Meet Beth McElla

Beth McElla

Beth McElla is a cozy mystery writer and her books can be found on most retail outlets. She also writes under the name of Juliet Chase. Her books can be found as Ebooks, print and large print.

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
Beach, definitely! Preferably a rocky one or with buried treasure. I’m a northern girl at heart having lived the majority of my life within a few hours of the Canadian border where you don’t get too many sunbathing beaches. So I much prefer to look around in tidepools or hunt sea glass.

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
Lunch! Also my camera, and more bags for sea glass, shells, and possibly picking up plastic trash.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
They’re set on an island so 360 degrees of beach, along with all the quirky characters that come with a small town where people don’t move around a lot. Just enough hints of romance to keep things interesting without really going there (yet), and a storyline that offers more than just ‘who did it?’

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What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
There is no one right way or single path to success. Explore different styles and techniques and pay attention to what comes most easily. We tend to think that hard is better and struggle means it’s real but the opposite is true. If you’re trying to write in first person and it’s not going so well, try third. Or vice versa.  There’s a lot of advice out there that says successful authors outline their books. I can outline, really thoroughly too! And the resulting story is a bit wooden and not very fun to write. My best work is done by visualizing a scene then writing it down. That’s me. I got there through trial and error, trying different things, and paying attention. If you have fun writing it, I guarantee it will show.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
If I tell anyone about the plot before it’s written, I can’t ever seem to write it down. It’s like I’ve already told the story and my brain won’t let me have a do-over. So I’ve learned to not say anything until it’s done!

Where do you get your inspiration?
I’ve led an eclectic life and it offers up useful tidbits daily. When I started this series, I really wanted to set it in an English village, a la Midsommer Murders or Agatha Raisin. But I’ve been to England exactly once (20 years ago) and it just didn’t feel right. So I thought back to my early career in museums working with all the period rooms that wealthy Americans bought in the 1920s and 30s from English estates and expanded that idea into an entire island of transposed architecture. It’s absolutely something that could have happened, that I understand the hows and whys of, and it’s really fun. Maybe more fun than a pure English village because that’s unlikely to have a post office in a medieval French dovecote and a real-estate firm in a windmill.

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Can you give us some insight into what makes you main character tick?
Amelia is intelligent, has never been conventionally pretty, and is a tiny bit (okay, a lot) bossy. She thinks she wants to relax but really, she wants some close friends that love her for who she is and to organize the world into some semblance of logical order. She’s making progress on the first but struggling with the latter!

Do you have a library membership?
I have two! I’m lucky enough to live in a county with a share agreement with a major US city library so I have the benefits of both. I mostly use them for ebooks so I don’t have to remember to return them…

Follow Beth on Facebook! And watch for her next book, Over Exposed.

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Now Available

Meet Rachel Neuberger Reynolds

Raychel writes Cozy Mysteries. They have also been labled “surfer noir”. Her books can be found on Amazon and are part of the Kindle Unlimited program.

Rachel Neuberger Reynolds

What is your favorite vacation spot?
Favorite vacation spot: It’s a toss-up between Bocas del Toro in the Caribbean, where my mysteries are set, and Malta. If I had to pick one of the three, I’d pick the beach. But what I’d most love is a combination of all the options: a beach-side cabana at a luxury resort with a pool not far behind me to cool off.

Everyone takes a beach bag with them, what is in yours?
I’ve tried to pare down my beach tote these days. My essential is a paperback book, that has hopefully fallen into the water at some point, giving it that crinkly beach feel. Besides that: 2 notebooks (one for my current project and one for everything else), 2 bottles of suntan lotion (30 SPF for me and 70 for Mr. Reynolds), 2-3 pair of sunglasses (variety is the spice of life), a little cash, a few credit cards, and a lip gloss I will never use. Oh, and both headphones and a small Bluetooth speaker – I don’t exist without music.

Would your book/series be perfect for the beach?
Is my series perfect for a beach read? Absolutely. The setting is a Caribbean island (very reasonably priced – check it out!). I won’t ruin anything to say that I’ve got a murder in on a snorkeling expedition, as well as a beautiful local found dead at a surf camp. There are surfing detectives, suspicious charter boat owners, and a marine biologist love interest who runs scuba expeditions. You won’t find that in New York City!

