This is the perfect weekend to catch up with your reading, and Amy Vansant will fit the bill nicely. Amy writes Urban Fantasy and Romatic Comedy and of course, Mysteries. I’ve read her Pineapple Port Mysteries and thought they were wonderful and comic. You can find all of her books onAmazon Kindle.
Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside? My house since I moved to Florida! I’m a walk to the beach and have a pool so I have all the bases covered now. 😊
Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours? I walk on the beach but I don’t sit for long. I like to people and dog watch… but I guess a water and something to read in case I get bored.
What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters? Both my Pineapple Port Mysteries and Shee McQueen Mystery-Thrillers take place in Florida near the beach!
What inspired you to start writing? I just always did, even when I was very little.
What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting? Keep writing! The only way you’ll ever make money is to keep writing more books… I got distracted making a living for a decade and stopped during that time. I could kick myself for it.
What time of the day do you usually write? I get up early, so usually 4am to 6am unless I get distracted by work… which happens a lot…
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? I’ve written a little over twenty… Generally the latest is my favorite because you get a little better at what you do every time you do it!
Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers? I cleverly hid where I live, Jupiter, FL, as “Jupiter Beach FL” in the Shee McQueen novels. The location of the Loggerhead Inn, where my characters live, is my house (except it is on the Intracoastal Waterway and I’m not – need to sell a lot more books for that house!)
What did you want to be when you grew up? A writer!
Would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter? Is that even a question? SUMMER!!
Tea or coffee Both, but if I had to choose one forever, coffee.
Morning person or Night owl MORNING. I don’t function at night at all. When the sun goes down, I start to fall asleep… and I love how quiet mornings are.
Do you base your characters real people? Often. If you’re a neighbor, be careful…
What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? Probably things I don’t even realize I’m getting wrong. LOL
How do you select the names of your characters? I go to baby name websites or I run a contest to have my readers pick a name. For some reason if left to my own choices I fall back to the same six names or so. I have no imagination for names apparently.
Amy is also a fellow Sister in Crime, and we belong to the same chapter. I can assure you she is just as funny in person!
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 mydinner 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.
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…
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:
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
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
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?
Can you believe how fast the last quarter of 2020 is passing by? Halloween is over, and plans are being made for that big turkey dinner. And then, with a blink of an eye, we are decorating and planning for the Christmas holiday. Our next award winning author writes in a range of holiday mysteries.
Why do did you write a holiday theme mystery? Living in Australia, Halloween is not as celebrated here as much as it is in the US so I love to immerse myself in creating what could be if I lived there. I love all the mystery and intrigue that surrounds the holiday and the chance to dress up. The holiday gives me so much inspiration to create and imagine what could be.
In my mind, there is always a little bit of magic that surrounds Christmas. You can’t beat a great Christmas story that takes you on a journey into the world of the North Pole and Santa’s workshop. A story filled with fun, love, excitement and a little bit of mischief. I love writing about Christmas in winter, the snow, a warm fire and hot chocolate. Living in Australia our Christmases are always hot and humid so to create a winter world I can dive into, complete with Santa and the Elves is such as joy.
Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be? Writing is my night-time and weekend passion. I am a full-time Drama teacher, but not your normal 9-5 teacher. I am run the Dance and Drama Department at my school, so not only do I have to teach the students, I have loads of admin to do and productions including after school rehearsals. My average day in 7.30am to 6.30pm. As you can imagine, fitting in writing in and around that is pretty hard. Because I self-publish, I also have to try and get promotional time in there which I guess is why I don’t get a lot of sleep.
If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it? If Pumpkin Pies & Potions were made into a movie, apart from probably fainting at the opportunity of having one of my books on the big screen, Emma Stone would play the main character of Evelyn Grayson. At 11, Evelyn’s parents were tragically killed, and she moved in with her Aunt Edie in Saltwater Cove. This is where she finds out she’s a witch and her life is set on a new path of mystery, magic and mayhem. Her world goes haywire and she finds out life as a witch is not as easy as she first thought. Emma Stone is the perfect fit, beautiful, smart and a little on the tough side. Jason Lewis would play the main character of Tyler Broderick, Evelyn’s best friend. They have been best friends since she moved in with her aunt and while he isn’t a witch, he has mad computer skills which prove useful in solving key clues in various murders. Emily Blunt would play Aunt Edie. Her vast acting knowledge would bring a maturity to the role without making her too old. She is a hip, young aunt that isn’t afraid to take a risk where needed.
