunted House Ghost, his latest novel in the Braxton Campus mystery series.

Welcome, James. 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.

JJC: Haunted House Ghost is the fifth novel in the Braxton Campus Mysteries series. The protagonist is Kellan Ayrwick, a ~30ish single father who moves home to Pennsylvania after a disastrous end to his marriage. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the first few books detail specifically what happened between him and his wife, and it’s definitely not what normally happens in a cozy mystery series. Kellan worked as a director in Hollywood and took a role as a professor at Braxton College, but he’s also solved a few murders. It’s put him in the line of fire with the county sheriff, April Montague, and set up tons of banter and chemistry. Throw in his boss, Dr. Myriam Castle, an acerbic and indomitable Shakespeare lover, and his eccentric but demanding grandmother, Nana D, you’ve got a trio of women to keep Kellan in line. While the series follows all the cozy guidelines (no foul language, graphic violence, or sexual content), it is not your typical lighter cozy with romance, recipes, or pets as the focus (all of which I LOVE). There is a dog. Kellan loves to eat. And he does date a little. It’s just not at all the primary focus of the story or the theme that connects the series. There are lots of characters with many subplots, and I’ve turned the genre upside down with how Kellan goes about his day – he’s highly intelligent but often pushed around by the women in his life. He’s incredibly fun to write for, but I have to be careful not to make him too sarcastic or too wimpy, as I want him to come across as the kinda guy everyone would want to know or date.

Haunted House Ghost is a Halloween story filled with all the things we love about the autumn season. At the end of the last book, Kellan was motivated to find a new place to live, based on the cliffhanger Nana D dropped on him. He’s bought The Old Grey Place from the county judge, but apparently it’s haunted. Someone has been stalking Kellan, and the contractor renovating the home has seen a ghost. When a skeleton is found during the new library construction, everyone assumes it’s Judge Grey’s first wife, the missing Prudence Grey. Once Kellan asks questions and is attacked by the supposed ghost, everything begins to explode. Another body shows up. Multiple people look guilty based on their actions from fifty years ago, and a psychic causes total chaos during the Fall Festival. Not only does the book focus on the murders and the haunted house, the side stories are getting even more feverish. Kellan and April begin to explore their relationship. A local Catholic priest is acting strange. The Grey family causes trouble all around town. Kellan’s siblings are driving him batty. Throw in several scenes with bonfires, spooky corn mazes, horse drawn carriage hayrides, and goofy trick-o’-treating, and this is the perfect October read.

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

JJC: Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I wanted to publish a book that brought out the best of the fall season. What would be better than a haunted house and a ghost? Each book in the series has explored one of the major families in Wharton County. The focus of this one is the Grey family, headed by Hiram, the local judge. We’ve met a few of his grandchildren in previous books, but now we meet the man himself. He and Nana D have a bit of history, so it was fun to explore the dynamics of a 50-year-old mystery in which tons of the county’s important and beloved citizens are accused of something horrible.

I am not a fantasy or science-fiction reader by nature. Yet, I love a bit of paranormal without getting too over-the-top. It needs to be funny and/or real, like some of the series with ghosts or skeletons that I’ve read and enjoyed. I wanted to provide elements of spookiness (séance, ghosts, paranormal visions, premonitions) without getting too far out of the realistic realm. By throwing in all the awesome parts of the autumn season, I could create a really immersive experience where you are slightly scared by the story but only in terms of ‘oh no, not my favorite character’ as opposed to a true horror or thriller (which I will write one day).

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

JJC: Not in this book, for the first time. Usually, there is a strong theme in past books, e.g. sorority shenanigans in Mistaken Identity Crisis, drugs in Broken Heart Attack, cutthroat baseball scouts in Academic Curveball. This is all about enjoying the season and thinking about pumpkin spice lattes and apple pie. You know how much Kellan loves his desserts.

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

JJC: Character creation is the best part of being a writer. At the conclusion of this 5th book, I have 125 characters that have appeared in the series. While that is a huge amount, some are only here for a few pages in every book, others are prominent in a single book then disappear. To me, it’s about creating a universe where readers wish they could live. I adore college campuses. I love family drama and dynamics. I think cozy little towns are the best places to live. Murders happen all over the place, and to both good and bad people. I want everyone to feel real, sometimes over-the-top, but always reachable. My characters should resemble the friends, neighbors, family, and acquaintances in our lives.

Sometimes, if somebody angers me in real life, I base a character on them. Or, if someone has been wonderful to me, I’ll throw a nod in his or her direction. Many of the last names are from my own family tree too. It’s fun to share this closeness with the world I’ve made up. Kellan, of course, is my favorite character, but I’m sure you want to know who else, not just the protagonist. My obvious favorite to write for is Nana D. She can say anything and get away with it. My other favorite, though not a major character in the series, is Sam Taft. He doesn’t appear until the 2nd book, and he’s conspicuously absent in the 5th book (for a reason), but he’s someone who feels entirely too pure and innocent not to love. I suspect he’s hiding a secret we haven’t learned yet, but he just hasn’t told it to me. Soon… soon, I’ll get to share more about him.

