Meet Lise McClendon

Lise McClendon

Lise has been writing mysteries and suspense fiction for 25 years. Lately she has been writing women’s suspense. Her books are available wide, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, & Apple. Some are also in Kindle Unlimited and her books are also on Audible.

A Bennett Sisters Mystery

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
My favorite vacation spot is a resort with lots of options, from hiking to poolside to shopping. I especially enjoy exotic international vacations, hence my locations in the books, from France to Scotland and more.

Everyone takes a tote bag with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
BOOKS! Plus sunscreen, water, towel, umbrella, and a little cooler filled with good things to eat and drink, like cheese, rosé, hummus, cucumbers, and maybe a baguette!

 What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
The plots of my books often involve the characters going a trip, exploring new places and new experiences, meeting intriguing new people, tasting new cuisine, and even learning a new language. I love all these things and try to get the reader immersed in the story through the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of an unknown, or unfamiliar, culture.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written about thirty books— that’s the published ones. Like most writers I have a few unpublished ones in my drawer. Hopefully they will never see the light of day! Or maybe my grandchildren will take a look at them someday. My favorite book is usually the one I’ve just written as it is common for me to actually forget the experience and details of past books. I also hope I’ve become a better writer with each book. But recently I went back through my first mystery series, about a Jackson Hole art dealer, and realized to my astonishment that they weren’t bad at all, in fact, pretty entertaining. That was a huge relief! 🙂

When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also yourself?
This is often the hardest part about a long series. I now have 16 books in the Bennett Sisters Mystery series. I have been breaking things up by doing three-part short series over the last two winters, between full-length books. In 2020 I also edited a pandemic anthology of the reflections of 40 writers about life during this strange time.  So I published five books over the last year! I had to take a little mental breather. Whew. I’m now ready to dive back in, but it is necessary to do other things, get out of your head for a while.

Tea or coffee:
 Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
What are you waiting for? Believe in yourself. No one will ever believe in you more than you believe in yourself.

A Bennett Sisters Mystery

Be sure to connect with Lise on all her social media spots; Facebook, Instagram and Bookbub!

In my publishing news, I have a new novella to be published on August 15th! This is the second in the Tattletale Cafe series.

Click to get book!

Meet Teresa Michael

Teresa is a cozy mystery writer (with a touch of romance!) with a series, Mariposa Cafe Mystery, set in a fictional southwest Florida. You can find her ebooks on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. You can also get her books in paperback and audio.

What inspired you to start writing?
From the time I was a young reader, I’ve always loved mysteries. From Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Karin Slaughter and so many more. When I retired from a career in healthcare, writing became my retirement gig.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
Keep writing. Don’t give up. Get your words out there. Go to conferences. Write. Network. Write. Learn. Join a critique group. Keep going. Write. Write. Write.

How do you develop your plot and characters?
First I get the idea for the story from where ever that comes from (the idea fairy?). Then I do a short rough synopsis of what’s going to happen, the crime/murder. I have a notebook, I call my bible that I keep this information in along with notes about characters, research reminders, etc. I also put ideas of the town, location, etc.I do a mind map with the victim in the middle, draw a circle around the victim’s name and then draw lines (rays) out from circle with the potential suspects and their possible motives for doing the deed. By the time I’m finished with this exercise, it looks like a sun with lots of rays coming out from it. Sometimes, I even color it in with colored pencils. I am mostly a pantser. I’ve tried outlining but I get too caught up in the outline and I end up not following it as the characters take me where they want to go. I do a synopsis about 3-4 chapters ahead and I may even do short scenes along the way that I work with when I get to that chapter.

 Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
Take care of yourself. If a scene has been especially emotional for you, take a break. Go for a walk, have a glass of wine or a snack, read something in another genre than what you’re writing, watch something light on television. This helps to give you a new perspective. It is so easy to get drawn into the emotion of the scene especially if you’re writing something personal. After a calming break, you can go back and look at your writing from a clearer more objective perspective.In emotional or hard to write scenes, I find it helpful to identify what I want to accomplish in this scene, what do I need in this scene to move the story forward, or move the character forward. When you’ve finished with the scene, go back and make sure you’ve hit your marks.  This will help you to stay on track and not go down a rabbit hole that doesn’t do service to the story.  That is the goal for each scene—to move the story forward.

