Meet Anne Shillolo

Are you ready for the holidays to start? Less than a week and we’ll be digging into that turkey…hours of preperation and work, gone in under an hour. But we gladly do it for those we love, especially this year. No matter how many gather around your table it will be filled with love, grace and thanks.

Ann Shillolo

Our timing is perfect to meet Anne. She has a new cozy mystery up for pre-order; to be released on December first. And the cover has me smiling as I wait for the publication. Don’t you agree?

Anne’s books are in Kindle Unlimited, and if you sign up for her newsletter you receive 2 free prequels to her series. Now let’s find out a bit more about our guest author…

Why do did you write a holiday theme mystery?
My series is progressing through the months of the year and the seasons, so I wanted to write a holiday-themed mystery. I plan to continue indefinitely, so maybe other holidays will get a story in the future.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for a long time! I had the typical drawer full of drafts, although I have to say they were electronic file drawers:) A couple of year ago I discovered the world of self-publishing and as I was royally sick and tired of the traditional process I leaped right in. A year ago, I retired and sort of switched careers. Now I write every day and try to get better at marketing. Poodle Versus The Fake Santa is my tenth book in the last year. Yes, I can hardly believe it myself!

What is the significance of the title?
My books are cozy mysteries featuring a 50-something, small-town newspaper publisher and her pampered prince of a poodle, and so I didn’t want to get too dark with the subject matter. There is already some built-in humor in the recurring series titles, and I thought, hey, Fake Santa fits right in with that tone.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
Most of the dog humor in the books is true, and inspired by my real-life Rocco.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Because writing involves a lot of sitting, I try to be pretty active every day. I like all the triathlon sports – but I am not an athlete:) I just like walking, slow running, slow swimming, and leisurely bike rides.

I’m looking forward to Anne’s new holiday book, but her other books look great too. Be sure to check out her website to find all her books. I’ll be back with more holiday cozy mysteries next time. Until then, stay safe and healthy and curled up with a good mystery.

Victoria LK Williams

Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

Meet Morgan Best

I’m so pleased to introduce you to another writer who has a fondness for holiday writing…

Morgan Best writes several series (The Kitchen Witch, Witches and Wine, Australian Amateur Sleuth, Sea Witch Cozy Mysteries Witch Woods Funeral Home, His Ghoul Friday, Cocoa Narel Chocolate Shop Mysteries and the Prime Time Crime series) all in the cozy genre and her books can be found on all the major outlets. Her books are also available in print, large print and audio. Wow, I’m exhausted just naming her series, let alone all the fantastic books (43)!

Morgan Best

It’s obvious Morgan is a busy woman, so let’s get right into her interview!

Available at; Amazon, Apple, Nook, Kobo, Google Play

 Why did you write a holiday theme mystery? 
I write a Halloween story every year for The Kitchen Witch series. Amelia’s ancestor promised that her descendants would do a Halloween spell for another woman’s ancestors, so the lucky woman is Jasmine. Every year, Jasmine comes to Amelia’s small Aussie town, and Amelia is honor-bound to do a spell for her. Something always goes wrong with hilarious results. This year, Jasmine asks her to do a truth spell.

Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be? 
I started writing years ago. Random House solicited a book of mine, but a comedy of errors followed. In 2003, I paid out my literary agent and decided to go Indie. Back then, it was only print. I’ve been a full-time author since late 2010.

What is your favorite childhood book? 
Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree.
When I was a kid, I also loved reading books about animals, but most animals came to a horrible end. I have no idea why authors thought children would want to read about animals being harmed. I think that’s why I write cozy mysteries, where animals are perfectly safe and only people are harmed. 😉

What do you do when you are not writing? 
I pretty much write every waking minute, but when I’m not writing, I go to football (AFL- Aussie football) games (or watch them on TV), read, do something with the garden, take the dogs for walks, and run or ride the bike.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? 
Amelia Spelled is a terrible baker. I based her cooking abilities on mine, so I enjoy writing about her baking disasters. In an earlier book, Amelia is making a no-bake cake. She has to soak cookies in sherry overnight. She doesn’t have sherry, so she soaks the cookies in Scotch whisky instead. All the guests get drunk.
This actually happened to me. I had a dinner party for my work colleagues back in the day. I didn’t have any sherry, but I found an old bottle of Scotch whisky in a cupboard—my ex-husband had left it there. I served everyone the no-bake cake filled with Scotch whisky-soaked cookies. Everyone ended up extremely drunk, and the next morning I had the most terrible hangover.

Here are 2 more books by Morgan, be sure to visit her website and signup for her newsletter to keep up with the next book.

Halloween decorations are going up and the nights are getting cooler. Now is the perfect time to download a holiday tale, curl up with a cup of hot cider and get in a Halloween mood.

It’s That Time!

Do you love to read books with a holiday theme? I do! And they are showing up on the different book sites, just asking to be downloaded. I thought I would share some of the ones my author friends are publishing and make it easy for you to pick from.

We’ll start with Halloween. Think spooky black cats, ghosts, murder and mayhem. Oh, and witches, there are plenty of witches! Ready? Here we go!

And a taste to get you ready for the Christmas Holiday!

Watch for interviews from these great writers in the next couple of weeks! And next month, I’ll compile a list of Christmas books.

Happy Reading!

Victoria LK Williams

Here’s DB McNicol

Have you gotten excited about the Brozy Mystery books and their authors? Well, here is another author who has taken the time away from writing to answer my questions and let us in on what goes on behind the pages. Enjoy!

Meet Donna…

Donna writes in several genre (police procedural, traditional cozy and whodunits) but says she’s found her comfort spot with Brozy Mysteries. You can find all of Donna’s links and social media here: https://campsite.bio/dbmcnicol
Donna has all her books on Amazon and most are in the Kindle Unlimited Program.




How do you develop your plot and characters?
I normally start with a location, a few characters, and a dead body or crime. I don’t do a lot of outlining, preferring to let the story grow as I write. Sometimes I don’t even know who the killer is until they reveal themselves to me.
As a detailed, analytical type, I always thought I’d be a heavy outliner. Now it turns out I love writing from the seat of my pants, letting the ideas flow and grow as I type. I also work on scenes when driving or riding my motorcycle.