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

JJC: Braxton is based on the concept of the school I graduated from, Moravian College. No murders ever happened there, that I’m aware of… The specific layout of each campus is very different. The key thing that drives the setting for my town is the cable car that transports students and staff from North to South Campus. It’s one mile long and has a cozy street of shopping, bars, and history. That’s really Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where Moravian resides. I started with that image, then rolled in the larger town and county. Wharton County is made-up, but it’s pieces of all different towns in Pennsylvania. Much of my family moved there in the last decade, so I’ve been all over the state. I created a fictional place with a national forest, river, lake, mountains, farmland, 4 towns (Braxton, Woodland [from my other book, Father Figure], Millner Place, and Lakeview), in the northcentral region close to the NY border. All my experiences created the concepts, but then I picture the things I want to be part of the story. Crilly Lake for summer fun, mountains for hiking, a river for a cruise and fishing, farmland for a connection to nature and organic life. In the college, it’s all about the major buildings you need, places where people have been and like going – the library, the academic hall, the sports complex, the theater, etc.

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

JJC: I’m not a huge fan of researching information for a book. I only half believe that statement, I say with a devious laugh. Truthfully, I like creating and inventing rather than reusing something. Of course, everything is a version of something else, but when you deal with real-life details, you have to nail everything perfectly—there’s little room for nuance or open-minded changes. I love books based on reality, historical fiction that requires immense detail, but I’m not that kind of writer. I don’t do well with a structure I can’t alter, in terms of creativity. I’d rather not make a mistake, so I stick to my own world of imagination. I would love to write a book based on research in the future though… I’m just not there yet.

That said… each book contains several things I do have to research. Things like medical conditions, police procedures, college policies, etc. For example, I wasn’t sure of the college baseball season for the first book, Academic Curveball. I knew the professional league season, but not the college one. I did all the research to pick the late February / early March start timeline for a first college game. I checked various colleges in PA to ensure they had outdoor baseball fields, even in the cold of winter. Even then, a reader pointed out that it didn’t feel realistic. Someone will always have a difference of opinion, even if there are facts to support what your research shows. I try to not offend anyone in my writing, but I also want to be as realistic as possible… of course no small town has as many murders as a cozy one does, but still… everything else must feel as real as possible.

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

JJC: Yes! If you love cozies, you will hopefully love this series. It follows all the rules but pushes the limits in terms of the audience. The amateur sleuth is a man, and he is single and has a six-year-old daughter. He’s going to date women, and he’s going to have urges and desires, but I try to show those personality traits and actions without making him weak or too seductive. He’s young but an old soul. He’s not your typical kind of nosy… and his job has trained him to ask questions. The series lets readers navigate the mystery, but it’s also about showcasing the life of a fun place and family in a typical American small town. Humor is a big part of my writing, but not the over-the-top kind… more subtle and endearing. I like to create scenes and concepts, describe with lots of details, then let the reader interpret it based on how they want to envision things. I’ve tried to put my personality into the book… not that everyone will understand it or like it… but I want there to be a balance of everything we love about reading and all those things that make us want to explore the world around us.

Thanks for answering my questions, James, and good luck with Haunted House Ghost, the latest book in the Braxton Campus Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about James and his writing by visiting his website and his Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest and Ingragram pages. You can also follow him on Twitter.

The novel is available online at Amazon.

About James J. Cudney: James is his given name; most call him Jay. He grew up on Long Island and currently lives in New York City, but he’s traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, he spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although he enjoyed my job, he left in 2016 to focus on his passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. His debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. Outside of writing he is an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cooks (I find it so hard to follow a recipe.

Posted in October 2019 | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sink your teeth into this mystery

Today Debra H. Goldstein is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Two Bites Too Many, her latest novel in the Sarah Blair mystery series.

Welcome, Debra. 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.

DHG: Two Bites Too Many is the second book in Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. In the first book, One Taste Too Many, which was released in January 2019, we met Sarah, for whom cooking from scratch is a fate worse than murder. Married at 18, divorced by 28, the only thing she got out of her divorce was her Siamese cat, RahRah. She’s the polar opposite of her twin sister, Emily, an accomplished chef. Of course, when Emily is accused of killing the rat who was Sarah’s ex-husband, with a taste of her award-winning rhubarb pie, Sarah must clear Emily’s name while trying to avoid stepping into a kitchen.

In Two Bites Too Many, things are finally looking up for Sarah. She’s settled into a carriage house with RahRah, has managed to hang on to her law firm receptionist job and – if befriending flea-bitten strays at the local animal shelter counts – lead a thriving social life. For once, she even seems to have it together more than Emily, whose efforts to open a gourmet restaurant have literally hit a dead end when the president of the town bank and city council is murdered. Unfortunately, all eyes are on the one person who was found at the scene with blood on her hands – the twins’ sharp-tongued mother, Maybelle. Determined to get her mom off the hook, Sarah must collect the ingredients of the deadly crime to bring the true culprit to justice before another victim lands on the chopping block.

