Meet Lucy Berberian


Today Lucy Berberian from On the Lamb, A Kebab Kitchen mystery is joining us at Ascroft, eh?

Welcome Lucy.

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

Hi. I’m Lucy Berberian. I live inside the Kebab Kitchen cozy mystery series. I’m in the latest book called, ON THE LAMB. It’s the fourth book in the series, but all the books can be read as standalone reads.

I left a Philadelphia law firm to manage my family’s Mediterranean restaurant, Kebab Kitchen, at the Jersey shore. It’s like my big fat Greek Wedding meets the Jersey shore. Right now, spring is in the air and the beach town is gearing up for tourist season, holiday festivities, and town-wide Easter egg hunts.

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

I get most of the say, of course! But if you ask the author, Tina Kashian, she will argue she gets most of the say. It’s a daily tug of war.

How did you evolve as the main character?

ON THE LAMBI took over a part of the writer’s brain. I’ve been festering there for a while, but I knew it was time for me to have my say. As for the Kebab Kitchen series, I’ve evolved a lot over the course of the books.

In the first book in the series, HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE, I quit my law firm job after hitting the glass ceiling and went home to my family’s Mediterranean restaurant at the Jersey shore for a temporary stay. I have to mention temporary because I had no intention of staying for good. But my best friend and family, along with a former ex-boyfriend who wanted a second chance, have a way of changing a lady’s mind. I evolved…or decided to stay and take on the role of manager of Kebab Kitchen. I haven’t regretted it since.

I’ve also made more friends in the same town community throughout the other books, STABBED IN THE BAKLAVA and ONE FETA IN THE GRAVE. It’s amazing how a small town can draw you in. A murder at a wedding in STABBED IN THE BAKLAVA and a dead body under the boardwalk in ONE FETA IN THE GRAVE have also added to my sleuthing abilities.

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

Yes! My long-time best friend, Katie Watson, is also my crime fighting partner. My parents, Angela and Raffi, are supportive and overbearing at times. My sister, Emma, and Sally, the head waitress of Kebab Kitchen. My eccentric new landlady, Mrs. Eloisa Lubinski, and her attack shih tsu and my feisty feline Gadoo (which translates as cat in Armenian). And Michael, the motorcycle riding bad boy who owns the bicycle shop next door to Kebab Kitchen, who also happens to be a good friend.

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

Ocean Crest is one of the most beautiful Jersey shore towns! This is my opinion, of course. But it is a mile stretch of pristine beach with seagulls and the Atlantic Ocean. The boardwalk is an eclectic mix of shops and the small town is a great place to vacation with your family.

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

I find myself solving another crime. Spring is in the air and the beach town is gearing up for tourist season, holiday festivities, and town-wide Easter egg hunts. Things are looking up and I’m planning on hosting a Mediterranean Easter dinner, complete with lamb kebabs, for my family and friends at my new apartment. When the motorcycle-riding owner of the bicycle rental shop next door to the restaurant invites me and my girlfriends to a beach bonfire for a night of fun, we are eager to attend? The sound of the surf, the ocean breeze, and the blazing bonfire all make for a unique experience. But when a disliked landlord is found dead on the beach after choking on a piece of Melanie’s famous salt water taffy, I know my friend is in sticky mess of trouble. I need to find the killer before Melanie is skewered for a crime she didn’t commit and salt water taffy disappears from the boardwalk forever.

Thanks for introducing yourself and the series to us, Lucy. Readers can learn more about Lucy and also Tina Kashian, the author of the series, by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

AmazonBarnes and NobleGoogle BooksiBooksKobo

Tina Gabrielle Author PhotoAbout Tina Kashian: Tina is a bestselling author, an attorney, and a mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. Tina spent her childhood summers at the Jersey shore building sandcastles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business, as her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. Tina’s books have been Barnes & Noble top picks, and the first book in her Kebab Kitchen Mediterranean mystery series, Hummus and Homicide, spent six weeks on the B&N bestseller list. Please visit her website at to join her newsletter, receive delicious recipes, enter contests, and more!

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

Why Write About Ottawa?

TourBanner_Finding Lisa

Today Sigrid Macdonald author of the mystery novel, Finding Lisa, is joining us at Ascroft, eh? to talk about the Canadian setting for the book.

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

Thank you for having me on your blog, Dianne. Much appreciated.