Where do you draw inspiration from? A lot of my inspiration comes from my covers. Whether it be romance or a cozy, I have great cover designers and they provide me with the fuel to create my stories. At the start, I had no real idea what a cozy mystery was until I stumbled across Mariah Sinclair’s covers and brought 13 in one sale and then a writer friend said they were cozies and I had to learn what they were and how to write them. Having been an obsessed addict of Murder, She Wrote and Nancy Drew it wasn’t hard to put pen to paper. I can see a cover and then a story begins festering in my mind and I have to just go with it. I had the cover of Pumpkin Pies & Potions designed by Victoria Cooper and she took the exact idea out of my head and created it brilliantly. I often run ideas by my sister and niece, they are great to brainstorm ideas with and they can send me on a whole new storyline with just one discussion. Problem is, once we start talking over the one idea, it soon becomes three or four books. As a writer, a great problem to have.
What is your favorite childhood book? It’s not so much a book as a series. I LOVE (and till do) the Sweet Valle High Series. I still have the majority of them, albeit some warn and tattered. I wasn’t a fast reader, but if I had one of Francine Pascal’s SVH books in my hand you couldn’t get me to do anything until I finished it. I received a number of groundings from my mum because I wouldn’t put my book down. I must have read the series over twenty times. They were my first introduction to teenage romance, and I was hooked. I also loved Nancy Drew, I suppose that’s why I love writing mystery novels. Also, Enid Blyton’s the Wishing Chair. While I write cozies, I also write romantic suspense and contemporary romance under P.L. Harris. I think the love of reading romance has stayed with me since I picked up my first SVH book.
Polly is also part of a great group of writers that have written the Christmas Anthology, Christmas Crackers.
So, there it is; we’ve officially started the holiday book season! Grab you comfy slippers, a cup of hot chocolate, a warm blanket and a spot in front of the fire place-there are plenty of holiday cozies coming your way!
Every once in a while you are lucky to meet someone who gladly gives all she can to her fellow writers. Pam is one of those authors. (To be fair, the writing community as a whole is very giving and more than willing to help you when they can!) I’m honored to call this fun, talented writer a friend.
Pam has over 60 published books, mystery/suspense and young adult. The easiest way to find her books is to go to her website. There you will find her books, blog, upcoming events and releases and now she’s even doing a wonderful podcast. And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter while you are there.
How long have you been writing? I have little stapled construction paper books that I scribbled stories in before I could read or write. I wrote a short book about an anthropomorphic rabbit when I was ten, and took several runs at writing a novel over the next few years, completing my first novel when I was twelve. I have been writing ever since, but did not start publishing until 2013. I have over 60 titles out now.
Where do you draw inspiration from? My stories are frequently inspired by news stories or people’s personal stories, as well as music, dreams, and random imaginings. My brain is always going. Before George Floyd’s death, I was concerned with deaths in police custody and what I was reading in articles such as this. Throughout the Auntie Clem’s Bakery series, the main character Erin Price was frequently a suspect in murders around Bald Eagle Falls. In other cases, her family or friends were suspected (think Jessica Fletcher’s nephews…) It was time to turn the tables and throw suspicion on the police themselves (and Erin’s sweetheart, Officer Handsome in particular.)
What book is currently on your bedside table? Skeletons in my Closet by Calgary Homicide Detective Dave Sweet.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? Hard to tell without spoilers. There are some high-tension scenes near the end of the book, culminating in the discovery of two injured victims. I think that discovery scene was probably the most interesting to write. There is always some comic relief as well, which sometimes comes as a complete surprise to me.
Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be? I am getting closer. It is my last year as a salaried employee. I expect to continue next year with fewer hours and an hourly wage rather than monthly salary. I am working hard at boosting my writing revenue so that I can live off of my books. It has taken me a number of years to get here, working a lot of hours at my writing business on top of working a full-time office job.
What is the significance of the title? In this paranormal cozy mystery series, Reg Rawlins has recently gone through a short jaunt through the past, and yes, you guessed it, she made a few changes while she was back there. In the new present, her mother did not die when she was a child, and in Delusions of the Past, her long-estranged mother comes back into her life. Reg and her mother each remember the past very differently.
What do you like to do when you are not writing? Running and walking, reading, playing with the cat, designing covers… there should probably be some stuff in there about people, too. Despite being a hermit, I do enjoy spending time with my family too.
Why did you write a holiday theme mystery? I wanted something to promote during the holidays. I wanted books that could distract people from seasonal stresses and help people to relax and enjoy the holidays.
