Liz Mugavero: Cat About Town Wednesday, Aug 2 2017 

Cats and Cafes
by Cate Conte

What is it about cats and coffee that seems to go so well together?

It’s not just me who thinks that, even though it’s no secret those two things have a huge influence on my life. No, it’s actually a worldwide phenomenon, as evident when the first cat cafe opened in Japan in 1998.

For those who’ve never heard of a cat cafe, it’s a coffee shop, but with cats AND coffee. And pastries. And while you’re having your snack, you can hang out with a cat or two. The cats who live at the cafes come from local rescue organizations that partnered with the cafes. That means people can adopt them if they’d like.

Cat cafes are typically found in urban areas. They originated from the idea that people who couldn’t have cats could have a place to go and visit with them. And of course they need coffee (the humans, that is) so they can keep their energy up to play with the cats.

In recent years, cat cafes have migrated to the U.S. – New York, San Francisco, Boston to start, and now they’re popping up everywhere.

So of course, I had to put one on my island in Cat About Town.

Not your typical urban area, but since there’s lots of coffee on the island—and lots of cats—I think it’s going to work out just fine. As it turns out, Daybreak Island has only the local dog pound to care for any strays, ever since the local rescue closed its doors. So the cat cafe pro-vides a temporary home for the cats who would otherwise be locked in small cages at the pound, or worse, out on the street.

And, since the island attracts lots of tourists, it will never be short on visitors.

Especially with all the attention around the recent murder in town . . .

Cat About Town is out now, so grab a cup of coffee, find a cat to snuggle with at your local cat cafe, and enjoy!

Liz Mugavero writes the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries, the first of which was an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel. The sixth book in the series, Purring Around the Christmas Tree, is out in October of this year. As Cate Conte, Liz also writes the Cat Cafe Mysteries, the first of which, Cat About Town, was released August 1. She lives in Connecticut with her rescue pals.

THE GOLDEN HOUR: A Nora Tierney English Mystery #4 Monday, Jul 31 2017 


THE GOLDEN HOUR is Auntie M’s 4th Nora Tierney English Mystery. It’s always exciting bringing out a new book, akin to birthing a baby. After the initial first draft, that lump of clay goes through multiple revisions: workshopping with colleagues to find the story; more revisions after beta readers chime in and point out areas that don’t make sense or need fixing; more rewrites after the “Britspeak” is corrected by wonderful UK friends. P D James told Auntie M years ago that “the real writing gets done in revision,” something she repeats to herself as a mantra when the going gets tough.

While the book tour isn’t until October into November, you can order trade paperbacks now on Amazon or through Bridle Path Press, and she recommends that latter if you’d like a signed copy! http://www.bridlepathpress.com.

Thanks to the talented Giordana Segneri who did the layout and that lovely domestic cover design; to Becky Brown, copyeditor; to Eagle Eye Pam Desloges; and to Beth Cole who did the Kindle files.

The book will be on Kindle later this week and this fall, in conjunctin with the tour, on Audible, with the wonderful British narrator, Nano Nagle, who’s done a wonderful job on the others in the series.

This one’s a bit different from her usual and Auntie M hopes you will enjoy it as much as Ausma Khan, Elly Griffiths and Sarah Ward, who all gave her cover blurbs. Great crime writers all, and she’s chuffed to have their names on her cover~

THE GOLDEN HOUR: A Nora Tierney English Mystery #4 Monday, Jul 31 2017 


THE GOLDEN HOUR is Auntie M’s 4th Nora Tierney English Mystery. It’s always exciting bringing out a new book, akin to birthing a baby. After the initial first draft, that lump of clay goes through multiple revisions: workshopping with colleagues to find the story; more revisions after beta readers chime in and point out areas that don’t make sense or need fixing; more rewrites after the “Britspeak” is corrected by wonderful UK friends. P D James told Auntie M years ago that “the real writing gets done in revision,” something she repeats to herself as a mantra when the going gets tough.

While the book tour isn’t until October into November, you can order trade paperbacks now on Amazon or through Bridle Path Press, and she recommends that latter if you’d like a signed copy! http://www.bridlepathpress.com.

Thanks to the talented Giordana Segneri who did the layout and that lovely domestic cover design; to Becky Brown, copyeditor; to Eagle Eye Pam Desloges; and to Beth Cole who did the Kindle files.