I understand that you are a Canadian writer living in the UK. My novel, Finding Lisa, takes place in Ottawa, Ontario. I chose Ottawa for many reasons. First, I lived in Ottawa for almost 30 years. Second, I grew up in New Jersey and am currently residing in Florida. It is mind-boggling to me how many times I tell Americans that I lived in Ottawa, and they have never heard of it. They can’t spell it, they don’t know what province it’s in, and they have no clue that Ottawa is the capital of Canada.

BookCover_FindingLisaThis is shocking. Ottawa is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets. It is large enough so that you can partake of any kind of culture from jazz concerts to musicals to university lectures to trivia nights at the pub, but unlike Toronto or Manhattan, it is small enough to be affordable; have much greenery preserved by the government in the middle of the city; as well as beautiful monuments; and a beautiful canal, which in winter, becomes the world’s largest and second-longest skating rink and was initially built on the backs of Irish labor.

Ah, but can there be any crime or mystery in such a delightful city? Of course, because cities are populated by people, some of whom do bad things. Finding Lisa is the story of two best friends. It opens in downtown Ottawa where the women are at the ByTowne Theatre seeing a documentary about a prominent architect. They go across the street to Nate’s Deli, which has photos on the wall of famous Canadians who have eaten there, such as Keifer Sutherland from the hit TV shows 24 and Designated Survivor. Sutherland actually dropped out of a Catholic boarding school in Ottawa at the age of fifteen. He was born in England to Canadian parents and was part of what we Canadians like to call the brain drain – talented people who leave Canada in pursuit of fame and move to the US.

In Finding Lisa, one of the women disappears after the night out at the movies, and the other launches a search party to find her in conjunction with the police. I made several visits to the police station to discover the proper procedure in such circumstances, just as I visited a pool hall on a number of occasions because I have a scene where my protagonist is shooting pool with a young guy she has a crush on, and she is ridiculously bad at the game. While they are playing pool and my character is losing, crowds are crouching around screens at the bar, drinking Labatt Blue and eagerly watching the hockey playoffs. What could be more Canadian?

I hope that in addition to enjoying the mystery aspect of my story, readers will also learn about Ottawa and want to visit there one day. It is truly a spectacular city, especially if you are not are not kidnapped or have not gone missing!

Thanks for telling us about your novel and Ottawa, Sigrid. I’m originally from Toronto though I’ve now lived in Northern Ireland for 30 years. I’ve visited Ottawa several times and I have fond memories from my childhood of skating on the canal in Ottawa. I look forward to reading Finding Lisa.

Sigrid Macdonald will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. To enter the draw click here

You can find a list of the rest of Sigrid’s tour stops here:

Why not drop by some of the stops? You’ll have a chance to enter the draw again at each stop.

Readers can learn more about Sigrid and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook page.

Finding Lisa is available online at the following retailers:

Amazon  –   Barnes and Noble

AuthorPicture (1)About Sigrid Macdonald: Originally from New Jersey, Sigrid Macdonald lived for almost thirty years in Ottawa, Ontario, and currently resides in Weston, Florida. She has been a freelance writer for years. Her works have appeared in The Globe and Mail newspaper; the Women’s Freedom Network Newsletter; the American magazine Justice Denied; The Toastmaster; and the Anxiety Disorders Association of Ontario Newsletter. Her first book, Getting Hip: Recovery from a Total Hip Replacement, was published in 2004. Her second book, Be Your Own Editor, followed in 2010. Although Finding Lisa is written in first person, Macdonald only resembles her character in the sense that she once had a neurotic fixation on her hair, and she has always been called by the wrong name; instead of being called Sigrid, people have called her Susan, Sharon, Astrid, Ingrid and, her personal favorite, Siri.

Macdonald is a social activist who has spent decades working on the seemingly disparate issues of women’s rights and wrongful convictions; she has worked at the Women’s Center at Ramapo College of New Jersey and Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and was a member of AIDWYC, The Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted. She owns an editing company called Book Magic. Sigrid is a public speaker and a member of Mothers against Drunk Driving, Ottawa Independent Writers, the American Association of University Women, and the Editors’ Association of Canada.

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

Fancy some blackmail with Blueberry Cobbler?


Today Ed Tucker aka Tink from Blueberry Cobbler Blackmail, A Cast Iron Skillet mystery is joining us at Ascroft, eh? Welcome and over to you, Tink:

For the next couple of weeks, I’m watching my cousin, Jolie’s cats while she’s off to help her best friend Ava figure out who is blackmailing the Martinez family in Blueberry Cobbler Blackmail.