Red Frog Beach Mystery Series

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
I love this question. As well as being an author I work with people as a creative coach, often helping people get through the first draft of their first book. Some rules I have

  1. The worst thing you can do it go back to keep revising the first few chapters until you think they are perfect. It’s not going to be. It’s a dangerous cycle and you probably won’t finish the book. Write the bad version (you won’t think it’s so bad when you reach the end).
    1. Writing is rewriting.
    1. If it’s boring you, it’s boring everyone. Harsh, but as a fellow mystery writer you might agree with this one!

What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I have the opposite problem, in that it’s easier for me to write men. Someone once asked me how I get into the male mind as accurately as I do. I said, “I write them just like I’d write as any person.” I think growing up in Boston where many men have a strange kind of wise-cracking attitude, partnered with the drama of working on Broadway for fifteen years, lends itself to big and bold characters.

How do you select the names of your characters?
This is also a fun question for me. It’s not an easy one for me. For main characters, I need to name that gives me no association with anyone I know. I’ve been known to look at lists of baby naming articles online to pick interesting names. For secondary and terciary characters, I do throw in my friend’s names in respect for their friendship and help. Some names in the Red Frog Beach named after friends are Detective McDonough, Hywel the surf camp instructor, and the Paone Institute which is the last name of a friend named Lawrence. And to be a little beachy, I do sometimes grab names from the movies Gidget (1959) and Where The Boys Are (1960). In a different series I’m working on I’ve taken the names Tuggle and Dill right out of the latter one. If that’s not beachy I don’t know what is!

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Watch for Rachel’s newest book in the series, The Poison Garden (Baby I’m Blue), to be release in early December!

The Sister Station books, Now Arriving and Now Departing, are available as a box set September 20th!

Meet Lois Jackman

Lois writes historical cozy mysteries, the DI Carter-Hayes Mystery series. You can find her books wide in print and on Kindle Unlimited in ebook format. Her first book is now available and book two in this series is coming out this autumn.

Lois Jackman

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
I’m a ‘pick n mix’ girl! Some days, I like to relax on the beach—I get lost in a book while my partner and his friends play ball (until they drag me into the ocean!). Other days, I prefer the poolside—I still read by the water, but I’m closer to the buffet! As long as there’s sun, swimming and cold drinks, I’m there!

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
I’m the ‘mom friend’, so I end up carrying a huge tote with sunscreen, water bottles, towels and the kitchen sink! My personal essentials are: a cooling spray (for when the Floridian heat gets the best of this British-born gal); a paperback (I prefer my Kindle at home, but I don’t want sand in it!); and a big pair of sunglasses!

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
I’d like to think it’s a bit of everything! Even though Murder at Midnight Beach is a murder mystery, it’s a historical cozy, so it’s a light-hearted read. Personally, I prefer low-angst reads when I’m on vacation, so I’ve tried to capture that in MAMB and give my readers the fun of a mystery without too much nail-biting! Not only is MAMB a cozy, but it is set in Banksleigh, a small fictional seaside town on the south coast, with most of the action occurring in a beach hotel! Finally, it’s a shorter novel; at 220 pages, it’s a good length to finish while relaxing on a sun-lounger!

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
Don’t fear imperfection! No-one ever writes a perfect first draft, so please don’t worry about writing a masterpiece on your first attempt! Focus on telling the story first, then worry about turning it into a polished manuscript. If you attempt to write your final version on your first attempt, you will likely never complete the book. Write, edit, then edit some more. Most importantly, be kind to yourself!

What does writing success mean to you?
When I started writing, I had a very modest goal: I wanted one person to read and enjoy the book. I’m a naturally anxious person, so I always had this fear people would hate my writing, but I am pleased to say that I reached my goal within the first couple of days of publishing! To me, this is success. Honestly, that first 5* review made my week. It really empowered me and made the entire writing process worth it. To anyone who has ever left a kind review of a book, your words mean so much to the author, I promise you! Please keep reviewing because you are fueling dreams!

Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
I love sharing little-known lore! So, Midnight Beach is so-called for its beautiful nighttime views and an old tradition of locals (apparently) bathing naked in the moonlight on the beach during the full moon.

