Deadly Summer Nights

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

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

Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too. My name is Elizabeth Grady and I am the manager of Haggerman’s Catskills Resort. It’s 1953 and my mother his inherited the hotel and asked me to run it for her. I’m still not entirely sure if that’s a good idea. My first appearance in print is in Deadly Summer Nights, coming September 7 from Berkley.  Deadly Director’s Cut, will be out next year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Readers can learn more about Elizabeth and her author, Vicki Delany by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Bookbub, and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound

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

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

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

Malice in Miami

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The novel is available online at  Amazon

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

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

The House on Crow Mountain

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

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

You Had to Be There

(At least, I did.)

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

I was wrong.

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

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

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

As long as they’ve never been there.

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

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

The novel is available online at the following retailers:

 Amazon – B & N

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

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

Death by Leprechaun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did you evolve as the main character?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog!

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

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

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

The novel is available online at  AMAZON

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

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

Deadly Cypher

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

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

Tell us about the novel you live inside:

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

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

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

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

How did you evolve as the main character?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon –  Apple –  Kobo – B&N

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

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

Cajun Kiss of Death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 PenguinRandomHouse – Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound

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

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

To Fetch a Killer

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

Let’s get started, shall we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did you evolve as the main character?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – Apple Books – Nook – Kobo

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

Posted in Archives, August 2021 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Scone of Contention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound – PenguinRandomHouse

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

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

On Skein of Death

Today Libby Beckett is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about On Skein of Death, the latest novel in the Riverbank Knitting mystery series.

Welcome, Libby. 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.

ON SKEIN OF DEATH is the first in the Riverbank Knitting Mysteries series. Each book takes place in the riverside community of Collinstown, MD where I’ve just come back home. Fresh from a nasty divorce, I’ve decided to fulfill my dream of opening a yarn shop. Just as I’m launching my first big event at Y.A.R.N., my VIP guest is found dead, strangled with a hank of yarn. I and my friends—and even my dog—work to solve the mystery of who killed knitting designer Perle Lonager and why. All of the series will center around knitting, yarn, a fair amount of baked goods, the shop, and my beloved hometown community.

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

Well, of course Allie thinks she’s in charge—authors tend to do that. But I’m not shy about speaking my mind, so I definitely get a say. There were several times I insisted on a plot twist Allie didn’t see coming. What’s the fun of a good mystery without a handful of juicy plot twists?

How did you evolve as the main character?

Allie will tell you I popped into her head all ready to go—complete with my shop name: Y.A.R.N.—which stands for “Your Absolutely Ready Now” and whatever else my customers can dream up. My English bulldog Hank also showed up right alongside me. Allie says it doesn’t always happen that way, but I’m a go-getter kind of woman so she shouldn’t have been surprised I had all my details in place the minute I arrived on the scene. Did I demand my own series? I like to think I asked with a hefty dose of clever persuasion. There may have been mentions of getting to buy yarn and eat pie in the name of literary research…

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

I’m endlessly partial to Hank. He’s such a loyal dog and no slouch at sniffing out mystery clues. My best friend Margo owns the Perfect Slice Pie Shop right across the street. Who doesn’t love a funny, smart friend who is also an endless source of baked goods? And then there’s Gavin. He’s the mayor of Collinstown, but he also was my high school sweetheart, so that gets a bit complicated. I love my mom, Rhonda, but she takes meddling in my life to the level of an art form. I’m not at all partial to George, the President of the Chamber of Commerce who seems to think he’s King of Collinstown.

Whats the place like where you find yourself in this story?

Collinstown is a charming—okay, maybe a bit nosy and quirky—little Maryland town. I grew up here, my mom and all her friends still live here. It’s a gorgeous place to be in the fall—the colors, the crisp air, the sound of yellow police tape being stretched across a crime scene…

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

ON SKEIN OF DEATH will appeal to knitters and non-knitters alike. But if you’re a knitter,  you’ll love to know that there’s a full Norwegian-style dog sweater pattern in the back of the book! It comes in digital and audiobook versions, too.  And I’ll have more adventures in KNIT OR DYE TRYING in February 2022.

