Alyssa Maxwell: The Gilded Newport Mysteries Sunday, Jun 8 2014 

Please welcome the author of the Gilded Newport Mystery series, Alyssa Maxwell, who will give us look into her historical series:

Write What You Know? No! cover front

If you take a look at my website, you’ll see that writing my Gilded Newport Mystery series has been a very special and personal experience for me. With my husband and his family having deep roots in Newport, you could say that I’ve taken the advice so often quoted to aspiring writers: Write what you know.

In many ways, that’s true. I’ve gotten to know the city much better than if I’d merely vacationed there, and having that “insider’s” view has certainly allowed me to breathe more life into these stories.

So yes, I wrote what I know, but there was also so much I didn’t know when I started writing. The Newport of 1895 was much different than the one we know today. To make my stories believable and true to the times, I had to research the burgeoning technologies of the late 19th century – for example my heroine has a telephone and uses a typewriter, and electric trolleys run through town – as well as notions of class consciousness and the relationships between employers and servants.

No books about Gilded Age Newport would be complete without a look at yacht racing, luxury steam ships, and the kinds of carriages people drove. Fashions, occupations, pastimes – these were all on my “to be researched” list. And, of course, since my heroine is also a newspaper reporter, I needed insight on real women reporters of the times – and yes, there were a few, and some of them even managed to push beyond the limitations of society page news.

Besides my main characters, who are fictional, people like the Vanderbilts play important roles in the books. I’d heard of them, of course, and knew they were incredibly wealthy, lived in huge, ornate houses, and were connected to the railroad industry. But I had no knowledge of them as individuals, or how they interacted with each other. I had to get to know them on a much more personal level so I could remain true to their personalities and their family dynamics.

All of these elements, and more, I had to learn. But what kept it exciting for me was my desire to dig around in the past, find the puzzle pieces, and put them together. Let’s face it – after a while what you already know becomes one big bore. Staying inspired means taking risks and forging into new territory. It’s an adventure that keeps your writing fresh and makes you eager to sit down at the keyboard every day. So for me, it’s not “write what you know,” but “write what you want to know, and what you’re excited to learn about.” In other words, find your passion (or passions) and take off running!

Do you have a passion for something? Share below and be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of Murder at The Breakers! Or just leave any old comment – you’ll still be entered!

About Murder at The Breakers:

As the nineteenth century comes to a close, the illustrious Vanderbilt family dominates Newport, Rhode Island, high society. But when murder darkens a glittering affair at the Vanderbilt summer home, reporter Emma Cross learns that sometimes the actions of the cream of society can curdle one’s blood…

Newport, Rhode Island, August 1895: She may be a less well-heeled relation, but as second cousin to millionaire patriarch Cornelius Vanderbilt, twenty-one-year-old Emma Cross is on the guest list for a grand ball at the Breakers, the Vanderbilts’ summer home. She also has a job to do—report on the event for the society page of the Newport Observer.

But Emma observes much more than glitz and gaiety when she witnesses a murder. The victim is Cornelius Vanderbilt’s financial secretary, who plunges off a balcony faster than falling stock prices. Emma’s black sheep brother Brady is found in Cornelius’s bedroom, passed out next to a bottle of bourbon and stolen plans for a new railroad line. Brady has barely come to before the police have arrested him for the murder. But Emma is sure someone is trying to railroad her brother and resolves to find the real killer at any cost…

Alyssa Maxwell is the author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries, a historical mystery series featuring the glamor of a bygone era and a sleuth who’s a less “well-heeled” cousin of the illustrious Vanderbilts. The series debuted in March with MURDER AT THE BREAKERS, to be followed by Murder at Marble House
in September, and Murder at Beechwood in 2015. Alyssa will also be debuting an English-set historical series, The Foxwood Hall Mysteries, in October 2015. Alyssa and her family live in South Florida, where she is a member of the Mystery Writers of America – Florida Chapter, Sisters in Crime, and The Florida Romance Writers.

For review quotes, an excerpt, pictures, and all kinds of other fun stuff about The Gilded Newport Mysteries, please visit my website: I love to hear from readers, so while you’re there feel free to drop me a line!

