How Karen Shughart Weeds Out Words

MURDER IN THE CEMETERY BANNER 2 640

Today Karen Shughart author of Murder in the Cemetery, An Edmund DeCleryk mystery is joining us at Ascroft, eh?

Welcome Karen. Why don’t I turn the floor over to you:

As amazing as it seems, I actually like that you are seriously interested in and fine and awesome with whatever I said to you in my last email. Seriously. I love that you don’t freak out when I include nonsense in them. LOL. And that you don’t think I’m ridiculous. Whatever. I like your funny responses and hope you don’t think I’m an idiot or stupid by saying this. You are really nice, and I very much want you to continue to be very happy.

If you’re completely puzzled after reading the above paragraph, I don’t blame you. I admit, I’m the guilty one. It’s terrible, and I wrote it, but there was a method to my madness. Read further, and I’ll explain.

I worked for more than a year writing the second book in the Edmund DeCleryk series, Murder in the Cemetery. After several drafts, I was ready to edit and polish the copy, which for me was the most difficult part. When I started writing the book, I wrote down everything I could think of that would create and enhance the plot. After I was relatively satisfied with what I’d created, my next step was to look for inconsistencies. For example, in book one, Murder in the Museum, one of the characters and his wife had recently welcomed their second grandchild. A year-and-half later, in this second book, the grandchild was in kindergarten. Whoops!

As I continued to read through the book, I became aware of extraneous narrative. Annie, wife of Ed and a sleuth in her own right, provides an intern who is working on a project for her with contact information for her friend, Charles, who had a large role in book one and expertise in the field the intern is researching. As much as I wanted him to reappear in book two, I realized that the intern didn’t need Charles’ help and never would. Goodbye, Charles.

MurderintheCemeteryI’m pretty good at spelling, grammar and punctuation. I won a spelling bee at my school when I was nine or ten. I was also an English teacher, for gosh sake. That said, I always find errors. Sometimes my brain works faster than my fingers as they pound away at the keyboard; I make mistakes. During that phase in the book I read carefully and very slowly; I don’t want my publisher to think I am illiterate or careless, heaven forbid.

Now we come to the reason for the paragraph at the beginning of this blog. Almost every word is one that’s overused. I know from experience that it’s easy to include them. Sometimes, we get attached to certain phrases or want to pad the word count. Sometimes it’s completely unintentional. If we want our writing to flow, if we want it to look professional, these must be either be winnowed down or deleted. At least most of them.

Using computer software, I can search my document for a certain word, and it’s highlighted every time it appears. It’s frustrating because sometimes the computer can’t distinguish the as in was from the word as. Still, it’s a good tool. It takes time, but once I identified these overused words in the book, I was able to rewrite sentences that were original, creative. And, hopefully for you, the reader, much more compelling.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Karen. Readers can learn more about Karen and her writing by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn and Hometown Reads/Rochester Reads pages. You can also follow her blog.

The novel is available online at the following retailers:

 Amazon Paperback  – Amazon Kindle 

Shughart, Murder CEmeteryAbout Karen Shughart: Karen studied English Literature at S.U.N.Y Buffalo, received a B.A. in Comprehensive Literature from the University of Pittsburgh and completed graduate courses in English from Shippensburg University. In addition to Murder in the Cemetery (book two of the Edmund DeCleryk Cozy mystery series), she is also the author of Murder in the Museum (book one of the series), two non-fiction books and has worked as an editor, publicist, photographer, journalist, teacher and non-profit executive. Before moving to a small village on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, Karen and her husband resided in south central Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg.

Posted in Archives, March 2020, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Teresa Trent is my guest today

DIE DIE BLACKBIRD BANNER 820

Today Teresa Trent is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Die Die Blackbird, her latest novel in the Piney Woods mystery series.

Welcome, Teresa. 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.