BLUEBERRY COBBLER BLACKMAILI went looking for Jolie last year during the Thanksgiving holiday season, and to my surprise, my first interaction with her, she pegged me as a suspect to a murder. I had recently accidentally learned that my dad had family in Leavensport, Ohio. It was shocking, saying the least, to learn I’d had family less than sixty miles from me my entire life.

I’m a red-head, and I have that stereotypical angry red-head attitude. So, when I found out about this family, my first reaction was getting a plane ticket and get out of town and as far away from my family as possible. This Rath lady could write an entirely new series about my adventures, and who knows, maybe she will someday. The problem was, I’m underaged with no money and my dad’s credit card only got me so far since he cut it off forcing me to come back home. I was in a lot of heat for a while.

I’m resourceful, like my cousin Jolie, so I got a new plan in gear and joined a local teen program using my nickname. I’m a junior—Ed Junior—but my family has always called me Tink. When I was little, I had a smelly habit of, well, you get the gist, and Tink has stuck with me since. I used my access to the teen center to find out some things about my family in Leavensport, Ohio and I learned a lot. I was a little too good if you ask me because I was asking so many questions, it’s why Jolie suspected me as a possible killer. She told me after the fact I acted very oddly. Always lovely to hear!

So, I tried to hightail it out of there on a train this time but was cut-off before I could get away from my wacky family. Jolie figured out who I was, and while she wasn’t as receptive as I would have liked her to be, she was straight-up honest with me, and I respected that.

Some time has passed, and it looks like I’ll be cat-sitting. I’m told that is HUGE to Jolie as her four cats are her world. She has a laundry list of do’s and don’t’s for the kitties, but she seemed especially thrilled when her extra-fluffy, black cat Sam Jr took to me. I guess he never lets anyone see him but Jolie. I sat out in the hallway for close to an hour, calling him and playing with a string to lure him out. I willed this cat to love me so maybe I could get to know my cousin better.

I love animals, so once he came to me and realized I was a good dude, he was cool. I’ve been taking the best care of this little furballs as possible because I hope in the future to spend a lot more time learning about my crime-solving slash cast-iron cook slash co-owner of a restaurant cousin.

I have a feeling the rest of this year will prove to be a lot of ups and downs as our Tucker family works through the past feuds and chaos, and we all take time to get to know one another—some again—and some of us for the first time.

Thanks for introducing yourself and the series to us, Tink. Readers can learn more about Tink and also Jodi Rath, the author of the series, by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub and Pinterest pages. You can also follow her on Twitter (@jodirath).

The novel is available online at the following retailers:

 Amazon – B&N – Kobo 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbout Jodi Rath: Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her seven cats.

Posted in Archives, February 2020, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

What happened at the Marlowe Club?


Today Emily Gates is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Murder at the Marlowe Club, the latest novel in Kate Parker’s Milliner mystery series.

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

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

Hi, I’m Emily Gates, a milliner (hat maker) in London in 1905. My newest story is Murder at the Marlowe Club, the second in The Milliner Mystery series.

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

Kate Parker, the author, keeps presenting me with murder victims. After that, I keep demanding time to work in my shop, and Kate, through Lady Kaldaire, keeps throwing roadblocks in my path.

How did you evolve as the main character?

It’s my life. It’s my story. Of course, I’m the main character. If Kate gave Lady Kaldaire half a chance, she’d become the main character and then who knows what kind of silly trouble we’d find ourselves in. Kate wants someone with common sense to solve these murders.

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

MURDER AT THE MARLOWE CLUBMy grandfather is wonderful. He’s wise and witty and very sympathetic. Since I’m his only granddaughter among more than a dozen grandsons, I’m his favorite. He’s the head of our family and the family business, which I take no part in.

Since you ask, no, I don’t want to be part of the family business. They’re conmen and burglars and criminals and swindlers. My late mother kept us far away from my father’s family and their business, and while I learned to pick locks and find hidden cubbyholes while on visits to my grandparents, I try not to use those skills. Ask anyone. I’m a respectable milliner with an aristocratic clientele.

And if I weren’t respectable, Detective Inspector James Russell of Scotland Yard would have nothing to do with me. He was raised by a clergyman and stays very much on the right side of the law. On the other hand, he thinks of my grandfather as a gentleman.

