Meet My Co-Authors!!

I am so excited to be part of this Christmas Cozy Anthology. I love the holiday season-from Halloween right through New Years, this is an extra treat for me to be included. Over the next few weeks I will be asking each of the authors a few questions so that you can get to know them. But first, how about a teaser of what is going to be included in the book?

Since there are twenty authors, I’m going to break this down into two posts. I hope this will get you into the holiday spirit. But remember it’s not all gifts, Santa, and Christmas fun-there’s plenty of murder and mystery too! This book will only be available for this holiday season, so pre-order your copy now.

Here we go, in random order, let’s get a sneak at our first ten stories.

Christmas is Canceled                                                    by Carly Winter

The day before her big Christmas party, Bernadette Maxwell discovers all her gifts have been stolen. With the help of her ghostly grandmother, Ruby, she’s determined to investigate who’s responsible… and why.

But when she discovers the perpetrator, will the Christmas spirit come alive in Bernie, or will Christmas be canceled?

Christmas in Cherry Hills                                              by Paige Sleuth
For Christmas in Cherry Hills by Paige Sleuth: Kat Harper’s Christmas reunion with her long-lost mother turns out to be nothing like she envisioned. Maybelle Harper has no qualms about flirting with Kat’s boyfriend, she’s more interested in seeing old friends than her daughter, and, worse yet, she hates cats. But Kat might have to put her disappointment aside when bigger problems arise—unwelcome gifts have been showing up on her doorstep, and she has no idea who has added her to his Christmas list.

Marry Christmas                                                          by Joann Keder
Chloe is living her worst nightmare: planning a Christmas wedding for her impossible cousin, Nova. When she and her friend, Doris hear there’s been a murder at the wedding venue, they’re determined to find the killer before Nova’s big day. The more they dig, the more they are convinced the killer is a member of the wedding party who may kill again. The clock is ticking for them to solve the mystery before anyone else is killed!

The Four Chickens of Christmas                                  by Beth McElla

Amelia is looking forward to her first traditional village Christmas on Findlater Island. But there’s someone new in town with grander ideas who has called in all the TV crews from Seattle to witness her avant-garde festival. Suddenly the star performers are missing and everything’s going horribly wrong. It’s up to Amelia, Sadie, and the other villagers to save the small island’s reputation as a holiday destination.

Let it Sew, Let it Sew, Let it Sew                                  by Babs Emodi

Valerie Rankin and the Seaside Sewists just want to sew for Christmas, but until they find a killer, the buttonholes and zippers will have to wait. Who knew there were so many secrets in Gasper’s Cove Nova Scotia?

Jingle Bones                                                                 by Rosie Meleady

Irish wedding planner Daisy Dell is an international expert on everything weddings, especially in Italy. But sometimes, a dash of murder and mystery finds its way past her up the aisle.

When asked to organise a simple Christmas wedding in Puglia, Daisy was not expecting a weekend of mayhem and possibly murder. Not only have the wedding funds gone missing, but also the Basilica’s most precious relics… Santa Claus’s bones.

Ho, Ho, Homicide!                                                        by MP Smith

Waiting for their baby to be born, Anne and Jack take a holiday getaway to northern Minnesota. The romantic Christmas holiday is everything they’d hoped it would be, until they realize they’re snowed in with a killer. This locked-room mystery is filled with glowing good wishes for the holiday, but also the dread of wondering, “Who’s next?”

Deck The Halls and Murder                                         by Patti Larsen

The annual Christmas parade and tree lighting is interrupted when a corpse—rather than Santa—takes center stage. With her father’s investigation into the original crime under question, Fiona Fleming pursues the truth while trying to hang onto her holiday spirit, all without spoiling her chances at a date with Sheriff Crew Turner.

Sleigh Bells Wing                                                         by Hillary Avis

The Chapman clan’s preparing for a cozy Christmas, their last one at the old family farm before they finally put it on the market. But Ruth’s holiday cheer is history when she finds the potential buyer has been killed in cold blood. Will the New Year bring new hope to Honeytree—or a new victim?

Cards, Capers and Christmas Miracles                        by Emily Selby

It’s almost Christmas and Julia, age 10 and 9 months has a big worry: will her dad come to collect her so that she could spend the holidays with him, as planned?

But Dad has to work longer and gets delayed again, and Julia is in need of a serious miracle, just like another 10-y.o girl, T, who is visiting the vicarage. Both girls hope for a happy Christmas spend with their loving parents, but they get involved in a suspicious activity: someone steals a money box with a charity collection and empties Sunnyvale’s residents’ bank cards.

