More Than A Touch of Humor: Carter, Kelly, Haines, Hess, Dorsey, Dennison, Sansom, Shelton Sunday, May 15 2016 

Auntie M is visiting her four Grands in the Midwest the next two weeks, celebrating a Sweet 16 for #2, a HS graduation with #1 on his way to Harvard, a special choir concert for #3, and four teams worth of lacrosse games. There will be lots of hilarity and she’s hoping #4 is still the only one shorter than she is! So in honor of all the smiles she’ll be receiving, she’s handing you the following for your reading–and laughing–pleasure!

DeathDummy

CF Carter and his wife publish a monthly mystery magazine, so he knows how to plot one. His debut, Death of a Dummy, is the first in a planned Wax Museum series. Set in Old Quebec, it introduces the black sheep of his wealthy Vancouver winery family, surf bum Paul Wainscott. Accompanied by his Golden Retriever, Benchley, he heads to Old Quebec City after his father dangles one last business proposition, designed to give Paul a future and a way to learn how to run a business out of sight of the beguiling waves.

His father has bought him a building to fill with tenants and a credit card with enough money to cover his expenses for three months. After that, he’s on his own. It’s an interesting premise, made more interesting by the decrepit wax museum in the basement. And with Quebec having one of the lowest crime rates in North American, what could possibly happen?

He meets two women who will become integral to him: Sophie, the pretty chef of the nearby crepe restaurant, and Dottie, a octogenarian who watches over him and becomes his business partner while making fascinators on the side. He’ll meet Guy Trembley, owner of the antique shop across from his lovely building, and learn he knew Guy as a child. There’s his one renter, mime Remy St. Claire, and former policeman Bernard Curtius. This mix of characters sustain the plot when one of the above-mentioned turns up murdered.

Carter’s use of history to mine the Wax Museum adds another level of interest as Paul finds himself at the heart of a murder investigation.

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The fourth Paw Enforcement mystery by Diane Kelly, Against the Paw, is the next installment in the Fort Worth series whose recipe features rookie Megan Luz and her K-9 partner, German Shepherd Dob mix Sergeant Brigit. Add Megan’s bomb squad boyfriend, Seth, to the mix, for that touch of romance, and then alternate chapters in points of view that include Brigit, and you’re in for a hilarious ride–especially those snarky asides from Sgt. Brigit. An dont forget Megan’s colleagues, who include Dereck Mackay, always out to thrust Megan in as poor a light as possible. What’s a female officer to do?

There’s a convicted burglar who’s broken parole and Megan’s goal is to find him and put that feather in her cap with Captain Leone and Chief Garlic. But there’s also a Peeping Tom terrorizing the upscale neighborhood, and the Neighborhood Watch group grows in ferocity as their perceived threat increases.

Kelly ramps up the humor with chapters from “Tom’s” point of view. There will be surprise mystery guest, too, in Megan’s private life.

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Carolyn Haines newest Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery is Rock-A-Bye Bones. It finds the unlikely PI still smarting after the break with her fiancé and subsequent attack she suffered in Bone to be Wild now out in paperback. Sarah Booth will get the surprise of her life when she finds what she thinks is a kitten mewing on a cold night at her home in Zinnia, Mississippi. The appearance of the spirit, Jitty, in different guises, adds to the excitement in Sarah’s home.

For that kitten turns out to be an abandoned newborn in a basket. Bloody footsteps leading to her door are her first clue; a dark-colored car leaving the area is her second. It will be up to Sarah and her PI partner, Tinkie Richmond, to find the baby’s mother. But as they start to investigate, it soon becomes apparent that this was not a mother abandoning a child as much as a woman running for her own life and trying to protect her infant.

With Sheriff Coleman Peters still stirring unresolved feelings in Sarah Booth, and Tinkie taking care of and becoming attached to the baby girl, Sarah has a lot on her mind in addition to tracking down the real mother of this little girl. It will soon become apparent that the mother wouldn’t have left her baby unless she had something to fear–and Sarah is following her uneasy and terrified footsteps.

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Marla Cooper’s accomplished debut, Terror in Taffeta, serves up a feisty amateur sleuth readers will want to read again.

Kelsey McKenna is a wedding planner who has learned to juggle everything from wardrobe issues to groomsmen who start to party too early. So she’s received to be wrapping up what she thinks is almost hit a home run with a destination wedding in the charming Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende–until during the ceremony, a collapsing bridesmaid turns a faint into a murder investigation by dying.

Pressed by the paying mother of the bride to not ruin the wedding, Kelsey must keep the murder to herself and play homicide detective–in another country–where she has no power and knows no one–or does she? And then there is a second murder and suddenly the maid of honor is a suspect.

Smart and funny at the same time, Kelsey must track down a murderer, all the while wondering how this is going to affect her business.

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Joan Hess brings back her almost-retired bookseller, Claire Malloy, in Pride v. Prejudice. A widow with a teen, Caron, who speak in ALL CAPS, Claire’s marriage to Deputy Police Chief Peter Rosen has changed the landscape. She has employees to run the Book Depot and is able to serve on jury duty.

But her colorful past comes back to haunt her, as Claire comes up against a prosecutor who has a grudge against her and Peter. He humiliates her even as she’s dismissed from jury duty. But Claire doesn’t take the slight lying down: She decides to prove the defendants’ innocence.

Of course, this proves to be more difficult than she’d first expected, as the evidence Claire uncovers points squarely to Sarah Swift’s guilt. Before it’s over, the FBI will be involved, and so will Claire’s now mother-in-law. A delectable bite of fun.

Cocnut Cowboy

We travel next to Florida and Tim Dorsey’s remarkable serial killer, Serge Storms, in Coconut Cowboy.