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

DHG: After my first two books (Maze in Blue and Should Have Played Poker) were each orphaned, I knew I wanted to write a cozy mystery. The problem was that I don’t like cooking and I’m horrible at crafts –the traditional topics for cozy mysteries. Before I gave up in total despair, I realized there had to be other people like me – talented in other areas, but who love reading cozies. Consequently, Two Bites Too Many brings together my fear of being in the kitchen with my interest in economic development, city politics, and animal rescues.

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

DHG: In Two Bites Too Many, the strength and love of family ties, no matter what other things are happening in one’s life, comes through. Sarah has a comfort zone she has worked hard to achieve, but the desire to protect her mother and sister motivates her to step outside that zone in ways she never dreamed possible. I think my fiction mimics real life in that no matter what is going on in our lives, we do whatever is necessary for those we love.

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

DHG: My characters spring from my mind, but often steal traits from real life people. Sarah and Emily are my favourite human characters for two reasons:  they are twins, but opposites not only in appearance, but in their reaction to kitchens. I am the mother of boy-girl twins whose appearance and behaviour are like night and day. Even though, Sarah and Emily are girl-girl twins, I incorporated my children’s differences as a tribute to them and because it is what I know.

I’ve already mentioned that cooking from scratch scares me to death. The irony is that my younger sister is an excellent cook. When we were children, she shadowed my mother in the kitchen every evening as my mother prepared dinner. I flopped on the couch and watched Perry Mason re-runs. During the first commercial I emptied the dishwasher, the second commercial was when I set the table, my father came home during the third commercial, so I said “Hi,” and right after the final scene, our family had dinner. I couldn’t resist giving our cooking traits to Sarah and Emily, but that’s as far as my “borrowing” goes.

RahRah and Fluffy, who are on the cover of Two Bites Too Many are my favourite animal characters. RahRah memorializes a friend’s Siamese cat and my friend’s devotion to her pet. Fluffy is a conglomerate of dogs our family has owned. I’m partial to both because they bring out the best in all of us.

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

DHG: I try to incorporate specific references or oddities from real life settings to bring my fictional ones to life. For example, my Wheaton, Alabama deliberately features a glorious white steepled church, a river walk, and alabaster marble buildings. At one time, all of these existed in Wetumpka, Alabama – until two deadly tornadoes went through the town. I’m especially pleased the church is part of my Sarah Blair series because that beautiful structure was one of the buildings destroyed by one of the tornadoes.

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

DHG: Many people think writing a culinary related novel is easy – everyone knows how to cook and can write “what they know.” That isn’t the case for me. Instead, I had to read articles and recipes; interview waiters, restaurant managers, and restaurant owners; take behind the scenes restaurant tours; and, experiment with making the recipes contained in my books. To nail the behaviour of the animals in Two Bites Too Many, I drew on my personal experience with dogs, but spent hours interviewing cat owners, googling different types of cats, and reading articles about cat behaviour. For the next book in the series, Three Treats Too Many, which will be published in 2020, I shadowed a veterinarian for a day and spent countless hours reading about motorcycles and interviewing a motorcycle enthusiast.

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

DHG: The character of Sarah Blair is meant to be a no frills, down to life, not always secure, person. RahRah is a cool, collected, female who is alpha in her relationship with Fluffy and Sarah. Two Bites Too Many has two purposes: subliminally make you think about important topics while enjoying each page of a plotted whodunit. Fun is what you should experience reading Two Bites Too Many.

Thanks for answering my questions, Debra, and good luck with Two Bites Too Many, the latest book in the Sarah Blair Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon  B&N  Kobo  Google Play 

About Debra H. Goldstein: Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Two Bites Too Many, as well as One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and IPPY Award-winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra serves on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and is president of the Southeast Chapter of MWA and past president of SinC’s Guppy Chapter.

Posted in Archives, September 2019 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Peek Into The Glass House

Today Nancy Lynn Jarvis is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Glass House, her latest novel in the PIP Inc Mystery series.

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

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

NLJ: The Glass House is the first in a planned series of PIP Inc. Mysteries. My good friend, Pat, like Pat Pirard in The Glass House, was the Santa Cruz County Law Librarian and is now a private investigator. I stole her identity―with modifications― for the book(s.) The real Pat wasn’t downsized, is happily married, does have a cat, but has informed me in clear language that if she ever had a dog, it would definitely not be a Dalmatian, especially not one named Dot.

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

NLJ: When I’m not writing, I host Airbnb. I have a guest from Long Island who is a glass artist. She flies to California every few months to take glass fabrication classes taught at a local glass studio. She does take pictures of what she’s making in class, but I never get to see the finished product because it’s always carefully packaged for her flight home. Recently she took a poppy making class and was so enthusiastic about what the class creations that she wanted me to see her finished creation. She suggested that I should slip into the studio while the class was having lunch in the owner’s house and sneak a peek. I did, but I felt so guilty for breaking and entering that after I satisfied my curiosity, I went to the owner’s house and confessed what I had done. Instead of calling out police with handcuffs, the owners invited me to join the class for lunch.

The class instructor sidled over when my Airbnb guest was introducing me to her classmates as a mystery writer and said, “I know a great way to kill someone in a glass studio.” It turns out he did, so I asked if I could kill him. He said, yes, so he became the murder victim, killed by his own hand as it were.