What time of the day do you usually write?
The best time for me to write is between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon. I find I write best outside the home where there are too many distractions. I wrote the majority of my first two novels sitting in a local McDonalds. This was easy when we were full-time Rvers. Now that we live in a rural area, the closest McDs or coffee spot is thirty minutes away. So I struggle to keep my writing level up while at home.

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
I have half a dozen series in the planning stage. Some have been around for a while, some have come as a result of newly purchased pre-made cover sets. The most recent, and next to be written, is the Red Line Coffee Mystery series. I hope to have the first one out by January 2021. As a side note, my husband is retired from a thirty-one year career as a firefighter/paramedic/chief.
Red Line Coffee Shop is run by three firefighters and the logo I designed was inspired by the “thin red line” images in use today. The Thin Red Line of courage is a symbol used by fire departments to show respect for firefighters injured and killed in the line of duty. As a firefighters are periled, they place their lives second to those they protect. They are forced to face their own fears and grasp for every ounce of courage to perform the necessary task.
Garrett, aka Flipper, is the oldest owner of the shop. He’s in his mid 40s, divorced and loves scuba diving. He’s been with the department for twenty-five years, starting as a volunteer while still in high school. He is currently a driver engineer for the department.
Brett, aka Smokey, is the next oldest. He’s in his late 30s, never been married (and never plans to be), and spends his spare time racing cars. After spending four years in college and getting a liberal arts degree, he backpacked around Europe and South America for another four years before joining the fire department where he’s stayed for twelve years. Thanks to education and hard work, he’s moved through the ranks to the level of lieutenant.
The youngest is Stephanie, aka Stevie, aka Grizz. She’s in her mid 30s and is divorced from a local police officer. She’s been with the department for eight years after getting an associate degree at a small community college in her home town. After a couple of years of waitressing to survive, she moved in hopes of getting a better job. She met her husband and through his friends, tried out for the fire department. She is a firefighter/paramedic.
All three currently work at the same station and are good friends. They do have a little help in the shop from Joni, aka Gabby, who is a single, part-time college student. Oh, and the names written on the cups are the “victims” in each of the books. Weezy is a retired fire inspector who worked on arson cases with both Garrett and Brett in the past. Newsie is the local newspaper owner/editor who never pulls any punches, always telling it as it is (or as he perceives it to be). Leathers is a sometimes homeless regular to the shop. He has an interesting past and was befriended by the group.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was real young, I thought I’d be a nurse like my mother. By my teenage years, I wanted to be an actress or dancer. No money for college, I initially considered going into the Army and even took the assessment tests. But life intervenes and I ended up married with children and working a variety of minimum wage jobs before stumbling into an office position that started my eventual career. The bookkeeper took me under his wing after discovering my aptitude for accounting. A few years later, I was introduced to programming computers (not the PCs around today, but the mainframes that fill rooms). My career in IT was born and I rose from a data entry operator to VP of Client Services.
My fiction writing didn’t start until much later in life, after spending several years writing articles for various publications and online websites.

Tea or coffee
Oh, definitely coffee! Mostly dark roasts served black. From time to time I do add cream and sugar and I use them both in my iced coffee. But I’m not a foo-foo coffee drinker, well, except for my love of a good iced cappuccino!

Morning person or Night owl
Most of my life was spent with very little sleep. A morning shower was the only thing that woke me out of my stupor. Now that I’m retired, I’m loving the night owl life. I could easily stay up till the wee hours of the morning, then sleeping till noon. But I compromise and try to turn out the light between midnight and one, getting up by nine-ish.

Do you base your characters on real people?
“All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.”
Um, yup. That’s right. Okay. You see… [pause] I admit to using people I know as the base for some characters. The good thing is they know it and like it. It turns out I’m a visual person and I need photos of my characters (and locations) to help me write.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know a bit about Donna; I did!

I am working on a few things for Halloween and Christmas, and there are a lot of writers out there that write their cozy mysteries with holiday themes. We will meet some of them and seeing what their new holiday books are. Can you believe I talking about the holidays?!?

Until next time, pick up a Brozy and see what it’s all about. And don’t forget you can buy my books directly and save! Sign up for my newsletter for more featured books and find out what’s going on in my writing life.

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Paul Austin Ardoin

Paul is the first of the Brozy Authors you are going to meet. If you missed the last post, Brozy Authors write light, entertaining whodunit cozy mysteries that appeal to more traditional male interest. Either by the chief character being male or the story line taking a more masculine turn (think book store owner vs biker). If you haven’t tried a brozy, then you’re in for a whole new adventure!