Tea or coffee?
I’m going to betray my British heritage and say coffee! Between me and you, tea is over-rated (though my MC, Michael, would vehemently disagree with me on this!).

How do you select the names of your characters?
As I write historical mysteries, I try to ensure my names are appropriate for the time period. I like to use public records of popular names in the time period, and then I read through until a name jumps out at me. Fun fact, Rosemary (a character in Murder at Midnight Beach) was called Amelia until the final draft. I just woke up one day and went, ‘this lady is not an Amelia’ haha!

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And don’t forget, once you’ve read Murder at Midnight Beach, head over to Goodreads and leave your review!

Meet Maggie Toussaint

First off, I need to explain…Summer doesn’t end down here in the south just because it’s Labor Day Weekend. How can it, when the temperatures are still in the upper 80’s, the heat index is in the 90’s and the humidty is so thick you can’t breath? So we weill continue our summer beach reads through the month of September.

Maggie Toussaint

I am thrilled to have Maggie participate with my interviews, and enjoyed reading her responses. Maggie is an Award Winning Author and writes Culinary Cozies, Cozy Mystery and Paranormal Cozies. Her books are distributed widely and in KU (see the links by each book). You can find all of her books in the below links and while you’re there, don’t forget to follow Maggie so you can easily be updated when she releases her next book.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads | LinkedIn | Pinterest | Booklover’s Bench | Amazon Author Central | BookBub

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
I am head over heels in love with the beach. As a teen, I would sun for hours at the beach, and of course, be reading a book. Nowadays, I have to limit my high intensity sun experience to early mornings and late afternoons, but that only makes it all the more personal for me. I love the sight, the sound, the smell, the feel of sand crunching under my toes and water foaming over the tops. I would say it engages all of my senses but I try not to taste it! Another reason I love the beach is beachcombing. I love to hunt for treasures in the receding tide or up above the high water mark. You just never know what you will find!

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
My bag has cellphone in a plastic bag, towels, wipes, and sunscreen. I often include a small, perforated cloth bag for seashells, and of course, there’s a book! I carry drinks and snacks in a cooler with ice packs. And these days, I also take some kind of shade with me too.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
All three books in my Seafood Caper Mysteries released during the pandemic, so I believe readers are finding them to be a delightful way to travel to the beach without ever leaving home. The island setting makes it a great beach read, and the plot and characters aren’t too shabby either.


SPAWNING SUSPICION    eBook: KindleKindleCANookKoboiBooks       Print Book: Amazon  │ Barnes & NobleIndieBoundBooks a MillionChapters Indigo

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written 27 books, 2 of which are nonfiction. My works of fiction include a puzzle to solve, no matter the genre, and there is often a relationship subplot. I’ve been writing for publication since 1995, and my first novel released in 2006, as I had a lot of technical writing skills to unlearn. My favorite book is the one I’m working on, no matter which book that is. One reason is it is brain overload for me to keep 25 entire story worlds fresh in my head. The other is that I care so much about each story and want it to be the best I can make it, that all my attention and passion goes into that effort. Right now my fav is Shrimply Dead, book 3 in my culinary cozy series!

Where do you get your inspiration?
I am a walking sponge for ideas and inspiration. I’ve been inspired by golf clubhouse stories, overheard conversations, newspaper headlines, obituaries, and generally everything I see, do, touch, taste, or hear. I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this creative absorption, but getting the idea is the easy part. It is much harder to sit down and link all of the ideas together into something compelling that readers will enjoy.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
Despite the months and sometimes years that go into a story, don’t market your work until it is ready. Often I hear this as “write the best book you can, every time.” This is because you aren’t competing with the bottom of the market, you’re competing with the cream of the crop. In other words, you’ve got one chance to wow agents, editors, and readers. Get it right before subbing.

Do you have a library membership?
Yes! I’ve had one every place we’ve lived. The library was a home away from home for me growing up. It truly held all the treasures of the universe within the covers of books. Then, when my kids were small, we went to the library each week and checked out a tote bag of books. I support libraries with talks and encourage everyone to visit their library. I even served on our local library board for three years. We need libraries, and libraries need users. Don’t let libraries go the way of Dodo birds.

