Meet Ritter Ames

I’m pleased to introduce you to Ritter Ames, a traitional and cozy mystery author. Your can find out all about her books on all the major sites including Books2Read, Bookbub, Goodreads, Instagram, Twitter, an Facebook .

What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved books, but as I child I didn’t really think about how they got onto shelves—they were gifts, or were already in the library, so it was just kind of everyday magic to me that books were there when I wanted one. Then in the fourth grade I read Little Women, and not only identified early on with Jo March, but when she began writing to make a living, I realized people actually made careers out of writing (yes, I read Louisa May Alcott’s name on the cover, but it took seeing my favorite character write for a living in the story to make the idea sink in. I was a dense child). After a long stint in corporate life, juggling numbers every day and writing reports and analyses, I moved into the new millennium by freelance writing magazine articles as a side gig to my full-time job. Loved it, but I wanted to make a living writing fiction too. A few years later, I quit my corporate job when I was making the same income selling to magazines that I made in my corporate job. I signed my first fiction contract in 2013 and I’ve never looked back. I just wish I’d been able to do it sooner.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
Understand the business end of writing as well as honing your talents in the craft.

How do you develop your plot and characters?
I outline a lot and do character sketches on everyone. Then all the information goes into a series bible. I start a series bible for every project I begin—whether it ultimately becomes a finished work or not, because I love reading series, so that’s what I prefer to write.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve published seven Organized Mysteries titles (and one more is drafted but needs revision/editing), five in the Bodies of Art Mysteries (again, one in draft but farther in the revision process), and so far, one published in the Frugal Lissa Mysteries series—but book two will be out this summer, as will the audio books for the Frugal Lissa Mysteries. I’ve also written a number of books that haven’t yet been published—some because they’re in a new series and I’m trying to have several ready to publish together, and others because I’m not exactly sure how to market them effectively. My favorite series to write is the Bodies of Art Mysteries, but it’s also the most difficult—my favorite book in the series is probably the third book, Abstract Aliases. On the other hand, the most comfortable series for me to write—not necessarily easier, but most relaxing because of the characters—is the Organized Mysteries. And the new Frugal Lissa Mysteries are the most like me, and they include my Labrador retriever in the stories as well. Sometimes I really have to stretch to write the Frugal Lissa books simply because I feel a lot more vulnerable writing them, as I truly do give Lissa a lot of my own personality. That’s the series I wrote the project for to put into the Murder on the Beach summer beach read collection.

When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also yourself?
I don’t start a new book until I find some angle I want to learn something about. It doesn’t have to be a big thing—though sometimes it is important—and as I begin researching, I start thinking of ways to twist the idea to fit or adapt a plot, or to incorporate my characters into this new plot scheme.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere. Seriously, when I was freelancing, I could generate five to ten pitches to send to editors in less than thirty minutes, and I did that every week on Monday morning. That was great practice before I started writing fiction, because I was used to combining ideas to give my articles a lot of different slants, and doing this allowed me to sell articles many times to many magazines, but still use the same beginning idea and interviews. That practice kept everything fresh for my nonfiction work, and I still use that practice for fiction.

Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
I write a lot more than I publish. It’s nothing for me to rewrite an opening scene multiple times. The farther I get into a story, the more I’ll see what I needs to be at least pursued in a different way to see if the change improves the story. I have no problem slicing and dicing a manuscript when I realize I can write something better. I save the portions I take out, sometimes to reuse in another way, but if I can’t reuse them I’m fine with that. I want each story to be the best I can make it.

What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
The theme for Murder on the Beach is cozy fun on the beach. Yes, there are crimes, but there’s humor in all the stories too. We had so much fun writing for this anthology, and we can’t wait to share it with readers.

Can you give us some insight into what makes you main character tick?
My main character, Lissa Eller, or the Frugal Lissa, is a full-time mom of two elementary aged boys and the family’s Labrador retriever, Honey. Lissa’s husband travels constantly as a photojournalist, so she tends to be “on” for her boys 24/7. The story in Murder on the Beach is “Frugal Lissa Needs a Break,” and it happens soon after she’s solved the murder in the first Frugal Lissa mystery. She’s reunited with her best friend Abby, as they strike out for a girls’ weekend in Galveston, while Lissa’s husband takes their two sons on a working weekend in San Diego. As is becoming too common in Lissa’s world, Honey discovers another body on the beach and Lissa must sleuth out the murderer.