A big thank you to Pam for taking time from her busy schedule to visit with us and answer our questions. Be sure to stop by her website and explore!
Don’t forget, many authors, including myself, publish “wide”. This means our books might be available in the library. Ask your local librarian for information on how to request a book from my list or any of the other authors I have introduced you to.
Are you getting ready for Halloween? Candy bought (and round one eaten!), decorations up, costumes selected? Yep, it’s getting closer. And to keep in the “spirit”, here is another author with a Halloween treat for us.
Why do did you write a holiday theme mystery? Halloween has always been a most favorite holiday—wonderful memories from childhood and with my own son growing up, moonlight, scary things, the candy corn, the haunted houses—it’s just always made me feel delight. And I thought Ria, my MC, would enjoy a plot that had a haunted, abandoned hospital and an ancient peat bog to explore on Halloween.
If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it? That’s a great question. I can see I’d have Emily Blunt as Ria, Cary Elwes as Gareth, David Leon as Kyle, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley as Deidre… in my dreams, anyway…
Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you. I actually reveal it in the first Ria Quinn mystery, Hidden In Stone—her passion for Old English. It is my own…
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
What is your favorite childhood book? Two, really—a beautiful book of fairy tales and Nancy Drew’s The Clue of the Broken Locket that I first read when I was 9.
Well, that’s it for this post. I hear the candy wrapper rustling, so I’d better go run interference, or I’ll be buying more before the trick or treaters arrive! Victoria LK Williams
In my last post, I presented a number of books with a Halloween Theme and next month I will do the same for books with a Christmas Theme. I hope you’ve had the opportunity to down load a couple and start reading. But now I want you to get the know the authors behind the stories. A few of these wonderfully talented wordsmiths have written books for both holidays! Are you ready to meet our first author?
Kathy is a long-time columnist and award-winning author. Her books are in the KU (kindle unlimited) program. You can find all her books on her Amazon Author Page, connect with her on her Facebook Author Page and find out even more from her Website!
I asked each of our authors to select questions from a list to answer (you’ll find out more below) and ask all to answer this…
Why did you write a holiday theme mystery? The Halloween book simply grew out of the fact that book one was set in September and had ended with a costume party at my main character’s cottage. That was so much fun, I wanted to continue the costume theme with the characters dressing in costume for a Fall Fete in their Cotswolds village. I LOVE Christmas, and like my main character, I decorate our home to the hilt! Given that Leta has been a widow for 18 mos, her emotional growth and how she deals with the holidays seemed a natural next step.
How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing cozies only since late 2019 and released Book One in my series in February 2020. For almost my entire corporate career, I was called upon to write. Funny that my fellow bankers, whom I thought brilliant at analysis and numbers, seemed to think the same about my ability to craft a complete sentence, a speech, a how-to guide, or a training course. Long before my official job was communications, I was the go-to person for writing. As a side job, while still a banker, I began writing weekly columns for a local paper and enjoyed it so much, I also started writing a blog. When I retired, I published a book of my columns, and then my dog Banjo got in on the act. He got all fired up when I had his DNA done and we discovered he’s part Great Pyrenees. Did you know that Louis XIV declared those majestic animals the Royal Dogs of France? Once Banjo heard that news, he demanded I take dictation and produce a small book in his voice about a year in his life. He says Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch is NOT fiction, but we have a difficult time convincing readers of that. It was only after I’d appeased the boy that I could think about what I might want to write.
What is the significance of the title? Since Dickens & Christie, the dog and cat in my books, are important characters, I find myself wanting to include a pet-oriented word in each title. Hence, the first book was Bells, Tails & Murder and this Halloween themed book is Pumpkins, Paws & Murder with a fall fête central to the plot.
What book is currently on your bedside table? Love Saves the Day by Gwen Cooper. A friend recommended I read it because a cat tells the story. She wasn’t quite sure she was going to enjoy reading my books where Dickens & Christie converse with their pet parent, but after one book, she was hooked. She went in search of other books where the animals talk or at least write and found Love Saves the Day! And on my Kindle, next up is The Silent Woman by Terry Lynn Thomas. I’m an Anglophile through and through, so you can almost always find me reading a book set in England. This one is set just before WWII.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? As an avid reader, I love writing the book club scenes included in each of my books. The chosen book is always in some way connected to the plot and is always a book I’ve read. I enjoy mentioning books throughout my stories, though I must admit I haven’t read every single book I mention—most of them, but not all. Leta, my main character, was an English major and briefly an English teacher before moving on to corporate America, and her best friend Wendy taught high school English for thirty years. It’s only natural that they talk books. And guess what, I too briefly taught English, and I’m forever talking books with my friends.
Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be? My friends would tell you it is, that writing has become my full-time second career and that I never really retired. I call it my passion. I find myself going into withdrawal when I don’t write every day. Fortunately, I continue to write weekly newspaper columns, so when I’m not deep into writing the next book, I can get my fix with a column.
What do you like to do when you are not writing? Read! I must read every night and now that I’m retired I stay up way too late doing that. When I worked, I made myself turn out the bedside light by ten. Much as I say about Leta in my books, I turn into a pumpkin by that time. And so you know I’m not a complete couch potato, I work out several times a week and walk with my sister too. Times were I rode bicycles with my husband, but his health has taken that activity off the table, and I don’t much enjoy cycling by myself. You’ll notice in my books that Leta rides a bicycle.
Where do you draw inspiration from? I followed the adage to write what you know, so my pets are the inspiration for the personalities of Dickens & Christie. Banjo and Puddin’ hang out with me in my office—Banjo snoozes at my feet and Puddin’ is either demanding treats by leaping on the desk or she’s snoozing in my desk drawer. As does Dickens, Banjo loves belly rubs and is always scarfing his feline sister’s wet food. Puddin’? She’s a demanding little thing who rules the roost and thinks she “owns” both me and my husband. Leta, my main character, is a transplanted Atlantan and is Greek. I only wish I were a transplanted Atlantan! I doubt I’d ever have the gumption to leave friends and family behind and move to England, but I AM Greek. Leta is known among her new British friends for her Greek salad, as I am here among my Atlanta friends. You can find her salad recipe in Book One and two additional Greek recipes in Books Two and Three. Beyond that, my bucket list trip to England in 2018 inspired the Cotswolds village setting and much of the literary plot for the first book in the series. In book two, the ladies take a trip to Dartmouth and Agatha Christie’s summer home because I’d visited both. One thing leads to another as I research ideas on the internet, and things move along from there. Because I took yoga for years, there’s a yoga studio in Astonbury and Leta takes a class several times a week. I’ve long had it in the back of my mind to include a yoga retreat in one of my books. I only need to figure out who gets murdered and why! This idea could show up in book five. You never know.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our first “Holiday Author”! I know I have. And I’m now in the mood to start reading holiday books.
Don’t forget, you can get my books at a discount when you buy direct from my website. And to help you start start preparing for the holidays, check out the cute designs below!
As I write this post, I can look out my window and see the clouds racing by, getting darker with each hour. We are under a hurricane warning and the storm is supposed to skim the Florida coastline. It’s not a powerful storm, but only the first of the season for us. A foretaste of the rest of the season. If you are also in the storm’s path, I wish you safety.
LeAnna writes Fantasy or genres and is now beginning to write Cosy Mysteries. You can find her books on Amazon, in the Kindle Unlimited program. Check out her Amazon Author Page.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for 10+ years. Well, that’s how long I’ve been published, I think I’ve been writing for 20+ years. I started writing in Highschool during my homeschool free time. I started with Star Wars Fan Fiction, but when a friend of mine saw my writing her critique pushed me to create my own characters. That eventually lead to my current mystery books. One is called the Art of Facts and the other is called Sparx of Suspicion. The Art of Facts is a 1920’s steampunk-themed cozy that features an African American Archaeology Professor. Sparx is a contemporary mythic themed cozy that features a Native American elf named Sabiya Feathercroft.
How do you handle writer’s block?
Sometimes music helps. When I was writing my Mystic Ranch Mysteries, I was struggling to get a feel for Sabiya’s (my MC) personality until I came across a song featuring Lindsey Sterling called Something Wild. Really, it’s one that focuses more on Sabiya’s love interest Bridger Kane, but through his eyes, I was able to get a lens on Sabiya. With Art of Facts, I had a playlist of techno swing music. Bands like Caravan Palace.
How do you come up with the titles to your books?
Sparx of Suspicion came to me because Sabiya’s best friend in the book runs a coffee shop called Sparx. The Art of Facts came to me from the fact that the MC Maxine deals with out of place artifacts in the book.