Meet Paul Austin Ardoin

Why do you write “Brozy”?
I’ve loved mystery stories ever since I was a little kid—Encyclopedia Brown, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew. When I was in junior high, I burned through most of Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels.
As an adult, I’ve absolutely loved the Kinsey Milhone and Stephanie Plum books. Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich don’t write cozies, but neither do they write blood-and-gore thrillers. Their protagonists are smart, savvy professionals who are highly competent but don’t take themselves too seriously. Their books hint at darker themes without being disturbing, and their books have a lot of humor without being silly or absurd.
I majored in creative writing in college, and spent years trying to write literary fiction. In my forties, I realized I needed to change gears to write the books like the ones I love reading… and that’s why I find myself writing in this genre. I’ve often heard it called “soft-boiled” or “traditional,” but so often “traditional” means “British,” and my mysteries are set in California.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve wanted to be a novelist ever since I can remember. I majored in creative writing in college and published a few short stories, but I was never able to finish a novel. When I turned 45, I realized that if I wanted to call myself a novelist, I actually had to finish a novel.I re-started writing The Reluctant Coroner for National Novel Writing Month in 2017, and I promised myself that no matter what, I’d finish the book—even if I thought it was horrible or unsalvageable. And about two-thirds of the way through, I realized it needed to be written in third person, not first person. Before, that would have been enough for me to abandon the book, but I remembered the promise I’d made to myself. So I finished the book. It was a painful process to rewrite the whole thing in third person, but at the end, I’d finished what eventually became my debut novel.
What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
I’ve gotten some valuable advice over the years. The most valuable thing is to finish what you start. Many writers have a few half-finished novels—some have dozens! Promising yourself you’re going to finish and then actually finishing is the most valuable thing I’ve ever learned. As Jodi Picoult says, “You can’t edit a blank page.” But editing a bad novel and making it good is possible, and usually way less painful than starting over.
One more piece of advice: write 200 words every day. NaNoWriMo was great to get my first book going, but it’s 1,600-plus words a day is daunting. 200 words, though, is usually fifteen or twenty minutes, and it’s something you can do even at the end of a busy day or at the end of your lunch break. Sometimes I find that I don’t want to write at all, but then I force myself to write those 200 words—and I get into a groove before those 200 words are up. Suddenly, three hours will have passed in an instant and I’ll have written 4,000 words.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
My wife was looking into becoming a nursing student, and she began to research careers in the field. In California where we live (and in several other U.S. states), an MD isn’t required to be a coroner. I started thinking about what would lead a nurse to become a coroner, and came up with Fenway Stevenson. A lot of the personality of Fenway and her father came from the simple idea that a father would insist on naming his daughter after his favorite team’s home stadium (for those of you who aren’t baseball fans, the Boston Red Sox play in Fenway Park).
When I started writing The Reluctant Coroner, all I had was the character of Fenway, the character of her father, and the identity of the murderer. I didn’t even know who the victim was when I began the first chapter! But as I wrote, both the plot and characters began to take shape. Many times, something would happen in the plot that surprised me—not as I was writing it, but just before it took shape. Quite often, these plot threads would take the story in an entirely different direction, or would turn an extremely minor character into a strong secondary character.
What time of the day do you usually write?
Before the pandemic, I used to travel a lot for work, and would often find myself with 20 minutes waiting for my flight to board, or back in my hotel room after a business dinner, and I’d take that spare time to write. I listen to “The Bestseller Experiment” podcast, and bestselling author Shannon Mayer discussed how working authors don’t have time to “wait” for their Muse—they have to grab their Muse by the horns and wrestle it to the ground and insist that inspiration come immediately. So I don’t wait for a time of day to write or a seat at my favorite coffee place to open up. I can write anywhere at any time.
Most often, I’m in my home office at my desk, but I’ll take fifteen minutes at lunch, grab an hour before work, or wake up early on a weekend to write.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Unlike 85% to 90% of the population, I don’t have an internal monologue. I don’t think in complete sentences—my thoughts are more nebulous, and it’s like they unspool when they transform into words that come out of my mouth or off my fingertips onto the keyboard. As a result, my first three novels had early drafts that were littered with “filtering words” or “distancing words,” instead of the free direct narration that most readers prefer—and that give books a sense of immediacy. (These are phrases like “she saw the car drive away,” “she decided to get up,” or “she realized she needed to tell him the truth,” instead of the much more direct “the car drove away,” “she got up,” or “she told him the truth.”) I used these filtering words because it’s the way I experience the world, and the direct narration felt fake to me. My editor is the one who made me realize that I’m the odd duck—that free and direct narration is much more effective. This last novel, number six, was the first in which I didn’t overuse filtering words—and as a result, it had the least amount of red ink coming back from the editor.
Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
Many writers I know couldn’t write anything when the pandemic first started and the world closed down. For me, writing was the only thing that took my mind off everything horrible that was happening in the world. Because I don’t have an internal monologue, I could unspool the thoughts that made me write my book instead of unspooling the thoughts that led me into anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, I don’t have any tips because my brain is weird like that.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written six novels in this series and a novella of one of the secondary characters 25 years before the start of the first book. I always feel like the last book I’ve written is my favorite. Often, it’s because I’ve challenged myself to do something I wasn’t sure I could do—for instance, Book 5, The Courtroom Coroner, is what TV people call a “bottle episode”: it all happens in a single room without people coming or going. Currently, my new release, The Watchful Coroner, is my favorite because I can see the progress my characters have made along their arcs, and it’s very satisfying to see it.
When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also you?
Fenway Stevenson’s character arc is the thing that keeps me fresh. She’s at a different point in her relationship with 1) her father, 2) her main love interest, and 3) her job as coroner in every single book. It feels natural to me that she’d progress (and sometimes regress) in the way she has.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Rarely have I ever been inspired by a true-crime headline, but I have taken ideas from situations I’ve experienced in the past—with a murder overlaid. For example, I was in a Shakespeare troupe in college, very similar to the North American Shakespeare Guild in Book 4, The Upstaged Coroner. While none of the characters (except the director) were based on real people, the intensity of the rehearsals, the camaraderie of the company, and the emotions that the play brought to light are the things I hope I translated to the pages of the book.
Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
Not many readers have noticed this, but Fenway—who has a difficult and strained relationship with her father—never calls him “Dad” except to his face. When talking about him, she always says “my father.” This changes at some point in the series… and for readers of the books, it’s probably obvious where it is and what the catalyst of the change is.
What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?
I’ve started on Book 7, The Accused Coroner, and it will wrap up some of the longer arcs in the series. I plan to go on to write at least two more Fenway Stevenson novels after this and maybe more.
How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
I have ideas for three other book series. One is about a private investigator who’s at the center of a 12-book series of interconnected crimes called Murders of Substance. One follows a secondary character from Fenway Stevenson Book 2, The Incumbent Coroner, and the investigations she spearheads. And one has another estranged father/daughter duo as the main characters, on the run from federal agents after being set up for a crime they didn’t commit. I hope to start one of those series after writing book 7 in the Fenway series.
What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Even in my late teens and early twenties, most of my protagonists were women, and I’ve always been told I have a good sense of narrative voice when my main character is female. I’m not sure why, but I did take one of those Marcus Buckingham “First Discover Your Strengths” tests, and I’m high in empathy. Perhaps I find it easier than most people to put myself in another person’s shoes? The one thing that DOES get me, though, is giving Fenway believable reactions in certain situations. For example, Fenway had a tough conversation with a co-worker, and walked home in the twilight from her co-worker’s apartment to hers—about two miles, with her headphones in listening to music. My critique group POUNCED on that—there’s no way, no matter how safe the neighborhood, that a woman walking by herself at night would do it with headphones in. Fenway is half-Black, too, and there were a bunch of things about basic day-to-day stuff like hair care that I had to be told to go research because I was getting it wrong.
What was your hardest scene to write?
In an early scene The Reluctant Coroner, Fenway’s assistant gets a little tipsy and then confesses that the murder victim sexually assaulted her two days before his death. The scene in which she talks about what he did was by far the hardest scene I ever had to write. Part of it was because of the disturbing subject matter (although it’s relatively tame compared to many thrillers), but part of it was also because I hadn’t ever written anything like that before. I hadn’t plotted that scene out, either—it was a complete surprise to me that she confessed it to Fenway. I couldn’t write another word in the book for three days afterward, and probably only started again because it was during NaNoWriMo and I was getting behind on my words.