The book will be on Kindle later this week and this fall, in conjunctin with the tour, on Audible, with the wonderful British narrator, Nano Nagle, who’s done a wonderful job on the others in the series.

This one’s a bit different from her usual and Auntie M hopes you will enjoy it as much as Ausma Khan, Elly Griffiths and Sarah Ward, who all gave her cover blurbs. Great crime writers all, and she’s chuffed to have their names on her cover~

Claire Douglas: Local Girl Missing Sunday, Jul 30 2017 

Claire Douglas, author of The Sisters, returns with an equally dark and creepy psychological thriller in Local Girl Missing.

Readers will rapidly become immersed in the story of two childhood friends, Frankie Howe and Sophie Collier. Sophie’s story is told in chapters that are diary excerpts from a time before she went missing.

Sophie disappeared and has been presumed dead for twenty years. Then Frankie, now managing her parents hotels in London, gets a call from Sophie’s brother, Daniel. Remains have been found near the old pier in their homemtown where Sophie disappeared. Daniel is awaiting DNA results and asks Frankie to travel back home to help him discover what really happened to Sophie.

How can she not go? Despite her father ailing with a severe stsroke, Frankie risks her mother’s disapproval to travel home to the seaside town where the three of them were raised. Daniel finds her a flat to stay in for the days she’s there, and the two start by talking to those who knew Sophie when she died, and still live or have returned to the area.

This includes Leon, that young man Sophie loved, and while Frankie soon becomes afraid of him, she can’t disappoint Daniel by leaving him to face things alone. It’s a complicated time, made worse by threatening letters Frankie starts receiving and glimpes of Sophie. Is it her ghost, coming back to warn Frankie?

Drinking heavily, upset by the memories, and afraid of the future, Frankie breaks off her relationship in London and thinks she just might be falling in love with Daniel.

This is a twisted tour de force of plotting and complexities, where no one is who or how they seem at first glance. A page-turner.

Fiona Barton: The Child Thursday, Jul 27 2017 

Fiona Barton’s debut, The Widow, thrust her into the minds of readers everywhere and introduced reporter Kate Waters. She returns with The Child, and it’s every bit as suspensful and well written, sure to please readers with its compelling story.

Journalist Kate is a seasoned print reporter trying to stay afloat in a 24 hr/online news world. She’s saddled with a trainee, Joe Jackson, just as a small article catches her eye when construction workers in Woolrich discover the remains of baby, long-buried and reduced to bones.

Besides Kate, the discovery affects two women: Angela, whose baby Alice was stolen from her hospital cot the night after being born; and Emma, a young woman whose secret has affected her entire life. Emma’s mother, Jude, raised Emma as a single mother and has a complicated relationship with her daughter.

Angela is convinced the bones are of her baby, Alice. Emma is convinced of something entirely different. Kate just wants to find the truth of the matter and the answer to her question: “Who would bury a baby?”Each woman, with Kate’s help, will find the answers they need to know.

Kate can’t let this story go, to the detriment at times of her own family life. She sets out to investigate the old neighbors who lived in that neighborhood, and uncovers tales of drugs, parties, illicit sex and more. She encourages Angela and is with the woman when her DNA is tested. And through a circuitous route, she eventually meet Emma and Jude.

Complicating matters is the way Kate must tread carefully between her job as a reporter to get the lead on the news, and the police investigation. Her detective contact is one she holds dear, and she must keep his confidence and that of the lead detective looking into the identity of the remains, while holding her editor at bay.

Each woman’s story is precisely told in this character-driven mystery, a taut thriller that explores the complex relationships we all hold with our families, our jobs, and our perceived identities. The suspense as the story unfolds will keep readers flipping pages to the satisfying denouement. Highly recommended.

Karen Dionne: The Marsh King’s Daughter Tuesday, Jul 25 2017 

Karen Dionne’s superb psychological suspense, The Marsh King’s Daughter, brings readers the story of a child born in captivity to her abducted mother and kidnapper father. Not realizng until age 11 that her mother had been taken against her will as a young teen, Helena’s youth story is told in recall throughout the modern story of adult Helena’s desperate attempts to track her father before he can find her.

With exquisitely detailed prose of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, born out of Dionne’s own expericences living off the land in the wilderness in the 70’s, the author creates Helena’s world, raised so far off the grid that she has rarely seen other humans except thoe in old copies of National Geographics she’s used to teach her self to read. What she has learned is how to hunt and trap, and to use the land to live off of it.