Who is the author you most admire in your genre?
I’ve always said I want to grow up to be Nancy Pickard. I love her books, but I met her a number of times before I was published, and she was just as interested in what I was writing as an un-pub writer, as she was the authors who had a long list of publications. And she’s just so very real, in every sense of the word. She did so much for women mystery authors in the early cozy years of the 1980s and 1990s, as did many others. But for me, she’s so genuine, and I respect her and her talent tremendously.

Do you have a library membership?
Of course. And we make annual donations to our Friends of the Library.

Would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter?

I don’t like extreme temperatures, either hot or cold. I was born and raised in California’s Bay Area, so my friends and family know they’re going to hear me gripe when the weather changes too drastically. I currently live where the summer humidity is horrible, and I’ve been plotting for several years to get my husband to sell our place and move. We also had the North Pole come down and vacation for two weeks over our state this February—also not a nice thing. But if I have to choose between the two, I’d take winter over summer, just to avoid the humidity/heat issue alone.

Morning person or Night owl?
I sleep so little. I’m up before five every morning because we had a cat for 20 years who believed when she awoke at 4:30 a.m. that I should be awake too. Now, I automatically wake around the same time every day, and we have a Lab who usually has to go outside about then too. Once I get up, I can’t go back to sleep. But I do nap about 20 minutes most afternoons, and that gives me a true second wind, and I don’t go to bed at night until close to or just after midnight.

How do you select the names of your characters?
Most of the time, that’s relatively easy. I get a first name I recognize is what my character needs, and then I work on the last name. For the Frugal Lissa series, however, there was a speed bump that made me change things. I originally planned to make this the Frugalista Mysteries, and Lissa was named Olivia, but went by Livvy. Then I learned frugalista was trademarked by a blogger, and since Lissa subsidizes her family’s income by writing a blog too, I knew I had to make a change. So, she became Lissa, and the Frugal Lissa Mysteries debuted instead.

A big thank you to Ritter for answering my questions. To keep up with her, I suggest you sign up for her Newsletter, and check out all her books at her website.

I hope you’re filling your beach tote with books from all these wonderful writers! Enjoy the weekend and we’ll meet our next author when we meet again.

Victoria LK Williams


Meet Cathy Perkins

Cathy Perkins writes both suspenses and amateur sleuth stories. You can find her suspense books on all major outlets and her amateur sleuth stories are part of the Kindle Unlimited program on Amazon.

Cathy Perkins

You can connect with Cathy on Facebook or follow her on BookBub.

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What inspired you to start writing?

While I’ve had a life-long love affair with reading, I didn’t start writing until later in life. This probably isn’t how most people start, but I had a consulting job in a city about ninety miles away. I’d listen to music and daydream during the commute. Pretty soon the daydream had dialogue and I thought, hmm, this is turning into a good story. That particular book lives in a box under my bed, but I was hooked on writing and creating worlds and characters.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?

Read, read, read! Take stories you especially loved and reread them for the structure, the way the author developed character, whatever drew you so strongly to that story. Then keep writing, learning and growing.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

Most of my stories start with a “what if?” For example, without giving away the plot and all the twists, The Body in the Beaver Pond began with, what if there really was a body in the beaver pond?

The “whys” lined up from there—Why was he dead? Why was Keri suspected of killing him? Why was she invested in the investigation? The characters grew and became three-dimensional as I thought through the implications and how that character might react to events unfolding around him or her. 

Because I love tightly plotted stories that twist and turn, I generally outline the major story lines. I’m always surprised when I finish the first draft and find small setups and details my subconscious added. During edits, I weave these bits deeper into the story to build out a suspect or enhance a theme.

What time of the day do you usually write?

I’m a night owl, so once I decide to quit my day job, I suspect you’ll see lights on at my house in the wee hours of the morning.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration can come from anywhere! Daydreams, a random conversation at a party – earlier books have a variety of inspiration sources. My latest book began this way. One night I was cutting up with Joelle Charbonneau, idly brainstorming about what to write next. She offered up the mantra, write what you know. I laughed and said, “I live on a Christmas tree farm and watch the critters on the beaver pond for entertainment. Where’s the book in that?”

There was a long pause, then Joelle said, “How many people can use all those words in the same sentence?”

I laughed it off and finished the Holly Price book I was writing, but the idea sent down roots and grew in the back of my mind. Before long, I had Holly’s recently divorced half-sister on…wait for it… a Christmas tree farm with a beaver pond. I’ll never tell which events in the book actually happened and which came out of my imagination. 

Do you have a library membership?