Tea or coffee?
I’m a tea drinker. My fav is iced tea, but I drink hot tea at breakfast and peppermint tea before bedtime. The rest of the day is the iced tea zone. Tea works for me on several levels. The caffeine helps headaches, and it gets me going as well. My go-to tea brand is Luzianne for black tea and Celestial Seasons for peppermint. I had brief love affairs with Constant Comment, Chai, and Earl Grey tea, but my favorite “named” tea is English Breakfast. Oh, and have you tried Ginger Tea? It’s really great for settling your tummy. I make sure to have that in pantry, just in case, you know?


SHRIMPLY DEAD      KindleNookKoboiBooks         Print Book  AmazonBarnes & Noble │ IndieBoundBooks a Million 

And here is a tease about something I’m participating in! This is a Christmas Cozy Anthology with 20 writers. I’ve had a sneak peak, and the stories look great. Keep watching for the full cover reveal!

Meet Victoria Gilbert

Victoria Gilbert writes mysteries, but she has penned a few science-fiction as well. Her books are wide, published by Crooked Lane Books.

Victoria Gilbert

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
I love traveling, and don’t have one place I would select over all others. I really prefer to explore new places and cultures rather than return to one spot over and over. But based on the list in the question, I would choose the beach.

 Everyone takes a tote bag with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
Water bottle, sunscreen, a couple of books, keys to my timeshare condo, a small bag of salty snacks, hand wipes, a coverup if I get too much sun, my cellphone.

 What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
My Booklover’s B&B series is set in coastal community near Atlantic Beach, NC, so the setting of that series is perfect for a beach read. My Blue Ridge Library Mystery series is set in the mountains, but the stories are full of adventure and fun, and the characters are endearing, so I think they also make for enjoyable beach reads.

NEW RELEASE!!

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
Don’t be afraid to experiment with new genres or age group classifications. I started out writing YA fantasy and scifi, and had books published in those genres. But after some issues with a former publisher, I switched gears and have ended up having a much more successful career writing in the adult mystery genre I wouldn’t have known I had that capability unless I had experimented with writing in a new genre and age category.

So I always say, if you find your career derailed or stalled, maybe try writing something different!

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve completed 13 novels. Nine are published, two are permanently shelved, one was pubbed but is now out-of-print, and one is written but won’t be released until Dec. 2021. I also have four more books under contract for release in 2022, 2023, and 2024.

I don’t have a favorite. That would be like having a favorite child!

What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?
There will definitely be one more book (bk 3) in the Booklover’s B&B series and one more (bk. 7) in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series. After that, who knows? That’s up to my publisher (based on popularity and sales of the previous books).I also have a new series, the Hunter & Clewe Mysteries. Those books don’t release until 2023 and 2024, but you can read more about them here: HUNTER AND CLEWE MYSTERIES (victoriagilbertmysteries.com)

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
I always have a multitude of ideas. The question is whether they are marketable or not.

My most recent idea involves a 30-something art historian and her first cousin who discover that their barely known, recently deceased, grandfather was an art thief. They attempt to return the stolen art pieces without involving the authorities, which of course results in adventure and shenanigans!

Do you have a library membership?
Of course! I worked as a professional librarian for over thirty years, so libraries are a major part of my life. I’ve been a research librarian, reference librarian, and a library director for a performing and visual arts university. Libraries and librarians are also featured in many of my books.

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid of failure – give it a try and start a lot earlier! Although I always loved writing, I didn’t actually complete a novel until I was 56, and I was 58 before my first book was published. But I have made up some of the time by writing 13 novels over the last nine years. (But I still wish I’d started sooner).

Books by Victoria

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Victoria. I have read several of your books, and I’m a fan! Keep an eye out for her newest release, Renewed for Murder, to be released on December 7th.

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Victoria Hamilton

Victoria Hamilton

I’m so pleased to introduce another Victoria! (When I was in elementry school there were 6 of us in my class!)

Victoria Hamilton writes traditional cozy mysteries and historical mysteries. You can find her books in most outlets and you can find Cast Iron Alibi on Amazon, Amazon Canada and Barnes & Noble.

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
I love the beach! I have been a camper my whole life and spent my childhood at campgrounds along the Canadian side of Lake Huron.