The first book in the Fenway Stevenson Mystery series, The Reluctant Coroner, is free (at least until October 1) on all major e-book retailers: www.books2read.com/fenway1

Book 6 in the series, The Watchful Coroner, is available September 22: www.books2read.com/fenway6

The easiest place to find Paul’s books: www.books2read.com/rl/fenway
You can also locate all of them at www.paulaustinardoin.com


A peek inside my new book…

bookbrushimage (16)

 

Only a few more days until book 2 in my new series, A Beach House Mystery, launches. I so excited about this series, and  I got caught up in Mist Across The Waves. This is a series of 6 books that includes murder, magic, mermaid legends and the wrath of a sea witch. But it’s also about a group of characters that I really love to write about.  So, as promised, here is a small snippet of the story…

3D ereader Beach House Mystery 2

Capt. Rose turned the ferry back in the direction they had come, ready to head back to the dock. They had gotten about halfway to their destination when she slowed the boat down to a full stop. Most of the guests didn’t pay any attention, but Jenny, Morgan, and Gabe immediately felt the sensation of the boat coming to a halt. The hair rose on the back of Morgan’s neck, and she remembered her unease of being out on the ocean. Quietly moving to the captain’s wheelhouse, the three went to find out what was going on.

When they entered the captain’s room, she answered their unspoken question pointing out to the starboard side of the ferry. “There’s a ship out there. There are no running lights on it, and the engine isn’t operating. There’s been no distress signal, but I have a bad feeling.”

Sure enough, there was a good-sized private boat floating in the waves near them.

“I’m sorry to spoil your party, Jenny, but I need to make sure that ship isn’t in distress,” Capt. Rose explained.

“You’re right, Captain Rose. What can we do?” Jenny immediately jumped into action, her training taking over. Gone was the birthday girl, and back was the cop.

“I’m going to try and pull up alongside the boat. Do you think you and Gabe here could board her and see what’s going on?”

Gabe and Jenny quickly agreed, and Capt. Rose went about getting the ferry as close as she could to the boat. She was an excellent captain, and there was less than a foot between the two vessels when it was time for Gabe and Jenny to board.

“I’ll go first and throw over the ropes. You tether the boat to the ferry and then come over with me,” Gabe instructed Jenny.

She quickly agreed, and in a matter of minutes, Gabe was on the disabled vessel and Jenny was tying off the ropes. By now, the other party-goers were aware something was going on, and they were lining the rails to watch. Jenny ordered her party guests to stay back and jumped over to join Gabe.

“Hello? Anyone aboard?” Jenny called out but received no answer. Moving forward, she approached the open area of the boat. There was a full moon, and it was easy to see the decking. She and Gabe both came to a stop when they saw the blood pooled along the side of the boat.

“Call the Coast Guard,” Jenny shouted to Rose. Then with Gabe at her side, she slowly walked around the upper deck of the boat, making sure there was nobody injured and in need of help. But the deck was empty. Turning to Gabe, Jenny motioned to the door to the lower deck. He nodded his understanding, and they slowly walked to the door. Gabe was ready to kick the door down, but Jenny held her hand up and turned the knob slowly, not wanting to alert anybody who might be down below of their presence. The two disappeared from the sight of those aboard the ferry, and everyone held their breath in anticipation.

It only took a few moments for the two aboard the disabled vessel to come back on deck.

“The boat’s abandoned, there’s nobody on board,” Gabe called out. There was a collective sigh of relief, but not from everyone. Jenny realized the blood they had seen was severe. Someone had been attacked or seriously hurt, and they were no longer on the boat. It only stood to reason whoever belonged to the spilt blood had gone overboard. Climbing back on the ferry, with Gabe behind her, Jenny walked over to Capt. Rose and Morgan.

“This is now a crime scene. We need to wait for the Coast Guard. I don’t know what happened here, but somebody suffered a severe or fatal injury on that boat.”

Without a word, Captain Rose reached over and flipped a knob on the speakers, shutting off the music. The time for festivities was over. Morgan walked back out on the deck and stood away from the others looking out to sea, feeling a sense of danger surrounding her. In the distance, she could see a boat approaching, but from experience knew it wasn’t the Coast Guard cutter. The sense of being threatened increased, and without even realizing it, Morgan let one of her new abilities take over to protect those on the ferry. The boat approaching was bringing danger with it.

It started at Morgan’s feet, swirling and dancing with the wind, thickening as her sense of danger increased. The mist spread and began to engulf the ferry wrapping it in its protective cloak. Jenny and Gabe walked over to stand next to Morgan; they both knew about her ability, and they both realized she was trying to protect them.

“Jenny, get everybody inside and tell them to be quiet.” Without looking at her friend, Morgan gave the instruction, and Jenny hurried off, getting Winnie and Kathy to help her escort everyone inside.

Gabe didn’t move. Instead, he reached out and grabbed Morgan’s hand for support. Together the two of them stood on the deck, watching and listening. By now, they could no longer see the boat approaching, but they could hear the motors. Morgan made a motion with her hand, and the mist moved to thicken around the boat tethered to the ferry. She didn’t know why, but she had a feeling it needed to be hidden from sight.

The other boat was close but not dangerously so. Voices carried in the mist across the waves.

