Sara, an artist who’s turning 50, returns to her hometown for Christmas to face her estranged sisters—and the man she left behind—with a stunning secret.
A compulsively readable tale of love and redemption packed with heartwarming surprises, this is the third book in the Sisters, Lovers & Second Chances series by USA Today bestselling author Jacqueline Diamond.
Where/when is your book set? The book is contemporary, set in the fictional town of Rancho Allegro in Southern California.
Who is your main character? My main character is Sara Matchett, an artist, the family rebel, and the youngest of three sisters. About to celebrate her 50th birthday, Sara returns to her hometown for Christmas, to face her sisters—and the man she left behind—with a stunning secret. The baby she gave up for adoption years ago is having her own baby, and wants her to be the grandma.
Why is Christmas so important to the story or you? Christmas is a time for reconnecting and for celebrating what’s important in life. In Sara’s story, the holiday family gathering brings her together with sisters whom she believes rejected her, only to discover how deep their love runs, and a man she never imagined could belong to her.
Santiago and Ripple have been best friends for their entire lives, so when she needs a fake fiancé, he’s more than happy to help her out. What neither of them expect is for a fake relationship to spark real feelings with the magic of the holidays…
Where/when is your book set? The fictional small town of Misty Falls, on an island in WA state.
Who is your main character? Santiago & Ripple
Why is Christmas so important to the story or you? The whole town comes to life with the Christmas spirit, and it is during the magical season that the two main characters come to realize that love is what they both really need.
In this 3 short story collection Christmas cheer abounds and snow falls all around as Etta and Dora, our sexagenarian amateur detectives and their lovable canine overlord snuggle down next to warm fires, puzzling over twists and turns a-plenty, enjoying songs, humour and friendships old and new.
Where/when is your book set? The three stories are set in Italy, from Tuscany to Venice to Vipiteno in the Alps, stumbling across mystery, mayhem and possibly even a murder or two…
Who is your main character? I actually have a whole trio, two retired teachers from Southern Italy and one lovably stubborn Basset Hound, they feature regularly in “The Homeswappers Mysteries” series.
Why is Christmas so important to the story or you? In this collection, one story is dedicated to Halloween (the one set in Tuscany), and two to Christmas. Being Italian, Christmas is such an important tradition, whether you are religious or not. It is the time when families get together, when children anxiously wait for Santa Klaus to appear at their door. It’s time to sing for carols; search to buy (or make) presents for family and friends; cook traditional food but mostly to let go of daily grind and embracing giving and togetherness…
In mysteries that I read or write, I love the juxtaposition of Good and Evil, and never as during Christmas time, the two come in such vivid contrast. Spoiler: I love challenging quests but mostly happy endings!
I am so thrilled to bring to you 25 days of Christmas Books. All new releases for 2022 and by authors you will recognize. Most are Cozy Mysteries, but there are a few Romance and Paranormal as well. There are even a few anthologies. Each of these authors has answered a few questions for you about their holiday writing and, of course, you find the links to their books.
I hope you will find plenty of stories to stock up on and read-they are so good you can read any time, and re-read next year too.
There is that quiet time between the fun and randiness of Halloween and the excitement and anticipation of Christmas that somehow seems to get lost in all the noise. Fall, Autumn, Thanksgiving. But writers don’t forget, and I have some special books to bring your way for this sweet season of peace and reflection by several of my author friends. I hope you will enjoy them.
Cathy has been featured in the blog before- her books are that good! You can follow her on Facebook, check out her Website and follow her series on Amazon.
Why did you choose to set your story at this time of year? When I started the series, I had thought about doing stories focused around holidays. I didn’t realize how POPULAR holiday cozy mysteries really were. The first one, Dr. Shine Cracks the Case was set at the Fourth of July. My sleuth, like me, is a chiropractor in a small town in Georgia. And also like me, the main character, Dr. Susannah Shine, isn’t from the town she lives in. She doesn’t come home to inherit a business. She starts one in a place and really loves, but she’s also a bit of a ‘fish out of water’. Her friends and her staff have to keep her grounded Southern traditions. I wrote Dr. Shine Cracks the Case after a decade in practice, where we actually were a part of the local business group and attended their festivals as a vendor to meet new people. What luck, right? I also had no idea how common it was to see plots that included local-festivals-run-by-the-business-group in cozies, especially the culinary cozies. I set that one on the Fourth of July because I wanted to have fireworks and watermelon at the festival. LOL. Our local festival was the weekend before Memorial Day. That just didn’t sound as good! So I moved it.