TT: Die Die Blackbird is the third book in the Piney Woods Series. Piney Woods, Texas, is an oil bust town that was saved by warehousing. When Nora Alexander first comes to town, she finds that a place that is new to her is her home and comes to love the people in it, including the handsome lawman Tuck Watson. Nora and Tuck’s relationship is becoming serious, but she is having a problem with the idea of them moving in together. She becomes part-owner of the historic Tunie Hotel, which becomes the central setting in the series. In Die Die Blackbird, paranormal investigators have come to town to try and have a conversation with the ghost of Sam Houston. They believe he has gold left from the battle of Santa Anna and wouldn’t mind getting their hands on it. The local merchants find themselves at the mercy of the Alamo Runners, a local biker gang. On top of all that, Nora spends much her time trying to keep the peace between a quilting group and the paranormal investigators who are all wanting to use the same spaces in the hotel.

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

DieDieBlackbird_frontCover_RGBTT: The idea for this mystery stems from my love of watching paranormal investigators on the Travel Channel and constantly asking myself, is they for real? I have a passage in the book where the ghost hunters have garbled background noise and attribute to a full-blown sentence. Yeah, right.  I believe in the paranormal because I’ve lived in a couple of haunted houses, but that doesn’t mean I’m a patsy for every “investigator” with an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recorder.

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

TT: This is going to sound hokey, but they come to me. Suddenly, I see a person in the scene, and sometimes I even get a name. I ask myself, how does this character further the plot and support the protagonist or antagonist. Can this character make me smile or cry? Those usually turn out to be my favorite characters. Every cast has to have a heart, whether it is an older person who gives patient and wise advice or someone else who has seen trouble but still chooses to do the right thing.

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

TT: I try to make my settings come to life by using the five senses. I have a sensitive nose, so I try to think and describe different smells as well as colors, weather, and light. The environment in a small town is nothing like the city, so I try to bring that in. People are more likely to have hung their own Christmas lights, mow their own lawns, and that casserole on the table didn’t come from the grocery store ready-made.

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

TT: My research varies from the method of murder to how you run a small-town hotel. My brother has been in the hotel business for over twenty years, so he is my involuntary research assistant. In this book, I watched paranormal tv, learned a few things about Sam Houston, researched dentistry, and visited a garage repair shop.

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

TT: I hope you enjoy Die Die Blackbird. I had fun building the relationship between Nora and Tuck. Every time I write a book in my fictional Piney Woods, I enjoy visiting with the characters and growing them just a little. Yes, doctor, I do have people talking to me in my head, but it’s okay. If I don’t like them…

Thanks for answering my questions, Teresa, and good luck with Die Die Blackbird, the latest book in the Piney Woods mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N 

die authorAbout Teresa Trent: Teresa writes cozy mysteries that take place in small towns in Texas. The Piney Woods Series came to be because her older brother worked in the hotel industry for over twenty years and would relate all the things and people he had experienced. Because Teresa loves history and a little bit of the paranormal, the Tunie Hotel was born! Teresa is also the author of the Pecan Bayou Cozy Mystery Series.

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

Enjoy this unrestricted travel experience

SLEUTH ON SAFARI BANNER 640

Today A.R. Kennedy is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Sleuth on Safari, her first novel in the Traveler cozy mystery series.

Welcome, A.R.. 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.

ARK: Sleuth on Safari is the first in The Traveler Cozy Mystery series. In Sleuth on Safari, Naomi and her estranged sister are off on a trip of a lifetime—an African safari, a bucket list trip for Naomi on which she got a last-minute deal. Naomi thinks traveling with her sister will be the worst part of her African safari until she finds one of their fellow travelers, the unlikable Dr. Higgins, dead. She gets more adventure than she bargained for when she starts investigating what she thinks is murder but the luxury lodge says was a tragic accident. She only has a few vacation days, and a few game drives, to find the killer.

The second book, R.I.P. in Reykjavik, is set in Iceland. Each book will be set in a foreign country with Naomi traveling with a different family member.    

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

Sleuth_cover_eBook_1563x2500ARK: It came to me when I was on safari, having dinner with a guide and fellow travelers. I was surprised why escorts were needed on the lodge’s grounds at night. From there, the idea was born for a murder on a safari. (You have to read the book to find out why escorts are needed!)