Serge has always been obsessed with all aspects of Easy Rider. The lovable serial killer decides he must finish the journey of Captain American and Billy, his heroes. Calling himself Captain Serge, he sets off for Florida’s panhandle with Coleman riding shotgun to find what he calls the real America, filled with apple pie and Main Streets.

But rural American is not what Serge expected at all. The duo find more than their fair share of corrupt politicians. A few mind-altering meds will be included before their wild ride is over, and of course, their usual homicides that just seem to follow these two.

There will be gunfights, Senators and more for the font of trivia that is Serge. This is the 19th in the series and fans can’t get enough of Serge and Coleman’s adventures, which Dorsey admits are often inspired by stops along his extensive drives around Florida doing signings, wearing his usual wild Hawaiian shirts.
Killer Ball\
The third installment in Hannah Dennison’s series brings her usual hilarity through its eccentric characters. This time it’s A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall that does the honors, the Hall being Kat Stanford’s estate, a 600 yr-old mansion that appears to have a hidden room. Being set in the lovely Devon area doesn’t hurt, either.

Kat finds the room exploring an unused wing at the Hall. But ti seems someone else has gotten there before her, for she finds the body of a young woman, dressed in an Egyptian costume, with a costume necklace around her very broken neck.

Anyone at the Hall at this time falls under suspicions, and it is up to Kat to clear her friends and find the real killer. Iris, Kat’s mother, also known as Krystalle Storm, a bestselling steamy romance novelist, is on hand to muddy the waters with the related characters representing a modern-day Downton Abbey, of a farcical style.

A classic country-house mystery for modern times with modern sensibilities.

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Auntie M is a fan of Ian Sansom’s Mobile Library Mystery Series, and so was intrigued to receive a review copy of his “Country Guide” installment fearing the “People’s Professor,” in Death in Devon. The first is set in Norfolk Guide; this one takes readers to Agatha Christie’s home county.

Readers should be prepared for a very different outing than the breezy humor of the Mobile series. This is a sendup of the 1930s, replete with the class system, school bullies, poor Sefton with PTSD–it’s all there and all ready to be parodied. Told from the viewpoint of Stephen Sefton, assistant to Swanton Morely, the story begins with the two men setting out to Devon, accompanied by Sefton’s comely and adventurous daughter Miriam as driver of the family Lagonda.

Merely is to speak in Rousdon at All Souls School at their Founders Day, an event destined to bring in large donors of the attendant boys. But tragedy strikes early in the form of a youth found dead at the bottom of the famous Devon cliffs. Is this an accident or a case of murder?
It remains to be seen, as police investigate quietly so that the Founders Day founders do not scatter or withdrew their financial support. The story unwinds in an obtuse and meandering way, elaborating on the eccentricities of many of the faculty.

Of course, no character is as eccentric or as bold as Swanton Morely himself, who has seemingly written more books, papers, treatises and articles on almost as many subjects as one can imagine one would tackle and still sleep, if he ever does. He is a fountain of information, some of it suspect, and Sefton is the chief gatherer of his rambling monologues and then some. The plot is so loose it flies in the wind. This is not for the reader who expects a plot-driven mystery, but is for one who enjoys characters larger than life and a hang-onto-your-hate wild ride, whilst learning real history of the area. There’s more here than meets the eye at first read.

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Paige Shelton premieres a new series, this time set in Scotland, with The Cracked Spine.

Kansas native Delaney Nichols has a new job after she answers an ad and finds herself on her way to Edinburgh. With her degrees in English and History, working for a bookshop that specializes in rare books and manuscripts sounds ideal, even if owner Edwin MacAlister sounds vague about her duties. The shop is as crowded and wonderful as Delaney could imagine, even if she longs to bring a sense of organization to the premises.

She finds the staff as eccentric as Edwin, too. There’s Rosie, an elderly woman accompanied by her little dog, Hector; and Hamlet, a would-be actor with a checkered past–but not as checkered as that of Jenny, Edwin’s sister, battling an old drug habit that’s nearly destroyed her relationship with her brother.

Delaney is barely settled into her cottage, owned by a friendly taxi driver she’s met, when Edwin’s sister is brutally murdered after entrusting Jenny with an extremely rare and valuable manuscript–which is now missing. With Edwin grieving both the loss of his sister and the manuscript, Delaney starts asking questions. It’s not long before she’s investigating to find the murderer and retrieve the manuscript, especially when Hamlet becomes a suspect.

There will even be a bit of romance with a man in a kilt, too, before Delaney’s first Scottish adventure is ended. A delightful start to a new series.

Michael Wallace: Not Death, But Love Sunday, Aug 16 2015 

While Auntie M is attending St Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Conference in Oxford, please welcome California author Michael Wallace, who will describe the genesis of his third mystery, Not Death, But Love:
Not Death,But Love

The Book That Wanted to Be Written

Most authors, I’m guessing, are carrying around several unwritten books in their heads. Typically we have an idea of which one will get written next, but sometimes one of the stories insists on muscling its way from the back of the queue to the front.

Something rather like that took place with my third Quill Gordon mystery, Not Death, But Love, which was published on Amazon May 27. This wasn’t originally going to be the third book in the series, but things happened.

In 2012 I was hired by a family foundation to write the family’s history. It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, because it paid generously and the work was fascinating. By the end of it, I felt the long-deceased family members had come alive inside my head and that I was able to convey a reasonably good sense of them to the readers.

In the course of that work, I came across several things that were a surprise to the people who hired me. There were no terrible scandals, but there were lawsuits and family schisms they hadn’t known about until I started digging. At the time, I was simultaneously working on my second mystery, Wash Her Guilt Away, and at some point it occurred to me that a family history with a deep secret — one worth killing to keep — could make the basis for a good mystery.

