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.

Meet Alyn Troy

Photo by David Dibert on Pexels.com

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! For those of us in the USA, this is a holiday to remember. Remember those who served and are serving our country, giving up so much for us to live the free live we often don’t acknowledge. Many have given more that their service time, they have given their lives. And to the families of these wonderful men and woman, we also thank.

To many, this is the first holiday that travel is possible after over a year, and there are families to see, places to go and celebrations to be had. But as readers, no matter when or where, we are looking for splendid books to read. So, let me introduce you to our next “summer reads” author.

Alyn Troy is a paranormal-cozy mystery author of the Pixie Twist Mystery series and the Mystic Brews Mystery series. You can find her books in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. You can also follow her Facebook page and keep up with her writing life. Lets find out a bit more about Alyn…

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
Anywhere on a cruise ship. My sweetie and I have taken ten cruises so far, with our favorites being Hawaii and Alaska. My favorite ships are the Jewell class from Norwegian (NCL). You can find me in their Great Outdoors café, sipping coffee or iced tea, watching the ocean slide by. I might also have my computer in front of me, writing another twisty chapter of fae mystery.

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach. What is in yours?
A big umbrella for shade, my iPad with some reads on it, and a tall tumbler of something cool to drink. I’m not one for sun, though I love daylight. I always want to sit by a window. At a beach, you’d probably find me up at the tiki bar, or coffee shop, sitting in the shade on the veranda, avoiding the sand while I spent time reading and people watching.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
Characters! Setting should accent what makes the characters unique. My favorite reads are when the setting is part of the story but not the dominant feature. Why is the character there? What happens if they leave the locale? Do they fall in love with the place, the shop, the town? Why?
Characters make the story, and the location.

What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always been a reader, and my dream job was to be a writer. In high school (many year ago) I tried writing a few short stories for pulp-style magazines, but always got rejected. So, in journalism school, I settled on photojournalism for my career.
Even after I left journalism and focused on wedding photography, I liked to write, but never tried to actually get an entire story down on paper. I focused more on my journalism background, and blogged about my hobbies for now defunct websites.
Only after returning to college to work on a graduate degree in journalism, did I rekindle my love of writing. In grad school I was mentored by two professors who loved long-form narrative journalism. I grew to love writers such as John McPhee, Hunter Thompson, and Eric Larson. My dream job was teaching their work to aspiring journalists in college classrooms.
 After my spouse’s career took us to California several years ago, I wasn’t able to find a job in my field, so I started writing. A friend showed me the cozy mystery field was doing well, and my love of the old teen detectives, including Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators, and all of the old Scooby Doo cartoons gave me the inspiration I needed to make a magical world for April and Twizzle.

How do you develop your plot and characters?
Napping. No, seriously.
I usually begin with a victim, a perp, and how it was done. Then I start figuring out ancillary characters. Whenever I get stuck on what comes next, I go do something else. Take a walk, go shopping, or nap. Whether it’s napping, or waking the next morning after a night of sleep, that’s when my subconscious connects the dots, or opens a door I didn’t realize was there in the plot.

 Do you base your characters real people?
The Pixie Twist series has two characters based off of real people.
When I started writing Pixie Twist series, Twizzle was a girl from my imagination. I didn’t know then why I wanted to write about a pixie with a wing that made her fly wonky.
Eventually, I realized the reason I started developing the town of St. Maurice and the faerock veins was based off a real person I had photographed at their wedding almost fifteen years ago.
All weddings are unique, but one that I photographed about was even more so, thanks to the groom. He had suffered an injury on a bike ride years before, and used a wheelchair ever since. His groomsmen were friends of his who also used wheelchairs. They all participated in sports, despite not having use of their legs.
Jumping forward to my writing, once my brain worked through who Twizzle Twist was, I realized it was the memory of that groom and his friends coming through to let me know there was no reason to not include people of all types in my books.
It’s no surprise where the inspiration for Twiz’s love interest in book one comes from. Chaz is a vampire who uses a wheelchair while the sun is up. He regains the use of his legs once the sun goes down and the undead magic heals his injury for the night. Now, I realize that Twiz is similar to the bride from that wedding from fifteen years ago. Red hair, a pleasant personality, and in love with a guy who happens to be in a chair. Perhaps, by book twenty or so in the series, there may even be a wedding.
My subconscious works in mysterious ways. To pull that couple out of my past, and build main character out of that experience astounds me. Fortunately, more than enough time has passed that I’m confident in saying the personalities are not based on that couple. But their situation was what inspired these characters.
Another character in the series is inspired by a real person. Twiz’s bestie, Amanda is a mermaid who runs the pier’s coffee shop. Faerock has twisted Amanda’s tail. Like Twiz, she not the most mobile.
In fact, I based Amanda on one of my beta readers (with her permission). She uses crutches in her daily life, just like the mermaid barista (when she’s in human form).
If my beta reader is a real mermaid, she’s not admitting it.