When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also yourself?
Putting the main character in new and challenging situations helps to keep the series fresh, help the characters evolve, and keeps the reader guessing. For example in Deception in Mariposa Beach, Libby Marshall, the main character, discovers a family secret buried for 35 years. It’s a big secret that impacts her sense of identity, her relationships with her family, and stirs up lots of emotions for her. I like to have a cast of regular characters, sort of like a TV ensemble cast, and then introduce new characters and situations in each book. For example in Mistletoe and Missing Persons, Steve Devereaux comes to town and opens a gallery.  Who knew there was a skeleton hidden in the wall?In my new release this summer, Redemption in Mariposa Beach, a private detective is killed during the July Fourth celebration and the cast of quirky characters are questioned in the mystery. 

Where do you get your inspiration?
From everywhere and anywhere – the idea fairy

 What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?
I hope there will be many more sequels as each regular character has a story to tell and with the location being a beach town, lots of people come and go.  Lots of opportunities for storytelling.I’m also planning to start another series called the Harrington House Mysteries, set in a bed and breakfast in an Ohio River town.  I grew in Ohio and Kentucky and I’d like to revisit that.Additionally, I’d like to revisit the characters in my novelette, Indian Rock, set deep in the mountains of Kentucky in the 1960s.

 How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
There are so many – my mind is going all the time. After I write the first Harrington House mystery and maybe one more Mariposa mystery, I’d like to have Libby and Jack from Mariposa Beach go visit Harrington House. Libby is originally from Ohio and she goes back to visit for some reason – maybe her mother is getting remarried.  Anyway, that’s what’s cooking. I think that will be a fun book to write.

Who is your favorite author, and why?
I have so many I can’t pick. I love Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness Series; I love Karin Slaughters’ Grant County and Will Trent series, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, John Sandford’s Prey novels. I get their new novels on or near release day.
I also like Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, Elaine Viets Angela Richman Death Investigator series and her dead end job series, David Baldacci especially his Will Robey series and his new Atlee Pine series.

Would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter?
I live in Florida so I sort of have an endless summer. I left the cold weather behind when I moved to Florida from Ohio. But, sometimes I do miss the fall leaves and a crisp autumn day.  

 Do you base your characters real people?
Some characteristics, yes.

How do you select the names of your characters?
Picking names is the hardest part for me. I had a contest to name the victim in the upcoming book, Redemption in Mariposa Beach.  I couldn’t come up with a name for the private investigator. I got lots of great suggestions.  Charles Winslow was the winner.  I gave away a book to the lucky winner.I keep track of the character names on a spreadsheet along with who they are, descriptions, who they’re related to, etc.

Be sure to follow Teresa on Facebook and Instagram.

My News…

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Erin Scoggins

I absolutely love how Erin discribes the genre she writes in! “I write contemporary Southern cozies. Think Steel Magnolias with a body count.” If that doesn’t make you want to pick up one of her Wedding Crasher books, then you need to come to the south for a while and absorb some southern atmospher. Erin’s ebooks are available in Kindle Unlimited and her paperback books are available wide. You can follow Erin on Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads and Bookbub.

Book 1 in the Wedding Crasher series

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort, or Poolside?
The beach! I’m lucky enough to live in North Carolina, and we have some of the best beaches around. Park me on the sand in the Outer Banks with my hunky hubby for a weekend, and I’ll be a happy woman.

Everyone takes a tote bag with them when they head out for a day at the beach. What’s in yours?
I always have sunscreen, trail mix, and at least two books. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than running out of things to read before your lounge time is up.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story, or the characters?
When I’m on vacation, I want books that will help me escape. That means they’ve got to make me laugh, and they have to transport me somewhere delightful.

My Wedding Crashers series is set in the fictional town of Flat Falls, North Carolina. It’s a quirky beach town filled with characters you’d like to have as friends. It has all the good stuff we like about vacation: food, family, and adventure. And who cares about all those pesky dead bodies when you get to attend a wedding on a pirate ship?