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

NLJ: The theme of the story is about love: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But if you’ve read this far, you’ve may have picked up on another “theme” in my writing. Everyone I come in contact with is fair game to become a character in one of my stories. I do change them up a bit to protect the innocent.

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

NLJ: Almost all my characters start out as someone I know and I begin writing using the real name of the person whose identity I’m borrowing. Within a few pages, they’ve undergone a name change which frees them up to become the characters I want to create rather than their namesakes, who would never do what I want them to do in my books. The only exceptions are Pat, whose name I kept because PIP stands for Private Investigator Pat, and Dave in another series because his character is so like the real Dave. I did change his last name, though, and he insists he’s nothing like my character.

The Glass House, is only one of the books I’ve written. I have a seven-book series of Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries, a one-off called “Mags and the AARP Gang”, and even a little inside baseball book called, “The Truth About Hosting Airbnb.”

One of my favourite characters is Dave from the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series because I get to write “Davisims” for him, and I think Syda, Pat’s best friend from this series will become another favourite.  But usually my favourites are older characters: Mrs. Rosemont from “The Death Contingency,” Olive from “The Widow’s Walk League,” and my all-time favourites, Mags and Melvin from “Mags and the AARP Gang.”

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

NLJ: I’m a very visual writer so I set my books in and around where I live. I can take a look at the places I’m creating and then put their descriptions down on paper. Not too sexy, but it works for me.

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

NLJ: I’m amazed at how much research I need to do for contemporary mysteries. Even brief details need to be right if my books are going to be credible, so I’ve looked up everything from how redwood trees water themselves in the absence of rain to the evolution of cat litter for my books. I’ve also looked up how to kill someone in a very public place without being caught.

Some of the most interesting research I’ve done is about how bodies might decompose over time. I was thrilled when I attended a forensic anthropologist’s lecture and discovered that my descriptions were exactly right in “Backyard Bones”, and “Buying Murder.”

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

NLJ: The Glass House is a bit of a collaboration between the real Pat and me. I was a real estate agent for many years so my real estate mysteries ring true, but I know nothing about being a private investigator, even an amateur one. I’m frequently asking Pat, “How would you find out about…’” and her answers will keep the PIP Inc. series realistic, too.

Thanks for answering my questions, Nancy, and good luck with The Glass House, the latest book in the PIP Inc Mystery series.

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

The novel is available online at Amazon.

About Nancy Lynn Jarvis: Nancy was a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor® for more than twenty years before she fell in love with writing and let her license lapse. After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC. Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years, a philosophy she applies to her writing, as well. She has written seven Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries; a stand-alone novel “Mags and the AARP Gang” about a group of octogenarian bank robbers; edited “Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes” and a short story anthology, “Santa Cruz Weird;” and even done a little insider’s book, “The Truth About Hosting Airbnb” about her first year as a host. “The Glass House” is the first book in a planned series of PIP Inc. Mysteries. Now she’s trying to figure out when to work on another series she’d love to do called “Geezers with Tools” about two older handymen who will solve mysteries in the course of doing their work, and setting up writer retreats at her house.

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Step Back Into the Ming Dynasty

Today P.A. De Voe is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about No Way To Die, her latest novel in the Ming Dynasty mystery series.

Welcome. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about your novel.

PAD: My latest book is No Way to Die, A Ming Dynasty Mystery. Here’s a short description:

“When the mutilated body of a stranger is found in a pigpen, the search for justice once more brings together the unlikely duo of Shu-chang, a school teacher, and Xiang-hua, a women’s doctor. Their search through Ming Dynasty’s underworld of back-alleys, gangs, gambling, and thugs-for-hire uncovers a twisted tangle of jealousy, greed, and revenge. These discoveries, however, only create more confusion for our intrepid duo as their list of suspects continues to grow to include a lustful herbalist, an unscrupulous neighbour, a vengeful farmer, a jealous husband, a scorned wife, and a band of thieves. So many questions: How will they determine who is innocent and who is guilty? Are they being manipulated? Is this a case of misdirection? Was the victim’s death due to a case of mistaken identity? Will they be able to untangle the truth and solve the murder before the murderer strikes again?”

Is the book part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

PAD: Yes, it is. It’s second in the A Ming Dynasty Mystery series. Deadly Relations is the first and I’m working on the third, which will come out early next year. The series is set in late fourteen century China—a period that fascinates me because it’s the beginning of a new, Han dynasty. My goal is to transport the reader into this complex and engaging world of early Ming China through the use of story filled with mystery and intrigue.

There are two protagonists. One is a poor scholar/teacher and the other a young women’s doctor. To delve into all aspects of Chinese life, I needed a male and female protagonist. Thus: Shu-chang and Xiang-hua.

Traditional Chinese society was a meritocracy. Meaning that people (men only in this case), no matter what their family background, could achieve wealth and status through their own abilities. Success or failure depended on an individual’s (males) intelligence, drive, and work, not birth right. The path to success was a series of three National examinations. It involved three levels of exams. Our hero, Shu-chang just passed the second exam when his personal life is dealt a tragic blow, threatening his entire future, and thrusting him into the threat of even greater abject poverty. To survive, he becomes a teacher in a nearby town’s clan school. Shu-chang’s character is based on the trials and tribulations of intelligent, ambitious, but poor, young men found throughout Chinese history.