When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also yourself?
Character growth. If the main character isn’t growing by the end of the book, then secondary characters are. In my first cozy series, April seems doomed to not have a love life. But her bestie Elain and another character move into a relationship to balance out their character growth.
That doesn’t mean April won’t grow, but her first growth cycle is as a witch. She didn’t know she was fae. Once she learns that, she grows as both a member of the community, learning to use her magic, and as a sleuth. Since she can see and hear ghosts, well, the mysteries find her.
April has room to grow as she learns new skills, and gets new situations to experience. All of those will shape her, and those around her.

Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
Well, when we were in California, I volunteered as a docent on the Santa Monica Pier. I learned the history of Santa Monica and how their pier affected the lives of those around it.
Astute readers will note that the little seaside town of St. Maurice has an amusement pier, much like the one in Santa Monica. St. Mo’s pier, like the one in Santa Monica, was originally built to flush away waste. For the real one in Santa Monica, the town used the 1600-foot-long structure to dump treated wastewater out to sea in the early 1900s.
In my little town of St. Maurice, the town originally built the pier to send wastewater from the Faerock mining slurry out to sea.
Readers who do a little digging into the history of the real pier in Santa Monica will find that much of the history of that pier has a similar history in the fictional town of St. Maurice. The character of Li Hop, the ancient Chinese wizard and docent may loosely be based on me. Although I’m neither Chinese, nor magical. Ancient, well, that’s not quite accurate either.

Here is a little secret Alyn is sharing with us: there is a new book coming out in the Pixie Twist Mystery Series at the end of June! Watch for A Twisted Dive.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! And now you have a new writer to investigate. Remember, many author’s books are available from your library if you ask! I have a new novella coming out this summer, the second in the Tattle-Tale Cafe series. You can find all my books on my website. And while you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter-you never know what goodie might be included!

Victoria LK Williams

It’s time to get ready for summer!!!

The official start of summer, Memorial Weekend, is still a few weeks away, but there is no reason we can’t start early. Down here in Florida, the heat is cranking and the afternoon thunderstorms are starting. The snowbirds are on their way to the north and the pace is slowing down for those of us left in town. I love the summer!

The slower pace means time to relax, and that means books! This next series of author interview is by storytellers who have written beach worthy reads. It doesn’t matter if your beach is the ocean, a woodland lake or a concrete pool; it’s the idea of getting away and taking time for yourself.

One question each author is asked is what is in your beach bag. So I’ll ask you; what do you pack to get away?

Meet Daphne Mclean

Daphne writes Cozy Mysteries that you can find in Kindle Unlimited. You can also find all her books on her website. Her newest book, Death at Rugosa Bay, was released earlier this month. You can also connect with Daphne through her reader group on Facebook.

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
Beach all the way. Nothing beats the briny scent of sea air, the cool breeze and your toes in the sand. Although, a best of both worlds scenario would be pool during the day, and beach picnic for dinner.

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach. What is in yours?
All of your typical beach supplies, and of course, a book. I always bring a fun beach read with me. Although that’s wishful thinking these days. I have two little boys, and I typically end up collecting sea shells, building castles, and flying kites.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read?
The setting, the story or the characters? Honestly, it’s the setting. I love getting swept away to quaint little beach towns. Of course the plot is important, but I love the escape a fun setting gives me.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
If your goal is to make money, accept the fact that you’ll have to write more than one book to do it. You’ll likely have to write more than one series as well. Also, research release strategies, and plan your release. Don’t just start posting books up willy-nilly. (I did, and it’s not the best way to proceed.)

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve published seven books. Two are picture books, one is a non-fiction book for writers, and four cozy mystery novels. I have to say that my last book, Death at Rugosa Bay made me laugh AND cry as I wrote it. I’ve never gotten that emotional about my own writing before. I think it’s my best book yet.

When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also yourself?
 That’s something I struggled with at first. The way I dealt with it was to have Jennifer travel to different locations in NJ. It’s tough figuring out ways to have the same person get involved with murders or keep running across bodies.

Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
One of my favorite characters makes an appearance in book four, and has a very special announcement!

What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
That a woman can be a great mother, and pursue her dreams.

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
 I have two more plots for this series. One will involve Suzanne and her rival at the PTA. I also am in the very beginning stages of plotting out a new series.

Who is the author you most admire in your genre?
I adore Tonya Kappes. I just heard her on a podcast, and I could literally listen to her talk all day. She’s also great to her readers. She writes them birthday cards!

ME TOO! SHE’S A HOOT!

Do you base your characters on real people?
They are a mixture of people that I know. Jennifer has parts of me mixed with fictional personality traits. Suzanne is like a woman I used to know, mixed with a former boss, and the Chief is like my grandpa, mixed with another friend of mine.

A big thank you to Daphne for starting out our summer reading series!! I can’t wait to load up my books and head to the beach!

Victoria LK Williams

WELCOME TO THE WARM WEATHER SEASON!

I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my international author friends as much as I enjoyed interviewing them. It was fun to learn about other countries and customs and author methods.

Did you notice the new background and colors? I’ve decided it’s time to quite fighting the biggest part of my life-gardening! I work at it (I design and install landscapes for great clients), play at it (I love to plant my pots with colorful flowers) and relax in it! Yes, gardening is part of my world, and I am embracing it to the fullest.