What time of day do you usually write?
I’ve got three kids who always ask for snacks as soon as I sit down to write. And then there’s the hundred-pound dog who thinks keyboard time means snuggle time, so he crawls under my feet like an ottoman.

I’d like to say I get up and write every morning at seven and write happily until noon. In the real world? I’ve written in the carpool line, hiding in the bathroom, and on the back of a takeout menu while I was waiting in line to pick up food that I didn’t have time to cook. Stories come when they’re ready, and I just have to do the best I can to catch them.

Book 2

What does writing success mean to you?
I’m on cloud nine when I hear from a reader that I’ve helped them escape from their struggles for a few hours. When somebody invites me into their life and says my books have made them laugh and brought them joy, that’s success.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I grew up shucking corn and eating boiled peanuts with my grandparents in rural North Carolina. There is nothing better for a Southern writer’s inspiration than visiting a Piggly Wiggly in the sticks on any given Sunday. The rural South is full of wonderful, hilarious people who love to tell a story, and it’s easy to find inspiration if I just slow down long enough to pay attention.

What are the key themes and messages in your books?
I love to write stories about characters who think they’re hopeless. Maybe they’ve lost a job or had a heartbreak, or maybe they’re at a crossroads and just feel lost.

The best stories are about the beautiful ways we put ourselves back together again after everything falls apart. They’re about redemption, joy, and figuring out where you belong.

Pre Order Book 3 now, releases August 9, 2021

Erin’s answer to when she writes sounds like so many authors I know, myself included! And every writer knows, you have to get the words down, no matter what the obsticles. I’m ready to head to the pool, but I’ll be downloading one of Erin’s books before I go. It looks like weddings can be funny – and deadly!

Victoria LK Williams

Secret #16

Floriography: A new message with sinister meaning…

I find I’m fascinated with the combinations you can make with the different flowers and their meanings. From proclamations of true love to best wishes to warnings of death and misdeed. Something as simple and beautiful as a flower blossom once were the Morris code of the Victorian era.

The messages could be given openly as a gift or left on a doorstep as a warning. But only those who truly knew the language of flowers could decipher the meaning. At times this was a bit tricky because some flowers had double meanings. Let’s try another one…

Sweet basil – The aromatic herb to keep you healthy | sweet basil|  agriculture| herbal garden| Sweet basil usage| sweet basil health benefits
Basil: to show hate
Why lavender names are so confusing - and how to make it clear
Lavender Flowers: for betrayal
Oleander Flower; a warning to someone you mistrust

This message might be interpreted to say;

I hate you for betraying me, I’ll never trust you again

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Amy Vansant

Happy 4th of July Weekend!

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 on Amazon Kindle.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Ritter Ames

I’m pleased to introduce you to Ritter Ames, a traitional and cozy mystery author. Your can find out all about her books on all the major sites including Books2Read, Bookbub, Goodreads, Instagram, Twitter, an Facebook .

What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved books, but as I child I didn’t really think about how they got onto shelves—they were gifts, or were already in the library, so it was just kind of everyday magic to me that books were there when I wanted one. Then in the fourth grade I read Little Women, and not only identified early on with Jo March, but when she began writing to make a living, I realized people actually made careers out of writing (yes, I read Louisa May Alcott’s name on the cover, but it took seeing my favorite character write for a living in the story to make the idea sink in. I was a dense child). After a long stint in corporate life, juggling numbers every day and writing reports and analyses, I moved into the new millennium by freelance writing magazine articles as a side gig to my full-time job. Loved it, but I wanted to make a living writing fiction too. A few years later, I quit my corporate job when I was making the same income selling to magazines that I made in my corporate job. I signed my first fiction contract in 2013 and I’ve never looked back. I just wish I’d been able to do it sooner.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
Understand the business end of writing as well as honing your talents in the craft.