You can also find me at:

Hot summer reads: A multitude of goodness. Sunday, Jul 28 2013 

Auntie M has read so many good books lately, she wants you to look for a few of these to take on vacation. Or read at the beach. Or just to veg out with at home.

guilty Lisa Ballantyne’s debut, The Guilty One, is a sophisticated and disturbing novel that revolves around London solicitor Daniel Hunter, who’s been hired to defend an eleven-year-old boy, Sebastian, accused of murdering an eight-year-old friend.

Sebastian’s home life is troubled, a factor that comes into play as Daniel struggles to get at the truth of the case and explores just what forgiveness means.

For Daniel, whose own childhood was fraught with turbulence and upheaval, the case brings back his history in foster homes until he settled with the one woman who saved him and allowed him to flourish as an adult. But memories of Minnie Flynn bring their own ghosts and Daniel finds himself disturbed at trial and in his home time.

Told in alternating chapters between the present case with Sebastian, and Daniel’s life with Minnie on a remote Cumbrian farm, Ballantyne ties the subplots together in a resounding ending that manages to be suspenseful and unsettling, yet gives a whiff of hope.

This is an author whose next book Auntie M is anticipating.


Emily Winslow takes readers to the world of Cambridge in the complex plot of The Start of Everything.the_start_of_everything

When the decomposed body of a teenager washes up on the flooded fens, the case falls to DI Chloe Frohmann and her partner, Morris Keene. Establishing the victim’s identity is their first order of business and they investigate even tiny clues that might lead them from the hallowed squares of Cambridge to the name of the dead girl.

This search leads them to Deeping House, where several families reside and were snowed in together over Christmas. Three families include two nannies, and a young writer who were all housebound together.

Chloe becomes swept up in the long-buried secrets of old crimes and their more recent counterparts as she seeks the truth. There will be misaddressed letters and hints of affairs buried alongside murder.

Along this road, her loyalty to her partner is severely tested as the tales of the separate lives are examined through their eyes.

As Chloe looks deeply inside the minds of her involved suspects and the story hurtles toward its tangled conclusion, readers will be caught up  in this deft and unusual mystery.


More great summer reading:

Steve Hamilton: Die A Stranger and North of Nowhere: Lee Child calls award-winner Hamilton “a proven master of suspense.” North of Nowhere is fourth in his Alex McKnight series, and a superb entry to the series for readers who may have missed the ex-cop turned private detective and his solitary northern world of Paradise, Michigan. When a poker game turns into a robbery, Alex’s search for answers proves much more than a simple robbery. Die A Stranger gives readers a huge window into Alex’s reclusive world and his friendship with Ojibwa Vinnie Leblanc. When a plane is found with five dead bodies aboard, Vinnie’s subsequent disappearance sends Alex into a search across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for his friend, despite the danger to himself.

The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva: Art restorer and once-again spy Gabriel Allon returns in an international thriller that starts within the walls of the Vatican, when the body of beautiful antiquities curator is found beneath the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. He’ll face sabotage, looting, and vengeance as he travels Europe to find the culprits, all rendered with Silva’s trademark blend of history and strong settings.

Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French: The second Frieda Klein mystery continues the series with the psychotherapist once again working a case with DCI Karlsson when a mentally disturbed woman is found in her flat with an unknown decomposed body–and she can’t tell them the body’s identity.

The Reviver by Seth Patrick: Reviver Joan Miller works in the forensics department whose talented members revive corpses to find justice. When a terrifying presence enters his mind during a revival, Jonah becomes convinced there is a sinister force at work that may affect all of mankind. Edgy and different, with the addition of the paranormal into the police in a blurring of genre lines. First of a trilogy already optioned for the big screen, it reads big with a large cast and many subplots that intertwine.

Ready to Die by Lisa Jackson: Bringing back detectives Regan Pescoli and Selena Alvarez, Jackson’s thriller follows their search for a murderer who is killing law enforcement officers in Grizzly Falls, Montana. A twisted ending will involve Pescoli’s son and blow away what she thought was the resolution to a murder’s hit list.

True Colours by Stephen Leather: Spider Shephard returns with an unusual assignment from MI-5–track down the assassin of some of the world’s richest men, including Russian oligarchs. With international settings and Leather’s flare for action, Spider will deal with political and personal intrigue, as well as a Taliban sniper from his past, in this fast-paced thriller.