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

ARK: In each novel, Naomi travels with a family member. Their relationships change as a result. You learn a lot about someone when traveling together (and when investigating a murder).

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

ARK: I love all my characters! I read once that every character has a little bit of the author in them.

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

ARK: In The Traveler Cozy Mystery Series, I use my photo albums and notes from my trip to make the place come to life. Each book will be set in a different foreign location that I have traveled to.

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

ARK: While traveling, I take lots of photos and notes and I consult them regularly to give an accurate view of the area. While writing the novels, I also research local foods and delicacies—Naomi is a more adventurous eater then me! For Sleuth on Safari, I used YouTube to watch videos of other travelers’ animal encounters.

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

ARK: I hope my new series inspires people to travel.

Thanks for answering my questions, A.R., and good luck with Sleuth on Safari, the first book in the Taveler cozy mystery series.

Readers can learn more about A. R. Kennedy and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook, Goodreads and Bookbub pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available online at Amazon 

IMG_8118About A. R. Kennedy: She lives in Long Beach, New York, with her two pups. She works hard to put food on the floor for them. As her favorite T-shirt says, ‘I work so my dog can have a better life’. She’s an avid traveler. But don’t worry. While she’s away, her parents dote on their grand-puppies even more than she does. Her writing is a combination of her love of travel, animals, and the journey we all take to find ourselves.

Posted in Archives, March 2020, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Discover a hidden world

MYSTERIOUS MERCHANDISE BANNER 640

Today Astoria Wright is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Mysterious Merchandise, her first novel in A Witch’s Thrift Shop mystery series.

Welcome, Astoria. 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.

AW: Mysterious Merchandise is the first book in A Witch’s Thrift Shop mystery series. The story begins when antique shop salesclerk Alice Adelcraft follows a black cat into an alley, which turns out to be an entire hidden street with stores exclusive to witches and wizards. That’s right! There’s a secret magical community in Alice’s college town of Urbana. But that’s not all. Along with A Witch’s Thrift Shop, Alice finds a dead body! Now, she has to find the killer and keep the others from finding out she’s not really a witch, or they’d wipe her memory – all of it!

It’s one mystery after another on Magic Row. Join the fun and intrique by reading Mysterious Merchandise today!

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

Mysterious Merchandise coverAW: I love thrift shops! You can always find something unusual, rare, or unique. Occassionally, I also find a thing or two that makes me ask: What is this? Maybe it’s something magical. And maybe there are customers out there who know just what to do with these magical items.

My first thoughts were of a character named Alice, working in an antique shop where these strange customers come in looking for those kind of magical items. Then, I thought: What if there was an antique shop, or better yet, a thrift shop with inventory just for those kind of customers – witches and wizards? Thus, A Witch’s Thrift Shop was born.

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

AW: Yes on both! The theme in all the books I’ve planned for the series is about belonging and connection. We live side by side with others and we don’t connect. I live in a community where I don’t know most of my neighbors. Sure, it’s peaceful and quiet, but that’s not a community. In some cities, connection and community are so rare I’m sure there are hidden communities that we don’t know exist. OK, maybe there’s not one like Magic Row, but who knows?

As to the subject matter – Alice’s identity is in question through each book and that will be a topic underlying the series as a whole.

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

AW: I don’t know. They just kind of appear on page. I don’t think I can pick a favorite, but I do really like the main character in this series, Alice. She’s down to earth, can be defensive but recognizes that about herself, and is protective of people she sees as vulnerable because she sees herself in them. She has a lot of growing to do and I’m glad to be able to write about that.

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

AW: Urbana was a name I made up, because I wanted a cozy mystery about a smaller community within a larger urban setting. The character of Alice I felt like belonged in a city and specifically a college town. But, and here’s the weird part, there is exactly 1 town in the USA named Urbana. And it’s a college town!