One of my plans for a future book had been a story centering on a controversial land-use plan, something that would make use of the knowledge I picked up working as a consultant for Wells Fargo Bank and The Home Depot more than a decade ago. That one had been on the back burner, but I decided to combine ideas to make the land development part of the family history, and was off to the races.

When I was working on the real family history, I often lamented that none of the family members had kept journals (at least none that had survived). I decided to give my murder victim, a retired English teacher named Charlotte London, a journal. It was originally supposed to provide a set of clues to complement those in the family history, but it ended up being much more than that.

Simply put, in the course of creating the journal sections, I discovered that Charlotte had come to life most vividly, and, surprisingly to me, became one of the most dominant and complex characters in the book. Not to be gooey, but I got to be rather fond of her, and I’m hoping the book’s readers will, too.

The history aspect carried through the rest of the book as well. I found myself wondering about, and inventing, histories of various elements of the book. These included the lake, the Italian restaurant where the characters ate dinner, the Rotary Club, where community and political alliances were cemented, and the town where the story was set. Such details, I feel, are what add richness to a book. They can often be what a reader remembers long after he or she has forgotten whodunit.
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MICHAEL WALLACE is a native and lifelong resident of California. He received an A.B. degree in English Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, worked for 19 years as a daily newspaper reporter and editor, and has had a long second career as a public relations and publications consultant. He has been an avid reader of mysteries since childhood and a fly fisherman for more than three decades. He lives in the Monterey Bay area with his wife, Linda Ogren, a university lecturer in biology. Their son, Nick, is in the army.

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LINKS The McHenry Inheritance Book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008OAODZ6 Video: http://youtu.be/qeUj3R4mf_Y Wash Her Guilt Away Book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K1DOV56 Video: http://youtu.be/m1Hqg11YJ0o Not Death, But Love Book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00U5LEFHS Video: In production Website: http://www.quillgordonmystery.com Blog: http://www.outofglendale.blogspot.com Twitter: @Qgordonnovel Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MikeWallaceMysteryWriter

NEW in Paperback: Casey, Bolton, Haynes, Dahl, Margolin Wednesday, Apr 29 2015 

Auntie M reads so many books but that you’d think they’d all run together after a while …

But in the case of the following, these are new in paperback, already been reviewed in hardcover, but were some of my favorites. So in case you missed them then, for your consideration:

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Jane Casey’s THE STRANGER YOU KNOW was chosen by the UK Times as one fothe top 10 crime novels of 2014. This is a terrific series with a strong female protagonist who has a frustrating relationship with her partner DCI Josh Derwent. The series delves into the interoffice relationships all detectives must face in a realistic manner. Here they face unraveling a series of three stranglings that point to a sadistic killer and right now, all of the evidence points right to Jane’s partner.

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Sharon Bolton’s Lacey Flint series have the young detective with the secret past working on London’s marine unit in A DARK AND TWISTED TIDE. When Lacy finds the shrouded body in the river, it will lead her to investigate other murders that have their origins in Afghanistan and may include Lacey’s newest friend on the river.

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Elizabeth Hayne’s stand-alones (Into the Darkest Corner, Dark Tide, Human Remains) all earned Auntie M’s ‘highly recommended’ listing with good reason. Her first of a series, introducing DCI Louisa Smith and her team, was UNDER A SILENT MOON, a gripping police procedural that finally lets a female investigator have a private life while it doesn’t take a whit away from the strong and compelling plot. In this debut, Louisa is tasked with two murders of two woman in a horse and farm suburb outside London. Haynes’ use of graphs and charts as well as investigative reports, witness statements and call logs that are in use in real investigations give the books a sense of being plunged into the life of a working detective.

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Julia Dahl’s debut, INVISIBLE CITY, was an instant hit and has been nominated for all kinds of awards. She brings the world of Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jews to life as a young reporter, Rebekah Roberts, tries to solve the mystery behind the death of a woman from the community whose life may have ties to Rebekah’s own mother. A strong mystery with a compelling narrator, it also gives readers a look into the world of tabloid journalism.

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Phillip Margolin’s pioneer saga, WORTHY BROWN”S DAUGHTER, is a mix of Old West, legal drama, and racism in a portrait of small town justice. It’s 1860 in the new state of Oregon, and judges often held court in fields or taverns, and were often put up by families as they traveled their territory. The story was inspired by a real case from that era, when freed slaves tried to find and have their children returned to them. Raw in authenticity, Margolin’s years of research will bring you back to a forgotten era.

Tony Lee Moral: Playing Mrs. Kingston Sunday, Jan 11 2015 

Please welcome Tony Lee Moral, who will describe the genesis of his new mystery, Playing Mrs. Kingston:

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How Alfred Hitchcock can influence Your Novel Writing by Tony Lee Moral

Alfred Hitchcock has been a huge influence on my life, ever since I saw my first Hitchcock film, I Confess, at the age of 10 years old. I was immediately struck by the moral ambiguity of the film and the conflicted viewpoint of the central character, a priest, played by Montgomery Clift. Since then I’ve written three books on Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense. Two books are on the making of specific films, The Birds and Marnie, which were made in the early 1960s and have a close production history; and a more general book called Alfred Hitchcock’s Movie Making Masterclass, which is about all of his films, for aspiring screenwriters and film makers.