Just a few pots by my pool

Now it’s time to think about those lazy days of summer-the beach, getaways and fun vacations. And not one of those would be complete without a book to take a long. And I have just the selection of authors and books to get you started and keep you going for the summer.

This series of interviews are by authors who place their book’s settings and characters in locations that you would love to spend a long relaxing stay. I hope you will enjoy these selections…here is a teaser of the author’s who are part of my Beach Reads Series.

Rachel Neuburger Reynolds
Jordan McCollum
Katie Brown
Erin Sullivan Scoggins
Connie B. Dowell
Troy A. Hill
Juliet Chase
Donna B. McNicol
Joanna Jast
Lise McClendon
Sarah Crumpton Merritt
Roberta Schiavulli
Demy Watts
Judith Dickenson Ackaret
Vicki Lemp Weavil
Janie Pritchett-Clark
Ileana Munoz-Renfroe
Maggie Toussaint
Victoria Hamilton
Rita Moreau
Rita Moreau
Caleb Wygal
Teresa Michael – Author
Diane Rondeau Bator
Lois Jackman
Donna Walo Clancy
Jane Kelly
Dianne Harman
Cathy Perkins
Niki Morris
Ritter Ames

So while I’m hard at work getting to know these talented authors a bit better, you just sit back in that lounge chair and relax. Our first interview will be coming up in the next week.

In the meantime, I have a new book release on May 8th! It’s the last book (#6) in the Beach House Mystery series. You can pre-order it now. It’s time to find out how the legend of Pearl Island will end…

An Orchid from my garden

Until next time, happy reading in the garden!

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Isabella Muir

Isabella writes mystery/crime on the cozy end of the spectrum. All of her books are available wide of the major platforms and in books stores and libraries. She also has audio books available. If you sign up for her newsletter, there is a free novella available.

Have you ever been to the United States and if so where?

No, I have never been to the US—although looking at pictures of New England in the fall has always tempted me to venture there to capture what looks like the very best of nature.

What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean?

‘I’m banjacksed!’ I’m guessing this is a British word—although you might well know it in the US? It means ‘destroyed’ or ‘ruined’. It seems to have derived from Irish slang—so I’m not sure if that counts!

Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first and why?

I’m so lucky that I live in the countryside beside the sea! So, within ten minutes I can be walking along a deserted beach, or around the most beautiful boat marina, or along a woodland pathway, listening to birdsong. So, I would take a US visitor along with me and hope they would enjoy the simplicity as much as I do.

When did you start writing?

I entered my first writing competition at the age of eight! I’ve been writing in one form or another ever since and love it just as much now as I did then. But in terms of novel writing, I started that in earnest about six years ago and have since published six novels, three novellas and two short story anthologies.

What, in your opinion, are the essential elements of good writing?

Of course, grammar, punctuation and spelling are pretty critical, as is breadth of vocabulary—but as writers we are lucky enough to escape into another world as we write. So, I guess the best writing is when readers really feel they are in that world, walking alongside us. Everything that goes to make up a story—intriguing plot, depth of characters, descriptive setting, pacing that creates emotion in the reader—all of those things are important. Also, regardless of genre, I think readers need to feel that the ending is satisfying, that all loose ends are neatly tied off—even if some lead to a sequel!

Describe your writing space.

In my garden I have the most beautiful log cabin, which is my ‘woman cave’! I escape there every day—sometimes for hours—sometimes for a short respite. The view from my writing chair looks out onto bird feeders, so that I can watch blue tits, woodpeckers, thrushes and all manner of other delights, as they grab what’s on offer. Around the walls of the cabin are my bookshelves, filled with much-loved novels that I have read and read again, as well as books I’ve delved into for research and my all-important dictionaries and thesaurus.  I have a snuggly burnt orange throw that I can wrap around my knees when it’s a bit chilly and to top it all off I have my gorgeous Scottish terrier, Bonnie, lying at my feet. I consider myself very blessed.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart?

This is so difficult to answer! I feel as though I have met all my characters—they have become my friends, so choosing one over another is tricky. Probably—in terms of emotional tugs on my heart—it would be Emily Carpenter—the main character of my standalone novel—The Forgotten Children.

Struggling with the demons of her past, Emily is a children’s author with a dark secret, and a guilt that threatens to consume her. For twenty years she has lived in Brighton, England, trying to forget the day they took her baby from her, just hours after he was born. In the summer of 1987, she decides to begin the search for her son.

As the story unfolds, the emotional journey that Emily goes on really stayed with me and still affects me now whenever I re-read the book, and it’s made more emotional because the story is based on true events.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences or purely all imagination?

All my books are set in Sussex, England, which was where I was born and brought up and where I still live. So, my descriptions of setting and place are based on real-life experience. Also, my novels are all set in the 1960s—an era I have a great passion for. It was a time of great social and political change—in the UK, but in the US too — with the explosion of ‘pop’ music, radical changes in fashion, as well as the beginnings of greater independence for young people—especially women. I was just a child during the sixties, but I have older brothers and sisters who were teenagers in the sixties, and many of their anecdotes about that ‘swinging’ time have found their way into my stories.