Anyway, after that, I asked myself what holiday comes next? My birthday didn’t count, so the next was Halloween, and then Thanksgiving. Since my cozies have a lot of humor and a lot of eating, both were no-brainers, even without mentioning pumpkin spice!
Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world? The second in the series, Misalignment and Murder, is set at Halloween. My series is a contemporary series, set in small-town Georgia, so it features a murder at a school Fall Festival. Like my Sleuth, Dr. Susannah Shine, I grew up in New York and fall festivals were not the big deal that they are here, so it was fun to write that scene where there are big bales of hay, games and a dunking tank! After that, Dr. Shine and her side-kick, Bitsy Long, find clues at a haunted house run by local teens, a civil war era cemetery and a Halloween costume contest for dogs and their owners, where Bitsy has entered a Bassett hound dressed as Sherlock Holmes—deerstalker cap and all. The third in the series, Fixation and Fraud, is set at Thanksgiving and features a murder that happens in the pecan orchard of Bitsy’s family, who owns a small farm. The investigation takes place around Thanksgiving and part of the plot is a dessert contest among Bitsy’s cousins and it includes dessert recipes, one of which–Double Chocolate Pecan Pie–I will be using this Thanksgiving. My mysteries also involve animals (non-talking), like Dr. Susannah’s office cat and her pal Henry the Betta fish. This book introduces a stray dog and a potbellied pig who become part of the team.
Who is your protagonist? My protagonist is Dr. Susannah Shine, a former NYPD transit police officer, turned chiropractor. One of my best friend’s growing up on Long Island became a New York City Transit Police officer, so that bit of backstory I took from her life. I became a chiropractor and landed in a small Georgia town after chiropractic school, so that part is from my life. Everything attached to those backstories is made up, of course. The stories usually start in the office and then Dr. Shine and her staff (Larraine, her office manager and Tina, her assistant) and Bitsy follow the clues. These women have each other’s backs, and Dr. Susannah depends on them. They call themselves the Ladies Crime Solving Club, and they like to get together over meals to hash out the clues.
Is your book part of a series? If so, you tell us about the series. The books are part of a series which is inspired by my life moving from NY to GA for chiropractic school and then opening a chiropractic practice in a small Georgia town which had peach orchards. There has been a lot of development in the decades since I moved here, and the peach orchards are sadly all gone, but they still exist in the novels, and in the name I chose for my small town, Peach Grove.
Does your book focus on the season, or is it more of a backdrop? I guess it’s more of a backdrop. My series is not paranormal, so no one is talking to ghosts at Halloween. And in Misalignment & Murder, even though Apollo the Basset hound finds a clue, he doesn’t talk either. Fixation and Fraud happens between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so the season is more of a backdrop in that one also. But with my Christmas Novella, the Purloined Poinsettia, I made more of an effort to focus on the Christmas Season.
How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books? It depends. A couple of my mysteries have poisoning as a subplot. In my education as a chiropractor, I’ve taken many classes on human physiology, nutrition and herbal medicine. So the transition to poisoning a character was fairly easy!
For The Halloween mystery, I had a lot of fun researching canine Halloween costumes! My original idea was a dog dressed as a hot dog, because, hilarious. Right? But then a couples costume with the dog as Sherlock Holmes seemed even better. For the Purloined Poinsettia, I spent a lot of time researching (if by researching you mean Googling images of) ugly Christmas sweaters. I own a few of those myself, so that was really eye opening. Some are in questionable taste!
For me, I’m very inspired by real life, especially things that have a lot of history behind them. For example, in the next town over from where I actually live, there is this old building that was a Feed & Seed store. I was only in it once as a Feed & Seed, and then it closed. Well, the building remained, and I would pass it every time I went to that town. When I began to write Misalignment & Murder, I decided that building would be a good place to put a haunted house. So I used the physical store as a template for the haunted house in the story, though everything about the haunted house and the cemetery behind it comes from my imagination.