So when writing my murder mystery novel Playing Mrs. Kingston, I was immediately drawn to the Hitchcockian principles of suspense and characterization. The central character, Catriona Kingston, takes after many a Hitchcock blonde, particularly Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman and Eva Marie Saint. She is feisty, determined, action oriented, duplicitous and mysterious. The duel identifies she plays, both Catriona and Catherine, is reminiscent of Kim Novak’s character in Vertigo. Her boyfriend, Mario Montefiore, a saxophonist at the the Stork Club, was inspired by Henry Fonda’s character in The Wrong Man, who himself was based on the real life Manny Balestrero, wrongfully accused of a series of robberies in 1950s New York, the same time period in which my novel is set.

Hitchcock often spoke about the MacGuffin in his films, a key plot device that drives the story. The MacGuffin is the engine that propels the plot. It is the object around which the plot revolves and motivates the actions of the characters. In North by Northwest, the MacGuffin is the roll of microfilm in the pre-Columbian statue, which both Cary Grant, the hero, and James Mason, the villain, are after. In Playing Mrs. Kingston, the MacGuffin is the stolen Caravaggio painting, which Catriona’s arch enemy so desperately wants. But the real story is about Catriona and Mario, and finding out who the killer is. But in having a MacGuffin in my novel, the stolen painting, it drove the plot forward, and motivated the characters, especially in the second half of the book, when all seemed lost.

Good writing is subtext, reading between the lines, rather than on the nose dialogue. Much of the dialogue in Hitchcock’s best screenplays, such as Notorious, Rear Window and North by Northwest, have layers of meaning. Good dialogue should be full of conflict between the chracters and have a natural rhythm that’s easily spoken, like a verbal sparring game that resembles the epic tennis match in Strangers on a Train until someone scores a point. The writing between Catriona and Detective Radcliffe is like a cat and mouse game, with Catriona trying to stay a few steps ahead of the Detective who is chasing the real Catriona Benedict, while she is in disguise as Catherine Kingston.

Hitchcock loved counterpoint and contrast and often had two things happening at once. He built tension into a scene by having contrasting situations, with two unrelated things happening simultaneously. In Notorious, a big party is taking place in Ingrid Bergman’s honor, but she is too preoccupied in showing Cary Grant the wine cellar, which holds the MacGuffin, in this case the uranium ore stored inside the wine bottles. Upstairs the champagne is quickly running out, threatening to expose the couple to Nazi villain Claude Raines, who Bergman has married, which ratchets up the tension.

A good example of this in Playing Mrs. Kingston is when both Lowry, Catriona’s old theatre boss, and Detective Radcliffe are at the Kingston gallery, and Catriona is threatened to be unmasked at any moment for who she is really is. I had Notorious very much in my mind when writing the novel, especially the big party scenes, when the moral ambiguity of the conflicted heroine comes into play, and she marries into a family full of secrets and becomes trapped in the enemy’s house. Only by using all her wits is she able to escape.

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Alfred Hitchcock’s Movie Making Masterclass is published by Michael Wiese Books

Playing Mrs. Kingston is published by Zharmae Publishing Press

Coco Ihle: She Had to Know Sunday, Sep 7 2014 

Welcome guest author Coco Ihle and leave a comment to win a free copy of her book SHE HAD TO KNOW.

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Words of Wisdom for Dreamers by Coco Ihle

We’ve all had dreams. What are yours? Have you had some fulfilled? Are you still in the process of realizing your desires?

Doggedly pursuing our dreams gives us a sense that they may come to fruition, that we may actually accomplish something in our pursuit. The more passion and determination we possess, the easier it is to move toward our goals, and having a support system helps us emotionally and practically.

Years ago when I first started writing, I shared with friends and relatives my intention of writing a book one day. Some encouraged me to go for it, some said it would be too difficult, an impossible accomplishment. I chose to go for it, despite what pitfalls I might encounter. One friend in particular shared with me a poem that has been a mainstay in my quest. The author is unknown, but I would thank him/her if I could. Here it is. I hope it will encourage you, as well.

I wish I were a could be
if I could not be an are.
For a could be is a maybe
with a chance of reaching far.
I’d rather have been a has been
than a might have been, by far.
For a might have been has never been,
while a has was once an are.

I’ve been thinking about the journey I’ve made to become a published author. As I look back, it hasn’t been short or easy, but it has been rewarding. Persistence through all the stumbling blocks, and even working through discouragement from time to time, has made my dream come true. My wish for you is that you have a good support system, dogged determination and persistence to make your dreams come true. I think it’s worth it. I hope you do, too.

I’d love to hear any secrets you may have in fulfilling your dreams. And for someone who leaves a comment and would like to write a review of my book, SHE HAD TO KNOW, I’ll put all the names in a caldron, stir the brew and select a winner for a free copy. Thank you so very much, Marni, for having me as a guest on your blog.

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Coco Ihle’s debut mystery, SHE HAD TO KNOW, has autobiographical elements involving two reunited long lost sisters’ harrowing adventures in a castle in Scotland. A product of foster care and adoption, Coco spent over fifty years searching for her sister, and found her in 1994. In her former career, she was an internationally known belly dancer who was privileged to perform in Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Spain, Hawaii, and for appearances with the Today Show’s Willard Scott, actors Cliff Robertson and Whoopie Goldberg. She was a magazine staff writer, fundraiser for many charities and an instructor at Auburn University. A contest won her a spot in the Florida Writers Association anthology, published in 2009 and she is a contributing author in an anthology from Second Wind Publishing, recently released. She is a member of MWA, SinC, FWA, the ALMA Society and Clan Buchanan of Scotland. She lives near Tampa, Florida. http://www.cocoihle.com

Sherry Harris: Tagged for Death Sunday, Aug 24 2014 

Thanks so much for asking me to join you today to talk about how the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series came about. My path to publication is a bit different. An editor in NYC gets an idea for a series with a garage sale theme. He goes to an agent, who goes to a friend, who comes to me. It sounds easy, right? Oh, if it only were!