If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it? Oh, that’s tough, Sabiya would have to be played by a Native American Actress. Bridger… well, Josh Gates could probably do it.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
For Mystic Ranch, I draw my inspiration from mythology and folklore. Sabiya is a Canoti (Sioux elf), Bridger is a male Sprite, Lexiana (Sabiya’s best friend) is a centaur, and so is Cyrus (who raised Sabiya like his own daughter after hers died when she was thirteen). My world is full of mythics just leading ordinary lives. That is, until murder strikes. A lot of the inspiration for The Art of Facts came from watching old movies.
LeAnna’s Closing Comments
As you can see, I write a little of everything, but I love the mystery genre right now. And My closing words for you are don’t limit your creativity by what might or might not sell. If you can write it somewhere out there is someone who will read it and love it. You might be the starting point for a future writer. Have a great day, stay safe, and as I say on my podcast Keep Cozy.
I have to add how much I love LeAnna’s covers! I look forward to reading her books.
Can you believe it’s the end of July? Nothing seems normal this year, including the passage of time! I hope you are all well and healthy and somehow enjoying your summer months. It’s been the typical weather pattern here in South Florida: hot and humid, with afternoon thunderstorms. Oh well, at least the weather is predictable.
I have an announcement before we meet our next author; Mist By The Lighthouse, book 3 in the Beach House Mystery Series, was released yesterday. I am so loving this series! You can get your copy fromBooks2Read.
Now let’s discover another author…
Meet Tammie Hunter
Tammie writes Science Fiction and Paranormal Suspense. Her literary career began at the age of seven. Inspired by her favorite Looney Tunes character, Marvin the Martian, she wrote about the adventures of Jigme from the planet Doobar. Through Jigme’s trials and tribulations as he searched for his family, a great love was born. Although she continued to write over the next four decades, a successful career in the US Air Force took center stage. After a career-ending injury ended her military career, and with the love and support of her family, friends, and the VA, Tammie earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and once again found herself in public service. Today, she writes at night after a long day at work, after a formidable forty-five minute battle with the treadmill, and finally after ensuring the kitchen is once again safe for human visitors. Tammie continues to hope that one day her day job and her dream job will be one in the same.
What inspired you to start writing? My mother is from the Philippines. She married my father, an Air Force jet engine mechanic. When I was ten years old, my teacher sent home a progress report which declared my penmanship to be atrocious. Yes, the pointy-nosed woman actually used the word atrocious! After Mom and I looked up the word atrocious, she mandated that every day after I finished my homework, I would spend an hour each day practicing my penmanship. As one would imagine, I was miserable and complained the entire sixty minutes. Since my mother was still learning how to speak English, she proposed that instead of lines and lines of cursive letters, I write a story. This way she could learn English and I would practice my penmanship. Thus was born Tammie Hunter the writer. I wrote four installments of the travels of Jigme from the planet Zoobar. Like me, Jigme was ten years old and had a little brother who annoyed him constantly. One day, while on vacation with his family, Jigme gets lost. I, my mother, and Jigme experienced several ups and downs during his journey to his family. Along the way, my penmanship improved and my mother passed her US citizenship test with a score of 100%.
Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers? I have three that have become my mantra: (1) write every day, even if it’s not on your book. Maybe a journal entry, a list of things you are grateful for, or a cherished memory from your childhood. Just write. (2) Read. Stephen King once said, you can’t be a writer if you don’t read. He’s spot on, I believe (3) And, most important: Never quit. I didn’t publish my first book until I was 50 years old. I began that book three days after my 15th birthday. In those thirty-five years, I was an airman with the US Air Force, a student who earned a Master’s degree, and a lost women forced to start a new career after a devastating injury at the age of thirty-three. Life may slow the writer in you down, but it can’t stop her. Never, ever quit.
Who is your favorite author and why? My favorite author is Clive Cussler, may he rest in peace. I want a book to transform me to another world, to lose myself and live the character’s adventure. Mr. Cussler has been just that for me for almost forty years. After a long day of treatments and therapy, I could always trust Dirk Pitt and Giordina to transport me away from my painful reality long enough to give me the strength to face my life again. Through Mr. Cussler’s prose, I have saved the world many times whilst traveling to the Sahara to the deepest oceans. His books stay with me long after I’ve read the last page. I hope one day that my readers will love Travis and Annabelle (my protagonists) with the same intensity and devotion.
How do you develop your plots and characters? While some of my characters and plotlines come from my dreams, most come from everyday life. I am a devoted people watcher with a wild and uncontrollable imagination. I’ve created not only characters but also entire storylines inspired by the people I see in grocery stores, airports, and doctor’s offices. I once wrote a short story about a woman I saw in Boston’s Logan Airport. Dressed head-to-toe in glowing lime green, in my imagination she was an undercover CIA agent following a known terrorist who had a fondness for vivid colors and vivacious women.