“We need to find that boat and its cargo.”

“It can’t be far. Pops was bleeding pretty badly when he took off. We’ll find him.”

“Yeah, well, we’d better. And that book had better still be on the boat, too.”

The voices faded as the boat passed the ferry, not realizing how close the two vessels had been.

 

I hope you enjoyed a taste of Mist Across The Waves. Look for it’s release on June 3rd. You can also preorder it-so you don’t have to remember to go back!

Next post, I’ll introduce you to another fantastic author. Are you enjoying these interviews as much as I am? 

Until then, stay safe & healthy and happy,

Victoria LK Williams

15 books on shelves

 

Meet Judy Moore

I need to be up front with this post: I’m biased! Judy Moore is a friend of mine and a fellow Sister In Crime member. We have spent hours chatting about books and writing. Even better, we live close to each other, so grabbing a cup of coffee and talking books is super easy.

61Eq65XWpRL._US230_   Meet Judy…

Judy writes wonderful thriller and suspense novels, but I’ve been trying to convince her how great the world of cozies can be. I’m tickled to death that she has written her first cozy mystery. I’ve read it, of course, and Judy nailed it! Her books are on Amazon and part of KU. You can also find her books on Goodreads.

Judy has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida and worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine feature writer, and publications editor for several years. A former tennis pro, Ms. Moore’s writing background also includes sports writing, and athletes from various sports are sprinkled throughout some of her novels. A lifelong resident of Florida, she currently resides in Vero Beach.

51FEqXzaumL   A Book Signing To Die For

When did you start writing?
As a child, I read all the time and was obsessed with fairy tales, the Dana Girls, and later Agatha Christie. But I was a math major and never thought seriously about writing until I took journalism my junior year in college and then changed my major from math. Once I started writing news and features, it came very naturally, and I knew it was the job for me. I became a newspaper reporter, a magazine feature writer, and a publications editor. When I took an early retirement from my full-time editing job, I decided it was time to start writing mysteries myself. I’m glad I’m at the point in my life that I can afford to write what I really want to write. I love coming up with oddball characters and writing books where the unexpected happens. I can’t stand formula stories. Sometimes, the bad guy might get away with it.

What is your approach to writing?
I write in a simple journalistic style. Grab the reader’s attention and hold on to it. The first page is essential. If readers aren’t drawn in immediately, they’ll probably put down the book. It’s important to use quotes effectively and succinctly. They have to be natural. I put myself in the character’s head and ask myself, “What would this person really say?” The quotes have to reflect the character’s personality. Above all, don’t let the reader get bored. Keep the story interesting and keep it moving! The biggest challenge in writing mysteries is to give the readers enough clues without giving away the killer.

Have you ever been on any sports teams? If so, what sport?
I grew up playing competitive tennis in Miami, played college tennis at Florida State University, and played on the European circuit. I later became a teaching pro and high school coach. I also played paddle tennis competitively, and my partner and I won the national beach paddle tennis championships three times. Won some table tennis tournaments as well. Because of my tennis background, I also wrote a tennis column for the newspaper for several years and covered many major events.

How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
Having been a journalist, I write quickly. I can write a book in six weeks, and a novella in two weeks. I don’t have a set writing schedule, but just go at it until I’m finished. I might write two hours a day, or I might write ten hours. I can’t really rest until I’ve finished the book. Then, I might take a few weeks, or a few months break, depending on what else is going on in my life at the time.

Who is your favorite character?
I have two favorite characters. One is Scratchoff McLean, a homeless man with a big heart who is obsessed with scratch-off lottery tickets. He appears in two of my novels, Somebody in the Neighborhood and my new cozy mystery A Book Signing To Die For. The other is 11-year-old Lily, a manic matchmaker in my Christmas novella Airport Christmas. I truly love oddball characters and try to include at least one in every book I write.

8125h6jH90L.SR160,240_BG243,243,243   Somebody in the Neighborhood 

I hope you have enjoying meeting Judy. She’s a wonderful person as well as a excellent writer. I’m lucky to have her as a friend.  In my next post, look for an sneak-peek at my newest Book Mist Across The Waves, launching on June 3rd. Have a wonderful Memorial Weekend. And say a pray of thanks for all who have given something precious for our freedoms.

 

A Look Behind the Story…

Tomorrow is a big day! Book 1, Mist at the Beach House, in the Beach House Mysteries is being launched.  You can still preorder today. I am in love with this new series and I can’t wait to share it with you. 

But before the mysteries and murders begin I thought you might want to explore the legend behind Pearl Island and the Seaver Family.  

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The Legend of the Mist
(The story for the Beach House Mystery Series)
By Victoria LK Williams