I will say that the Urbana in the books is not meant to be the one that exists in real life. Whenever I write a setting, I draw from books I’ve read, movies and shows I watch, but more than anything from my own experiences. I’ve lived in cities, small towns and even in another country for a while. But I’ve never been to the real Urbana and couldn’t describe anything about it accurately. So, the Urbana of A Witch’s Thrift Shop is, for all intents and purposes, a completely fictional place.

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

AW: When I first got the idea, I read about witches & wizards, various systems of magic (fictional and real), orphans, and how foster care works to get ideas about the characters. For settings, I use Google Images to help me picture various backgrounds and then I sort of merge images in my mind to create a fictional place. I have to see it in my mind – so, yes, I’ve got a city, the streets, the layouts, etc. in my mind that I can “travel” through as the stories unfold.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about th: e book?

AW: If you like paranormal cozy mysteries, black cats, witches and wizards, genies, and all things magical, I hope you’ll pick up this book.

Thanks for answering my questions, Astoria, and good luck with Mysterious Merchandise, the first book in A Witch’s Thrift Shop mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Kobo – Audible

Astoria WrightAbout Astoria Wright: She is a cozy fantasy author and a poet who is inspired by rainy days, good books, and positive people. She is often found sitting by a window or in her backyard sipping tea or coffee and writing or reading cozy mysteries, fantasy novels, or poetry. Join her mailing list at www.astoriawright.com to see stories, poems, and thoughts that she only shares there.

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

A challenge to what fairy tales teach us

CLEARING IN THE WOODS BANNER 640

Today Phyllis M. Newman author of Clearing in the Woods is joining us at Ascroft, eh? to tell us a little about her new novel.

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

Thank you for the opportunity to introduce Clearing in the Woods. My story presents Roberta Blankenship as an unhappy wife and mother who has lived a life of sacrifice, one that denies herself for the sake of her entitled adult children and her ungrateful husband. After years of pushing aside her own hopes and dreams to promote those of her family, Roberta rebels. We’ve all been there, right? But Roberta takes it to the next level and flees to Alaska, the farthest point she can get from the Midwest without a passport, to start a new life on her own terms.

CLEARING IN THE WOODSRoberta is a flawed yet sympathetic character. She is both cynic and romantic, jaded and enthusiastic, willfully ignorant and prescient. My goal was to create an unlikeable character, one who is self-absorbed and angry, and then transform her into someone we can all identify with. To accomplish this, I employed classic fairy tales, which are rich in symbols and archetypes. Insight into the meanings of these tropes and classic roles allows the reader to understand the tales, and therefore life, on a deeper level.

In her quest for self-fulfillment, Roberta repeatedly defies the rules that fairytales endeavor to teach us:

Don’t go into the woods alone.

You must not stray from the path.

Don’t question authority.

Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

You must be home by midnight.

Don’t talk to strangers.

Only innocence and goodness are rewarded with undying love.

Roberta refuses to play by the rules and embraces the world on her own terms. This leads to harrowing experiences including kidnapping, deceit, and murder. As a result, Roberta must face her dark side (the archetypal witch in classic tales) and reach some profound understanding, making connections that tap into deeper levels of consciousness to bridge a universal truth. Roberta rejects what she knows and what is expected of her to thrive and survive. She eventually is forced to become the classic heroine who takes the initiative, who grows in strength and understanding beyond her wildest dreams. After all, fairy tales are essentially about a kind of death and rebirth, leading to powerful transformations.

At the beginning of Roberta’s travails, she is a dreamy, cerebral character haunted by missed opportunities, beset by anger and resentment weighted by the isolation and alienation experienced by the career homemaker. By the end of Roberta’s story, she has not only saved her own life, she has also discovered the truth about her current circumstances and about her life in general. In other words, she has prevailed in the most meaningful and effective way possible. She has solved the mystery of the crimes surrounding her and comes to understand the story behind her mother’s unhappiness, something that heretofore has blighted Roberta’s existence.

Roberta’s story is one of discovery and transformation, just like in the fairy tales we all grew up with. I have established character and foreshadowed events by referencing not only fairy tales, but also pop-culture, classic literature, and mythology. This helps the story resonate with charm and humor, making Roberta’s world profoundly real.