A Word From Cathy; I enjoy writing seasonal stories because it adds flavor and texture to the plot. The characters all react differently to different holidays depending on their family history and their own likes and dislikes, so it’s a way to continue to explore the characters along with remembering what the temperature should be! LOL!
Meet my fellow Sister In Crime member! I’m thrilled to introduce you to Ileana’s newest book and series, The Wisterious Witch; Wisterious Bay Cozy Paranormal Mystery. Ileana was born in Cuba, but grew up in New York City’s Washington Heights. (This is also the setting for her Rosa the Cuban Psychic Mystery series). Ileana loves to travel, read, and listen to music. You can find all her books on Amazon. You can find out more about Ileana on these sites:
Now lets find out more about the Wisterious Witch….
What type of witch do you write (think Bewitch, Sabrina, Charmed, Hocus Pocus)? That’s a good question Victoria. My main character, Alicia Whimblebright, is a combination of Bewitch and Hocus Pocus. She’s wholesome, with a hint of wacky sprinkled on making her a fun-loving character.
Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world? The story is set in the fictitious town of Wisterious Bay during the month of October. The streets are adorned with skeleton garlands, orange twinkling lights, and Halloween props.
Who is your protagonist? My protagonist is Alicia Whimblebright. She’s in her mid-thirties, of Cuban descent, excited about her new ideas for the coming year, and overall satisfied with her life. That is until precisely at seven-thirty on the third of October.
Has she/he always known they were a witch? How did they discover their power? Alicia grew up in a family of witches. Her mother was a witch as were her Tias.
What sets your mysteries apart from other paranormal cozies? My paranormal cozy mystery has elements of my Cuban culture which are unique. For the most part, my novels are somewhat bilingual as they include words both in English and Spanish throughout the dialogue. In addition, you’ll notice the quality of my main character’s voice, her tone, and, of course, several of her idioms.
How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books? Or your story pure fantasy? For all of my stories, I conduct some form of research. For A Wisterious Witch, I searched used bookstores for books, as well as the internet for anything related to Wiccan beliefs, spells, and beliefs. I even spoke to someone who believes in all things paranormal.
Also, in this story, there is some fantasy as Alicia creates magical candles that are activated when lit by a witch or warlock. That obviously doesn’t happen in real life, although how interesting it would be if it did?
Do you feel the crimes committed in paranormal cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy? Sometimes the crimes portrayed in paranormal cozy mysteries are different, especially if the murder weapon is a spell or a hex delivered by a witch or warlock. However, in my novel, the murder weapon is something you’d find in any household.
One more thing to keep in mind. A Wisterious Witch, not only has a wacky and fun-loving protagonist, but there’s also Felix, the talking skeleton, and Augustus, the banished reaper. They only come to life at night and boy, are they a hoot.
Avery Daniels writes the cozy mystery series, Resort to Murder Mysteries and has just completed her first paranormal cozy mystery. Her new series is called An Accidental Vampire PI Mystery, and book one in the series is called First Bite. You can find out more about her books on her website, and be sure to sign up for her newsletter. You can follow her on the following social media sites; BingeBooks, BookBub, Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter.
To purchase First Bite you can go to any of the following retailers;
What type of witch do you write (think Bewitch, Sabrina, Charmed, Hocus Pocus)? My witch, Rowan, is the romantic interest to the heroine. He is handsome and similar to Harry Dresden (TV not books) in his magic style but is a dance instructor. He is flirty and charming.
Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world? It is a contemporary setting where witches and vampires exist alongside the mundane world only hidden and with rules to minimize exposure. One of the rules that throws a little wrench in the romance is no mingling between witches and other paranormals like vampires, fae, werewolves, and dragons.
Who is your protagonist? Misty Summers had the worst date of her life, was bit by a vampire, and her PI boss may close his business as he goes through a divorce in 24 hours. Looking on the sunny side, she decides to use her new vampire assets and become the investigator to keep her job and income. She meets the handsome witch Rowan who helps her in many ways.
Has she/he always known they were a witch? How did they discover their power? Rowan was somewhat like Harry Potter who wasn’t sure why strange things happened around him as a child. The magical community in town brought him into the fold and he worked with a mentor, no magical school.