Long ago, when the sea and the shore were more connected, there were two beautiful women. They were of the same family, cousins, in fact. But they were as different as night and day. Their mothers were the opposite. They had been so closer than most sisters of the sea or earth, and it saddened both of them to see their daughters not get along as they wished. No matter what the mothers did, no matter how hard they tried, there was a rift between the cousins.
But there was one thing the cousins had in common; the love for anything human. One was obsessed about it the other merely fascinated. As children, they played on the shores with the human children, disappearing into the sea when it was time for them to return to their home. As mermaid children, they could only stay for short periods on the shores, but as they grew older, they could stay longer. But eventually their allotted time on the surface would end, and they would have to return to the sea.
Kenya was easy-going, fascinated by earthly things but never losing her love of sea life. She would happily play with the dolphins or collect shells with human children. She had no desire to control above or below the sea, content to be friends and get along with those around her from both worlds.
But Cora Lee was not so content in life. She was resentful of the fact that Kenya’s father was in control of the sea. Cora Lee would never hold the same power that Kenya would as an adult, and it turned her bitter and devious.  Cora Lee longed to rule over anything. Since she couldn’t have the sea, she would take second best, and she set her sights on the island where they played as children. Her mother tried to tell her that that was not the way things worked, but her daughter wanted to hear nothing of it. As the two mermaids grew older, they became more distant, and when they got together, there was constant friction between them.
The day finally came when the mermaids became adults, and there was a grand celebration for the two girls shared the same birthday. Cora Lee was even resentful of having to share her birthday with Kenya. On this birthday she decided that she would take over anything and everything the Kenyan loved. And she would start with her love of humans.
   Both women would spend many days in their human form walking the shores. Kenya was content to observe humans. Because she was shy, Kenya would often use the mist as a buffer to hide from sight. She would make the mist dance around her, sometimes thick and concealing, other times wispy and playful. But that all changed on the day she saw the young sailor, John Seaver.
   The young man was home between voyages, visiting his family, and he was wandering the shore enjoying all the beauty it offered. He came across Kenya sitting on a large rock outcropping along the shoreline; the mist swirling around her feet. He was stunned with her beauty. She was in her human form at that point, and her shyness bewitched him. Over time, he got to know Kenya and grew to love her. She always seems to disappear just when he was ready to go to sea on the next voyage, but she was always there at the rock outcropping when he returned. What he didn’t know was she followed his ship to make sure he was safe, always watching out for him, falling in love with him.
The two became best friends, inseparable when they were together. The kind of friends that finished each other’s sentences, enjoy the same things and appreciated the simple things life offered. They would spend their days talking and singing, often joined by the man’s best friend who would accompany them with musical instruments. They were becoming an intricate part of the island life, and John’s family and friends accepted Kenya.
Finally, there came a day when Kenya knew she had to tell the man her secret, and she was fearful she would lose him forever. But John Seaver was made of sterner stuff than she thought. He’d always known there was something mystical about her, something otherworldly and it delighted him when he found out she had a calling for the sea.
Their friendship and love drew the attention of Cora Lee, and she was overcome with jealousy. Once again, Kenya was getting something that she wanted. But Cora Lee didn’t want John because she loved him. She wanted John because he loved Kenya, and she wanted to control him. She wanted to possess him.
Cora Lee began to plot how she could take John away from Kenya. She used the power she had as part siren and tried to entice the young man away from his true love. But their love was stronger than anything Cora Lee had encountered before, and she failed.       Now Cora Lee was angrier than she’d ever been, and she plotted revenge against her cousin for something the other girl had not even done. But this didn’t matter to Cora Lee, she had found a way to hurt her cousin and take something from her she truly treasured.
Cora Lee began to intercept John whenever she could, trying to bewitch him with her powers. The poor man was fighting her hold constantly, but his love for Kenya was stronger than any power the other mermaid held. Time after time she watched John Seaver walk away from her; Cora Lee knew she had failed to win John over.
Then she found the weakness the young man had. John loved Kenya with all his heart, but he also loved his family and would do about anything to protect them. Cora Lee knew she could use this against him.
One stormy night John was to meet Kenya along the shore. But Cora Lee also showed up. And with her, she had John’s young cousin. John also had a companion; a friend of both his and Kenya, who knew of their secret love and had helped to clear the path for the two of them to be together.
That stormy night there was a standoff on the shore. On one side stood John and his friend, David Holleran, on the other side was Cora Lee and her hostage, the young Sadie Colbright. Between the two stood Kenya.
Cora Lee gave Kenya a choice. The young child could die, or she would give up her love.  The two lovers had a decision to make, and it was a clear choice, even though it meant the destruction of their future together. Kenya walked into the sea, turning back into the mermaid she was. Cora Lee, laughing hysterically, push the young girl she had in her arms to the shore and dove into the white waves swimming out past her cousin, rising on the next wave laughing because she had won.
But Kenya had no intention of giving up. Her love for John was too strong. With tears forming in her eyes, she turned to the two other humans casting their destiny.
“You, Sadie Colbright, you and your families will forever hold and record the history of this island and all that happened here. This will be your destiny. Do not let anyone forget the love I have for John or the love that he has for me. Always remember what we have given up to protect you.”
Then she turned to John’s friend and with a sad smile continued.
“And you, David Holleran, you and your family will forever protect John’s family. The Seaver family will always have someone looking out for them. You will be my connection to the generations that come after you.”
Then the tears came harder, and Kenya rubbed one from her eyes, watching it form into a magnificent pearl. By now, John had taken the first step into the ocean to join her. But Kenya stopped him; coming forward, meeting him halfway. As she floated in front of him, she pressed the pearl into his hands. Giving him a tearful kiss, she promised him the pearl would always protect him and his family. Then she started to leave, but before she did, she turned back to her love.
“One day, we will reunite. But until then, Cora Lee will try to destroy your family. And all the island. It will be your destiny to protect the island, you will look out for those that live on the island, keeping them safe from Cora Lee’s wrath. Someday there will be a Seaver strong enough to fight Cora Lee and win. But it will take more than your descendant, my love. It will take all of us.”
   Cora Lee was ready to attack the humans on the shore. But Kenya blew softly against the sea and in the mist began to form. Then she kissed her love, letting the mist still in her mouth engulf him. As the mermaid pulled away, she whispered to him, promising him her ending love. Before she dove back into the sea, she called out to John.
   “I’ve given you the power of the mist. As long as you or your descendants are on the island, the mist will protect you.”
But Cora Lee wasn’t finished, she wanted to destroy her cousin. Kenya had outsmarted her, causing her to lose her control over the humans. With all of her powers, she raised the surrounding waves, causing them to crash on the shore, pushing the humans back far up to the dunes while they watched in horror at the fight going on offshore. Wave after wave descended fiercely on Kenya until finally, she was nowhere to be seen. Cora Lee laughed evilly; she had destroyed her cousin. Yet she also knew she could not take away the protection her cousin had given the Seaver family and the island occupants. Cora Lee not going to be outdone, she would have the last word. Anger and hatred filled her voice as she called up to the humans standing at the dune.
“Kenya’s words may protect you and your descendants while you’re on the island. But you won’t go unscathed. And you may wander, but you will always return to the island. My descendants will continue what I have started. And there will come a day when our descendants will meet again here on this beach, and everyone’s destiny will be determined.”
With one final overpowering wave, Cora Lee disappeared. The wave was powerful enough that it should have destroyed much of the coastline. But the two mothers had watched the fight between their daughters and they quickly intervened. Working together they cast a spell protecting the shoreline and the island. Their protection was strong and encompassed the entire island, protecting it from weather and waves for as long as their descendants returned to the island.
Now the hands of time moved slowly as each generation repeats the curses and the blessings that came from two mermaids who fought over one man…

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MIST AT THE BEACH HOUSE VICKI  Mist at the Beach House 

Murder, Mermaid Legends, and a Kitten from the Mist.