Thanks for introducing the novel to us, Phyllis. Readers can learn more about Phyllis and her writing by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter (@phyllismnewman2).

The novel is available online at  Amazon 

JPeg headshotAbout Phyllis M. Newman: Phyllis is a native southerner. Born in New Orleans, she spent formative years in Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, and on a dairy farm in Ross County, Ohio. After a long career in finance and human resources at The Ohio State University, she turned her attention to writing fiction. She published a noir mystery, “Kat’s Eye” in 2015, a Gothic mystery, “The Vanished Bride of Northfield House” in 2018, and the suspense thriller “Clearing in the Woods” in 2019. Today she lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three perpetually unimpressed cats, none of whom venture far from home.

 

Posted in Archives, March 2020, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Easter Hair Hunt

EASTER HAIR HUNT BANNER 640

Today Nancy J Cohen is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Easter Hair Hunt, her latest novel in the Bad Hair Day mystery series.

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

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

EASTER HAIR HUNTNJC: Easter Hair Hunt is #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Hairstylist Marla Vail solves crimes in sultry South Florida in this series that Publishers Weekly calls “fast-paced and jaunty.” Besides the 16 full-length novels, this series includes a short story, novella, and cookbook.

In Easter Hair Hunt, Marla attends an Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor. Her friend Blinky is playing the Easter bunny. Blinky, a client at Marla’s salon, has hired Marla to fix her hair for the charity luncheon that follows. But once the children’s event is over, Marla can’t find Blinky anywhere. As she’s searching the grounds, she stumbles across a costumed figure sprawled on the lawn and still as a dead hare. Afraid Blinky has fainted in the stuffy costume, Marla summons help. As rescuers pull off the face mask, Marla is shocked to discover a stranger in her friend’s place. Soon it’s a race against time as Marla attempts to hunt down her friend before Blinky becomes the next victim.

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

NJC: I was inspired by Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens in Washington D.C. so I modelled the setting after this historical site. I’d previously written Haunted Hair Nights, a novella set around Halloween. So I wanted to do another holiday story. The timeline for Easter Hair Hunt fit in naturally after the events in the previous title, Trimmed to Death. It follows Marla’s progression as a soon-to-be new mother.

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

NJC: The theme is about change, which is happening to Marla with her first pregnancy and also because her mother announces that she plans to get married and move a short distance away. These changes reflect things going on in my own life. Nothing stays static forever, and change doesn’t come easily. But you have to adapt and move on.

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

NJC: I have two sets of characters for each story. One set is the recurrent cast who are Marla’s friends, family, and colleagues. The other set involves the suspects. These are people who can be more quirky. But the ones who are more memorable arise from the recurrent cast. Aside from Marla and Dalton, these would include Marla’s best friend Tally, her mom Anita, deli owner Arnie and fellow stylist Nicole. Oh, and don’t forget the dogs, Spooks and Lucky.

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

NJC: Whenever possible, I visit the places so I can take photos and notes. Then it’s all about using the five senses to bring a location alive. Unique characteristics, seasonal celebrations, local festivals, and regional foods all add to the ambiance. I started including recipes in my stories and that led to A Bad Hair Day Cookbook. This title has 160+ quick and easy recipes plus anecdotes written by Marla and excerpts from the books. Easter Hair Hunt includes recipes as well. The setting here stems from my visit to the Hillwood Estate.

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

NJC: The research required depends on each story. Usually I like to address a topic that interests me so I can learn something new. For Easter Hair Hunt, topics included beekeeping, honey production, love bugs, Faberge eggs, Russian nesting dolls, stamp collecting, and the history of the U.S. Postal Service. I had a blast visiting the postal museum in Washington D.C. It’s a fascinating place that really needs more than one visit to absorb all the exhibits.