Will Julia and T discover who the thief is before he steals Christmas? But more importantly, will the girls’ fathers realise that all their daughters want for Christmas is time spent with their loving parents?

There is the first ten quickie blurbs for ten of the stories! Just a word of warning to my USA readers; there are several international writers in the anthology, and they may write in “the Queen’s English” so don’t be thrown of by a few spelling differances-they are correct. Below you can see the complete list of Authors and their Christmas Cozies. Have you read any of their other work?

 A Corpse Wrapped in Tinsel                                       by Benedict Brown

Cards, Capers and Christmas Miracles                        by Emily Selby

Christmas is Canceled                                                 by Carly Winter

Christmas in Cherry Hills                                              by Paige Sleuth

Claus of Death                                                             by Moira Bates

Deck The Halls and Murder                                         by Patti Larsen

Ho, Ho, Homicide!                                                        by MP Smith

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder                       by Wendy Meadows

Jingle Bones                                                                 by Rosie Meleady

Let it Sew, Let it Sew, Let it Sew                                   by Babs Emodi

Malbec and Mistletoe                                                   by Daisy Linh

Marry Christmas                                                          by Joann Keder

Peppermint Twist                                                         by Mary B. Barbee

Poison and Poinsettias                                                 by Aubrey Elle

Rebel Without a Claus                                                  by Ava Mallory

Sleigh Bells Wing                                                          by Hillary Avis

The Four Chickens of Christmas                                   by Beth McElla

The Purloined Poinsettia                                              by Cathy Tully

The Secret Santa Mystery                                             by R.B. Marshall

The Toy Puzzle                                                             by Victoria LK Williams

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Katherine Brown

Katherine H Brown writes cozy mysteries thaat can be found on kindle and Kindle Unlimited. She plans to expand her genres this year, and has a new book out called the Librarian’s Treasure.

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
 
If I had endless funds, it would be an all-inclusive resort with a beach-view room and patio. My husband and I have taken anniversary trips to Gulf Shores, Alabama several times, so I would say it qualifies as a definite favorite spot.

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours? Phone, sunglasses (if I haven’t lost them), towel, at least one physical book to read, and one to two spirals for writing.

 What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
The setting (a fictional beach in Alabama…imagine that…) as well as the spa where most of the characters’ time is spent in book 1 of the Ooey Gooey Bakery Mystery series makes it the perfect laid-back, easy reading for a beach day.

What inspired you to start writing?
What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting? Even if you are in another career, even if everyone says you can’t earn a living, keep writing. Don’t put it off a few years and then decide you still really want to do it. Write. Then, when you get ready / able / brave enough etc, the books are there and you can begin the hard part: publishing and marketing them.

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What time of the day do you usually write?
Currently, I grab the hour during my 13 month old’s nap to do the majority of my writing. When I’m really driven or on a deadline, I also write at night in bed on the evenings while my husband watches the hockey game; that way, we are still together but I’m making progress and he can push replay and make me watch the plays he wants to talk about.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I HATE to know the ending. As a reader, I won’t read the back cover of the book even. So, it has been a struggle to discipline myself to do a more detailed outline or plan instead of just start with a character I love and a concept of the murder or crime and literally see what happens in my imagination as I write. However, since I’m working with such a finite window of writing time this year, I had to change my habits in order to write more efficiently. So far, it is working out okay although occasionally I still go completely off the outline and change my mind mid-story.

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written?
 
Can you tell us about one? Oh. My. Goodness. So many; I have a problem with falling in love with tons of ideas and designing new book covers for inspiration. I have a new 5 book cozy series (only plotted for the first so far, but made covers for all of them) that I’m excited about. I also have ideas for novellas to add to the Ooey Gooey Bakery mysteries at the request of a few of my readers who love the characters. For the novellas, each of the two main characters will travel to separate places and encounter a mystery that they must solve. I think one may go to Europe and one to the mountains.

Do you have a library membership?
Yes! And so does my twelve year old because I was so excited when she was old enough to get her own card at age ten. 😊

What did you want to be when you grew up?
 A writer. Honestly. I “made” books as a child by stapling paper together and doodling short stories in them. I even sent off for publishing information as a teen (which I later found out were called vanity publishing companies) but I didn’t begin publishing until 2018 when I wanted to quit my office job and needed to know if I could really be an author.