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

I live in London, a teeming, smoggy city. I live in a flat above the shop with Noah, my mother’s cousin and my business partner, my younger brother Matthew, and Annie, an eight-year-old we found hiding with our horse the winter before last. She’s afraid to tell us anything about her family, and as I won’t have turning the child over to the poor house on my conscience, I’ve made her my apprentice and send her to the local school.

Across the alley in back of the shop is Noah’s workshop where most of the work in making hats takes place. It’s a thriving business. Everyone always needs a new hat. We’re located in the near West End so our customers don’t have to travel far to visit us. My father’s family live in the East End, although with their criminal ingenuity, they could afford to live someplace better.

There’s a mix of automobiles, busses, horse drawn carts, elegant carriages, and hansom cabs on the crowded streets. The city is ringed with train stations taking people all over the country. There’s even an underground train taking people across London, but I’m not daring enough to use it, and seldom need to go far enough to make it worthwhile. London is the greatest city on earth and is the center of the Empire. And we’re in a brand new century with a new King and Queen. Things couldn’t be better.

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

Just that Kate did a great job of telling my story. I had quite an adventure, and now I’m happy to be back to life as usual.

Thanks for answering my questions, Emily, and I’d like to wish you and your author, Kater Parker good luck with Murder at the Marlowe Club, the latest book in the Milliner Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about the author and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook and BookBub pages.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon  – B&N – Apple –Kobo



About Kate Parker: Kate grew up reading her mother’s collection of mystery books and her father’s library of history and biography books. Now she can’t write a story that isn’t set in the past with a few decent corpses littered about.

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

Introducing the Adventures of Gladys mysteries


Today Katherine H. Brown, author of Bonbon Voyage, an Adventures of Gladys mystery is joining us at Ascroft, eh? Welcome, Katherine. I’ll let you take it from here:

Hi! Thanks for letting me join you today. I’m Katherine, the author of the Ooey Gooey Bakery Cozy Mystery Series and the brand-new Adventures of Gladys Cozy Mystery Series.

Gladys went and became so popular with readers during the four Ooey Gooey Bakery books that I just knew she had to have her own spotlight. Book 1 is a crazy adventure on her very first cruise. I won’t give away any spoilers but let’s just say she may have gotten more than she bargained for and ended up using every wig and wit in her arsenal to get to the bottom of some sketchy shenanigans.

Bonbon Voyage Cover ImageI love to write quirky characters and characters full of their own attitude. Hopefully, fans will be excited about Gladys’s new series.

This book took me longer to write than I had hoped because in the middle of the first draft I found out that I was pregnant.

What was my first clue? Exhaustion actually. I would get up every morning and then go lay down on the couch and go back to sleep. After two weeks, I began to worry that I was slipping into a depression, disappointed in myself for not maintaining my writing schedule. Only a few days later did it click that I might need to take a little at-home test and sure enough, it said we would be getting a little bundle of joy.

Eventually, the exhaustion wore off where I felt like a functioning member of society again but by that time all of the research and excitement had taken over my brain and my laptop. Hours a day were spent pouring over every baby toy, book, outfit, and gadget possible.

I’m excited to tell you that, at the time of this book blog tour for Bonbon Voyage, we have only five weeks left before we welcome our baby girl, Scarlett, into our home.

Now, I could ramble on and on about all things baby-fever for much longer but I will refrain. Instead, I’ll tell you what is next for me after Bonbon Voyage. I currently have the second Adventures of Gladys book in progress. In this one, Gladys visits home in Texas and catches up with family, friends, and enemies alike. Roped into a baking contest, she is continuously distracted by a thief in the midst of the fun and festivities.

Another sequel that is working its way toward completion is book 2 in my Princess Bethani children’s book series. Princess Bethani’s First Garden Party (book 1) was a special book for a little girl that I know who asked for a book about a rose, a garden, and a fox. For book 2, this young lady requested either mermaids, unicorns, or both be added to the scene.

Which will it be, you wonder?

Well, I think the Princess Bethani’s Surprise Visitor is going to make a great big splash – and that’s all I’ll say on that.

For my third book that I hope to finish (and remember, I’m about to have a newborn so these may be unrealistically high expectations lol) is a book that I’ve been working on for about two years that involves a librarian and a mysterious man on a mission.

What types of books do you love to read the most?

I’d love to hear from you. Just head to my website and drop me a note on the contact page.