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
A tote bag? Just the usual stuff inside, I suppose: sunscreen, comb, and of course a book! I love swimming and sand castle building, but once I’ve had my fill then a beach day is the perfect time to read a good book.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
The Cast! Cast Iron Alibi (Vintage Kitchen Mystery #9)
celebrates a girl’s week gone horribly wrong… you know, when you get together with people you’ve known for years, but something is off? That’s what happens to Jaymie Leighton Müller when she spends a couple of weeks with her college friends at her trailer and cottage on an island in the middle of the St. Clair River, Michigan. It’s a great beach read for the setting (the gals spend a day in Grand Bend, Ontario, a party town on Lake Huron and enjoy a river boat cruise), but the book also explores how life changes our party friends from college… and of course there’s a murder!  

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What does writing success mean to you?
Success means I can afford to continue writing… that is the best, being able to support myself with my books. Thank you, readers; I appreciate it so much.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written many many books. I haven’t counted, but I’m thinking it’s more than forty now. With so many, there is not one clear favorite, but I have to say, a favorite is Vintage Kitchen Mystery #6, Leave It to Cleaver, in which Jaymie (the main character) gets married, but before that happens solves a mystery that involves her older sister Becca back when she was a teen, in the 80s! The flashbacks and present day mixture was fun to write, and the book had a very satisfying ending for Jaymie and her new husband, Jakob, and Jakob’s little girl, Jocie.

When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also yourself?
I can see how that may be a problem for writers, but I haven’t suffered it yet. There are always new ideas, and I find that I’ll be working along on another series and something – a news article, or something on TV, or something I read – will start an idea in my head that leads to a plot for one of my other series. This happened recently. I’m getting toward the end of writing Vintage Kitchen Mysteries #10, A Calculated Whisk; it is consuming me right now. But still… I saw something about an author in the 1700’s who moved to Bath, England and started a school; before I knew it I had an idea budding for the next Lady Anne Addison Historical Mystery. The point is, writers need to pay attention when those ideas occur and write something down!

Can you give us some insight into what makes your main character tick?
Jaymie Leighton Müller is more complicated than people around her imagine; she appears to be a mild-mannered sweet woman, who loves to cook and cares about local history. But she also has a strong streak of independence, learns her lessons well when she is hurt, and feels strongly about social issues, enough to say something even to those she loves. That – speaking her mind – is hard to do when it is to an elder she respects, but she still finds a way to make her feelings known.

What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?
It can never be, but she happens to be my favorite mystery author, the late, great Sue Grafton. In a way she has been my mentor, because I feel I learned so much just by reading and rereading her Kinsey Millhone series.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
All I ever wanted to be was a writer; I’ve been more fortunate than most in being able to do it.

How do you select the names of your characters?
There are certain rules most writers follow when writing novels: don’t have more than one character with the same first letter in their name… it is confusing to the readers (I’ve broken that many times, sometimes to my dismay!); don’t have too many characters; don’t give someone a last name that is also a first name.

I broke that last rule, and to my chagrin it caused me problems. One of my characters in my Merry Muffin Mystery Series is named Dewayne Lester, and from the beginning I accidentally called him Lester on occasion. Well, in the latest Merry Muffin book, Double or Muffin, I ended up calling him Lester throughout and neither I nor my editor noticed! It took an eagle-eyed reader to notice and write to me, and I appreciate it. My editor is correcting it. Other than that, I try to not make names too difficult to pronounce or read; I don’t want to put stumbling blocks in the way of smooth reading. Also… the name has to fit the person.

I would be interested in hearing from readers; are there names you wish a writer would use?

Pre-Order, Sept. 21 release!

Victoria’s books are a delight, and I’m sure you will enjoy them. Summer is winding down, so grab a copy and catch up!

I had a novella release! Novella #2 in the Tattletale Cafe Mysteries

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Meet Jane Kelly

Follow Jane Kelly on Facebook

Jane Kelly writes books about amature sleuths, filled with a touch of humor, both in cozy and traditional mysteries. Her books can currently be found on Amazon, in both Kindle and print.

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Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
Definitely a beach person. My favorite spot is on a low chair reading while the small waves wash back and forth over my feet. Favorite time of day is after the crowds go home.