How do you select the names of your characters?
By spending FAR too much time on baby name sites, and looking at name definitions for additional characters. The main character I usually just know what name I want to use pretty soon after thinking of the story.

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What was your hardest scene to write?
 I’m writing a book now (coming in August 2021) set in fictional rural town in Ireland which has been very difficult because I’ve never traveled to Ireland. I tried diligently to convince my husband that a trip to Ireland would surely be a deductible research expense but alas, to no avail.

Be sure to follow Katherine for all her books and upcoming stories! Instagram, Goodreads, Bookbub, Facebook. And sign up for her newsletter.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This series has been wonderful, and I’d like to thank all of the authors who participated in the Summer Beach Reads. But fall is here! The calender says so, even if it’s still in the upper 80’s down here in Florida. That means it’s time to start our Seasonal Series. This next group of authors all have books written around Halloween, Fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years. I will be featuring these books along with their interview. Also included in this series are the co-authors that have written stories that are included in the Cozy Christmas Anthology; Clues, Christmas Trees and Corpses. So get ready…

Now available for Pre-order!!!!!

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Beth McElla

Beth McElla

Beth McElla is a cozy mystery writer and her books can be found on most retail outlets. She also writes under the name of Juliet Chase. Her books can be found as Ebooks, print and large print.

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
Beach, definitely! Preferably a rocky one or with buried treasure. I’m a northern girl at heart having lived the majority of my life within a few hours of the Canadian border where you don’t get too many sunbathing beaches. So I much prefer to look around in tidepools or hunt sea glass.

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
Lunch! Also my camera, and more bags for sea glass, shells, and possibly picking up plastic trash.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
They’re set on an island so 360 degrees of beach, along with all the quirky characters that come with a small town where people don’t move around a lot. Just enough hints of romance to keep things interesting without really going there (yet), and a storyline that offers more than just ‘who did it?’

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What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
There is no one right way or single path to success. Explore different styles and techniques and pay attention to what comes most easily. We tend to think that hard is better and struggle means it’s real but the opposite is true. If you’re trying to write in first person and it’s not going so well, try third. Or vice versa.  There’s a lot of advice out there that says successful authors outline their books. I can outline, really thoroughly too! And the resulting story is a bit wooden and not very fun to write. My best work is done by visualizing a scene then writing it down. That’s me. I got there through trial and error, trying different things, and paying attention. If you have fun writing it, I guarantee it will show.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
If I tell anyone about the plot before it’s written, I can’t ever seem to write it down. It’s like I’ve already told the story and my brain won’t let me have a do-over. So I’ve learned to not say anything until it’s done!

Where do you get your inspiration?
I’ve led an eclectic life and it offers up useful tidbits daily. When I started this series, I really wanted to set it in an English village, a la Midsommer Murders or Agatha Raisin. But I’ve been to England exactly once (20 years ago) and it just didn’t feel right. So I thought back to my early career in museums working with all the period rooms that wealthy Americans bought in the 1920s and 30s from English estates and expanded that idea into an entire island of transposed architecture. It’s absolutely something that could have happened, that I understand the hows and whys of, and it’s really fun. Maybe more fun than a pure English village because that’s unlikely to have a post office in a medieval French dovecote and a real-estate firm in a windmill.

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Can you give us some insight into what makes you main character tick?
Amelia is intelligent, has never been conventionally pretty, and is a tiny bit (okay, a lot) bossy. She thinks she wants to relax but really, she wants some close friends that love her for who she is and to organize the world into some semblance of logical order. She’s making progress on the first but struggling with the latter!

Do you have a library membership?
I have two! I’m lucky enough to live in a county with a share agreement with a major US city library so I have the benefits of both. I mostly use them for ebooks so I don’t have to remember to return them…

Follow Beth on Facebook! And watch for her next book, Over Exposed.

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Now Available

Meet Rachel Neuberger Reynolds

Raychel writes Cozy Mysteries. They have also been labled “surfer noir”. Her books can be found on Amazon and are part of the Kindle Unlimited program.

Rachel Neuberger Reynolds

What is your favorite vacation spot?
Favorite vacation spot: It’s a toss-up between Bocas del Toro in the Caribbean, where my mysteries are set, and Malta. If I had to pick one of the three, I’d pick the beach. But what I’d most love is a combination of all the options: a beach-side cabana at a luxury resort with a pool not far behind me to cool off.