How do you develop your plot and characters?
I outline a lot and do character sketches on everyone. Then all the information goes into a series bible. I start a series bible for every project I begin—whether it ultimately becomes a finished work or not, because I love reading series, so that’s what I prefer to write.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve published seven Organized Mysteries titles (and one more is drafted but needs revision/editing), five in the Bodies of Art Mysteries (again, one in draft but farther in the revision process), and so far, one published in the Frugal Lissa Mysteries series—but book two will be out this summer, as will the audio books for the Frugal Lissa Mysteries. I’ve also written a number of books that haven’t yet been published—some because they’re in a new series and I’m trying to have several ready to publish together, and others because I’m not exactly sure how to market them effectively. My favorite series to write is the Bodies of Art Mysteries, but it’s also the most difficult—my favorite book in the series is probably the third book, Abstract Aliases. On the other hand, the most comfortable series for me to write—not necessarily easier, but most relaxing because of the characters—is the Organized Mysteries. And the new Frugal Lissa Mysteries are the most like me, and they include my Labrador retriever in the stories as well. Sometimes I really have to stretch to write the Frugal Lissa books simply because I feel a lot more vulnerable writing them, as I truly do give Lissa a lot of my own personality. That’s the series I wrote the project for to put into the Murder on the Beach summer beach read collection.

When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also yourself?
I don’t start a new book until I find some angle I want to learn something about. It doesn’t have to be a big thing—though sometimes it is important—and as I begin researching, I start thinking of ways to twist the idea to fit or adapt a plot, or to incorporate my characters into this new plot scheme.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere. Seriously, when I was freelancing, I could generate five to ten pitches to send to editors in less than thirty minutes, and I did that every week on Monday morning. That was great practice before I started writing fiction, because I was used to combining ideas to give my articles a lot of different slants, and doing this allowed me to sell articles many times to many magazines, but still use the same beginning idea and interviews. That practice kept everything fresh for my nonfiction work, and I still use that practice for fiction.

Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
I write a lot more than I publish. It’s nothing for me to rewrite an opening scene multiple times. The farther I get into a story, the more I’ll see what I needs to be at least pursued in a different way to see if the change improves the story. I have no problem slicing and dicing a manuscript when I realize I can write something better. I save the portions I take out, sometimes to reuse in another way, but if I can’t reuse them I’m fine with that. I want each story to be the best I can make it.

What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
The theme for Murder on the Beach is cozy fun on the beach. Yes, there are crimes, but there’s humor in all the stories too. We had so much fun writing for this anthology, and we can’t wait to share it with readers.

Can you give us some insight into what makes you main character tick?
My main character, Lissa Eller, or the Frugal Lissa, is a full-time mom of two elementary aged boys and the family’s Labrador retriever, Honey. Lissa’s husband travels constantly as a photojournalist, so she tends to be “on” for her boys 24/7. The story in Murder on the Beach is “Frugal Lissa Needs a Break,” and it happens soon after she’s solved the murder in the first Frugal Lissa mystery. She’s reunited with her best friend Abby, as they strike out for a girls’ weekend in Galveston, while Lissa’s husband takes their two sons on a working weekend in San Diego. As is becoming too common in Lissa’s world, Honey discovers another body on the beach and Lissa must sleuth out the murderer.

Who is the author you most admire in your genre?
I’ve always said I want to grow up to be Nancy Pickard. I love her books, but I met her a number of times before I was published, and she was just as interested in what I was writing as an un-pub writer, as she was the authors who had a long list of publications. And she’s just so very real, in every sense of the word. She did so much for women mystery authors in the early cozy years of the 1980s and 1990s, as did many others. But for me, she’s so genuine, and I respect her and her talent tremendously.

Do you have a library membership?
Of course. And we make annual donations to our Friends of the Library.

Would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter?

I don’t like extreme temperatures, either hot or cold. I was born and raised in California’s Bay Area, so my friends and family know they’re going to hear me gripe when the weather changes too drastically. I currently live where the summer humidity is horrible, and I’ve been plotting for several years to get my husband to sell our place and move. We also had the North Pole come down and vacation for two weeks over our state this February—also not a nice thing. But if I have to choose between the two, I’d take winter over summer, just to avoid the humidity/heat issue alone.