Yes! I love my local library. While I buy a lot of books – friends and favorite authors especially – I’ve “discovered” so many new-to-me authors through the library. Using the Libby and Overdrive apps to borrow ebooks and audio-books has been a lifesaver during the pandemic, but I can’t wait to browse the aisles again.

Do you base your characters real people?

While certain characters in earlier books have been mashups of people I know, there are friends who played a big part in several characters in The Body in the Beaver Pond. I suspect a few of my neighbors may recognize bits of themselves in this book.

Click to go to book

Like Cathy, I have had a life-long love affair with reading. As a youngster, I would wait anxiously every Saturday morning for the book-mobile to arrive at the corner in front of my house. My breaks in school were spent in the library, searching for the next mystery to read. And even now, I love to spend time at the local library sitting in a corner, reading. I just wanted to remind you that all of my books can be ordered by your local library, all you have to do is ask.

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Jane Elzey

Jane Elzey writes modern day cozy mysteries about four best friends and amateur sleuths who love to play games… while the husbands die trying. (A husband always dies.) A Cardboard Cottage Mystery series centers around board games, friendship, and fast-paced misadventure!

The books are available in ebook on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, as well as Paperback and Hardcover at all your favorite book shops. Autographed copies with swag and brag are available on the author’s website

Where is my favorite vacation spot?
Born and raised a wild-child on Florida’s sandy beaches (including Vero Beach!) my favorite vacation spot always includes a big body of water, preferably when the moon is full. I’m an avid traveler, so I like to hit the beach anywhere around the world. My favorite place to bodysurf is the National Seashore in Titusville, Florida. My favorite beach to go shelling is Sanibel Island. Did you know there is only there is only one global ocean? We are all one!

What’s in my tote bag?
My favorite Turkish towel, Blue Lizard sunscreen, a good read, a thermos of something delicious — probably with rum and mint, and a big bag of seaside nibbles. I like to stop at the specialty markets along the way to pick up local favorites. Poke and papaya on Oahu, ceviche and chips in Mazatlán, olives and crusty bread in Spain.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read?
Because that’s what my readers tell me! The characters in the Cardboard Cottage Mystery series are four friends you’d love to hang out with – especially when they get into good trouble. They are the perfect friends to take with you to the beach – they will serve up a good picnic, lots of laughs, and some fast-paced, page-turning adventure, too.

What inspired me to start writing?
I am career journalist, but along the way I discovered my true calling. I am a mischief-maker, story-teller, and bender of the facts. I would rather write a story without much regard for the truth. I’ve wanted to write mysteries my entire life and now I’m finally following that dream come true.

What’s my most interesting writing quirk?
I am fan of out-of-the-box thinking and thrill in leading the reader on an adventure with lots twists, turns, and surprises. I love it when a reader says, “I didn’t see that coming!” Even though I write under the cozy genre and its rules, my characters are not-so-cozy, not cookie-cutter sweet, and always up for an adventure. Because I like to travel, I set my stories in destinations that I love, and share those bucket list travels with readers.

When writing a series, how do I keep things fresh for both my readers and myself?
My VIP Club members are keeping me on my toes! Members of the Killer Club are given the honor of naming a husband for me to off in an upcoming series. I currently have more husbands to kill than plots! I am only in two deep – book one and book two – now working on book three. I bore easily, so keeping myself entertained is sure to keep the reader happy. And that’s my goal. Imagination is a wonderful thing, and as long I continue to live an adventurous life surrounded by interesting people (including my VIP Killers) I can’t imagine that this well of creativity will run dry. My characters are willing to evolve, too, and with their help I have plotted out where they go for the next several books. And of course, their friendship deepens along the way!

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written?
Killer Croquet, Passing on Poker, Murder by Mahjong, and Ouija with Haints, are all in the plotting stages. I’m currently writing on Poison Parcheesi and Wine, book 3 in the Cardboard Cottage Mystery series. This story takes place in Arkansas’ wine country, along with Gennas’ big “European Tour” of Arkansas.  And, well, another husband dies trying and Amy almost takes the rap for murder!

If I could invite three people to my dinner party they would be…
Fanny Flag, Lee Smith, and Carl Hiaasen, my favorite Southern writers. We would be telling stories and laughing so hard we would never be able to eat our dinner!

I was so thrilled to find Jane is not only a fellow floridian, but that she actually lived at one time in Vero Beach. Oh the stories we could compare! I love board games, and found this such a unique premise for a cozy mystery series. I can’t wait to grab one of Jane’s books and head to the beach.