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.

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.


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 (

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