Everyone takes a beach bag with them, what is in yours?
I’ve tried to pare down my beach tote these days. My essential is a paperback book, that has hopefully fallen into the water at some point, giving it that crinkly beach feel. Besides that: 2 notebooks (one for my current project and one for everything else), 2 bottles of suntan lotion (30 SPF for me and 70 for Mr. Reynolds), 2-3 pair of sunglasses (variety is the spice of life), a little cash, a few credit cards, and a lip gloss I will never use. Oh, and both headphones and a small Bluetooth speaker – I don’t exist without music.

Would your book/series be perfect for the beach?
Is my series perfect for a beach read? Absolutely. The setting is a Caribbean island (very reasonably priced – check it out!). I won’t ruin anything to say that I’ve got a murder in on a snorkeling expedition, as well as a beautiful local found dead at a surf camp. There are surfing detectives, suspicious charter boat owners, and a marine biologist love interest who runs scuba expeditions. You won’t find that in New York City!

Red Frog Beach Mystery Series

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
I love this question. As well as being an author I work with people as a creative coach, often helping people get through the first draft of their first book. Some rules I have

  1. The worst thing you can do it go back to keep revising the first few chapters until you think they are perfect. It’s not going to be. It’s a dangerous cycle and you probably won’t finish the book. Write the bad version (you won’t think it’s so bad when you reach the end).
    1. Writing is rewriting.
    1. If it’s boring you, it’s boring everyone. Harsh, but as a fellow mystery writer you might agree with this one!

What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I have the opposite problem, in that it’s easier for me to write men. Someone once asked me how I get into the male mind as accurately as I do. I said, “I write them just like I’d write as any person.” I think growing up in Boston where many men have a strange kind of wise-cracking attitude, partnered with the drama of working on Broadway for fifteen years, lends itself to big and bold characters.

How do you select the names of your characters?
This is also a fun question for me. It’s not an easy one for me. For main characters, I need to name that gives me no association with anyone I know. I’ve been known to look at lists of baby naming articles online to pick interesting names. For secondary and terciary characters, I do throw in my friend’s names in respect for their friendship and help. Some names in the Red Frog Beach named after friends are Detective McDonough, Hywel the surf camp instructor, and the Paone Institute which is the last name of a friend named Lawrence. And to be a little beachy, I do sometimes grab names from the movies Gidget (1959) and Where The Boys Are (1960). In a different series I’m working on I’ve taken the names Tuggle and Dill right out of the latter one. If that’s not beachy I don’t know what is!

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Watch for Rachel’s newest book in the series, The Poison Garden (Baby I’m Blue), to be release in early December!

The Sister Station books, Now Arriving and Now Departing, are available as a box set September 20th!

Meet Victoria Hamilton

Victoria Hamilton

I’m so pleased to introduce another Victoria! (When I was in elementry school there were 6 of us in my class!)

Victoria Hamilton writes traditional cozy mysteries and historical mysteries. You can find her books in most outlets and you can find Cast Iron Alibi on Amazon, Amazon Canada and Barnes & Noble.

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
I love the beach! I have been a camper my whole life and spent my childhood at campgrounds along the Canadian side of Lake Huron.

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
A tote bag? Just the usual stuff inside, I suppose: sunscreen, comb, and of course a book! I love swimming and sand castle building, but once I’ve had my fill then a beach day is the perfect time to read a good book.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
The Cast! Cast Iron Alibi (Vintage Kitchen Mystery #9)
celebrates a girl’s week gone horribly wrong… you know, when you get together with people you’ve known for years, but something is off? That’s what happens to Jaymie Leighton Müller when she spends a couple of weeks with her college friends at her trailer and cottage on an island in the middle of the St. Clair River, Michigan. It’s a great beach read for the setting (the gals spend a day in Grand Bend, Ontario, a party town on Lake Huron and enjoy a river boat cruise), but the book also explores how life changes our party friends from college… and of course there’s a murder!  

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What does writing success mean to you?
Success means I can afford to continue writing… that is the best, being able to support myself with my books. Thank you, readers; I appreciate it so much.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written many many books. I haven’t counted, but I’m thinking it’s more than forty now. With so many, there is not one clear favorite, but I have to say, a favorite is Vintage Kitchen Mystery #6, Leave It to Cleaver, in which Jaymie (the main character) gets married, but before that happens solves a mystery that involves her older sister Becca back when she was a teen, in the 80s! The flashbacks and present day mixture was fun to write, and the book had a very satisfying ending for Jaymie and her new husband, Jakob, and Jakob’s little girl, Jocie.