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

NJC: You don’t have to read the earlier books to enjoy Easter Hair Hunt. You can jump into any of my titles, and then if you like the story, go back to book one. They’re all complete mysteries, although the characters do evolve from book to book. After reading this latest tale, you’ll never look at an Easter egg hunt in quite the same way again.

Thanks for answering my questions, Nancy, and good luck with Easter Hair Hunt, the latest book in the Bad Hair Day Mystery series.

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

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon Kindle –  Amazon Print –  

B&N –  Kobo – Apple – Books2Read – IndieBound – Goodreads – BookBub –

Website 

PubPinkAbout Nancy J. Cohen: Nancy writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have been named Best Cozy Mystery by Suspense Magazine, won a Readers’ Favorite gold medal and a RONE Award, earned first place in the Chanticleer International Book Awards and third place in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy’s instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery, was nominated for an Agatha Award, earned first place in the Royal Palm Literary Awards and the TopShelf Magazine Book Awards, and won a gold medal in the President’s Book Awards. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, Nancy is a past president of  Florida Romance Writers and Mystery Writers of America Florida Chapter. She is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, she enjoys cooking, fine dining, cruising, and visiting Disney World.

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

Dressed Up 4 Murder

DRESSED UP 4 MURDER BANNER 640

Today Sophie Kimball from Dressed Up 4 Murder, is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about this latest novel in the Sophie Kimball mystery series.

Welcome, Sophie. 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.

Dressed Up 4 Murder MM (2)I’m Sophie Kimball, a forty-something bookkeeper/accountant, but everyone calls me Phee. I never intended to become an amateur sleuth but what can you expect when you work for an investigative agency in Glendale, Arizona? Most of the time I find myself in my mother’s retirement community of Sun City West, Arizona, tracking down clues for unsolved murders. In DRESSED UP 4 MURDER, my mother’s dog, Streetman, a neurotic little Chiweenie, finds a dead body under the tarp that covered her neighbor’s grill. Needless to say, barbequing is now on hold until the murderer can be caught.

This is the sixth novel in the Sophie Kimball Mysteries, Kensington Publishing, and like the others, is meant to keep readers laughing and guessing whodunit. It has a cadre of wacky characters, namely my mother’s book club and her neighbor Herb’s pinochle crew. Not to mention my aunt Ina, who’s as free-spirited as they get.

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

Usually it’s the team of writers who get the say – Ann I. Goldfarb and James E. Clapp, writing as J.C. Eaton. However, there are times when things happen that neither author expected and I have to give myself credit for being the one who twisted their arms.

How did you evolve as the main character?

I began as a reluctant sleuth but as the series progressed, I took more risks and became more emboldened. Although I acquiesced to my mother and my aunt in the beginning of series, I became a force to be reckoned with as I solved more and more murders.

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

I love sharing the story with my mother and the book club ladies. Their antics are over the top and their reflections about life and people in a senior community are priceless.

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

It’s a senior community twenty miles northwest of Phoenix, Arizona. Lots of sun, a zillion activities, numerous restaurants, and quirky clubs. In fact, each book in the series showcases a different club. In MOLDED 4 MURDER, the clay and ceramic clubs were featured as the victim was found smothered to death with a clay jar over his head. Yikes.

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

If readers enjoy colorful antics and a good dose of hyperbole, this will be a fun read. It’s not to be taken seriously but is meant to make readers laugh out loud and forget about their own troubles while solving a murder mystery.

Thanks for answering my questions, Sophie, and good luck to you and your authors with Dressed Up 4 Murder, the latest book in the Sophie Kimball Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Sophie and her authors by visiting her author’s websites:

www.jceatonmysteries.com, www.jceatonauthor.com, www.timetravelmysteries.com

and their Facebook page.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

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

Meet J. C. Eaton:

Ann I. Goldfarb: New York native Ann I. Goldfarb spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing as J. C. Eaton, along with her husband, James Clapp, they have portraitAnnJim (2)authored the Sophie Kimball Mysteries (Kensington), The Wine Trail Mysteries (Kensington Lyrical Underground), and the Marcie Rayner Mysteries (Camel). In addition, Ann has nine published YA time travel mysteries under her own name.