Ok, I’ll be the first one to admit it; I’m jealous of Isabella! Her very own log cabin? What more could a writer want? And the simplistic walk along the beach or woodland path sounds perfect for plotting out a story. Be sure to sign up for Isabella’s newsletter and check out all her books.

Isabella made a good point. Most wide authors have their books available in libraries. Did you know this is something an author who is in the Kindle Select Program on Amazon can not offer? To me, having my books on the library shelf or data-base is so important. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to read any book they want, regardless of their income. And this is something our local libraries provide. So support your favorite author and your local library.

You can ask for any of my books from your librarian! Or buy them direct from my website.

Victoria LK Williams

Meet K.T. Bowes

K.T. Bowes writes mysteries with older female protagonists. I have written fourteen novels and a fantasy trilogy, but I always come back to mystery writing. Her books are available on all platforms and you can by directly from her website. Now lets find out a bit about K.T.

Have you ever been to the United States and if so, where?
I haven’t, but I’d like to. A university friend went on Camp America one summer and brought back stories of riding horses in Wyoming and falling in love. I’d enjoy seeing the rolling plains for myself. I’m happy with Husband, so don’t need to fall in love again.

What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean?
‘Don’t rip your nightie.’ It means, don’t get angry or upset. It’s a humorous rebuke. I live with Mr Super-calm, so don’t get to say it as much as I’d like

Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first and why?
That’s easy. I’d take them home, and we’d have a barbeque and some beers. Hospitality is a massive thing with Kiwis. The first thing we noticed was the big blue sky in New Zealand when we got off the plane. A friend warned us it was bigger here, and it’s true. It looks best from a friend’s garden with a bottle in your hand. Then I’d take them to Hobbiton and the set for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.

What, in your opinion, are the essential elements of good writing?
The reader has to relate to the characters. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter what happens in the plot. Empathy is one of my strengths and I love unpicking characters and reverse engineering their behaviour so I can better understand them. I derive pleasure from knowing my characters are believable enough to have fans of their own.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I write every weekday, no matter what. After exercising, I shower and go straight to my office. I tell myself I only need to write 100 words but always do more. My method is to write until it feels too hard, as though I’ve hit a roadblock. That tells me I’ve gone as far as I can for that day, so I’ll switch to another task. I’ll edit the next finished novel for a few hours and switch to admin tasks, marketing, accounts – the boring stuff which still needs doing.

Which of your books were the most enjoyable to write?
The Hana Du Rose Mysteries will always have a hold over me, and readers regularly plead for more of that series. But I think Pirongia’s Secret clicked most for me somehow. I loved writing a novel based in the 1990s rural New Zealand with this intensely complicated and insular small town dynamic.  

What were the key challenges you faced when drafting this book?
A Trail of Lies was one of my hardest books to write because I needed to endure a weekend in the New Zealand bush in order to appreciate what Callister went through as a runaway. I hiked into the bush with a Search and Rescue group and stayed there for two painful nights and hated every minute. I’m sure I was a liability. I couldn’t navigate and spent a lot of time running around screaming with something crawling through my clothes.

If you were a tour guide, what would you like a visitor to see?
My friend June has a waterfall at the end of her garden and glow worms. Then there’s the Kaniwhaniwha reserve at the bottom of Mount Pirongia which has a rope swing over a creek. To see the real New Zealand, you need to go off the beaten track and look for the special things that only locals know about. I think I’d do a secret tour, which included all those places.

Thanks to KT for answering our questions and sharing a bit of her writing life with us!

In my writing life, I’m thrilled to announce the final book in the Beach House Mysteries will be released on May 8th. You can pre-order now!

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Sherri Bryan

Sherri Bryan

I’m Sherri Bryan—a Brit living in Spain. I write The Charlotte Denver Cozy Mysteries, which are small-town culinary cozies, and The Bliss Bay Village Mysteries. The series are set in Cornwall and Devon in the south-west of England. They’re gentle mysteries, with a little fun, a little romance, and characters who I hope will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.

Have you ever been to the United States and if so, where?
Yes! We spent three weeks visiting my stepdaughter and her family in Spring Green, Wisconsin, five years ago. It was so different to anywhere I’ve ever been before, but the people were really welcoming and we had a great time.
As soon as I was there, I completely understood why cozies are so popular in the US, and why close-knit communities (like Spring Green) lend themselves so well to the genre. There were so many elements that I’ve read about in so many cozies; from the village busybodies and gossips (my stepdaughter tipped us the wink!) to the Sheriff, the general store, the craft shop, the bakery, and the old guy who spent his day in a rocking chair outside the general store, taking in the sun. In fact, he gave me an idea for a character in an upcoming book.
Suffice to say, I loved everything about the trip, and we’ll definitely get back to Wisconsin one day.

What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean?
‘I’m chuffed to bits!’ is one I use a lot. It means you’re very happy or pleased about something.

Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first, and why? 
Well, if I still lived in the UK, I’d spend a couple of days taking you around the university city of Cambridge. So many great cozies are based in or around Oxford, but I think it’d be good to ring the changes with a trip to its ‘rival’ city—the Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race is a well-known example of the rivalry between the two universities.
  Also, my niece lives there, so we could stay at her place! And, as a special treat, I couldn’t let you leave England without taking you to Burgh Island for afternoon tea. It’s an art-deco hotel on its own private island in south Devon, and at which Agatha Christie wrote two of her novels. It’s a beautiful place to visit, in a gorgeous part of the world.
But as I now live in Spain—and I can’t choose where I’d take you first!—we’d go to Seville for tapas and to see a Flamenco show; to Madrid to visit Botín (founded in 1725, it’s the oldest restaurant in the world, according to The Guinness Book of Records), and then to Barcelona to see the Sagrada Família. Also known as the Gaudi Cathedral, it’s an amazing sight, although still unfinished despite being started in 1882. And, before we left, I’d have to take you to meet my lovely, hospitable, Spanish friend, Loli, who’s in her eighties, and full of stories about her life, and who won’t let you leave her house until she’s fed and watered you until you feel like you’re going to burst.

Describe your writing space.
My writing space is a spare bedroom, which I use as an office—nothing fancy at all. No bed, just two desks, two chairs, two bookshelves and two big boards on the wall that I use for plotting and notes. I also have a pin board which is supposed to be for pinning reminders of things to do but, somehow, it got filled with photos of friends, family, and dogs instead, which have spilled out onto the walls, and which are much nicer to look at.
The room has large door that leads out onto the terrace so, if I come to a grinding halt while I’m writing (which is all too often, unfortunately), I go and sit outside for a change of scene, and to think.

Who is your favorite character?
I have two. Ava, in my Charlotte Denver series, because I got the inspiration for her from my mother-in-law, and Uncle Des, from my Bliss Bay series, because some of his characteristics and mischievous ways are based on my Dad.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When I was young, my Dad used to go to the library every Saturday morning. I pestered him for ages to take me so, on my sixth birthday, he did. One book I chose was The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, and I couldn’t put it down. As soon as I read the last word, I burst into tears because I hadn’t wanted it to end.
I remember being awestruck that a story could make me feel so many emotions, from angst and sadness to excitement and joy. I think that was the first time I realised that words had the power to allow me to ‘escape’ into a book, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Favorite quote (doesn’t matter the source)
If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

Sherri writes these wonderful series, so be sure to check them out. The Charlotte Denver Cozy Mysteries & The Bliss May Village Mysteries.

You can find them on Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play and Amazon. Find these links on her website.

Well, that was fun! I love learning about other writers and where they live, don’t you? Life has been hectic, and I’m sorry for the gap in the interviews! But on news in my writing life, I have a new release coming out on March 17th. It’s up for preorder now.

And don’t forget to sign-up for my newsletter. There are book gifts and surprises in almost every letter! And now you can buy my books direct!

Thanks for joining Sherri and me-be sure to pick up a book and enjoy your day!

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Rachael Stapleton

Today we get to meet another writer from our north. I still have a hard time considering Canada as part of my international series. I was raised right along the US/Canada Border in Niagara Falls, and I sure spent a lot of time on the Canadian side. I even have family in Canada. And they are fascinating folks as you are about to find out…

Rachael Stapleton

Hey there, Victoria and friends! Rachael Stapleton here, coming to you from the snowy wilds of Ontario, Canada. Lovely to meet you! I write a collection of traditional and paranormal cozy mysteries set in the fictional town of Bohemian Lake. All of my cozy mysteries are in Kindle unlimited. You can find all of my books here: https://www.amazon.com/Rachael-Stapleton/e/B00IE9W804 , and you can chat with me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RaquelleJaxson
Facebook Readers Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CozyCabinCommunity

Bohemian Lake is made up of five series including my best-selling books, the Haunted House Flippers. It  features Juniper Palmer and Jack Young. As Bohemian Lake’s newest contractors, they’re expecting renovations most daunting, but what they get are murders most haunting. If you want to join them as they buy a haunted old mansion in Jack’s hometown and settle in to fix & flip it, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08886DD91

The other four series set in the Bohemian Lake are:

Haunted House Flippers Inc.

Penning Trouble: This adventurous cozy mystery series revolves around a traveling investigator from Bohemian Lake who’s always up for an avalanche of trouble. Penny’s first two books have a more of a traditional feel. A treasure hunt brings her home to Bohemian Lake for the summer and an ex-boyfriend has her treading slippery slopes in the Laurentian Mountains by Christmas.  The following books in the series take on a more paranormal feel (that is more in line with the overall world) as Penny interacts with Bohemian Lake’s witches, ghost hunters, and takes on esoteric assignments around the world. You can check out Penny here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087T5MVCY

A Penning Troubles Mystery

Bohemian Murder Manor: This series revolves around a family of paranormally gifted Roma women who run a themed resort called Caravan Manor. The Vianu ladies can always spot trouble in the cards. Unfortunately for the manor’s guests, it isn’t just trouble they see. It’s ghosts. This series starts out with a good old fashioned locked room mystery but delves deeper into the world of ghosts as we explore Mallory’s psychic abilities. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079V62NWS