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I’ve been writing for a number of years and have three manuscripts in the drawer and a stack of rejection letters to go with them. Over those years I’ve attended a number of writing and fan conferences. One year at Malice I sat at a table with Julie Hennrikus (now one of my fellow Wicked Cozy Authors). Julie lived in Massachusetts. We’d just found out that my husband was being stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base near Bedford, Massachusetts that summer. She told me I should join the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime when we got there.

I did and I continued to work on the craft of writing. (Yes, I’m a slow learner!) Two years ago I pitched to agent John Talbot at Crime Bake. He wasn’t interested in the three books in the drawer either. A few weeks later I received an email from Barbara Ross. An editor in New York had an idea for a cozy mystery series with a garage sale theme. The editor contacted John Talbot. John then asked Barbara if she knew anyone she thought might be able to write the series. Barbara knew I loved garage sales and asked me.

A week later I’d written a proposal for the series. All the characters, the setting, and the plot flowed out of me. I turned it in to John. He tweaked a few things and sent it off. After much handwringing and pacing, I signed a three book deal. The books are set in the fictional town of Ellington, Massachusetts and on a fictional Air Force base I named Fitch Air Force Base. I guess all of those years of preparation paid off when an unexpected opportunity came to me.

In Tagged for Death Sarah has to make a decision whether to help clear her ex-husband’s name after he’s accused of murder. Why would help a lying, cheating ex? Because otherwise she might also be accused. Tagged for Death, the first in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series, will be available December 2, 2014.

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Sherry Harris started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the series. Blog: Wickedcozyauthors.com Website: Sherryharrisauthor.com

Hot Summer Reads and Rory Flynn Interview Tuesday, Jul 22 2014 

Auntie M has a huge stack of crime fiction waiting to be read and she likes to take the middle of the summer, when guest blogs build up, to remind you of those books that are in print that you will enjoy. Seek out the ones that appeal to you for some fun summer readings.

First up is an interview with author Rory Flynn, whose first crime novel, THIRD RAIL: An Eddy Harkness Novel, is in print. Auntie M had the distinct pleasure of meeting Mr. Flynn when she was in Concord, MA, recently with her writing group visiting the literary sites. Not far from the homes of Emerson and Alcott, we talked about Mr. Flynn’s character Eddy, his hometown of Nagog, not unlike Concord, and Flynn’s writing process.

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Auntie M: When a former principal remarks that what happened to Eddy’s family is Shakespearian, Eddy answers:” And you don’t mean the comedies do you?” How much of that comes from your own history and from living in a small town? You have a line: “Cities churn, suburbs strive, but small towns stay the same.”

Rory Flynn: My real mother disappeared from my life over twenty years ago so that’s a part of it. I choose when to go in and out of focus on that kind of stuff and end up taking out more after the first draft. The idea of small town’s never gets lost, but people know where they are they are in small town living. It’s a microcosm of the whole world, and when Eddy turns over a stone it’s familiar to readers. The monument crash in the book and its subsequent controversy over fixing it or not actually occurred here, and like us, there are elements that convey a bigger story about behavior and life.

AM: We see the action unfold from Eddy’s shoulder which gives the book a tremendous sense of immediacy. Despite his fall from grace that paints him as a tragic figure, he handles it all gracefully.

RF: Eddy’s a walking-around kinda guy, especially when he’s collecting meter change. When he loses his gun, it’s a metaphor for him losing face on the job that got him demoted in the first place. I like to throw everything into a chapter and then take out what’s not needed but something’s always got to be happening. There’s darkness and there should be dimensions in each chapter where something happens. I have fun writing him.

AM: “Morning is about flaws.” These lines of realism smack the reader in the face with a universal truth. Do you create them out of the writing or have them in mind first?

RF: I liked lines that resonate and have that universal truth. It’s like a filter of Life. I fit them in with when I can work them into the lines around what’s happening; it can’t be forced. But sometimes that kind of line resonates.

AM: Some of your characters are way out there, eccentric to say the least. Where does that come from?

RF: I played in a grotty urban punk band and we’d do these gigs, often in college towns, I’d meet and see so many different kinds of people, always with a nightlife I was supporting. And I like being wild, throwing in characters who are out there.

AM: You write and work but you’re very community-mnded. You work with Gaining Ground, a community farm group.

RF: My wife and I both do. It’s a 100-acre farm run by volunteers who grow and give produce to the people who need it. There’s a real give and take with the surrounding community and it’s a program that’s spread to fifteen countries.

AM: Yet you find time to write, time to volunteer, time to work at a copyediting job, and time to run the Concord Free Press.

RF: I need that job to put two daughters through college! Very few writers, unless you’re Stephen King or JK Rowling, can make a living off their writing. I have other novels (under his real name, Stona Fitch) and one was made into a movie and another optioned by Harry Connick, Jr, but only a very small percentage of writers support their families just on their writing. The Press came about from an idea, again, of giving back to the community. Fitch-Give and takeBWCHoU3kL._AA160_
Generosity is infectious and I find the whole concept fascinating. It’s an odd publishing model, Concord Free Press, with underwriting from Kodak that covers printing costs. We reach out to people and the books choose us. We ask them to let us give 3,000 copies of a book away for free and then ask the recipient to make a donation to any charity of their liking and then pass the book on. Once you take money out of the equation all things are possible. To date we’ve raised over $400,000 dollars to various charities and given the author exposure. People are reading their books who might never have seen them and readers are making donations they wouldn’t have thought about. We’d like to expand next to books out of print.