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
I long for the days when I put on a workshirt with two pockets and took a chapstick, a pack of tissues and my keys in one pocket and sunscreen in the other. I carried my book and towel. As I write this, I am thinking maybe I can get back to those days although I should add a beach chair (low for reading in the shallow water) with a cup holder and a pouch on the back. I don’t want to bring the entire house with me.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
The books are set in New Jersey Shore towns so that makes them appropriate reading for any beach but, beyond that, they are light and humorous. They are not quite cozy. I call them polite mysteries. No blood. No sex. No violence. At least on screen.

What inspired you to start writing?
Like a lot of writers, I started with a mystery because I wanted to kill someone. In my first Meg Daniels book, her boss gets killed. I also liked the idea of creating a series and getting to know a character. A friend of a friend unknowingly gave me encouragement. I had never met her when we were both at the same lunch. After a bit, she turned to me and asked, “Are you a writer?” When I said, “No,” she said, “You should be.” That comment was inspiring.

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Be persistent. Take yourself seriously. Prepare. My first agent told me I had the best rejection letters he ever saw. At that point, I did not persist. I thought I’d had an interesting experience that was over. A mistake.  A major editor said he would read anything else I wrote. Did I write something to submit? No. A mistake. Did I attend conferences or take classes to learn more about the market and my craft? No. Another mistake. Persist.

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
I have about a half-dozen, half-written books that I would love to have time to get back to. I recently found two books that I had completed in the 1980s. I was thrilled to discover I did not know “who dun it.” I started updating a mystery where the heroine gets to live a fantasy of mine: being one of the guests assembled in a luxurious drawing room in the middle of a stormy night for the unveiling of a murderer. I got halfway through the revisions when higher priorities called. I hope to go back soon.

How do you select the names of your characters?
I go all out selecting character names. I always look back to the people who named them. Usually, a character’s parents are not in the book, but the name they picked says a lot about them and their expectations for their child. If the character has acquired a nickname that says more about what they actually became. Or, if they named themselves what they want to become. Of course, I always check the Social Security database. One of my favorite ways I ever identified the age of a historical character depended on data from Social Security. “Most women named Edna were at least twenty years ahead of me in life. As were the Mildreds, the Ethels and the Mabels. The Kathys, Susies and Pattys were the ones who on most days poured into the driveway behind my house to play. There were no Madisons, Kaylies, or even Kendras yet. I hailed from the Helen, Betty and Margaret generation although my parents had chosen to give me the rather plain, or as they called it classic, name of Katherine.”

Do you base your characters real people?
Never. A character may be inspired by someone but each character develops into their own person that, in the end, has very little in common with the original individual. I started writing mysteries because I wanted to kill my boss. In the end, I killed a boss, a far more sinister man than my boss ever was. I used to keep a list of quirks I observed thinking I would assign them to characters. I never did. The characters developed their own quirks. They really do take over.

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I love the new term Jane has used for her books~polite mysteries! Besure to check out her Pinterest Boards as well as her books!

Meet Lise McClendon

Lise McClendon

Lise has been writing mysteries and suspense fiction for 25 years. Lately she has been writing women’s suspense. Her books are available wide, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, & Apple. Some are also in Kindle Unlimited and her books are also on Audible.

A Bennett Sisters Mystery

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
My favorite vacation spot is a resort with lots of options, from hiking to poolside to shopping. I especially enjoy exotic international vacations, hence my locations in the books, from France to Scotland and more.

Everyone takes a tote bag with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
BOOKS! Plus sunscreen, water, towel, umbrella, and a little cooler filled with good things to eat and drink, like cheese, rosé, hummus, cucumbers, and maybe a baguette!

 What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
The plots of my books often involve the characters going a trip, exploring new places and new experiences, meeting intriguing new people, tasting new cuisine, and even learning a new language. I love all these things and try to get the reader immersed in the story through the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of an unknown, or unfamiliar, culture.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written about thirty books— that’s the published ones. Like most writers I have a few unpublished ones in my drawer. Hopefully they will never see the light of day! Or maybe my grandchildren will take a look at them someday. My favorite book is usually the one I’ve just written as it is common for me to actually forget the experience and details of past books. I also hope I’ve become a better writer with each book. But recently I went back through my first mystery series, about a Jackson Hole art dealer, and realized to my astonishment that they weren’t bad at all, in fact, pretty entertaining. That was a huge relief! 🙂

When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also yourself?
This is often the hardest part about a long series. I now have 16 books in the Bennett Sisters Mystery series. I have been breaking things up by doing three-part short series over the last two winters, between full-length books. In 2020 I also edited a pandemic anthology of the reflections of 40 writers about life during this strange time.  So I published five books over the last year! I had to take a little mental breather. Whew. I’m now ready to dive back in, but it is necessary to do other things, get out of your head for a while.