All of these skills become extraordinarily useful as an adult. After leaving the UP with her mother, in an unforgettable scene that is detailed later in the book, Helena must adjust to life in the outside world. It’s an uneasy experience, one that leaves her with scars deeper than the tattoos her father gave her as a child.

Restarting her life under a new name, Helena is married with two little girls to her photographer husband when her father escapes from prison. She knows he is on his way to find her and hurt her and her family for turning him in–and knows she must hunt him down first.

It’s a complicated relationship, as Helena’s father taught her everything she’s learned, and a part of her loves him. But as she’s been in the modern world, she realizes more and more the control and abuse she and her mother suffered at his hands.

It’s a remarkable story that is by turns amazing and absolutely terrifying, causing Lee Child to call it,” sensationally good psychological suspense…” Highly recommended.

John Farrow: Perish the Day Sunday, Jul 23 2017 

Author and playwright Trevor Ferguson writes the Emile Cinq-Mars series under the pen name John Farrow. He brings us Perish the Day, with Emile and his wife, Sandra, staying at her mother’s New Hampshire horse farm as the woman lies in a coma after a life well lived.

It’s raining hard in the small town of Holyoake, just down the road from Ivy League Dartmouth. Sandra’s niece is graduating from the big college’s stepchild, the Dowboggin School of International Relations, and along with Sandra’s sister, they plan to also attend Caroline’s graduation. The rain obscures roads, overflows rivers, and creates havoc that only intensifies when the body of one of Caro’s friends is found at the bottom of a locked clock tower.

Emile soon finds himself immersed in trying to find out what happened to Caro’s friend, Addie. Hers will be the first of three murders in short order, and as the case heats up, territorial disputes threaten to overwhelm the investigation, even as the weather interferes with everything.

He finds a way to insinuate himself, even as Sandra’s mother dies and they plan her funeral. Enlisting Caro and two of her friends, the retired Canadian detective will use his wits and his experience to find out who would kill a young student, an older professor, and a custodian at the college.

Only Emile could bring the disparate forces of troopers, local sheriff, and FBI together to solve a complicated case that is unlike any he’s seen before. It’s a tour de force of his thinking abilities.

One of the hallmarks of the series is Emile’s ruminations on the case, spirituality, life, and his marriage. It makes for involved and heady reading, a literary feel to what is essentially a crime novel. His feel for his setting, and how he uses it, deepen our understanding of where he finds himself at this moment in time. Despite his appearance, Emile Cinq-Mars is highly attractive and thoroughly engaging.

Another winner in a series that keep getting better. Highly recommended.

On the Importance of Writing Groups Friday, Jul 21 2017 

On The Importance of Writing Groups

Auntie M belongs to a unique writing group. What author doesn’t want to improve his or her writing skills? Mine meets in person yearly, but we are in contact all year long on email. It’s an unusual concept, but one that works for us because we are all novelists, and when we meet, we workshop our entire novels. We rotate to each other’s homes each year across the country, so we’ve visited each other’s homes and explored different areas.

Our week together is thrilling beyond belief, but filled with hard work as we go through each other’s manuscripts page by page, after having received them the month before for our first reading. Picture four female writers sitting around a table, a tin of chocolate chip cookies in the center to sustain them, various beverages at hand, pens and pencils, and those stacks of manuscript pages. It’s daunting and exhilarating at once.

We learn what’s worked for the others in our first drafts—and what hasn’t. We learn what needs to be expanded and what needs to be trimmed. We learn what thoughts we’ve kept locked inside our brains that never made it to the page. Most of all, we gather ideas for filling out the plot and adding texture to create a fully realized book and a satisfying read. This is the goal of any writing group, and it can come to you if you join a local group.

Auntie M writes crime novels but some of the others don’t. We have not found this to be an obstacle. Good writing and a good story keep our interest. Our hallmark is that the author is owner of her work, and the critique process represents suggestions. If one other person finds fault with a passage, I take that under advisement. But if three other writers tell me my pacing is slow in the same spot, you’d better believe I’m going to revise that scene.

But this process we’ve derived is not for most writers. What’s far more reasonable is for writers in any genre to belong to a writing group that meets monthly or bi-monthly. One group I’m aware of that I can highly recommend is the Pamlico Writers Group. Meeting bi-monthly for general critique sessions in the historic Turnage Theatre in downtown Washington, NC, it’s one of the oldest writing groups in North Carolina.