What sets your mysteries apart from other paranormal cozies? Misty is a very unlikely vampire and the “secret” relationship developing with the Rowan. She is an amateur trying to step in as a private investigator as she is learning about being a vampire. She is romantically naïve and is keeping her positive attitude.
How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books? Or your story pure fantasy? I created the lake-resort town but researched Oregon and lake settings. For this debut novel in this new series I researched how missing persons are investigated and details of a major crime operation (I can’t reveal more without spoilers).
Do you feel the crimes committed in paranormal cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy? I incorporate both. Since Misty works in a private investigator’s office she deals with non-paranormal mysteries but she is also roped into helping the paranormal community with their crimes. Ultimately the crimes are similar in nature and motives whether it is a vampire or human but the paranormal element does seem to make things more complicated, though.
Katie O’Keene is a paranormal cozy mystery writer, a cat lover and a (wannabe) tea connoisseur. Her first series, Designer to the Dead, follows interior-designer-turned-medium Lindsey Dell as she solves mysteries in her increasingly haunted hometown of Sparrowford. You can also find a series of short stories here featuring Sparrowford residents explore the ghosts, witches, vampires, dragons, and other magical beings found in this special small town. And she is starting a new series, Little Bold Ladies. Be sure to sign up for Katie’s newsletter by visiting her Website. You can find her books on Amazon and be sure to follow her on Goodreads. Katie also has a free short story for you!
Now let’s find out more about Katie’s Designer to the Dead series…
What type of witch do you write (think Bewitch, Sabrina, Charmed, HocusPocus)? More like Melinda Gordon in The Ghost Whisperer. My MC Lindsey starts out as a medium.
Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world? They’re set in a modern-day Midwestern small town.
Who is your protagonist? 43-year-old Lindsey Dell, a somewhat reluctant interior designer, turned medium
Has she/he always known they were a witch? How did they discover their power? While Lindsey has always been highly empathic, it isn’t until after a bad breakup that she starts to see ghosts. Thankfully, she’s enterprising enough to put that power to work!
What sets your mysteries apart from other paranormal cozies? It doesn’t follow the typical new-to-town-discovers-a-body model. Also, the subject matter gets a bit darker in Apparition to the Kitchen. That’s frustrated for some readers.
How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do youinclude in your books? Or your story pure fantasy? I did a surprising amount of research on ghost hunting and interior design for the first book. The second and third books had more research into things like traditional spellwork.
Do you feel the crimes committed in paranormal cozy are very different from acontemporary cozy? I think it’s kind of split down the middle. My first book deals with a murder like any other, but the crimes in my second and third books are supernatural.
Carolyn is a USA Today Bestselling author who writes cozy mysteries, thrillers and paranormal women’s fiction. She was a journalist in Atlanta, her work seen in multiple magazines and newspapers. She lives in North Georgia with her husband, and animals. Her series include The Rachel Ryder Thrillers, Chantilly Adair Paranormal Cozy Mysteries, Holiday Hills Witch Cozy Mysteries, Lily Sprayberry Realtor Cozy Mysteries, Pooch Party Cozy Mysteries, The Magical Real Estate Mysteries and the Angela Panther Paranormal Women’s Fiction series. (wow! that’s a lot of books!)
Now let’s find out about Carolyn’s Witches of Holiday Hills Cozy Mysteries…
What type of witch do you write (think Bewitch, Sabrina, Charmed, Hocus Pocus)? Abby Odell is a cross between Sabrina and Prue from Charmed. She’s smart but likes to give people a chance. If you make her mad though, all bets are off.
Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world? Abby lives in Holiday Hills, a small mixed magical and human town in North Georgia. The magicals (witches, shapeshifters, etc.) live in harmony with humans (except when there is a murder of course) but there’s a catch. The humans know nothing about the magicals. When magic happens, the humans see something different. Except with the werewolves. They see them, but they don’t know they’re supernatural.
Who is your protagonist? Abby Odell. She’s a divorced woman in her 20s, a ghost writer for a USA Today bestselling author of cozy mysteries. Her best friend is human, and Abby’s kept her witchiness a secret from her. Her cat, Cooper a silky brown Burmese, is her familiar. He loves tuna. LOVES tuna.