Book summary: Annabelle spent her life labeled an Imperfect…
An alien humanoid race invades Earth and enslaves its inhabitants. Annabelle and her sister survive genetic testing at the hands of Silas Tricbar. Separated from her sister, Annabelle escapes the genetically modified Lixtar soldiers and finds refuge amongst Earth’s rebel forces. Twenty years later, she learns the truth about her genetic testing and joins newfound alien allies. Once considered imperfect, Annabelle becomes Earth’s best hope in the struggle for freedom from Tricbar’s tyranny.
…Now she’s their only hope
The fireworks are over, graduations (such as they were this year) complete, and vacations have started. In other words, we are in full gear summer mode. My husband and I are doing “staycations” this year; lounging by the pool with the cats. What about you? Are you sticking close to home in light of the pandemic or branching out from the nest? One benefit of a slower-paced summer is plenty of time for reading. I have read several books by Angela K. Ryan and love them. And I think you will too. Now onto the interview.
Meet Angela K. Ryan…
Angela K. Ryan is a Cozy Mystery author, and you can find her books on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. She writes the Sapphire Beach Cozy Mystery Series.
When did you start writing? I have loved to write for as long as I can remember. In college, I majored in Print Journalism and worked briefly in that field as a freelancer, but soon decided to go in another direction. I got my Master’s in Ministry and have worked in college campus ministry ever since. However, several years ago, I realized how much I missed writing. I published some religious fiction under another name, and plan to write more in that genre, but I also wanted to try something lighter. Cozy Mysteries were the natural choice. I have always enjoyed reading them – my Kindle is filled with cozies – and I discovered that I LOVE writing them as well. Strong female sleuths, often in the midst of a life transition, who live in a close-knit community with an interesting puzzle to solve. What more could you ask for?
What do you hope your readers take away from your books? I try to make each one of my cozies fun, clean escapes with characters that uplift and inspire. As a reader, I frequently turn to cozy mysteries at the end of a long day to relax and escape from the pressures of work and life, or when I am dealing with something particularly challenging that I need to put aside for a while. You could say that cozies are my drug of choice! Similarly, I hope that when people read one of my books, they feel as though they’ve been taken on an enjoyable adventure away from their own stresses and challenges.
How long, on average, does it take you to write a book? I wish my process were faster. I start out with a rough outline, usually creating all the suspects, some of their secrets, motives, etc. I also jot down ideas for plot twists and turning points, but many of them come to me as I’m writing. Then I briefly outline any subplots. After I’ve gone as far as I can with the outline, I write the first draft. If I can devote 3-4 hours a day to writing, I can write the first draft in about ten days, but it is still VERY rough. That first draft sucks the life out of me!
Then I start the editing process. This is where the writing process becomes fun for me again! I polish it up, add in more suspense, twists, and turns. This takes about two weeks. Then I do another two read-throughs, which go much more quickly. I enjoy plotting and the last few drafts the most.
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences or purely all imagination? Several elements in my stories are taken from real life. My main character, Connie Petretta, has a background in humanitarian work, having she spent time after college volunteering in Kenya. This is based on personal experience. For a number of years, a friend and I had a small non-profit organization and raised funds for impoverished communities in Rwanda and India. I had the opportunity to visit Rwanda twice, which is what inspired the idea of having an m.c. with connections in Africa. I chose Kenya because at the time my main character would have been doing her post-graduate service, many programs had suspended volunteering in Rwanda because of the genocide. So, since one of my best friends is from Kenya, that is the country I chose for Connie.
Also, the last names of my main characters – Petretta and Belmonte – are taken from my family tree.
My mom lives in southwest Florida and my Sapphire Beach Series takes place in a fictitious town in southwest Florida. I love spending time there and I enjoy bringing it to life in my books.
And finally, there are some funny stories in my books, especially in Books One and Three, that are based on true stories. I won’t give away any spoilers, but the funny stories are connected with Gertrude, a loveable octogenarian. You’ll have to read the books to find out more!
In August, I will continue the author interviews, but with a bit of a twist. No, I’m not giving out any clues, but boy, you will enjoy this next series! (hint-hint; there’s two clues in that sentence, ha-ha!). While you’re working out my puzzle, I’m off to continue the next book in the Beach House Mystery Series. Don’t forget,Mist By The Lighthouse,book 3, is now up for preorder.