Thanks for introducing yourself and your new series to us, Katherine. Readers can learn more about Katherine and her new series by visiting the author’s website  and her Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Bookbub and Amazon Author pages.

The novel is available online at Amazon.


20190129172926_IMG_3258_polarr (1)About Katherine H. Brown: Katherine is from the tiny community of New York, Texas. Booklover (some might say book addict) and weaver of words, Katherine desired to be a writer from childhood, embarked on her first publishing adventure in 2017, and in 2019 said audios to her cozy office job to leap into a career as an author full-time. When not found between the pages of a book or tapping keys on her laptop, Katherine loves to watch baking shows with her stepdaughter or cuddle up with her husband Patrick. Katherine and family prepare to welcome a new baby girl into the family in March 2020.

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

Maria DiRico remembers Martha Stewart


Today Maria DiRico, aka/Ellen Byron, author of Here Comes the Body, A Catering Hall mystery, is joining us at Ascroft, eh?

Welcome Maria. Please share some of your memories of Martha Stewart with us.

Martha Stewart and me

Guess who I used to work for? Martha Stewart. That’s right. The Martha Stewart. I’m not kidding when I say this is the most interesting thing about me. How many people can say they stuffed snow peas and worked an omelet station next to the legendary lifestyle and entertaining queen?

HERE COMES THE BODYI’ll never forget the first time I met her. I took the train from Manhattan up to Westport, Connecticut to do party prep for an event she was catering. A cab took me to Martha’s now-famous home on Turkey Hill Road. I stepped inside, looked into a gorgeous, antique-filled living room, and saw a woman using a crème brulee torch to assemble a gingerbread townhouse.

People often ask me, what’s Martha Stewart really like? I can only speak to my personal experience with her, and I have to say… I loved her. Those pictures of the lush vegetable garden and spectacular kitchen? That was her house. Her life. Martha was authentic.

Gradually, my cater-waiter days waned. The social x-rays of the Upper East Side decided they only wanted men serving their hoity-toity guests, so us gals were relegated to the kitchen. I eventually took a full-time job at The Dramatists Guild, and my playwriting career began to heat up, which left little time for side gigs. And once Martha’s first book, Entertaining, became a publishing juggernaut – by the way, I’m in early editions of the book, both in photos and the Acknowledgments – Martha did less and less catering until she stopped entirely.

The last time I talked to Martha was in the Nineties when I was writing the My First Job column for Glamour magazine. (Sidebar: Martha’s first job was as a stockbroker, although she modeled while in college.) Martha and I chatted for a long time, and she gave me updates on many of the people we worked with back in those early catering days.

I think of Martha whenever I’m creating a recipe for my Catering Hall Mystery series. I’d love to see her again sometime. If I did, I can predict what would happen. There’d be a moment of placing me because I don’t look like I did in the 1980s. Then a screech of recognition, a big hug, and a lot of catching up.

In my experience, that’s what Martha Stewart’s really like.

Thanks for sharing your memories with us, Maria. Readers can learn more about Maria and her new Catering Hall mysteries series, 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 – Kobo – Google Play – IndieBound


About Maria DiRico: Maria was born in Queens, New York, and raised in Queens and Westchester County. She is a first-generation Italian-American on her mother’s side. On her father’s side, her grandfather was a low-level Jewish mobster who disappeared in 1933 under mysterious circumstances. She also writes the award-winning, bestselling Cajun Country Mystery series under the name Ellen Byron.

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

Intrigue Lurks Under the Radar


Today Annette Dashofy is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Under the Radar, her latest novel in the Zoe Chambers mystery series.

Welcome, Annette. 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.

UNDER THE RADARAD: Under the Radar is the 9th in the Zoe Chambers Mystery Series, which follows a paramedic/deputy coroner in rural southwestern Pennsylvania. Zoe is a caregiver at heart and fights to save the lives of her patients. If she fails at that, she fights to find them justice. In Under the Radar, she responds to a shooting and discovers her longtime friend, Horace Pavelka, has gunned down a man who’d bullied him mercilessly for decades. Ruled self-defense, no charges are filed. When another of his tormentors turns up dead in Horace’s kitchen, Police Chief Pete Adams questions the man’s innocence in both cases…especially after Horace and his girlfriend go into hiding.

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

AD: I have a very vague memory of someone I went to school with—a quiet, gentle soul—retaliating against a bully near his home. This happened years ago but stuck with me. My imagination took over from there.