AM: What’s on your nightstand waiting to be read and who do you like in crime? And more importantly, what’s up next for Eddy Harkness?

RF: In crime, Megan Abbott’s The Fever–she’s on CFP’s editorial board. I like Alan Guthrie and Robert Parker, too. I like Jess Walter, Stephen Zweig, Martin Walser; that night stand has Bohumil Hrabel’s I Served the King of Englandand Herman Koch’s The Dinner. Eddy? In Third Rail, the fictional drug loosens people and their problems up, until they have a monumental crash. I liked that and its effects. The sequel, Dark Horse, is a tale of personal responsibility on many levels.

AM: Thanks for your time, Mr. Flynn. Now for THIRD RAIL, the first Eddy Harness novel.ThirdRail_cover_277x419
Eddy Harkness is a young detective with a sixth sense for finding hidden things: cash, drugs, guns, bodies. But Eddy’s place in an elite narcotics unit is derailed by the death of a Red Sox fan in the chaos of a World Series win, a death some feel he could have prevented. The incident is not told in great detail; just enough to interest readers and explain Eddy’s fall from grace. Eddy finds himself exiled to his hometown just outside Boston, where he empties parking meters and struggles to redeem his disgraced family name with its own history.

After a night of crazed drinking with a wild new companion, Eddy’s police-issue Glock disappears. Unable to report the theft, Eddy starts a secret search for it, using a plastic model for cover, just as a string of fatal accidents lead him to uncover a new, dangerous smart drug, Third Rail. There is a cast of characters filled with eccentricities who rival Monty Python, too. With only that plastic gun to protect him, Eddy’s investigation leads him into the darkest corners of his hometown, where it soon becomes tough to tell the politicians from the criminals. There will be death and revealed secrets as Eddy turns over stones in the town he thought he knew. With a highly developed setting, a very human protagonist, and a story that takes off from page one and never lets up until its startling finale, Third Rail readers will be looking for the next Eddy Harkness novel.

On to other recommended reads.

grimes
Martha Grimes has been off writing other novels, so her return to a Richard Jury novel after four long years is anxiously awaited in Vertigo 42. Jury as a Superintendent has more flexibility, although he still has Carole-anne Palutski as his comely upstairs neighbor. The whole eccentric crew revolving around Melrose Plant is back for a few scenes, too, although their presence has more to do with comic relief and less do with Jury’s investigation when he’s asked by an old friend to look to the death of the friend’s wife seventeen years ago.

Tess Williiamson died in a fall down stone steps at her Devon home, several years after coming under suspicion for the death of a child, there for a day’s outing with a group of other children at the home, in a similar way. Her husband, Tom, can’t believe it was accidental, or that Tess committed suicide. Tom asks Jury to look into the case, and as it falls on the turf of his friend, Brian Macalvie, only too eager to establish the real cause of death. Jury soon finds himself at the house, called Laburnum.

The scene seems staged to Jury, but then so does the death near Ardy’s house in Sidbury of a young woman who has fallen from a high tower. The Hitchcock movie “Vertigo” comes into play here. Dressed impeccably in designer clothes and shoes, the woman’s death investigation runs parallel to Jury’s old one, until a man dead from gunshots is found in an alley and things really get complicated after that.

Auntie M was happy to be with the familiar cast but the ending seemed to be almost anti-climatic, or perhaps the pace was off a tad. Whatever, it’s still a pleasure to be back with Richard Jury and his unlikely crew of friends.

Gold-Digger-Frances-Fyfield

Witness Impulse has brought out Frances Fyfield’s Gold Digger, in ebook and trade paperback, and its a tour de force from this talented writer who gets inside the psyche of her characters. Readers will also learn about the art world as that world is the pivot point of the entire plot. But it’s so much more, in the talented way Fyfield has of creating engaging and very real characters who leap off the page, all damaged by life.

Thomas Porteous sees something in the urchin Diana Quigley, who enters his house as a thief only to steal his heart and become his wife, despite a huge age difference.

Thomas is an art collector, with an eye that rivals Di’s own, and he sets about teaching her to see art and nature with new eyes. Theirs is a happy if brief marriage, and one of the highlights of the novel are Di’s descriptive cards of the paintings they share in the huge old house by the sea that was once a school.

Thomas’ first wife turned their two daughters against him in a most horrendous way, but that doesn’t stop either of the daughter’s from plotting to get their hands on what they feel is their wealth by right, instead of going to Di. Despite his best try at reconciliation before his death, his daughters abandon him until Thomas is gone. The only family member who adores him, along with Di, is one young grandson, Patrick.

Now the family has planned to rob Di and gain back what they feel is theirs, and she enlists a motley group of compatriots to help her foil their plan. Suspenseful and compelling.
DarkandTwisted
Sharon Bolton made a name for herself with engaging stand-alone suspense novels before launching her Lacey Flint series. The newest, A Dark and Twisted Tide
, shows once again why this unusual protagonist is the perfect foil for the gritty settings Bolton chooses and the unusual stories she tells.

Lacey is living on a houseboat on the Thames and starts to feel she’s becoming part of the river’s community until the shrouded body of a young woman is found in the river. She’s recently joined the marine police unit and is fast becoming used to the ins and outs of the river and its byways.

When she realizes this body has been deliberately left for her to find, Lacey knows she’s being watched. But by who and why? And with her fragile relationship with Joesbury on hold while he does undercover work, she’s feeling exposed and vulnerable.