Thank you for answering my questions, Libby, and good luck to you and your author, Allie Pleiter, with On Skein of Death, the latest book in the Riverbank Knitting mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Libby and her author, Allie Pleiter by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub, Instagram and Pinterest pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

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

About Allie Pleiter: An avid knitter, coffee junkie and firm believer that “pie makes everything better,” Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction working on as many as four novels at a time.  The bestselling author of over fifty books, Allie has enjoyed a twenty-year career with over 1.5 million books sold.  In addition to writing, Allie maintains an active writing productivity coaching practice and speaks regularly on the creative process, publishing, and her very favorite topic—The Chunky Method of time management for writers.

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

Oh! Olivia

Today Patricia Fry author of Oh! Olivia, is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about how she found success in writing a cozy mystery.

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

Writing about animals is nothing new to me. Throughout my forty-year career as a freelance article writer, I often wrote about two of my favorite animals: cats and horses. My first book was Hints for the Backyard Rider, and I’ve written numerous articles on the behavior, care, and wonderment of the cat. Back then I had no inkling that my writing path would lead me to the world of cats in fiction.

Many of you know me as the author of the 52-book strong Klepto Cat Mysteries—cozy mysteries featuring Rags, a larger than life cat who takes things. The stories become interesting when the things Rags gets his paws on turn out to be clues in the current mystery.

When I sat down to write the first book in this series nearly ten years ago, as I entered my senior years, I had no idea that this would be the most successful writing venture of my long career. I don’t know the size of my fan base, but by the amount of royalties, I can guestimate that sales are in the 3,000-book range per month. And people are often surprised to learn that the e-books (Kindle) far outsell the print books.

Rags definitely has fans. People love him as they would a real cat. They beg me not to let him ever die. They often write to ask if there will be more stories—“When will the next book be out?” The truth is, Rags is a real cat—well, sort of. I patterned him after my mother’s confident, cool cat. My own tabby, Lily, was also an inspiration for this cat character as she was the klepto cat. She constantly carried her stuffed toys around in her mouth, often dropping them at my feet.

To answer fans’ question: Yes, there will be more Klepto Cat Mysteries, but there’s also something new brewing in the Klepto Cat Mystery factory. There’s a new cat on the block who has inspired a new mystery series: The Calico Cat Mysteries.

We were in the midst of the pandemic year—2020—when we lost our precious Lily to kidney disease. Three months later we saw a picture of a tiny calico who had been found living under a house in the Los Angeles area and who needed a home. We embraced her immediately. She came with a name and some baggage, as many feral cats do, but it didn’t take long for Olivia to become an integral part of our family.

Olivia proved to be such an interesting and rather unique cat that I began sharing pictures of her and true stories about her on my blog and at my facebook page. People adored her. The more I got to know her and the more her growing number of fans encouraged me, I began to think seriously about featuring her in a Klepto Cat Mystery story. And it happened. Olivia debuted in Book 51—Calico Calamities.

Fans loved the Olivia character and they wanted more, so I sat down and sketched out a couple of story ideas, fleshed out Olivia’s purr-sonality, and before I knew it, I had a new book with fresh and interesting characters both human and feline. The first in the Calico Cat Mysteries, Oh! Olivia, debuted in May of this year.

And it appears that the work I’ve done over time to promote the Klepto Cat Mysteries has paid off in creating interest in my spin-off series. When you launch a book there are generally things you do right and things you wish you’d done better. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1: If you want to launch a new series and if your current series is successful, target the same audience. Take advantage of the reputation you’ve established. Marketing will be easier the second time around. If it is a new series, do as I did nearly ten years ago before I wrote the first word of my first Klepto Cat Mystery. Research the field—topic, genre, etc., to make sure your book is a good idea—that there is an audience for your book. If not, throw that idea out and go with a topic or a genre that IS selling.

2: Continue promoting. Sure you can take advantage of your laurels, but this is not the time to rest on them. You must get word out about the new series. As I mentioned, I’ve attracted potential readers of the new series to my blog and facebook pages. Already Olivia has a fan base. Along with this preliminary promotion, I had a new website created—CalicoCatMysteries.com. I’ve established a new facebook page dedicated to the Calico Cat Mysteries and I continue to promote Olivia and her first book at all three of my facebook pages and through my blog.

3: I belong to pertinent organizations. I’m past director of SPAWN, now WPN, so I continue to learn marketing tips and resources through WPNews and the Market Update. (There’s always something new on the horizon in the book publishing and marketing industry). I’m also a ten-year member of the Cat Writers Association. I participate in the organization, attend and speak at their conferences, and take advantage of the promotional opportunities at the organization website. Network, network, network.