Heroes and Lovers by Wayne Zurl: This Sam Jenkins mystery with a hint of romance follows the ex-NY detective in his current job as Chief of Prospect, TN Police. When TV reporter Rachel Williamson’s exclusive story on Jenkin’s fraud investigation leads to her kidnapping. Feeling responsible and a whole lot more, Jenkins will need all of his friends, including those from the FBI, to help him track Rachel down.

My Name is Hardly by Martin Crosbie: Following the success of My Temporary Life, Crosbie returned with his second in a planned trilogy featuring his protagonist, the Scottish soldier Hardly whose Irish lost postings are taking their toll as much as the Provo’s he fights. Filled with action and insights into the realities of aa soldier’s life.







Guest Author Lane Stone, on the Worth of a Good Laugh~ Sunday, Dec 11 2011 

Please welcome Debut Author, Lane Stone, on the worth of a good laugh –

The setting for Current Affairs, the first book in the Tiara Investigations Mystery series, is Sugar Hill, Georgia.  My husband and I split our time between Alexandria, Virginia and Sugar Hill.  I could have set the book in either location but Sugar Hill is a funnier place.  You knew that already, right?  That’s one secret to writing humor – you just heard which was funnier.

I decided I wanted to write a humorous mystery when a series of extremely funny books got me through a rough patch.  While hiking someone told me about a book group for E. F. Benson fans, called the Rye Society.  That week while foraging in the clearance bin at Barnes & Noble, I saw a compilation of the “Lucia” books.  It was three or four inches thick and cost five bucks.  How could anyone turn that down?  It’s called excellent money management.  The first time I tried to read the tome I put it right back on my bookshelf.  I thought it was silly and not my cuppa.   Months later I picked it up again, and had the same reaction.  I knew that these books inspired not just loyalty, but obsession, still ….

In December, 2001, my mother died, and I hadn’t really recovered from 9/11.  My husband was working at the Council on Foreign Relations in Manhattan, and we were living in exile in Fort Lee, New Jersey.  You could see the twin towers from our balcony.  Then all you saw was smoke and rising ash – for months.  If the largest thing in your backyard disappeared you’d never stop looking for it.  So in this time of feeling unable to get my footing,  I gave Make Way for Lucia another go.  It was the funniest thing I had ever read!  I fell in love!  These books had been waiting for just the right time.  They got me through that hellish month.

I had written my first book, which never had nor ever will see the light of day.  Not to get too technical here, but it was crap.  I wasn’t writing in my own voice – don’t know who’s voice it was written in, but it was a boring book.  My goal became to do for some reader, somewhere, what E. F. Benson had for me, either in a difficult time, or just at the end of a long day.  The idea of three former beauty queens from Georgia starting a detective agency came to me and I went on from there.  After about three years of writing, and then another three or four revising and querying, I was offered a contract by Mainly Murder Press. (During the getting pub’d time I was getting edits, both from my critique partner, Jacqui Corcoran, and Sisters in Crime’s Guppy manuscript swap program.  We writers are told to send out fifty query letters then send out fifty more.  My advice from the other side of the fence is this:  make your writing better, then make it better again, then again.  That’s how you’ll get published.)

According to reviewers, Current Affairs is, indeed, funny.  Crime and Suspense Reviewer, Wil Emerson, said, “Lane Stone’s style is both witty and charming … join her on this latest adventure.  And hold onto your belly, it’s a bumpy ride and you can’t stop laughing.”  Sandra Parshall, author of the Rachel Goddard Mysteries, said, “Current Affairs is hilarious and thoroughly entertaining.”  These blurbs made my heart sing.

I hope you’ll give the Tiara Investigations detectives, Leigh, Tara and Victoria, a try and let me know what you think.  I can be reached through, or on facebook (LaneStoneBooks) and you can follow our standard schnauzer, Abby, on twitter at TheMenopauseDog.  Here’s a link to the video-

Keep in touch!


Lane Stone is a member of that rare species known as the native Atlantan, and is a graduate of Georgia State University. She and her husband, Larry Korb, along with the real Abby, really do divide their time between Sugar Hill, GA and Alexandria, VA. Lane is a proud member of the Chessie Chapter and the Atlanta Chapter of Sisters in Crime