Tea or coffee:
 Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
What are you waiting for? Believe in yourself. No one will ever believe in you more than you believe in yourself.

A Bennett Sisters Mystery

Be sure to connect with Lise on all her social media spots; Facebook, Instagram and Bookbub!

In my publishing news, I have a new novella to be published on August 15th! This is the second in the Tattletale Cafe series.

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Meet Teresa Michael

Teresa is a cozy mystery writer (with a touch of romance!) with a series, Mariposa Cafe Mystery, set in a fictional southwest Florida. You can find her ebooks on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. You can also get her books in paperback and audio.

What inspired you to start writing?
From the time I was a young reader, I’ve always loved mysteries. From Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Karin Slaughter and so many more. When I retired from a career in healthcare, writing became my retirement gig.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
Keep writing. Don’t give up. Get your words out there. Go to conferences. Write. Network. Write. Learn. Join a critique group. Keep going. Write. Write. Write.

How do you develop your plot and characters?
First I get the idea for the story from where ever that comes from (the idea fairy?). Then I do a short rough synopsis of what’s going to happen, the crime/murder. I have a notebook, I call my bible that I keep this information in along with notes about characters, research reminders, etc. I also put ideas of the town, location, etc.I do a mind map with the victim in the middle, draw a circle around the victim’s name and then draw lines (rays) out from circle with the potential suspects and their possible motives for doing the deed. By the time I’m finished with this exercise, it looks like a sun with lots of rays coming out from it. Sometimes, I even color it in with colored pencils. I am mostly a pantser. I’ve tried outlining but I get too caught up in the outline and I end up not following it as the characters take me where they want to go. I do a synopsis about 3-4 chapters ahead and I may even do short scenes along the way that I work with when I get to that chapter.

 Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
Take care of yourself. If a scene has been especially emotional for you, take a break. Go for a walk, have a glass of wine or a snack, read something in another genre than what you’re writing, watch something light on television. This helps to give you a new perspective. It is so easy to get drawn into the emotion of the scene especially if you’re writing something personal. After a calming break, you can go back and look at your writing from a clearer more objective perspective.In emotional or hard to write scenes, I find it helpful to identify what I want to accomplish in this scene, what do I need in this scene to move the story forward, or move the character forward. When you’ve finished with the scene, go back and make sure you’ve hit your marks.  This will help you to stay on track and not go down a rabbit hole that doesn’t do service to the story.  That is the goal for each scene—to move the story forward.

When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also yourself?
Putting the main character in new and challenging situations helps to keep the series fresh, help the characters evolve, and keeps the reader guessing. For example in Deception in Mariposa Beach, Libby Marshall, the main character, discovers a family secret buried for 35 years. It’s a big secret that impacts her sense of identity, her relationships with her family, and stirs up lots of emotions for her. I like to have a cast of regular characters, sort of like a TV ensemble cast, and then introduce new characters and situations in each book. For example in Mistletoe and Missing Persons, Steve Devereaux comes to town and opens a gallery.  Who knew there was a skeleton hidden in the wall?In my new release this summer, Redemption in Mariposa Beach, a private detective is killed during the July Fourth celebration and the cast of quirky characters are questioned in the mystery. 

Where do you get your inspiration?
From everywhere and anywhere – the idea fairy

 What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?
I hope there will be many more sequels as each regular character has a story to tell and with the location being a beach town, lots of people come and go.  Lots of opportunities for storytelling.I’m also planning to start another series called the Harrington House Mysteries, set in a bed and breakfast in an Ohio River town.  I grew in Ohio and Kentucky and I’d like to revisit that.Additionally, I’d like to revisit the characters in my novelette, Indian Rock, set deep in the mountains of Kentucky in the 1960s.