When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also yourself?
I can see how that may be a problem for writers, but I haven’t suffered it yet. There are always new ideas, and I find that I’ll be working along on another series and something – a news article, or something on TV, or something I read – will start an idea in my head that leads to a plot for one of my other series. This happened recently. I’m getting toward the end of writing Vintage Kitchen Mysteries #10, A Calculated Whisk; it is consuming me right now. But still… I saw something about an author in the 1700’s who moved to Bath, England and started a school; before I knew it I had an idea budding for the next Lady Anne Addison Historical Mystery. The point is, writers need to pay attention when those ideas occur and write something down!

Can you give us some insight into what makes your main character tick?
Jaymie Leighton Müller is more complicated than people around her imagine; she appears to be a mild-mannered sweet woman, who loves to cook and cares about local history. But she also has a strong streak of independence, learns her lessons well when she is hurt, and feels strongly about social issues, enough to say something even to those she loves. That – speaking her mind – is hard to do when it is to an elder she respects, but she still finds a way to make her feelings known.

What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?
It can never be, but she happens to be my favorite mystery author, the late, great Sue Grafton. In a way she has been my mentor, because I feel I learned so much just by reading and rereading her Kinsey Millhone series.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
All I ever wanted to be was a writer; I’ve been more fortunate than most in being able to do it.

How do you select the names of your characters?
There are certain rules most writers follow when writing novels: don’t have more than one character with the same first letter in their name… it is confusing to the readers (I’ve broken that many times, sometimes to my dismay!); don’t have too many characters; don’t give someone a last name that is also a first name.

I broke that last rule, and to my chagrin it caused me problems. One of my characters in my Merry Muffin Mystery Series is named Dewayne Lester, and from the beginning I accidentally called him Lester on occasion. Well, in the latest Merry Muffin book, Double or Muffin, I ended up calling him Lester throughout and neither I nor my editor noticed! It took an eagle-eyed reader to notice and write to me, and I appreciate it. My editor is correcting it. Other than that, I try to not make names too difficult to pronounce or read; I don’t want to put stumbling blocks in the way of smooth reading. Also… the name has to fit the person.

I would be interested in hearing from readers; are there names you wish a writer would use?

Pre-Order, Sept. 21 release!

Victoria’s books are a delight, and I’m sure you will enjoy them. Summer is winding down, so grab a copy and catch up!

I had a novella release! Novella #2 in the Tattletale Cafe Mysteries

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Meet Jane Kelly

Follow Jane Kelly on Facebook

Jane Kelly writes books about amature sleuths, filled with a touch of humor, both in cozy and traditional mysteries. Her books can currently be found on Amazon, in both Kindle and print.

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Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
Definitely a beach person. My favorite spot is on a low chair reading while the small waves wash back and forth over my feet. Favorite time of day is after the crowds go home.

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
I long for the days when I put on a workshirt with two pockets and took a chapstick, a pack of tissues and my keys in one pocket and sunscreen in the other. I carried my book and towel. As I write this, I am thinking maybe I can get back to those days although I should add a beach chair (low for reading in the shallow water) with a cup holder and a pouch on the back. I don’t want to bring the entire house with me.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
The books are set in New Jersey Shore towns so that makes them appropriate reading for any beach but, beyond that, they are light and humorous. They are not quite cozy. I call them polite mysteries. No blood. No sex. No violence. At least on screen.

What inspired you to start writing?
Like a lot of writers, I started with a mystery because I wanted to kill someone. In my first Meg Daniels book, her boss gets killed. I also liked the idea of creating a series and getting to know a character. A friend of a friend unknowingly gave me encouragement. I had never met her when we were both at the same lunch. After a bit, she turned to me and asked, “Are you a writer?” When I said, “No,” she said, “You should be.” That comment was inspiring.

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Be persistent. Take yourself seriously. Prepare. My first agent told me I had the best rejection letters he ever saw. At that point, I did not persist. I thought I’d had an interesting experience that was over. A mistake.  A major editor said he would read anything else I wrote. Did I write something to submit? No. A mistake. Did I attend conferences or take classes to learn more about the market and my craft? No. Another mistake. Persist.