 A Bohemian Lake Cozy Mystery

Bookish Adventures in Witch-Lit is a haunting paranormal cozy mystery series about an adventurous book club run by witches. We first meet Sera Popescu in Bohemian Murder Manor when she comes to town for the Vianu’s Hexfest event. After that we follow Sera’s life at the bookstore. Sera is a witch hired to help Nelle Storey run the literary tours. Each book takes Sera and her black cat, Medieval to a new country revolving around a book they’ve just read, namely, Germany, Scotland and Romania. Of course, in every story they seem to find themselves wrapped up in a murder mystery. Sera’s boyfriend who is a ghost-hunter is also prominently featured. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086X7C5J5

Bohemian Festival Fiasco: This series is about Eve Banter. You will find her to be the comic relief in every single Bohemian Lake book. She’s an outspoken sixty-year-old with her own private spy network and an appetite for destruction. Let me just say that Eve is everyone’s favorite character, which is why she got her own series. She works for the Trubble family at Bohemian Lake’s Private Ink & Eye as she’s as able to chase down a lead as to outrun a culprit, no matter how ridiculous her boots. Eve’s antics, especially her penchant for breaking and entering, drives her friends nuts. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B087TMCLDJ

Have you ever been to the United State and if so where?
I’ve been everywhere, man.
“I’ve been everywhere, man. Crossed the desert’s bare, man.” Oh, and now I have Johnny Cash in my head. Lol. No, but seriously, I have been to Tennessee, Florida, Nevada, California, Texas and a ton of other places in between. I LOVE to travel which is probably why two of my series revolve around characters who travel. 😛 My favorite trips were to Las Vegas and Nashville. Las Vegas was for a writers conference and Nashville/Memphis was for my husband’s work and funny enough was where I wrote Murder, She Floats. I had a ton of fun in both places.

What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean?
Oh, I can’t think of any right now. Although I know they come up because my beta readers question them. :p Of course, everyone knows we say EH! A lot. It’s like HUH for us.  “It’s cold out there, eh?”

Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first  and why?
Hmm. If I were recommending travel, I’d say go skiing in British Columbia or spend the day hiking nature in Banff National Park. If you want lobster and lighthouses then head to the East Coast. Or Cobblestone streets and kitschy ski villages then check out old Quebec and Tremblant. But if I were personally guiding visitors, I’d take them to the beach that’s about twenty minutes from my house. I live in the Kawartha lakes area of Ontario. Or I’d take them for a walk through the many nature trails of Ontario. Wilderness is everywhere. There’s also cross country trails and a ski hill about 40 minutes away. In the summers when we’re not in lockdown I love to roller-skate at the local arena.

Describe your writing space.
Aged dormers and exterior brick! I live in a Second Empire Victorian home just like the one in Haunted House Flippers. So, my house is very atmospheric to write in especially when it comes to ghosts. My personal favorite place is the attic but I mostly write in my study. My husband who is very handy just like Jack in the HHF series, actually renovated much of our house including my study so it’s lined with bookshelves and has a secret passage that leads into my gym.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
My typical work schedule is 8-5 everyday (including weekends) because I love to get lost in Bohemian Lake. However, things have been a little different with Covid. My 8 yo daughter is enrolled in online learning while my teenage son attends the local high school when we’re not locked down. We’ve been in lock down since December. Anyway, during my work day I take plenty of breaks to cook and chat with the kids. I also take breaks to stretch meditate, and workout to improve my overall health. I’m having back surgery this month. And while I exercise, I listen to spiritual growth podcasts. I love learning and growing my muscles, my brain and my higher consciousness.

How do you research for your books?
How do you stop is more like it? Bahaha. It’s an addiction. Everything is a source of research for me. I read every night before bed, I google constantly, and I love to watch tv shows that inspire me. For example, I watched a lot of Sabrina when I was writing Sera Popescu’s stories. I watched a lot of Ancient Aliens when writing Penny’s esoteric adventures in Paris. I wrote Sera’s Scotland adventure while in Scotland, and I wrote Haunted House Flippers while renovating my own house and living on HGTV.

What do you hope your readers take away from your books?
Belly laughs, a sense of adventure and a feeling of coming home. Everything I look for in my fave books.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I worked in advertising for twenty years specifically online marketing and social media. So, that would be an easy leap back for me, but outside of writing, I do coach people on fitness, mindset and publishing. The fitness aspect is probably my fave because it makes such huge difference in people’s daily lives. We all want to make a difference, am I right?

Which of your books were the most enjoyable to write?
It’s hard to choose just one because they all take me to a different place and time in my life. But I would say Haunted House Flippers: Black Cats, Corpses and the Pumpkin Pantry was fun because it’s set in Tarrytown and is a bit of a spoof on the Headless Horseman.

Thanks to Rachael for a great interview. I can’t wait to start reading her books, now to decide which series to start with!

And speaking of series, I’m so excited to announce the rough draft of book 6, the series completions, in the Beach House Mysteries is done! Now it’s on to the editing. I’m planning on books 5 and 6 to be released this spring. Who do you think will win the battle over Pearl Island? Morgan or the sea-witch Cora?

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Patti Larsen

Good Morning Readers! It’s a cool, crisp morning here, but the temps will get up into the mid 70’s by lunchtime. My cats really like these cool mornings. Speak of cool-or rather cold!- Our next author knows what cold winters are all about. We don’t have to travel too far to meet this author, just head North.