Morning person or Night owl?
I sleep so little. I’m up before five every morning because we had a cat for 20 years who believed when she awoke at 4:30 a.m. that I should be awake too. Now, I automatically wake around the same time every day, and we have a Lab who usually has to go outside about then too. Once I get up, I can’t go back to sleep. But I do nap about 20 minutes most afternoons, and that gives me a true second wind, and I don’t go to bed at night until close to or just after midnight.

How do you select the names of your characters?
Most of the time, that’s relatively easy. I get a first name I recognize is what my character needs, and then I work on the last name. For the Frugal Lissa series, however, there was a speed bump that made me change things. I originally planned to make this the Frugalista Mysteries, and Lissa was named Olivia, but went by Livvy. Then I learned frugalista was trademarked by a blogger, and since Lissa subsidizes her family’s income by writing a blog too, I knew I had to make a change. So, she became Lissa, and the Frugal Lissa Mysteries debuted instead.

A big thank you to Ritter for answering my questions. To keep up with her, I suggest you sign up for her Newsletter, and check out all her books at her website.

I hope you’re filling your beach tote with books from all these wonderful writers! Enjoy the weekend and we’ll meet our next author when we meet again.

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Cathy Perkins

Cathy Perkins writes both suspenses and amateur sleuth stories. You can find her suspense books on all major outlets and her amateur sleuth stories are part of the Kindle Unlimited program on Amazon.

Cathy Perkins

You can connect with Cathy on Facebook or follow her on BookBub.

Click to go to book

What inspired you to start writing?

While I’ve had a life-long love affair with reading, I didn’t start writing until later in life. This probably isn’t how most people start, but I had a consulting job in a city about ninety miles away. I’d listen to music and daydream during the commute. Pretty soon the daydream had dialogue and I thought, hmm, this is turning into a good story. That particular book lives in a box under my bed, but I was hooked on writing and creating worlds and characters.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?

Read, read, read! Take stories you especially loved and reread them for the structure, the way the author developed character, whatever drew you so strongly to that story. Then keep writing, learning and growing.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

Most of my stories start with a “what if?” For example, without giving away the plot and all the twists, The Body in the Beaver Pond began with, what if there really was a body in the beaver pond?

The “whys” lined up from there—Why was he dead? Why was Keri suspected of killing him? Why was she invested in the investigation? The characters grew and became three-dimensional as I thought through the implications and how that character might react to events unfolding around him or her. 

Because I love tightly plotted stories that twist and turn, I generally outline the major story lines. I’m always surprised when I finish the first draft and find small setups and details my subconscious added. During edits, I weave these bits deeper into the story to build out a suspect or enhance a theme.

What time of the day do you usually write?

I’m a night owl, so once I decide to quit my day job, I suspect you’ll see lights on at my house in the wee hours of the morning.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration can come from anywhere! Daydreams, a random conversation at a party – earlier books have a variety of inspiration sources. My latest book began this way. One night I was cutting up with Joelle Charbonneau, idly brainstorming about what to write next. She offered up the mantra, write what you know. I laughed and said, “I live on a Christmas tree farm and watch the critters on the beaver pond for entertainment. Where’s the book in that?”

There was a long pause, then Joelle said, “How many people can use all those words in the same sentence?”

I laughed it off and finished the Holly Price book I was writing, but the idea sent down roots and grew in the back of my mind. Before long, I had Holly’s recently divorced half-sister on…wait for it… a Christmas tree farm with a beaver pond. I’ll never tell which events in the book actually happened and which came out of my imagination. 

Do you have a library membership?

Yes! I love my local library. While I buy a lot of books – friends and favorite authors especially – I’ve “discovered” so many new-to-me authors through the library. Using the Libby and Overdrive apps to borrow ebooks and audio-books has been a lifesaver during the pandemic, but I can’t wait to browse the aisles again.

Do you base your characters real people?

While certain characters in earlier books have been mashups of people I know, there are friends who played a big part in several characters in The Body in the Beaver Pond. I suspect a few of my neighbors may recognize bits of themselves in this book.