4: I keep up with other bloggers and organizations related to mystery writing and cats, as well as book reviewers and I often reach out to them when I have a new book to promote.

5: I’ve done blog tours, I write articles related to publishing, mystery writing, etc., I have done podcasts and webinars and panel discussions live and online related to mystery writing and/or cats. With a brand new series now to promote, I’ll be doing more of this.

6: I’ve had bookmarks and notecards created from my beautiful book covers which are hand painted by Bernadette Kazmarski. How do I use these? I hand out bookmarks nearly everywhere I go, and I’ll send packets of the notecards along with a first book order or as a thank you or an apology to fans.

7: An Olivia fan offered to create a stamp of Olivia’s paw print so she can pawtograph her books. Since I have a purchase option for all of my books at my websites, readers can order an autographed and pawtographed copy directly from me. Nice touch, don’t you think? And it seems to be paying off. The only caveat is having to go to the post office so often to ship books when I’d rather be writing!

8: I offer all of the mysteries in both print and ebook formats. And since there are some people who still do not use a computer, my book purchasing option at my websites serves a purpose for those customers.

9: I hire out most of the book production tasks. I do the writing and the promotion, but I hire a web designer, editor, cover designer, and book formatters who also submit the books to Amazon. This is probably the reason why I can produce an average of 6 books per year (Nine books in the year of isolation: 2020.) Amazon is my book producer, and I am in the KDP exclusive program. I can sell my print books through bookstores, etc., but the Kindle books are sold exclusive through Amazon and I have no regrets about that decision. The royalties I receive at the end of each month confirm that this is the right decision for me.

10: I do my best to keep my stories fresh—one way I do that is by continuing to pay attention to Olivia and our other cat, Sophie, as well as the cats I meet in purrson and online. I write from the heart more often than I attempt to create from that place of reasoning and logic, which gives some of my stories an almost fanciful flavor. My stories are a mix of what I know, what I’ve experienced, what I’ve observed, and what I can imagine. I enjoy using my mysteries as a means to teach and to spread an aura of kindness. At my website, KleptoCatMysteries.com, I offer a list of 100 things you can learn from reading the Klepto Cat Mysteries. Ah yes, my writing life is good. And, by the way, my cats are my muse.

Whatever your passion or your muse—no matter how rigid, fun, or frivolous your topic or theme, if you want to sell books, promotion MUST be part of your plan. Make it fun or trudge along reluctantly, but do it. You have no one to praise for your success or to blame if things go awry but yourself.

Thank you for giving readers an insight into your writing career, Patricia, and good luck with Oh! Olivia, the first book in the Calico Cat mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Patricia Fry by visiting the author’s website.

The novel is available online at  Amazon 

About Patricia Fry: Patricia has been writing for publication for over 45 years. The first Calico Cat Mystery will be her 94th published book. But she didn’t start out writing fiction. She had a passion for writing nonfiction articles, and she wrote hundreds—maybe thousands—of articles over her career for around 300 different publications including, Woman’s WorldEntrepreneurThe ToastmasterThe World and IWestern Horse, Cat Fancy, Cats Magazine, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Your Health, Writer’s Digest, and many, many others.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s she wrote columns, articles, and books for authors teaching about the business of writing. She presented workshops for authors and gave presentations in dozens of cities throughout the US.

In 2010, she wrote her first cat book—Catscapades, True Cat Tales. The following year she shifted from writing nonfiction and teaching, counseling, and mentoring other authors and she wrote the first in the award-winning Klepto Cat Mystery series, CATNAPPED. This series is 51-books strong as of April 2021 and counting.

Patricia is past president and director of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists, and Writers Network—now WPN, The Writers and Publishers Network). She is a professional member of the Cat Writers Association since 2009, and she has been writing a daily blog—Catscapades since 2009.

Patricia has almost always had a cat at her hearth and in her heart, loving many mixed breed cats as well as a Himalayan, a Persian and a Siamese. She prefers the long-to medium haired cats, but she has also shared her home with short-haired cats over the years. All but two of the cats she’s had over the years were adopted. Several of them were rescues and some of those came from feral beginnings. Every one of her cats had a story and those stories sometimes appear in the mysteries she writes.

Currently, Patricia shares her home with Sophie, a seventeen-year-old classic formerly feral tortie, and Olivia, the gorgeous diva calico featured in the Calico Cat Mystery series.

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