Patti is a writer of Young Adult, Adult Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Cozy Murder Mysteries, Horror, Thriller and Post-apocalyptic books. (do you think she keeps busy?!?) She publishes wide and you can find them on her website and Amazon. Now lets find out more about our Canadian neighbor.

Have you ever been to the United State and if so where?
As a Canadian, travel to the US was always a treat as a kid and something I have continued to do my entire life. In one three-month trip alone I visited 40 of the 50 states by car, living in a tent on a tiny budget and had a blast. There were so many highlights and I do plan to see the other ten states, my two bucket listers Hawaii and Alaska.

What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean?
There are so many that seem to be unique to my part of Canada! I live in beautiful Prince Edward Island, home of Anne of Green Gables and the most lovely beaches anywhere, but we are notorious for our slang. The most amusing to me isn’t so much a phrase, but an odd—when we agree with you, we do this odd little inhale of breath two or three times, making a ya sound. It’s hilarious and actually has a name and a history and likely began with the Vikings (who first settled my part of the world). http://bit.ly/ingressivepulmonicspeech

Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first and why?
Hands down, we’d tour my gorgeous little island paradise. Prince Edward Island has some of the warmest waters north of the Carolinas in summer and we often swim off my brother-in-law’s boat in the West River just off the Charlottetown harbor mouth. From our unique red soil (caused by an overabundance of iron in the clay) to the abundance of live performances, fresh seafood from the dock to your plate, art, Broadway-class musicals and so much more… and that’s just our capital city! Not to sound like a tourism ad, but you have to come see us—islanders are friendly and welcoming and our food, music and scenery are all breathtaking.

When did you start writing?
I think I’ve always been a storyteller, but the idea of wanting to write a book coalesced one afternoon while I was reading a Nancy Drew Mystery. I grew up on sci-fi and fantasy thanks to my father, reading a great deal of subject matter far too advanced for a kid but loving it. So when a friend let me borrow her book, my very first YA book, as a matter of fact, I realized partway through the simple storyline, as entertaining as it was, felt like something I could do. Of course, it took me many years and a lot of writing, studying and writing some more in order to develop the skills to do what I do for a living. However, the spark, I think, is the key ingredient. Without it, I likely would have stopped at some point and given up, instead of continuing to write and grow as a writer until I was finally able to do what I always wanted fulltime.

Describe your writing space.
You’re going to laugh at me, but because I work at home fulltime, I’m always moving around, looking for a new and better and physically healthier way to work. My chiropractor and I often discuss best practices because I want to be able to keep writing for many, many more years. So, my latest setup will crack you up. I’ve bought a projector and lap desk and I’m testing out writing lying down with the screen on the ceiling. The pugs and kitties love it and I have to say I’ve never felt more productive.
No teasing. I’ve heard all the lying down on the job jokes already.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
When I’m in full-on production mode, it’s pretty steady. Typically I work on outlines or marketing in the mornings, write for at least three hours in the afternoons (my usual quota is five chapters), then take evenings to myself to watch TV or movies (I’m also trained as a screenwriter, so I often watch to study storylines and grow my craft as well as to chill out). Though, lately I’ve been indulging in my new favorite toy, an Oculus. And now I want to make all my books into VR mysteries.

Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels?
I’m one of those writers who hears voices, so I find writing rather easy, first, third or thirteenth in the series. I see myself as fingers on the keyboard (or holding the pen), invited to sit down with a new friend (or an old one, depending on where I am in a series) over a cup of coffee (cream and maple syrup for this Canadian girl) and write down this cool thing that happened to the character in question. Rather than a lot of backstory exploration, I let the voice fill me in as we go. I do outline extensively, so the books themselves are completely fleshed out before I start writing, which frees my brain to take a hike and allow the character to do her (usually) thing.
There have been times I’ve been four or five books in (even ten at one point), knowing there’s a giant ending coming and NO IDEA what that ending is. I do my best not to panic, because the voices ALWAYS come through and wrap things up so perfectly I’m kind of in awe of them. As long as I trust what the character is telling me, and don’t argue or try to change fate (like killing off beloved characters), the storylines always work out.
Best. Job. Ever.

Have you ever been on any sports teams? If so, what sport?
I was one of the founding members (and two years vice president) of the Red Rock ‘N Roller Derby league here on my little island. While I loved flat-track derby, it didn’t love me. After I broke my elbow and then my tailbone within four weeks of each other, I sadly had to hang up my skates. That remains my one and only sports team activity—I prefer to ride my horse, walk and do other activities that don’t involve breaking bones.

A big thank you to Patti for sharing a glimpse into her writing world. I don’t know about you, but a summer vacation to Prince Edward Island sounds wonderful. Both of the above books by Patti are free, so grab a copy and enjoy (don’t forget to provide your review!). I hope you are enjoying this series of author interviews. Be sure to let me know if there are any other series you’d like me to consider. Have a wonderful weekend!