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

AD: As you can probably guess from my previous answers, bullying plays a big part throughout the story. In these troubled times, bullying has become so prevalent in our society, I wanted to address the topic in some way. I didn’t get to delve as deeply into it as I’d hoped (my stories often start in one direction and take off somewhere I don’t plan or expect), so I’ll probably revisit the topic in a future story.

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

AD: In a series such as mine, I have a cast of regular characters as well as the new ones introduced in each book. I spend a lot of time writing stuff that readers will never see, letting the character talk to me on the page. I want them to be “real.” The bad guys aren’t completely bad and feel justified in their actions. The good guys have flaws and insecurities. Everyone is the hero of their own story, so I like to learn as much about each of them as I can. It gets to the point where my favourite character often turns out to be the villain, as they’re often the most complex.

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

AD: My setting, while fictional, is heavily based on the area where I’ve lived all my life. I know it so well, though, that I sometimes have to step back look at things around me with fresh eyes. I try to include not only sights but smells and sensations too. If my story is set in the winter, I go outside during that season or that type of weather and observe what’s going on around me. And the real trick is to do more than simply describe the setting, but have the characters interact with it.

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

AD: I love research! I worked in EMS for several years and owned horses for over 25 years, so that part of Zoe’s world is ingrained in me, but I’ve never worked in the coroner’s office and never been a cop. However, I’ve taken citizen’s academies with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the FBI. I’ve also attended Writer’s Police Academy twice (and plan to go again this summer!) I’ve done ride-alongs and have experts in forensics, law enforcement, and the legal system ready and available to answer questions that arise.

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

AD: For those who have read my earlier book Cry Wolf and wonder about that big WOW moment at the end, you will finally get some answers about Zoe’s family in this one.

Thanks for answering my questions, Annette, and good luck with Under the Radar, the latest book in the Zoe Chambers Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – B&N – Kobo 

ANNETTE DASHOFYAbout Annette Dashofy: She is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural southwestern Pennsylvania. A former EMT and lifelong resident of the area about which she writes, Annette lives with her husband and one very spoiled cat on what was once her grandfather’s dairy farm. UNDER THE RADAR (February 2020) is the ninth in her series.

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Being a Snowbird can be dangerous


Today Sarah E. Glenn, one of the duo who co-wrote Murder at the Million Dollar Pier with Gwen Mayo, is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about this latest novel in the Three Snowbirds mystery series.

Welcome, Sarah. 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.

proofMatMDP_pinkflatSEG: Murder at the Million Dollar Pier is the second book in the Three Snowbirds series. It’s set at the height of the land boom in 1920s Florida, and our intrepid trio are among the early snowbirds who decided to winter in the Sunshine State. During their travels, they encounter opportunists, gangsters, and dead bodies.

In this book, the snowbirds arrive in Saint Petersburg and lodge at the newly-opened Vinoy. Their first night in the dining room, Snowbird Teddy Lawless comes face-to-face with Ansel Stevens, her ex-fiancée and the man who ruined her reputation and estranged her from her family. She was not prepared to be civil, then or during a second encounter at the Coliseum. When Ansel subsequently dies of poisoning, retired nurse Teddy quickly becomes the prime suspect. Cornelia and Professor Pettijohn must battle Ansel’s allies and his family to find the murderer.

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

SEG: In the first book, Teddy Lawless tells us that she ran away from finishing school. Since she went from being a debutante to a nurse in the Army before she met Cornelia, I knew there had to be a good story there.

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

SEG: We like to take the reader into the time and place of our stories. We try to recreate the feel of the location and the times, but we also touch on the good and bad aspects of that time. Florida was a land of great opportunity, but not for everyone. There were also winners and losers in each venture.

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

SEG: Cornelia and Teddy were inspired by Sarah’s great-great-aunt, who served as an Army nurse during the Great War (as WWI was known at the time). She served in France and was injured by poison gas. After she returned to the States, she travelled widely and hosted events in support of the veterans. Cornelia inherited her stubborn personality and a love of birdwatching. Teddy inherited the injury and social acumen, although she has put the latter to uses Aunt Dess would not have approved of.

Professor Pettijohn, engineer and inventor, was created by Gwen in her Nessa Donnelly series, and I fell in love with him. I poached the character for the Snowbirds series because he’s that much fun.