Morgan Seaver returns to her family home on Pearl Island, expecting a warm welcome. Instead, she finds her aunt has been murdered, and accusing fingers are pointing her way. 

Soon she finds more than a murder needs to be solved. Her family has a history with the island, one that she is finding brings the legends of mermaids and her ancestors to the present. She must solve the murder to clear herself and come to terms with a past that has a hold of her future.

 

I hope you enjoyed the Seaver Legend. Next blog we will visit with another author and find out more about them.

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Susan Schwartz

Today we meet another wonderful author friend of mine. I hope you will enjoy getting to know a bit more about her, as I have. All of the authors are providing links to both purchase their books and follow them on social media. Take a moment and explore  by signing up on their sites.

LU   meet Susan…

Susan writes in the horror, paranormal, suspense, medical genres. Her books are available in Amazon, Amazon KU and many other sites.
Here are her links:
Website, Schiffer Books, Amazon, Goodreads & Pinterest.

When did you start writing?
I began writing freelance articles for blogs and other websites in 2006. More interested in fiction writing, I started working on two novels – a paranormal romance and a medical thriller.
As to why I began writing, I started journaling after being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. My writing led me to the Virginia Writers Club, where I found many mentors and help along the way. I have been a member since 2006 and currently serve as 1st Vice President of the State organization.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart?
I love all the nurses in my stories. Being an OR nurse myself, I love to use my experiences in the medical field to twist into something they never saw it coming. The nursing profession is one of honor, and this is my way of giving recognition back to those awesome nurses who work tirelessly each and every day.
I must admit some of my nurse peers, who have read my stories, think I am putting on a good front for being a normal person. They had no idea of my twisted imagination and told me they now know not to upset me in the future. Mw ha ha ha!

What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
For Haunted Charlottesville and Surrounding Counties, my current book, the biggest challenge was getting to all of the sites and getting enough research to make an entry. Some didn’t have a lot of backstory, and some didn’t want to participate in the book. This was fine, I used pieces that were already public knowledge so I didn’t step on any toes.
Another challenge was to compile all the information into one book. It took me a while to figure out how to write, denote different chapter headers, caption photographs, assemble an index, and keep track of a large bibliography page. I learned many of these for the first time writing Haunted Charlottesville.
I feel much better having had the experience going forward than not. It has made writing the second book of this genre much easier.

What do you hope readers take away from your books?
For my fiction stories, I hope they share that shock at the end when I twist everything they thought they knew. Maybe they will also get feelings of familiarity with some of them.
For my non-fiction, I want readers to experience my love of travel and seeing new places. I toured Virginia extensively for Haunted Charlottesville and my upcoming book to visit haunted places and learn their history. In two other books, Handbook for the Dead and Paranormal Encounters, I make mention of trips to other counties in Virginia and even other countries. Even if you don’t visit any of the places named, take a ghost tour in whatever city you find yourself visiting. I love learning the history behind the locations and what caused them to be troubled today.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Awesome question.  I have many short stories that are not published with several in the works.
One paranormal romance novel – ½ done
One medical thriller novel – ½ done
One haunted location book – 1 chapter to go as well as compiling all the material and photographs.
I tend to work on several things at once because I get bored quite easily. Hence, this why I have so many still in progress. I will be finished with the haunted book by the end of this month, and that will free me up to work on other projects that are pending. I really want to finish the paranormal romance that has a witch, wizard, and maybe even a vampire that showed up – I am not sure from where yet. He is a charming fellow though.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences or purely all imagination?
Fiction stories –
The Sparkling Floor is based somewhat in reality. What nurse hasn’t dreamed of revenge on a disrespectful surgeon? I just fictionalized it up a bit.
I Thought You Did is based upon all those Rush week antics colleges put the students through to join a fraternity. My son was in college at the time going through rush week, and this story popped into my head thinking about the different ways to initiate a pledge.
Blurred Line is something we have all faced as writers: Writer’s Block. I didn’t plan this one at all, I just wrote as it came out and the story is as you see it. It was nominated for a Bran Stoker Award in 2016. Fun fact: It was the only story I ever wrote that I really didn’t like. Everyone loves this story, but me. Isn’t that weird?
Non-fiction books –These are all real and full of the experiences I had at each location. Through investigating and interviewing, I learned a lot of history and the back story on each place. Some of it was quite fascinating, while some was downright heart-breaking.

Favorite Quote –This one has to be from the great and awesome Yoda:
Do or Do Not. There is no Try.
I do follow this advice daily. I am also convinced of a statement from Jim Rohn:
If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you find an excuse.
What this says to me is people who have a goal will not let anything interfere with reaching that accomplishment. Those who don’t will make an excuse as to why they can’t reach it.
CAN’T is the one four letter word that is not in my vocabulary. I will find a way around all obstacles, if necessary.
I want to be a doer, not a tryer. How about you?

A final word from Susan…
Thanks to everyone, especially the readers and to Victoria for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. I hope you are staying safe during these trying times. What better way is there to pass the time than selecting a great story to lose touch with reality, if only for a while. Enjoy the adventure and getaway, you can go explore new places and meet new people from the comfort of your own favorite reading spot.
Please feel free to contact me  if you have any questions or concerns. I love to hear from my readers. Please take good care in the meantime and Be Well!

I hope you are finding these interviews as much fun as I am. I love finding out more about the authors I read. There are many more great writers to be included in this series, so stick around. And watch for a special treat…A free short story from me about the legend behind my new series that starts April 25th!

Victoria LK Williams

A Special Interview!

THE COVER SELLS THE BOOK!!