The group sponsors workshops and meet-the-author luncheons, where writers have the opportunity to pick the brains of published authors in a casual setting. The workshops offer variations on different aspects writers need on craft, publishing, techniques and other skill sets.

For several years now Auntie M has been teaching writing workshops at the PWG’s yearly conference that draws writers and readers from all over the state and bordering areas. I’ve been on panel discussions and met budding authors, published big names, publishers, agents, and all manner of readers and fans. As part of this yearly conference, the PWG sponsors a writing competition, handing out prizes in several genres, with a category for high school writers. 2018’s conference will be held March 23rd and 24th, so do plan to keep those dates open and check their website for registration opening.

If you’re any level of writer who longs to be a part of an enthusiastic and diverse writing community, learn about the PWG and contact them through their website: http://www.pamlicowritersgroup.wildaprocot.org, or email Sherri Hollister (pwgcritique.group@gmail.com) or Louis Edwards (pwgwashingtonnc@gmail.com) with questions or for more information. And do check out their anthology contest, which opened July 15th~

Mark Billingham: Die of Shame & Love Like Blood Wednesday, Jul 19 2017 

Readers of Auntie M Writes know that Mark Billingham is one of her favorites. So it was frustrating that she’d missed reading Die of Shame, which starts out as a stand-alone featuring Detective Inspector Nicola Tanner and has a tie-in to Tom Thorn at its end.

It starts with six people, all addicts of some kind, in a group therapy session held by their therapist in his home. With his wife and teen daughter on the periphery, the six speak of their secrets and tell their stories of the life they’ve tried to leave. The object is to reveal their deepest shame.

It’s an intriguing setup, as each of these characters has something to hide. When one of them is murdered, it will fall to DI Tanner to ferret out the murderer. Readers will learn of the addict’s ability to obfuscate and explain away any situation. As Tanner’s investigation advances, it soon becomes clear that one of the six is responsible for the victim’s death.
That’s where Tom Thorne comes in at the end, working undercover as the newest member of the group.

While this one can definitely be read as a stand-alone, and it’s new in paperback for those like Auntie M who missed it last year, Billingham’s newest, Love Like Blood, follows the thread. Not with the group, which is tied up easily, but with DI Nicola Tanner as Thorne’s off-the-books newest partner.

It opens with a grissly home invasion that becomes a ghastly murder. At first, readers assume it Tanner who’s the victim, but although she was probably the proposed victim, Tanner’s partner Susan has borrowed her car that day and is brutally murdered in her stead.

Due to her closeness to the victim, policy dictates Tanner must be off the case. She enlists Thorne to take the case on, with her aiding him unofficially. When a young couple from different cultures go missing, they soon realize their targets are a pair of contracted killers, performing so-called ‘honor’ killings for families.

It’s a set-up that has nothing good about it. Thorne worming his way into a community where he’s despised just for being a cop; Tanner continuing to investigate when she shouldn’t. There’s Tom’s home with Helen and her son, Alfie, to consider, too, with Helen dealing with her own bad case.

A sobering Author’s note describes the statistics of increasing honor killings in the UK, and details one particular heartbreaking case. Leave it to Mark Billingham to sensitively explore this issue. Highly recommended, both of them. Do yourself a favor and read them both.

David Bell: Bring Her Home Sunday, Jul 16 2017 


At the opening of David Bell’s newest suspenseful novel, Bring Her Home, readers may think they know where this is headed.

Eighteen months after the accidental death of his wife, Julie, Bill Price’s teenaged daughter and her best friend disappear. Summer Price and her friend Haley have been almost inseparable for years. It’s a father’s worst nightmare and intensifies when the two girls are found, badly beaten, in a Kentucky city park. Haley is dead and Summer is so badly beaten, her face is unrecognizable. She might have brain or vision damage. She might not remember who did this to her.

As Bill’s sister drives in from her Ohio home, she brings a voice of reason and support to Bill, whose legendary temper often gets the best of him. As the pair keep vigil over Summer in Intensive Care, the investigation heats up and unwelcome stories about the girls and their behavior and company surface. Bill starts asking questions of his own to uncover the truth.

But the surprises keep coming, in twists and plot turns that elevate this to a gripping crime novel. Bill Price will have to adjust his thinking about his dead wife, his friends and neighbors, and his own daughter.

A layered mystery, filled with emotions that strike as realistic and keep pace with the surprises, this is one of those thrillers that will have readers flipping pages long after the light should have been turned out.

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