 How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
There are so many – my mind is going all the time. After I write the first Harrington House mystery and maybe one more Mariposa mystery, I’d like to have Libby and Jack from Mariposa Beach go visit Harrington House. Libby is originally from Ohio and she goes back to visit for some reason – maybe her mother is getting remarried.  Anyway, that’s what’s cooking. I think that will be a fun book to write.

Who is your favorite author, and why?
I have so many I can’t pick. I love Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness Series; I love Karin Slaughters’ Grant County and Will Trent series, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, John Sandford’s Prey novels. I get their new novels on or near release day.
I also like Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, Elaine Viets Angela Richman Death Investigator series and her dead end job series, David Baldacci especially his Will Robey series and his new Atlee Pine series.

Would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter?
I live in Florida so I sort of have an endless summer. I left the cold weather behind when I moved to Florida from Ohio. But, sometimes I do miss the fall leaves and a crisp autumn day.  

 Do you base your characters real people?
Some characteristics, yes.

How do you select the names of your characters?
Picking names is the hardest part for me. I had a contest to name the victim in the upcoming book, Redemption in Mariposa Beach.  I couldn’t come up with a name for the private investigator. I got lots of great suggestions.  Charles Winslow was the winner.  I gave away a book to the lucky winner.I keep track of the character names on a spreadsheet along with who they are, descriptions, who they’re related to, etc.

Be sure to follow Teresa on Facebook and Instagram.

My News…

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Erin Scoggins

I absolutely love how Erin discribes the genre she writes in! “I write contemporary Southern cozies. Think Steel Magnolias with a body count.” If that doesn’t make you want to pick up one of her Wedding Crasher books, then you need to come to the south for a while and absorb some southern atmospher. Erin’s ebooks are available in Kindle Unlimited and her paperback books are available wide. You can follow Erin on Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads and Bookbub.

Book 1 in the Wedding Crasher series

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort, or Poolside?
The beach! I’m lucky enough to live in North Carolina, and we have some of the best beaches around. Park me on the sand in the Outer Banks with my hunky hubby for a weekend, and I’ll be a happy woman.

Everyone takes a tote bag with them when they head out for a day at the beach. What’s in yours?
I always have sunscreen, trail mix, and at least two books. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than running out of things to read before your lounge time is up.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story, or the characters?
When I’m on vacation, I want books that will help me escape. That means they’ve got to make me laugh, and they have to transport me somewhere delightful.

My Wedding Crashers series is set in the fictional town of Flat Falls, North Carolina. It’s a quirky beach town filled with characters you’d like to have as friends. It has all the good stuff we like about vacation: food, family, and adventure. And who cares about all those pesky dead bodies when you get to attend a wedding on a pirate ship?

What time of day do you usually write?
I’ve got three kids who always ask for snacks as soon as I sit down to write. And then there’s the hundred-pound dog who thinks keyboard time means snuggle time, so he crawls under my feet like an ottoman.

I’d like to say I get up and write every morning at seven and write happily until noon. In the real world? I’ve written in the carpool line, hiding in the bathroom, and on the back of a takeout menu while I was waiting in line to pick up food that I didn’t have time to cook. Stories come when they’re ready, and I just have to do the best I can to catch them.

Book 2

What does writing success mean to you?
I’m on cloud nine when I hear from a reader that I’ve helped them escape from their struggles for a few hours. When somebody invites me into their life and says my books have made them laugh and brought them joy, that’s success.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I grew up shucking corn and eating boiled peanuts with my grandparents in rural North Carolina. There is nothing better for a Southern writer’s inspiration than visiting a Piggly Wiggly in the sticks on any given Sunday. The rural South is full of wonderful, hilarious people who love to tell a story, and it’s easy to find inspiration if I just slow down long enough to pay attention.

What are the key themes and messages in your books?
I love to write stories about characters who think they’re hopeless. Maybe they’ve lost a job or had a heartbreak, or maybe they’re at a crossroads and just feel lost.

The best stories are about the beautiful ways we put ourselves back together again after everything falls apart. They’re about redemption, joy, and figuring out where you belong.

Pre Order Book 3 now, releases August 9, 2021

Erin’s answer to when she writes sounds like so many authors I know, myself included! And every writer knows, you have to get the words down, no matter what the obsticles. I’m ready to head to the pool, but I’ll be downloading one of Erin’s books before I go. It looks like weddings can be funny – and deadly!

Victoria LK Williams