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Jane Hinchey

Hello “ducks”. That greeting is something we picked up from our last interview. We’re learning not only about the writers, but the world they live in! I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this next one just as much. So let’s read Jane’s responses to our questions…

Jane Hinchey

Hi, I’m Jane Hinchey, I’m an Aussie author who writes paranormal cozy mysteries, and I’m super excited to be here on your blog today!
All of my cozy mysteries are in Kindle Unlimited, but you will find my older urban fantasy books on other retailers.
You can find all my books here: https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Hinchey/e/B0193449MI/, and you can find out more about me, future books, audio, etc. here: https://janehinchey.com/.
You can also find me in Facebook land:
Facebook AuthorPage:https://www.facebook.com/JaneHincheyAuthor/
Facebook Readers Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/JanesLittleDevils

I have two cozy mystery series, the Witch Way series that features Harper, a witch who had her magic license revoked by the Council. As her world falls apart, she returns to her hometown and lives with her eccentric Gran, buys a bookstore, and immediately sets about solving the murder of her realtor. You can find the Witch Way series here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PDJ6TFV

Then we have my bestselling series, The Ghost Detective, where we follow the adventures of accident-prone Audrey, her talking cat Thor, a ghost, and a very hot sidekick as they solve the mysteries that befall Firefly Bay. You can find the Ghost Detective series here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08818PP47

Have you ever been to the United States, and if so, where?
Sadly, I have not. I’d booked to attend a writer’s conference in Las Vegas in November 2020, but thanks to the pandemic, that was canceled. We’ve reshuffled everything to November 2021, but it all depends on travel restrictions being lifted by then. Australia is pretty strict with border control, but the USA is definitely on my bucket list to visit one day.

What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US, and what does it mean?
I have sooooo many, lol. We Aussies have a lot of slang that the rest of the world doesn’t understand, so I’ll hit you with a few. The first one isn’t slang, but it can certainly raise eyebrows. Thong. In Australia, it means flips flops. Everywhere else, it means a particular type of underwear!
A couple of others for you: flat out like a lizard drinking. That means we’re very busy.
She’ll be right = everything will be okay.
Yeah, no worries = yes.

Where would you take a US visitor to your country first, and why?
It all depends on what they were into. Australia is a vast country, we may be an island, but we’re a big one. If you like city life, then Sydney and Melbourne are for you. I’d start with Sydney for the harbor bridge and opera house – they are breathtaking… you’ve all seen the pictures but seeing them up close and personal is a whole other experience.
If it’s beaches you’re after, I’d then shoot up to Queensland and the Gold Coast, from there you could explore the rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef. Once you’ve had your tropical hit, I’d go inland to the Northern Territory. Red soil and a whopping great big rock.
I could really go on and on, lol. We have fantastic wineries everywhere, miles of beaches, bushland, desert, again, it all depends on what you’re into as to where to go first.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I like to write first thing in the morning, not super early because I’m actually a night owl. I get up around eight-thirty, and then it’s straight into it. After coffee, of course. I write before anything else, as in no checking emails, no perusing Facebook. Words first, everything else after. I try and write a minimum of 2,000 words per day, sometimes more, sometimes less (when the muse has bunked off and is watching Netflix or being generally unhelpful). But every word is moving the story forward, and that’s a win in my book.

How do you research your books?
Google. Because I write paranormal, I have a lot of lee-way. I can basically make up anything I want. But I do Google a lot of stuff. Because I’m Australian but write in American, I’ll often ask my readers group about things, i.e., in Australia, we use the word torch, but it’s flashlight in the US. Little things like that.

How much ‘world-building’ takes place before you start writing?
Very little. I create fictional locations for my stories, so I’ll start with finding a town similar to what I have pictured in my head (Google maps is perfect for this). Often it’s a combination of two different towns and/or cities, some Australian, some American. I’ll then create a very basic street map with an outline of what businesses are there. Again, I make up the names. I save all of this information in a series bible and add to it as I write. Little things like a side-character may work at an Art Gallery, so I make sure I add that Art Gallery to the list of businesses for that town.
I have several fictional towns/cities now, and I will mention them in other books. For example, I have the SIA (Supernatural Investigation Agency) in one of my urban fantasy series, but I bring them into my cozies. You’ll also hear mention of Redmeadows, a city I created in a different urban fantasy series. All of it sort of grew organically, but when you need a neighboring town or city for your current story, it saves you having to re-create from scratch. My readers enjoy seeing something familiar from another book.

Where do you get your ideas?
I find inspiration everywhere, but mostly tv shows, movies, and music. That doesn’t mean I’m copying the plot. Usually, it’s a particular scene that sparks an idea, a spin-off tangent to what I’m watching. For example, I watched the series Lucifer, and his brother calls him Lucy, which sparked the idea of what if Lucifer was a girl? And I fell down the rabbit hole of that, and my urban fantasy series Hell’s Gate was born. In it, Lucifer is a girl, and she’s not evil. She actually runs Hell (as the CEO). So I take a spark of an idea I’ve picked up from somewhere and put my own twist on it.

I had to share one more picture of Janes’s covers. I fell in love with them the first time I saw them. Covers really make the difference! Now go and grab a book or two from Janes collection, and don’t forget to write and post your review when your finished.

Victoria LK Williams