Click to go to book

Like Cathy, I have had a life-long love affair with reading. As a youngster, I would wait anxiously every Saturday morning for the book-mobile to arrive at the corner in front of my house. My breaks in school were spent in the library, searching for the next mystery to read. And even now, I love to spend time at the local library sitting in a corner, reading. I just wanted to remind you that all of my books can be ordered by your local library, all you have to do is ask.

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Jane Elzey

Jane Elzey writes modern day cozy mysteries about four best friends and amateur sleuths who love to play games… while the husbands die trying. (A husband always dies.) A Cardboard Cottage Mystery series centers around board games, friendship, and fast-paced misadventure!

The books are available in ebook on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, as well as Paperback and Hardcover at all your favorite book shops. Autographed copies with swag and brag are available on the author’s website

Where is my favorite vacation spot?
Born and raised a wild-child on Florida’s sandy beaches (including Vero Beach!) my favorite vacation spot always includes a big body of water, preferably when the moon is full. I’m an avid traveler, so I like to hit the beach anywhere around the world. My favorite place to bodysurf is the National Seashore in Titusville, Florida. My favorite beach to go shelling is Sanibel Island. Did you know there is only there is only one global ocean? We are all one!

What’s in my tote bag?
My favorite Turkish towel, Blue Lizard sunscreen, a good read, a thermos of something delicious — probably with rum and mint, and a big bag of seaside nibbles. I like to stop at the specialty markets along the way to pick up local favorites. Poke and papaya on Oahu, ceviche and chips in Mazatlán, olives and crusty bread in Spain.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read?
Because that’s what my readers tell me! The characters in the Cardboard Cottage Mystery series are four friends you’d love to hang out with – especially when they get into good trouble. They are the perfect friends to take with you to the beach – they will serve up a good picnic, lots of laughs, and some fast-paced, page-turning adventure, too.

What inspired me to start writing?
I am career journalist, but along the way I discovered my true calling. I am a mischief-maker, story-teller, and bender of the facts. I would rather write a story without much regard for the truth. I’ve wanted to write mysteries my entire life and now I’m finally following that dream come true.

What’s my most interesting writing quirk?
I am fan of out-of-the-box thinking and thrill in leading the reader on an adventure with lots twists, turns, and surprises. I love it when a reader says, “I didn’t see that coming!” Even though I write under the cozy genre and its rules, my characters are not-so-cozy, not cookie-cutter sweet, and always up for an adventure. Because I like to travel, I set my stories in destinations that I love, and share those bucket list travels with readers.

When writing a series, how do I keep things fresh for both my readers and myself?
My VIP Club members are keeping me on my toes! Members of the Killer Club are given the honor of naming a husband for me to off in an upcoming series. I currently have more husbands to kill than plots! I am only in two deep – book one and book two – now working on book three. I bore easily, so keeping myself entertained is sure to keep the reader happy. And that’s my goal. Imagination is a wonderful thing, and as long I continue to live an adventurous life surrounded by interesting people (including my VIP Killers) I can’t imagine that this well of creativity will run dry. My characters are willing to evolve, too, and with their help I have plotted out where they go for the next several books. And of course, their friendship deepens along the way!

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written?
Killer Croquet, Passing on Poker, Murder by Mahjong, and Ouija with Haints, are all in the plotting stages. I’m currently writing on Poison Parcheesi and Wine, book 3 in the Cardboard Cottage Mystery series. This story takes place in Arkansas’ wine country, along with Gennas’ big “European Tour” of Arkansas.  And, well, another husband dies trying and Amy almost takes the rap for murder!

If I could invite three people to my dinner party they would be…
Fanny Flag, Lee Smith, and Carl Hiaasen, my favorite Southern writers. We would be telling stories and laughing so hard we would never be able to eat our dinner!

I was so thrilled to find Jane is not only a fellow floridian, but that she actually lived at one time in Vero Beach. Oh the stories we could compare! I love board games, and found this such a unique premise for a cozy mystery series. I can’t wait to grab one of Jane’s books and head to the beach.

Meet Alyn Troy

Photo by David Dibert on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Victoria LK Williams

It’s time to get ready for summer!!!

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

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

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

Meet Daphne Mclean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ME TOO! SHE’S A HOOT!

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

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

Victoria LK Williams