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

JPTavern (1)SEG: We visit the places we write about. Gwen and I have been to the Vinoy Hotel many times, we found what remained of The Gangplank (Saint Petersburg’s first nightclub), and we even drove to Sarasota to see the locations of Professor Pettijohn’s search for a witness. Gwen brings the sensory qualities and gritty details to our story, while I’ll tell you what was playing at the speakeasy, what people were eating, and explore the local attractions.

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

SEG: Gwen and I each bring our talents to the table. She steeps herself in books and historical photo collections for the locations, social history, and people, while I use, various music sites, and old advertisements to give me a feel for what our heroes see and hear during their travels. I keep a calendar for the plotline and pair it with the information I gather. For example, our snowbirds compete for space with a throng of visitors from Maine because the governor and his entourage visited Saint Petersburg the same week our trio arrived. Why not play with it?

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

SEG: This book can be read as a standalone, but the first book in the series is Murder on the Mullet Express. The title was inspired by a real train that ran between Ocala and Homosassa for several decades.

Unlike the ‘big city’ setting of the Saint Petersburg novel, the setting is rural. The West Coast Development Company plans to build an ideal community in Homosassa, and Professor Pettijohn tells his niece Cornelia that he wants a warm winter home. He’s lying. Before the book is over, the local sheriff and mobsters from Tampa both take an unhealthy interest in him.

We’re currently working on book three, Ybor City Blues. It reintroduces us to some of the characters from the first novel, and our characters meet Charlie Wall, Tampa’s “Dean of the Underworld.” I hope this will whet your appetite!

Thank you for hosting me!

You’re welcome, Sarah. Thanks for answering my questions, and good luck with Murder at the Million Dollar Pier, the latest book in the Three Snowbirds Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Sarah and Gwen, and their writing by visiting their Sarah’s and Gwen’s websites. You can also follow Sarah on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers

 Amazon Paperback – Amazon Kindle – B&N 

GwenSarahCouchMomeAbout Sarah E. Glenn: Sarah loves mystery and horror stories, often with a sidecar of humor. Several have appeared in mystery and paranormal anthologies, including G.W. Thomas’ Ghostbreakers series, Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, and Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, SinC Guppies, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Her great-great aunt served as a nurse in WWI, and was injured by poison gas during the fighting. After being mustered out, she traveled widely. A hundred years later, ‘Aunt Dess’ would inspire Sarah to write stories she would likely not have approved of.

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Three Collections Help a Worthwhile Cause


Around the world people have watched the news as bush fires rage through Australia and wreck havoc and destruction, lamenting the tragedy and wanting to help. A group of authors have got together to do just that. This three volume collection of stories has been written to raise funds to donate to charities that are helping relief efforts in Australia.

Here’s a bit more about the books:

Stories in this collection are contributed by authors who care about Australia and the relief efforts from the devastating bushfires. All profits from the book will be donated to charities involved with the recovery efforts. The publisher and authors are not affiliated with the charities. They simply want to show Australia their love and support.

Volume 1: A collection of Short Stories in Mainstream Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Thrillers, and Mystery

perf5.000x8.000.inddA Solicitous Wife by Madeleine McDonald, No One Knew by Larry Farmer, Pinochle by Brenda Whiteside,  The Tuesday Night Meeting by Peggy Jaeger,  911, What’s Your Emergency? by D. V. Stone, Tall Tales by Laura Strickland, Fare Gain by Alexandra Christle, The Note by Stephen B. King, Three Ghosts by Julie Howard, Detective Paws and Lip Gloss by Maureen L. Bona tch, The Ring by Margaret Ann Spence, Portrait of a Gunfighter by Hywela Lyn, Six Hours or So by Lisa Wilkes, Prussic Acid by Melody DeBlois



Volume 2: A collection of Romance, Young Adult, and Women’s Fiction Short Stories

perf5.000x8.000.inddChe Gelida Manina by M. S. Spencer, Recipes for Love by Carol Henry, Waiting for Caleb by Gini Rifkin, Wings of Fire by Jana Richards, A Lark by Gabbi Grey, Apple Crisp by Terry Graham, Goody Twoshoes by Mark Love, The Number by Barbara Bettis, Deadly Homecoming by Peggy Chambers, An Egg-Cellent Witness by Marilyn Barr, Season of Withered Corn by Judy Ann Davis, Beneath the Pines by Debby Grahl, Christopher Reisner by Linda Griffin, Unexpected Love: Chase Allen by Anna Lores, The Cowboy and the Lady by Jean Adams, The Heart Necklace by Amanda Uhl, The Relaxation Response by Darcy Lundeen, Dancing Through Tears by Jeny Heckman