Then someone starts leaving creepy gifts on the deck of Flint’s houseboat just as the bodies being to pile up of more young woman, garbed in the same kind of unusual shroud. That’s when her former boss Dana Tulloch gets involved and Lacey’s investigation takes on a new angle: are young women being kidnapped and kept prisoner after being lured her from places like Afghanistan? And what of the brother and sister team Lacey comes to know and befriend who live on a tributary? How are they involved? This is a first-rate mystery with all the twists and plot turns any reader could want,and a solid nail-biter ending. But it’s the characters that infuse A Dark and Twisted Tide with such heart and reality— not just the damaged Flint but her friends and colleagues as well. Highly recommended.

Melissa Westemeier: Kicks Like a Girl Sunday, Jun 29 2014 

Melissa Westemeier Punches Out New Novel in Kicks Like a Girlkicks-like-girl-melissa-westemeier-paperback-cover-art

Wisconsin writer Melissa Westemeier published her latest novel this February, now available on Kindle and in paperback.

Kicks Like a Girl was inspired by Melissa’s experiences as a karate student. Now a 2nd degree black belt, she recalled her first time stepping onto the mat and how she struggled to keep up with advanced students while mastering the basics of martial arts.

“It was tough and scary, not unlike taking gym class as a new kid when the popular kids pick teams. You feel like a failure at first when you’re the last kid picked, and then you grit your teeth and determine that you will become a success at dodge ball or floor hockey—not unlike my experiences with writing when I think about it.”

The heroine of Kicks Like a Girl, Gretchen Benton, takes up karate to learn self-defense after she’s assaulted by thugs robbing her flower shop. “I wanted to write a mystery, like a whodunit, but it morphed into a book about a woman becoming empowered. The physical strength she gets from karate mirrors the mental strength she acquires and you see that at play throughout different parts of her life.”

Readers report enjoying the book, and feeling inspired to try martial arts themselves, which is exactly what Westemeier intended. “I love karate and I wanted to share my enthusiasm for it. I want readers, especially women, to walk away from this book wanting to try martial arts and feel the thrill of punching and kicking something really hard.”

Those who have read Westemeier’s first book, Whipped, Not Beaten, will appreciate the humor in Kicks Like a Girl, too. The witty banter between the characters, the Bridezillas Gretchen encounters as a florist, and the range of karate students will keep you entertained until the very last page.

Kicks Like a Girl is available online.

Melissa Westemeier’s pboished work includes Whipped, Not Beaten, and Writing in a Changing World. A former high school English teacher-turned SAHM, Melissa blogs about environmental issues, and her adventures raising 3 boys and a ton of fresh produce on her family’s 60-acre homestead in Northeastern Wisconsin. Her current projects included a trilogy about a river town in Wisconsin, earning her 3rd degree black belt in karate and figuring out what to make for dinner tonight.

Jan McCanless: The Beryl’s Cove Mysteries and More Sunday, May 4 2014 

While Auntie M is in MN enjoying her four Grands there and her 23rd wedding anniversary, please welcome author Jan McCanless, whose wit and charm delight readers.

Over Connected but Underwired

by Jan McCanless
McCanless 1

There was a cartoon in the paper the other day that had the born loser looking forlornly at his computer screen, and Gladys was asking him what the trouble was. He replied that there was a news story he wanted to read that would help him with his memory, and he couldn’t access it because he had forgotten his password. That, my friends, is the story of my life!!

You would think that being a newspaper columnist I would know how to do tricks on a computer, I mean, really make it sit up and spin around. Hah !!!!! I know just enough to get me by vis-a-vis my emails and sending in my work to various editors around the country.

Somebody told me recently that they were surprised I was not banging away on an old Underwood typewriter someplace. Hey, if I could find one, I would…

I have a sister-in-law who raves about her Kindle, her iPad, her tablet, her iPhones, whatever. She will begin rhapsodizing over all these electronics, while I sit there with that deer-in-the-headlights look. Just this morning, my friend emailed about a new computer he is trying to set up at his house. He raved about memory chips, hardware, motherboard, gigabites, etc, and I sat here, my eyes glazing over. I’m thinking to myself, what in the world are these people talking about??

I recall a job I once had that required me to have a cell phone so the office could get in touch with me. At that time, my daughter had given me an old one she felt was obsolete, so, there I was, riding around on the tour bus I was escorting someplace, when the phone rang. I whipped it out, pulled up the antenna, and to my horror, all 56 passengers on the bus were laughing and pointing at me. What????? It was a cell phone for heavens sake!! Not long after this, the thing simply died on me. It was, after all, a fossil from the dinosaur age. Off I went to my local wireless store. See, I did learn the terminology. Wireless, has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Give me the cheapest, easiest thing to operate, I told them. They did, but then the salesman started to explain all the neat things it would do: you hit this button, it turns on the camera; this over here, he said, was the speaker; on and on. Even told me how I could text. Text, me???

Putting my new toy in my handbag, I inadvertently turned the camera on. It would be a disaster, but, I did get a lot of nice shots of the interior of my handbag. The first time it rang, it scared me to death. I had forgotten how to turn it on and speak into it. Well, you can understand my predicament now, can’t you? I am definitely of the on/off switch generation, and you people have put me in this situation , and I can tell you right now I am not happy about it.

Soon after they bought me my first microwave oven, I told my children that I would never want for any other modern device. They told me I had to come into the modern age and to use a computer. “Get connected, Mom” they told me. “You can’t access the internet with a microwave oven.” How do they know, have they ever tried?

The whole world is ‘connected’ electronically, but I am underwired for such things. It’s all I can do to operate my can opener/knife sharpener, and I didn’t even realize my can opener also contained a knife sharpener until my daughter-in-law used it one day. I thought those ridges on the back of the thing were merely a nice design.