I am thrilled to share with you an interview I did with my cover artist. And she is an artist. I found Karen Kalbacher on Fiverr, as FuzzyM, back in 2013 when I wrote my first book, Now Arriving…Sister Station 1. She has become more than an illustrator, I’m proud to consider her a friend as well. I thought it might be interesting for you to discover what goes on during the creation of a book cover. I hope you will enjoy the interview. I’ve included some samples of her work. I’m sure you’ll agree this woman is loaded with talent!

 

 

 

1. I see you are also a children’s writer and ghostwriter (so many talents!). Which do you enjoy more, the writing or the illustrations?
At heart, I’m a writer. I love seeing a plot come together and creating new and interesting characters and worlds. It comes a bit easier for me, so that helps. That doesn’t mean I don’t love being an artist and creating illustrations, I do. The fun is in the challenge. I like taking another person’s idea or world and bringing it to life for them. It also involves a lot of communication with the client and feels more collaborative. I’ve always had a hard time choosing between them and took several English courses before choosing to major in art. Who knows if I made the right choice?
2. For a new client, what services do you offer when creating a book cover, and how much input do you like from the client?
I create covers based on the client’s needs. I can do photo editing, add titles to an existing image, or I can create an entire design from scratch. I normally design in Illustrator to create vector-based graphics. This has the distinct advantage of being easy to resize while maintaining quality and being editable.
When a client is new, I like a lot of communication. We are both feeling one another out. I can’t see inside the client’s head, so I ask a lot of questions about style, colors, feel, and often ask for images of covers in a similar vein to what they want. I want the author to love their cover. It’s important to me that we both love it at the end of the project. It’s a lot easier for us to get into a grove if the client has ideas. Blank canvases are intimidating. I can work a lot faster if the client hands me something. It can be as simple as a list of wants and a color they hate/adore.
3. What is your favorite genre to create covers for and why?
Wow, I specialize in Cozy Mysteries at the moment. I love them because the settings are always new and intriguing. There are often a lot of elements that have to be balanced like red herrings, Easter eggs, and pets. It makes it like a jigsaw puzzle to assemble and balance. That appeals to my artsy side. My second favorite is children’s books. I love bright colors, the characters are kids or animals and they are deceptively simple. I’d love to break out into more fantasy covers. I don’t get to draw unicorns nearly enough for my taste.

 


4. Give us a glimpse into the process of creating a book cover.
I like to talk to a potential client before we get a gig going. It’s a chance for us to feel each other out and see if we’re a match. So, generally, I will have a short conversation with you about the size of your cover and what your needs are. After that, we set the price based on the amount of work involved. The client will then send me all the pertinent details.
I’ll look at everything sent to me. If there’s a mood board, I will consider what elements are similar in the images the client likes. This could be as simple as colors, shapes, or composition. If there’s no mood board, I will sketch out a thumbnail with the elements the client has requested. This is mainly to see how to balance them on the page and for me to get a feel for the image. Then I’ll sleep on it and let my subconscious work on it. I might also send it to the client if I think it will help them visualize what I’m doing.
After marinating, I’ll take the sketch into Illustrator. I’ll hunt for reference photos to help me create the detailed versions of what I’ve sketched. I tend to start with the backdrop. It’s usually complete so I can move the elements around on it like a stage. I add the main element (body, sleuth, kid, dragon,) and move them around until I like it. Then I detail it. I add bagels to the sleuth’s breakfast plate. I add toys around the dog. I find the light source and shadow everything. I might also add highlights. Finally, I drop the titles on top.
I will send an almost done version to the client to get their input. The client and I normally go back and forth a bit to shape it into their vision. I’m done when the client is happy.

 


5. What has been your most challenging cover/client to do and why?
Every cover is challenging, that’s why I enjoy doing them. Sometimes you and the client can’t see eye to eye and that’s frustrating for both. I used to ghostwrite for a client. When she asked me to also create the cover, I was excited. But it just didn’t work. We couldn’t get on the same page. I would send what I thought she wanted. She wouldn’t like it. She would try to describe it better. I would try again. We just ended up aggravated. She wasn’t a bad client. She was a good person. She had just chosen the wrong artist for her vision. We weren’t a match. We went on to ghostwrite together for a while after that. I think an artist is like a psychiatrist, you need to shop around for the one that really gets you.
6. Describe for us the perfect client.
Most clients are perfect clients for me. It’s not hard. They need to have a vision even if it is stick figures on a piece of paper. Anything to work with is better than nothing. They need to communicate with me. I’m friendly, I promise! Most importantly, they need to respect me. I will make a zillion changes for a good client. A rude client gets whatever is stated in the deal. They should be enjoying the process. We should have fun together.
7. Life can’t be all about books; what other interest do you have. Did I read something about knitting doll?
Hobbies? Who has time for hobbies? I’m kidding! I love walking. I’m lucky in that I live near a little park and within easy driving distance of a dozen more. I am a knitter! A corner of my living room had a laundry basket overflowing with yarn. I have created doll patterns from scratch and I do a lot of fingerless gloves, scarves, hats, and the occasional baby blanket. I have a podcast called Eh, it’s Something to Do that I record on Wednesdays with Rick Connor. I’m also an avid reader. My apartment is brimming with books and art supplies. It’s a bit chaotic.
8. What is on the horizon for your business?
Right now, I am looking to expand my client base. I would like to expand into pet portraits, do a few more children’s books and possibly start publishing my own line of books. I would like to do more writing gigs for individuals or businesses. I would like to branch out and so a horror story cover or fantasy. On the practical front, I am constantly learning new Illustrator tricks to improve the quality of my work.
9. Give us a few samples of your work.

 


10. How can you be reached? Share your links below.
Find me on Twitter: @1fuzzymonster
Find me on Instagram: @1fuzzymonster_Karen
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/1FuzzyMonster/
Blog: https://karenkalbacher.com/
Direct link to my portfolio: https://1fuzzymonster.wordpress.com/portfolio/
11. Any final words for us?
Choosing someone to flesh out your vision is an important decision. A good artist/writer will take the time to get to know you. They’ll be enthusiastic about your project. I love my clients. I consider them friends. I look forward to working with them on multiple projects. It’s very rewarding.

Be sure to check out the above sites and see for yourself just how talented Karen is! I know my readers love her covers.