Has she/he always known they were a witch? How did they discover their power? Abby learned of her witch heritage when her mother died. Her mother had bound her powers as a child, but the spell died when she did.
What sets your mysteries apart from other paranormal cozies? My stories always include strong women who don’t let anyone walk all over them. They’re tough, but they have hearts. Abby is witty, and she’s more mature than people her age. Cooper, her cat, steals the show, and he’s what makes the series so fun. He has no filter, which is okay since only a few people can hear him, and he’d choose a nap or a can of tuna over working every time. He doesn’t, but if it didn’t have to keep Abby safe, he would.
How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books? Or your story pure fantasy? I write entirely by fantasy. I create a chapter by chapter outline and let the story make itself. Magic shouldn’t have to follow a specific process because it’s magic. It can do whatever it wants. My characters have rules though. Holiday Hills couldn’t survive without rules.
Do you feel the crimes committed in paranormal cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy? I think their motivations are different, and most of mine have focused on some magical element.
Rune Stroud is a lover of ghost tales, paranormal mysteries, especially if they have a touch of humor. And that’s what she writes. A veteran, a mom and a grandmom, she also is an animal lover-ask the neighborhood squirrels and stray cat. She has been a part of Cozy Mystery Tribe, adding her stories to five different anthologies. Her series includes the Tympest Tossed Mysteries and the Serenity Fyre series. Her newest series is the Mystic Mountain Wildlife Rescue, with a witch who is also a wildlife rescuer. You can follow Rune on Facebook, Goodreads and Amazon. Be sure to visit her Website and sign up for her newsletter.
Now let’s find out more about Rune’s Witchy Cozy…
What type of witch do you write (think Bewitch, Sabrina, Charmed, Hocus Pocus)? I grew up watching Bewitched, and I’m so loving the idea that magic is there in the mundane world, just out of reach. I write secret witches in the real world. Their powers are limited and sometimes go wonky, but it adds a bit of fun to the world.
Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world? They’re set in the modern day, but without the issues of pandemics and global politics. An idealized version of today, with magic.
Who is your protagonist? Autumn Oufsdatter, a beast witch (she can speak to animals) with a mischievous raven sidekick. She’s pretty patient most of the time, but some of the characters around her can seriously test her.
Has she/he always known they were a witch? How did they discover their power? Autumn grew up in a family of witches, each with different gifts, so she’s always known about her power. She does, however, discover more about her powers as the books and short stories go along. There hasn’t been a beast witch in the family for generations, so no one to teach her what she can do with her gifts.
What sets your mysteries apart from other paranormal cozies? People get quite attached to my characters, probably because I’m so attached to them. They’re real to me, and I hope they become real to the readers as well. Also, who wouldn’t want to ask their pet why they did that goofy thing? It’s fun to get a glimpse into the thoughts of the animals.
How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books? Or your story pure fantasy? I do research on the animals as they’re rescued, and I follow local rescues to get a real feeling for how things work. It’s not exactly the same in my world, but you get a feeling of how urgently rescued animals need help and what rescues have to do day to day for their animals. I also visit the mountains where my stories are set to get a feel for the places they go.
Do you feel the crimes committed in paranormal cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy? Most of the time, the crimes are the same, but sometimes, when you add magic into the mix, you get an odd crime that it took magic to pull off, and it’ll take magic to solve. Those are the most fun to figure out. I’ve got one of those in the third book in the series, the one I’m writing now. Armadillos and Arson.
A note from Rune
I’ve written several short stories in the same world, and they’ve gone out in the Cozy Mystery Tribe’s anthologies. Those are a fun place to discover new authors and get a bunch of bite-sized stories to enjoy. Not all of them are paranormal, but many are, and I believe we all love a good mystery, whether it’s paranormal or not. We’ve got a big one coming up, thirty of us are putting out a big anthology called A Bookworm of a Suspect and trying to hit the USA Today Bestseller’s list with it. There are going to be some great stories in that one, and it’s only 99 cents right now. You can find it on Apple Books, Amazon, Kobo, etc. (https://books2read.com/ABookwormofaSuspect)
Many thanks, Victoria. I’ve enjoyed this interview. You’ve asked some interesting questions that made me think.