After finding Shu-chang as a main male character, I wanted a realistic female character for him to work with. As it happened, I was reading a book about women’s medicine at the time and found a reference to a real-life women’s doctor. She lived in the Ming Dynasty and was the author of the only medical book ever written by a woman during the traditional period. She was perfect! I now had a model for my female character. My version is not the historical woman herself, but what I think these educated, female women’s doctors might have been like in a highly gendered society such as early China. Given her work as a medical practitioner, she can move freely through all social classes. Thus, I now had access to a panoply of secondary characters otherwise not available.

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

PAD: I have a background in China studies and have been fascinated by the Ming Dynasty for a long time. The first emperor was a complicated and controversial character and his period of rule left all kinds of openings for stories. I’ve published a couple of contemporary cozy mysteries and have a couple of amateur sleuth mysteries sitting in my drawer (don’t we all?!), but I kept feeling a pull toward these historical Chinese stories. After successfully publishing a couple of Judge Lu short stories (as you’ll guess: set in early Ming China), I was emboldened to launch into a full-fledged historical novel.

Because of my experience with first experimenting with the short story format, I now fully encourage new writers and want-to-be writers to write short stories. They give you the feed-back you need. They can also give you encouragement and validation on your journey to becoming a published author.

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

PAD: Not so much a theme as a playing with the culture and society of a different international and historical people. I am an anthropologist and these things dominate my world-view.

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

PAD: I don’t actually have favourites. All my characters are interesting to me—or they wouldn’t be included! J

I do like Shu-chang. He embodies the struggling and optimistic young man who feels that if he can succeed in the examination lottery, he can make a difference for his family and his community.

I like Xiang-hua because, while she has exceptional advantages due to being lucky in the family she was born into, these benefits come with an almost over-powering sense of responsibility. As with Shu-chang she is devoted to her family and community.

And then there are the secondary characters, I do find different characters in each story more interesting than others and sometimes wonder about writing short stories or novels about them. I may do that in the future.

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

PAD: This is an area in my writing that I am still working on. I want to let my readers know about the setting, time, culture, law, social norms, etc. without carrying on too much. China is not as familiar to a lot of readers as, say, early Europe or historical American. Therefore, I need to fill in a lot. For example, the dishes (clay/porcelain wine cups, not glass), even the clothing is somewhat unfamiliar, not to mention the law, medicine, religion, and familial relationships. At the same time, I can’t drag the pace down through long passages of description. Not in a mystery. As a result, I try to evoke the place or setting with as few words as possible. I try to keep it to no more than a couple of sentences at a time. It’s an on-going challenge: how to inform without overwhelming. I’m always learning through reading books on how to improve my writing. There are so many excellent ones out there. This is often my pre-bed reading.

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

PAD: I do a lot of research. This is the part, I admit, that I absolutely love. I look at the web. Even YouTube. You never know what you’ll find and where it will lead! Plus, of course, I read a lot: traditional court cases, old magistrate manuals, and books on every topic and time period that could illuminate the lives and times of my characters. I want to be sure that what I use in my stories is valid. Case studies are particularly good in giving me a look into the lives of historical characters. This, in turn, feeds into my characters and their behaviours.

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

PAD: I hope that when you, the reader, pick up No Way to Die, you find that you are wrapped up in the mystery and intrigue of the story, and, at the same time, that you feel you have a window into the life and times of another world.

Thanks for answering my questions and opening up a place and era for me that I knew little about. Good luck with No Way to Die, the latest book in the Ming Dynasty Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about P.A. De Voe and her writing by visiting her website.

The novel is available online at Amazon.

About PA De Voe: She is an anthropologist with a PhD in Asian studies. Eventually, her interest in historical China and its culture led her to write stories set in the early Ming Dynasty: The Mei-hua Trilogy (Hidden, Warned, and Trapped), a collection of short stories and more. Deadly Relations, A Ming Dynasty Mystery is the first in a new series starring an ambitious young scholar and a woman’s doctor who join together in the pursuit of justice.

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Today Amy Patricia Meade is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Garden Club Murder, her latest novel in the Tish Tarragon mystery series.

Welcome, Amy. 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.

APM: THE GARDEN CLUB MURDER is the second entry in my Tish Tarragon cozy culinary mystery series. Tish Tarragon is a Richmond, Virginia investment banker who quits her job and moves to the small town of Hobson Glen to pursue her dream of operating a café and catering business – the aptly named Cookin’ the Books, which is also the title of the first book in the series – that features literary inspired menus. Soon after opening her business, Tish discovers that she has a flair for solving crimes.

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

APM: The idea behind THE GARDEN CLUB MURDER occurred to me while my husband and I were living in an adult community in Wiliiamsburg, Virginia. I noticed a man walking a little West Highland terrier who stopped periodically to relieve himself on neighbourhood lawns.