Volume Three: A collection of Paranormal, Horror, and Sci-Fi Fiction Short Stories

perf5.000x8.000.inddThe Pilot’s Son by CJ Zahner, The Vengeance by Rhonda Gilmour, A Climb to Kill by ML Erdahl, Born of Fangs by Sydney Winward, Johnny Appleseed      by Robert Herold, Rebellion in Slot III by Roni Denholtz, Home, Sweet Mobile Home by Alana Lorens, The Filthy Human by Tori V. Rainn, Baby Daddy by Kerry Blaisdell, The Witch of Calico Island by Cat Dubie, Stained-Glass Vision by Mary Morgan, A Witch’s Protocol by Tena Stetler, I Choose Life      by Kristal Dawn Harris, Together Forever by N. Christine Samuelson, Where Is Your High School Sweetheart? by Donna Kunkel, Lost and Found by Joanne Guidoccio, Nursery Chimes by D.S. Lucas

You can find the three volumes online at Amazon:

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

And don’t forget to enter the draw.

The publisher is giving away a $10 Amazon/BN Gift Card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Click here to enter.

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Where did it come from?


Today Caroline Fardig author of Southern Double Cross, A Southern B&B mystery is joining us at Ascroft, eh? to tell us about what inspires her writing.

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

Thanks Dianne.

So, where do I find my inspiration?

One question I get asked a lot is, “How do you come up with this stuff?”  The answer is that my mind is constantly churning ideas, and it’s much easier to “come up with stuff” than to turn it off!  Still, I’m always on the lookout for unusual things to write about.  I look for inspiration in everything I do and experience, but these are a few of my favorite ways to get those creative juices flowing:


SOUTHERN DOUBLE CROSSI always develop my stories to music.  When I re-read through certain scenes I have written, I can actually hear my “soundtrack” playing in the background.  Along the same lines, when I hear certain songs, I’m immediately transported into the middle of one of my books, right inside the scene as if I were actually there.  When I begin plotting a novel, I like to put on some music and relax, letting my mind wander.  The music has to fit the mood of the story, and sometimes if I find the perfect song, I wear out the replay button.


Let’s be clear—I am NOT in any way suggesting plagiarism here.  That being said, as a mystery writer, I find the TV show CSI very helpful.  Before I started binge watching the series, I had no idea about the science behind forensics or how the process of decomp worked.  I remember seeing one episode where the killer was using laughing gas to immobilize his victims so that he could set a fire and make it look like they had died accidentally.  The reasoning was that laughing gas doesn’t stay in the lungs for long, so it’s nearly impossible to find during an autopsy.  I wanted to go a little farther than that, and finally spun an idea about a killer mixing lethal combinations of meds that the victims were already taking.  Inspiration, not plagiarism.

Friends and family/ Life experiences

Write what you know, right?  If something funny or interesting happens to me, it goes in my next novel.  I’ve used certain interesting quirks from people I know in my characters.  And my heroines always have at least a little bit of myself in them.

People watching

I love to people watch.  It’s fun to go to a crowded place and watch humans interact.  I’ve learned so much by observing the wide spectrum of people’s facial expressions and body language.  I feel like if I can accurately describe a character’s expression and pair it with fitting dialogue, I’m (I hope!) giving my readers a glimpse into my imagination and how I see the scene playing out in my head.

New places

Every time I go to the beach, I came home with new story plans.  I think being able to completely relax and do absolutely nothing but stare out at the wide expanse of beautiful ocean for hours on end is the best inspiration I can get.  Conversely, if I’m setting a book in a big city, I always go and visit and get a feel for the area.  I try not to be a tourist, but rather act like a local to get the full effect.


The bottom line is that inspiration is everywhere.  In the hectic way that most of us live our lives, it’s difficult to appreciate our surroundings.  Even if you’re not a writer, take time to stop and smell the roses—they might just inspire a bright, beautiful idea.

Thanks for telling us about your inspirations, Caroline. Readers can learn more about Caroline and her writing, by visiting her website and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter (@carolinefardig).

The novel is available at the following online retailers.

Amazon  B&N   Kobo  

caroline-headshots-2015-10-06-0008About Caroline Fardig: Caroline is the USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR of the Java Jive Mysteries series and the Lizzie Hart Mysteries series. Fardig’s BAD MEDICINE was named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

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