James E. Clapp: When James E. Clapp retired as the tasting room manager for a large upstate New York winery, he never imagined he’d be co-authoring cozy mysteries with his wife, Ann I. Goldfarb.  Non-fiction in the form of informational brochures and workshop materials treating the winery industry were his forte along with an extensive background and experience in construction that started with his service in the U.S. Navy and included vocational school classroom teaching.

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

Paws for Murder

PAWS FOR MURDER BANNER update 2 640

Today Scarlett English is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Paws for Murder, her latest novel in the Barking Mad mystery series.

Welcome, Scarlett’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.

PawsForMurder - Scarlett EnglishSE: The series is called The Barking Mad Mystery series because my rescue puppy Bailey insisted on having a starring role, even if he goes undercover and changes his name. The series is about a US Atlanta cop that comes to live in a small English village and becomes a community based police sergeant. He’s expecting lost dogs and bake sales but he’s immediately embroiled in murder and mayhem.

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

SE: Because we’re a writing team. One American that adores England, and one Brit that lives in Florida and knows exactly the horrors Garrett is living through!

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

SE: Opposites attract! How many times have you heard that America and England are two nations divided by a common language?

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

SE: Oh we put in everyone we know! I adore Lilly. She’s my gran. My gran never solved a murder mystery simply because she never got the chance – but she could have, easily.

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

SE: It’s a mix of everywhere we’ve ever been.

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

SE: English police procedures. Home made wine. Dog shows. How to deliver a Llama – I could go on…

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

SE: Garrett wanted to escape his life because he’s just taken part in a huge serial murder task force. He innocently thought he was going to spend the rest of his days finding lost dogs and stolen bicycles.

How wrong he was!

Thanks for answering my questions, Scarlett, and good luck with Paws for Murder, the latest book in the Barking Mad Mystery series.

The novel is available online at Amazon 

BarkingMadLogoFBProfilePicAbout Scarlett English: She is a crazy cat lady who likes solving mysteries. Or actually, make that a dog lady. Much to her chagrin, the police have never sought to consult her, which is why there seems to be so much unsolved crime. Especially—surprisingly enough—in the small English village where she lives. So, armed with curiosity, a penchant for taking in strays, a love of homemade wine and a good gossip, she puts her detecting talents to good use murdering her imaginary friends and neighbors and solving the cases one story at a time.

 

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

Murder Makes Sense

MURDER MAKES SENSE BANNER 640

Today Christin Brecher is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Murder Makes Sense, her latest novel in the Nantucket Candle Maker mystery series.

Welcome, Christin. 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.

CB: MURDER MAKES SCENTS, featuring Stella Wright, is the second book in the NANTUCKET CANDLE MAKER SERIES.  A native of her small island hometown, Stella loves creating candles at her store, the Wick & Flame.  She also has a burning passion for justice.  When trouble strikes, Stella is always determined to shine a light on the truth with some sleuthing of her own.

book2At the start of MURDER MAKES SCENTS, Stella points out that her mother, Millie, seeks adventure by travelling world, whereas Nantucket is always enough to keep her on her toes.  How right she is!

Stella is unwittingly thrown into her second case after meeting her mother in Paris for the World Perfumery Conference, at which Millie has been invited to speak.  Although Stella enjoys seeing her mother, visiting Paris’ candle shops, and watching the city prepare to host a global Peace Jubilee, her magical trip ends with her witnessing a murder; after which, spies and secret formulas follow them home.  Before her jet lag has worn off, Stella discovers she’s on her own to protect her mother’s life and her town’s safety.

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

CB: This book is a bit different from Murder’s No Votive Confidence and Fifteen Minutes of Flame (out next fall) in that it is a cozy mystery wrapped in an action adventureI’ve always been enchanted by Nantucket’s foggy moors, and had a vision of Stella racing across them to solve a case while dodging others who are after her.

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

CB: This is a great question because my inspiration for the book came from a couple of ideas.