A few days later, the neighbors ‘visited’ by this dog complained to the homeowner’s association that their neatly manicured lawns were riddled with yellow patches.

There was quite an uproar, but as no one knew the identity of the dog walker little could be done other than to post some ineffective ‘Keep Pets off the Grass” signs.
My husband and I moved to England before ever learning the identity of the dog we’d named ‘The Powhattan Piddler’ but the incident was the inspiration behind THE GARDEN CLUB MURDER”s victim, Sloane Shackleford, and his dog, biscuit.

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

APM: I’m not certain there’s a theme, but as the story takes place at an over-sixty housing development, I wanted to make sure I painted the residents of this community as vibrant, active human beings with loves and heartbreaks and interesting past stories, as well as potential for future stories. Just because they’re older and retired doesn’t mean they’ve stopped learning about and enjoying life.

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

APM: I create my characters using both observation and imagination. I do a lot of people-watching in my spare time (to which my husband can attest!), so when it comes time to sit down and create a character I draw upon the mannerisms, personality traits, and even some of the dialogue I may have overheard, and blend them together to create a unique individual who is also—I hope – relatable and quite human.
I love all the characters in the Tish Tarragon series, but my favourite might be Tish’s best friend, Julian Jefferson Davis. Julian is the local tv weatherman with aspirations of becoming a serious journalist, however he’s best known for a viral clip of him being carried away by a snowplow outside the Edgar Allen Poe Museum. He’s so off-the-wall and yet down-to-earth and lovable. One never knows what Julian is going to get himself into next so it’s both liberating and fun writing for him. Nothing is off-limits.

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

APM: As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I lived in Virginia for a time, so I have first hand experience of the heat, humidity, the different accents, the culture, and the food. I think it’s important to follow that old adage, ‘Don’t tell. Show.’ I try to paint a picture of Hobson Glen not just through the physical descriptions of the town, but also through the colloquialisms used by Tish’s assistant, Celestine, or the traditional Christmas dinner being served at a particular character’s home.

In this particular book, I gave myself the challenge of describing the gardens in contention for top prize. I wanted those gardens to reflect the personalities of the gardeners tending them, so we have a modern garden with pampas grass and a wall cascade, an English cottage garden, etc. What I tried to do was not just describe the plants in terms of appearance, but by texture, smell, and the ambiance created.

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

APM: THE GARDEN CLUB MURDER required extensive research into plants that are native to Virginia and when they might be blooming. There’s also a bit of plant chemistry involved in the story. I try to do that research as I plot the book, but often, a question comes up when crafting a subplot or when a character takes me in another direction. That could be something as simple as “What day of the week was February 14, 1968?’ or as complex as ‘What’s the process for overwintering dahlias?” Thank goodness for Google!

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

APM: I’ve been asked and have seen comments by reviewers regarding the lack of recipes in my books. Like its predecessor, COOKIN’ THE BOOKS, THE GARDEN CLUB MURDER does not feature recipes, but I’m happy to report that readers will find recipes for two of the cakes served at the luncheon on my website in the months to come. Also, I’m currently working on Tish Tarragon #3, which is set during the holiday season and will include recipes for two of the menu items featured in the novel.

Thanks for answering my questions, Amy, and good luck with The Garden Club Murder, the latest book in the Tish Tarragon Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – B&N – AbeBooks

About Amy Patricia Meade: The Author of the critically acclaimed Marjorie McClelland Mysteries, she is is a native of Long Island, NY where she cut her teeth on classic films and books featuring Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown. After stints as an Operations Manager for a document imaging company and a freelance technical writer, Amy left the bright lights of New York City and headed north to pursue her creative writing career amidst the idyllic beauty of Vermont’s Green Mountains. Now residing in Bristol, England, Amy spends her time writing mysteries with a humorous or historical bent.  When not writing, Amy enjoys traveling, testing out new recipes, classic films, and exploring her new home.

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Pop in for Popcorn Fun

Today Sofie Kelly, author of A Night’s Tail, a Magical Cats mystery, is joining us at Ascroft, eh? to tell us some fun facts about popcorn. I’ll turn the floor over to you, Sofie:

In A Night’s Tail, the latest Magical Cats mystery, readers learn that librarian Kathleen Paulson’s boyfriend, Detective Marcus Gordon has developed a taste for gourmet popcorn. That happened, in part, because a friend of mine has become, in her words, “a popcorn connoisseur.” After picking her brain—and trying her popcorn—and after a little time spent on the Internet, here are a dozen fun facts about popcorn:

  1. The US is the world’s largest producer of popcorn according to the USDA.
  2. Popcorn comes in two shapes, snowflake and mushroom. Because snowflake-shaped popcorn is bigger, movie theaters typically sell that shape.
  3. Nebraska produces more popcorn than any other state in the country, followed closely by Indiana
    4. Orville Redenbacher brand is the top-selling popcorn.
    5. Popcorn is a type of maize, a member of the grass family.
  4. When they pop, kernels can travel up to three feet in the air.
  5. Making popcorn is one of the number one uses for microwave ovens.
  6. Charles Cretors, introduced the world’s first mobile popcorn machine in Chicago in 1893. One of its attributes was the fact that it could supposedly be moved by a small pony…or a boy.
  7. Archaeological evidence found in Peru suggests that popcorn existed as early as 4700 B.C.
  8. In the early 1950s, as televisions became popular, popcorn sales decreased because people were staying home to watch TV instead of going out to the movies. Once popcorn became readily available to make at home, sales went up again.
  9. Some of the most popular popcorn flavorings include ranch, jalapeno, dill pickle, sour cream and onion and caramel corn.
  10. According to popcorn.org, Americans consume close to 14 billion quarts of popcorn each year. Other sources put the number closer to 17 billion quarts. That’s about 42 quarts per person. If you’re reading all the Magical Cats mysteries as you’re eating your popcorn, that works out to 3.5 quarts per book. Enjoy!

Thanks for this fun insight into the novel, Sofie, and good luck with A Night’s Tail, the latest novel in the Magical Cats series.

Readers can learn more about Sofie and her writing by visiting her website.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon    –    Barnes and Noble     –       Indiebound

About Sofie Kelly: Sofie writes the New York Times bestselling Magical Cats mysteries that feature librarian Kathleen Paulson and her two very special cats, Owen and Hercules, who have a magical knack for solving crime. As Sofie Ryan she is the author of the New York Times bestselling Second Chance Cat mystery series. She lives on the east coast with her husband and daughter.

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Why Not Stop By the Library Today?

Today Allison Brook is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Buried in the Stacks, her latest novel in the Haunted Library mystery series.

Welcome, Allison. 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.

AB: BURIED IN THE STACKS is the third book in my Haunted Library mystery series, which takes place in Clover Ridge, a picturesque village in Connecticut. Carrie Singleton, my 30-year-old sleuth, is head of programs and events of the Clover Ridge Library. A kind and caring person, she often finds herself embroiled in mysteries and murder.

In BURIED IN THE STACKS, Carrie fears that a group she’s joined to create a daytime haven for the homeless plans to use the facility as a front for illegal activities. She is also investigating the murder of Dorothy Hawkins, the unpopular and disagreeable reference librarian. In the past, the ghost of Evelyn Havers, a woman who used to work in the library, has helped Carrie in her investigations. But this time Evelyn’s relatives are involved and she holds back vital information.

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

AB: Dorothy, the reference librarian has caused problems for Carrie because she felt she should have been offered Carrie’s job. Dorothy is also Evelyn’s niece, and capable of less than honourable actions. Which is why Evelyn is reluctant to share important information with Carrie.

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

AB: The homeless often seek shelter in libraries during the cold months of winter. This is not a very good arrangement. I thought it would be nice if the people of Clover Ridge created a place where the homeless could spend those days in a facility that offered them assistance and interesting activities.

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

AB: I suppose I envision my characters then give them free rein. They are very real to me—well-developed, with personality and flaws.

I adore all my characters, which is a good thing because so many of them appear throughout the series. Evelyn is a favourite character because, while she often helps Carrie, she’s sometimes unpredictable. I like spunky Angela, Carrie’s best friend who works at the circulation desk and tells it like is. She’s a great sounding board when Carrie’s sleuthing. As is Dylan Avery, Carrie’s handsome, clever boyfriend, who is a professional investigator in his own right and never puts Carrie down. Carrie’s great aunt and uncle, her boss Sally, her little cousin Tacey—the only other person who can see Evelyn—and Smoky Joe, the library cat who really belongs to Carrie are all delightful characters that add a dimension to the storyline.

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

AB: Much of the story takes place in the library. I help my readers envision the interior of the library. They get to know the other librarians, Carrie’s two assistants, the programs and events that Carrie presents as well as her day-to-day responsibilities.

I have described the village, which is centuries old, and the Green which the library faces as do many other buildings that have since been converted to galleries, restaurants, and shops. I describe restaurants that Carrie and her friends frequent.

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

AB: While Clover Ridge is a made-up village, I have based it on a real village. I do a great deal of research regarding this real place when setting various scenes.

Thanks for answering my questions, Allison, and good luck with Buried in the Stacks, the latest book in the Haunted Library Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound

About Allison Brook: Allison Brook is the pseudonym for Marilyn Levinson, who writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids. She lives on Long Island and enjoys traveling, reading, watching foreign films, doing Sudoku and dining out. She especially loves to visit with her grandchildren on FaceTime.

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How Did it Become Number’s Up?

NUMBERS UP BANNER 640

Today Annabelle Hunter, author of Number’s Up, her first novel in the Barrow Bay Mysteries is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us a little about how she writes.

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

Thanks Dianne.

I’ve noticed that one of the first things people ask writers is, “what’s your method?” Most times I stare at them and pray that someone else jumps in to answer. Because I don’t know that I have a method. That seems so… professional. Logical. Organized.

Not that I’m not… but… well, I’m bad at staying that way.

Number's Up OTHER SITESStep one — the idea. Most times this just comes to me. I’ll be watching something or reading, and a thought comes to me.  Most times it is in no relation to what I’m doing, but I’m not picky. Then I think about it, scratch out some notes and, if I think it’s good, I grab a notebook and start world building. Or, since I’ve been focusing on Barrow Bay, the funny moment comes, and I start creating a crime around it.