Look, I’m happy, blissful in my ignorance, and think of the time I don’t waste by being constantly on one of those electronic gizmos. Just for your information, I don’t care for vending machines, either. They always seem to take my money and stop functioning at that moment. Besides, if I learned to be really proficient on one of those things, what in the world would I write about?

Contact Jan at janet.mccanless@janmacbooks.com or via the e mail at janmccanless@aol.com She may write you back!

2007--Janet-McCanless-backside#1
Jan McCanless is a retired high school teacher and free lance columnist for several national newspapers and national publications. She’s authored 9 books, 7 in the Beryl’s Cove mystery series, and 2 compilations of funny columns, magazine articles and humor presentations around the country. A former woman of the year in Rowan County, Jan was among the nominees for International Woman of the year in 2005, for her work as a child advocate and in family violence prevention.

Listed as one of North Carolinas premier humorists, Jan often writes about her escapades trying to unravel the confusion of electronics, while maintaining her status as a member of the on/off switch generation. She takes pride in the fact she just recently learned how to use my electric knife sharpener, and braved the world of the ATM.

Married for a lifetime, she is the proud mother of 3, and grandmother of 9, who happen to feel, as I do, that I am awesome! She resides in rural Rowan County, but, you can probably catch her at one of her appearances around the country, or some regional book fair or signing. Jan says: “You can’t miss me, I am the one without the cell phone attached to my head, or using the iPad or any other gadget popular today. I’ll be doing my figuring on paper, with pencil, but I do work crossword puzzles in ink. Having been compared to Erma Bombeck, all I can say is: I am funnier and prettier, so, enjoy yourself while you read about my latest adventure.”
Murder on the Mississippi cover galley

The Beryl’s Cove Mysteries:

Beryl’s Cove and the Elvis Man

The Case of the Doomed Diplomat – a Beryl’s Cove Mystery

Great Scott -A Beryl’s Cove Mystery

The Haunted Chapel – A Beryl’s Cove Mystery

Back to Beryl’s Cove -Train Ride to Homicide

The Choir Loft Murders – A Beryl’s Cove Mystery

Murder on the Mississippi – A Brother Jerome Story and Beryl’s Cove Mystery

Compilations:

Wyatt Earp, GAP Pickles and Thoughts of Home -won the Mother Vine award for best short stories of 2013

Tire Patch Cookies are Good for the Soul -nominee for Mother Vine award for 2014

th-th-that’s all folks !!!!!

R. E. Donald: The Highway Mysteries and Hunter Rayne Sunday, Apr 27 2014 

Auntie M is at the Day of the Book in Kensington, MD today. Please drop by the Bridle Path Press table to say hello if you are in the area. In my absence, welcome R. E. Donald, who shares the story of her Highway Mystery Series.

A Hero in the Slow Lane

If you don’t personally know a trucker, this might come as a surprise: truck drivers are as diverse and disparate a group of individuals as the general population. Some are happy-go-lucky and chatty, some are crude and unkind, some are well-educated and eccentric, some are cowardly and mean, some are messy and good-natured – I could go on.

An assorted group of former truck drivers, for example, are Elvis Presley, Liam Neeson, Charles Bronson, Sean Connery and Richard Pryor. The long-haul driver I write about in the Highway Mysteries, Hunter Rayne, is a hero, in his own polite, tormented way.
SlowCurve

Why would a woman whose favorite mystery novelists at the time were Dorothy L. Sayers, Elizabeth George and P.D. James, choose to create a series whose hero is a truck driver? Having lived most of my life on the west coast of North America, I couldn’t write a series set in England (although Elizabeth George, whom I learned a great deal from at an excellent writing workshop at The Book Passage, has done it very successfully). I wanted to write a traditional-style mystery in a setting that I knew well, with believable situations, and with characters that seemed so real that a reader might expect to meet them in her home town. I had a lifetime of west coast characters and twenty-five years experience in the international transportation industry to draw on for ideas and inspiration.
IceontheGrapevine
I looked at my bookshelf and realized it held numerous series featuring police detectives, lawyers and private eyes. I had no desire to compete head-on with the likes of Michael Connelly, John Lescroart and Sue Grafton, yet I wanted a hero who might realistically get involved in investigating murders and also have access to some of the investigative tools a true amateur would not. A former homicide investigator with friends still in the police force fit the bill.

As a fan of the TV series “Murder She Wrote”, I also realized that setting a crime series in a single community raised issues of credibility. How many murders can take place in one small town like Cabot Cove? With my hero on the road, I have a continent full of crime at my disposal.
Sea_to_Sky

That’s how the Highway Mysteries series with “semi-professional” detective Hunter Rayne was born. The first novel in the series, Slow Curve on the Coquihalla, is named after the mountainous highway featured in Discovery Channel’s “Highway Thru Hell” reality show. The supporting cast includes Hunter’s boss and dispatcher Elspeth Watson and a garrulous biker of Viking descent named Dan Sorenson. In spite of an acrimonious relationship with his ex-wife, Hunter struggles to stay connected with his two teenage daughters. His divorce and the suicide of his best friend have left him with wounds that are slow to heal, and a need for the solitude afforded him by life on the road.

You can find Slow Curve on the Coquihalla, Ice on the Grapevine and Sea to Sky in digital or print format at most on-line book retailers, or they can be ordered through your favorite bookstore. A fourth novel in the Highway Mysteries series will be released later this year.

RE Donald web
Full information is available at proudhorsepublishing.com or the author’s website at redonald.com.
About R.E. Donald: Ruth recently moved to a ranch in the South Cariboo region of British Columbia with a French Canadian cowboy, three horses and two dogs. She has never actually driven an eighteen wheeler, and probably never will.

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