First, I was curious about the idea that simple, low-tech solutions can be a radical tactic in our complicated world.  At the beginning of the book, an international spy tells Stella that “in a high-tech world, sometimes old-fashioned methods are the most unexpected way to go.”  Stella is the perfect sleuth to explore the idea of such a challenge.  She’s a small-town girl armed with guts, gumption, and a talent for solving puzzles.

I also liked the idea of how global intrigue might find itself on the steps of a small island which is mostly known today for its shingled houses and beautiful beaches.  When I was starting the book, I brought my computer to a small café on Nantucket one day.  I realized I was surrounded by people from all over the world who were speaking many different languages.  As Stella points out in the story, “when you grow up in a town like ours, which has a sailors’ map showing the distance from its location on Main Street to places around the world, you value these things.”

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

CB: I do a lot of work on back story before I write anything, so that my choice of characters is varied and serves to help the plot develop. Once I’ve decided on my cast, I try to step into their shoes, as an actor might, to see the world from their perspective.  I find this exercise helps when writing dialogue.

Every character needs to bring something to the table that is relatable, so I try to steer away from favourites.  That said, I really do admire Stella.  She can do more in a day than most can do in a week!

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

CB: I’m lucky because as a kid my parents and grand-parents loved Nantucket’s history.  As a result, we were always spending rainy days at the Whaling Museum, or biking to the windmill and oldest house.  At night, we would go to the Loins Observatory and reflect on Maria Mitchell’s accomplishments in astronomy while looking at the stars.  Every summer we had at least one fishing adventure, and at least one screening of both Jaws and Moby Dick.  It was a magical place to grow up, and it captured my imagination.  I can remember lying in bed at night, reading Agatha Christie, listening to the fog horn, and imagining ghosts from the whaling days in any one of the old houses we rented.  When a place gets into your soul like that, it isn’t hard to share it with others.  It also helps that Nantucket is one of the most aesthetically pleasing places on earth with its shingled houses, lush summer gardens and endless stretches of beach.

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

CB: I’d be remiss if I did not use this question as an opportunity to thank those on Nantucket who have generously given me their time, help and creative suggestions in all of the books.

In addition to their help, I like the old boots-on-the-ground kind of research. For example, I had a wonderful moment in writing the book when my father and I snuck on to a golf course at night, just as Stella does.  While I looked across the greens to get a sense of how Stella would feel and what she would see, a huge beam of light suddenly flashed across the course from the Sankaty Head lighthouse.  I’d had no idea that the light reached there until our site visit.  Right then and there, I knew I had to incorporate this beacon into my story.

Sometimes I’m simply lucky.  One such occasion was when I was trying to incorporate the island’s annual Cranberry Festival into the story. First, my dad accompanied me to the festival where I had more than my fair share of chocolate covered cranberries. Then, I decided to include a cranberry pie recipe at the end of the novel.  In my effort to find an authentic recipe, I met so many Nantucketers who are incredible bakers to ultimately find the tasty treat I chose for the end of the novel.

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

CB: I hope you enjoy the book!

Thanks for answering my questions, Christin, and good luck with Murder Makes Sense, the latest book in the Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Christin and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub and Instagram pages.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N – Kobo – BAM –

IndieBound – Hudson Booksellers – Google Play

christin-150About Christin Brecher: Christin was born and raised in NYC, where her family and many childhood friends still reside. As such, she feels she is as much of a small-town girl as any. The idea to write the Nantucket Candle Maker series sprang from her life-long connection to the small island off the coast of Massachusetts. Spending summers there as a child, Christin read from her family’s library of mystery novels, after which she began to imagine stories inspired by the island’s whaling heyday, its notoriously foggy nights, and during long bike rides to the beach. After many years in marketing for the publishing industry, followed by years raising her children, Murder’s No Votive Confidence is Christin’s debut novel.

 

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

Meet Lucy Berberian

ON THE LAMB BANNER 640

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 www.tinakashian.com to join her newsletter, receive delicious recipes, enter contests, and more!

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