Step two — the first chapter. I like to do this first because it gives me a flavor of the characters and the story. It also lets me flesh out the character in my mind. It gives me some momentum. Do I recommend this? Probably not. It probably would be better to do an outline first. I have learned that going more than three chapters before stopping for an outline is a horrible idea. Very, Very horrible. I regret it rather quickly. On the other hand, starting with the outline before the first chapter is the quickest way for me to lose interest. It’s a fine line. You might need to find yours.

Step three – outline. Who’s the victim? Who are the suspects? What my red herrings and clues are. What order we will find out the clues? Then I move to secondary plots in great detail – AKA ‘romance here, blah, blah, blah’.

Yep. I’m super detailed.

Step four – I start writing, using my outline as a blueprint, until the characters take over. That’s when limbs come out of nowhere. Bets appear. Family dinners happen when my outline clearly said, ‘cop interview’, and dates happen instead of an intense interview at the police station. Yep, super methodic. And organized. I’m in control. I mean, they’re figments of my imagination, so that means even when they are in control, I’m in control.

Don’t burst my bubble.

Step Five – Adjust my outline. Again. Swear at it. Complain to my husband. Get no sympathy. Go back and write.

Step six – finish writing the story. Look at the outline. Confirm that at least there is some resemblance to it in the story. And that all the clues made it.

Step seven – get a lot of coffee. And chocolate. This needs its own step. Pre-editing comfort food is super important. Do not underestimate the pre-editing comfort food.

Step eight – First edit using the grammar program. Much cursing at all the things it gets wrong. More swearing as I look up questionable grammar mistakes. Eat some chocolate. Finish. Move on to the computer reading it out loud. More cursing, and a few wails of ‘what was I thinking?’ Refill the comfort food. More coffee. This can last for days.

Step nine – stop editing to write something else, anything else. Anything to remind myself that writing is fun, and that editing is worth it so I can write. More coffee.

Step ten – finish listening to the computer read and correcting all my stupid moments from writing too fast. Go into another read through. Want to never see it again. Pray for it to get erased. Fear it will be erased. Add some more characterization. A few more ideas for the plot. Realize that it was all worth it. It’s genius. It’s the best book I’ve ever written.

Step eleven – Beta (or Alpha or critique partners… what ever you want to call them) readers. The ones that I know will be painfully honest, but in a way that will make me understand they want you to fix it, not cry and drink lots of alcohol. I still cry.

Step twelve – take their ideas and fix my manuscript. Know that the editor is going to love it. It’s amazing. I have the best readers ever. This is the best I can make it. It’s a flawless diamond polished to perfection.

Step thirteen – get it back from a development edit. Read the first page of the report. Stop. Go to the store and stock up on cookies, coffee and alcohol. Cry. Get angry. Cry again. Swear I’m going to give up writing forever. Right after I fix everything. And edit it. Again.

Step fourteen – Send it out to the beta readers again. Thank my editor profusely when the beta readers don’t hate it. Take their suggestions and send it off for line edits. Run out of coffee around this step and suffer.

Step fifteen – repeat Step Thirteen. Worry I’m wasting my editor’s time, call her and have her tell me I’m not, but really, I might think about these changes. Badger her into telling me the truth – forget saying it nicely, I need to know exactly what she means. Exactly. Dive deeper into my myopic, stubborn side. I’m going to get this right. Eat more cookies.

Step sixteen – Fix it. Worry about it. Stress that it’s not good enough. Debate if my editor is being too nice to me. Maybe it needs another line edit. Gather my courage. Send it in for proofreading.

Step seventeen – The proofreader liked it! Think maybe I might not be delusional. Fix the notes. Send it to my second proofreader.

Step eighteen – Make the final changes. Stress. Stop myself from reading it. My grammar sucks. I’ve had two people read it with better grammar. Trust me, I can add grammar errors in, under the guise of fixing it. I’m that bad.

Step nineteen – format. Get ready for release. Tell myself that it’s too late. Sing the chorus of “Let it Go.” Pray. Plead. Cry. Cross my fingers. Do a like-my-book dance. If someone’s come up with it and put it on the internet (and it’s free) I’ve done it. Focus on social media. Realize that I’m awkward on social media. Do it anyways. Eat more cookies.

Step twenty – Release. Stress. Cookies. Recently, get so sick that my phone’s facial recognition software refuses to recognize me. Yell at the phone that has the audacity to give me shade about not looking good. See that someone had bought the book that wasn’t a friend or family member. Realize it doesn’t suck.

Wash and repeat. And that, is how I write a book. Hopefully that helps. Or at least tells you that you’re not alone. Or that you’re doing better than me. What ever keeps you writing. XOXO

Thanks for sharing this with us, Annabelle, and good luck with Number’s Up, the first book in the Barrow Bay Mystery series.

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

The novel is available online at Amazon.

About Annabelle Hunter: Annabelle is a stay-at-home mom and an avid fan of classic mystery shows and dressage. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, and too many animals.

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