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
I have about a half-dozen, half-written books that I would love to have time to get back to. I recently found two books that I had completed in the 1980s. I was thrilled to discover I did not know “who dun it.” I started updating a mystery where the heroine gets to live a fantasy of mine: being one of the guests assembled in a luxurious drawing room in the middle of a stormy night for the unveiling of a murderer. I got halfway through the revisions when higher priorities called. I hope to go back soon.

How do you select the names of your characters?
I go all out selecting character names. I always look back to the people who named them. Usually, a character’s parents are not in the book, but the name they picked says a lot about them and their expectations for their child. If the character has acquired a nickname that says more about what they actually became. Or, if they named themselves what they want to become. Of course, I always check the Social Security database. One of my favorite ways I ever identified the age of a historical character depended on data from Social Security. “Most women named Edna were at least twenty years ahead of me in life. As were the Mildreds, the Ethels and the Mabels. The Kathys, Susies and Pattys were the ones who on most days poured into the driveway behind my house to play. There were no Madisons, Kaylies, or even Kendras yet. I hailed from the Helen, Betty and Margaret generation although my parents had chosen to give me the rather plain, or as they called it classic, name of Katherine.”

Do you base your characters real people?
Never. A character may be inspired by someone but each character develops into their own person that, in the end, has very little in common with the original individual. I started writing mysteries because I wanted to kill my boss. In the end, I killed a boss, a far more sinister man than my boss ever was. I used to keep a list of quirks I observed thinking I would assign them to characters. I never did. The characters developed their own quirks. They really do take over.

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I love the new term Jane has used for her books~polite mysteries! Besure to check out her Pinterest Boards as well as her books!

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.

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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

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 Kathy Manos Penn

In my last post, I presented a number of books with a Halloween Theme and next month I will do the same for books with a Christmas Theme. I hope you’ve had the opportunity to down load a couple and start reading. But now I want you to get the know the authors behind the stories. A few of these wonderfully talented wordsmiths have written books for both holidays! Are you ready to meet our first author?

Kathy Manos Penn with Banjo

Kathy is a long-time columnist and award-winning author. Her books are in the KU (kindle unlimited) program. You can find all her books on her Amazon Author Page, connect with her on her Facebook Author Page and find out even more from her Website!

I asked each of our authors to select questions from a list to answer (you’ll find out more below) and ask all to answer this…

Why did you write a holiday theme mystery?
The Halloween book simply grew out of the fact that book one was set in September and had ended with a costume party at my main character’s cottage. That was so much fun, I wanted to continue the costume theme with the characters dressing in costume for a Fall Fete in their Cotswolds village.
I LOVE Christmas, and like my main character, I decorate our home to the hilt! Given that Leta has been a widow for 18 mos, her emotional growth and how she deals with the holidays seemed a natural next step.

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How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing cozies only since late 2019 and released Book One in my series in February 2020. For almost my entire corporate career, I was called upon to write. Funny that my fellow bankers, whom I thought brilliant at analysis and numbers, seemed to think the same about my ability to craft a complete sentence, a speech, a how-to guide, or a training course. Long before my official job was communications, I was the go-to person for writing.
As a side job, while still a banker, I began writing weekly columns for a local paper and enjoyed it so much, I also started writing a blog. When I retired, I published a book of my columns, and then my dog Banjo got in on the act. He got all fired up when I had his DNA done and we discovered he’s part Great Pyrenees.  Did you know that Louis XIV declared those majestic animals the Royal Dogs of France? Once Banjo heard that news, he demanded I take dictation and produce a small book in his voice about a year in his life.  He says Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch is NOT fiction, but we have a difficult time convincing readers of that.
It was only after I’d appeased the boy that I could think about what I might want to write.

What is the significance of the title?
Since Dickens & Christie, the dog and cat in my books, are important characters, I find myself wanting to include a pet-oriented word in each title.  Hence, the first book was Bells, Tails & Murder and this Halloween themed book is Pumpkins, Paws & Murder with a fall fête central to the plot.

What book is currently on your bedside table?
Love Saves the Day by Gwen Cooper. A friend recommended I read it because a cat tells the story. She wasn’t quite sure she was going to enjoy reading my books where Dickens & Christie converse with their pet parent, but after one book, she was hooked. She went in search of other books where the animals talk or at least write and found Love Saves the Day!
And on my Kindle, next up is The Silent Woman by Terry Lynn Thomas. I’m an Anglophile through and through, so you can almost always find me reading a book set in England. This one is set just before WWII.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
As an avid reader, I love writing the book club scenes included in each of my books.  The chosen book is always in some way connected to the plot and is always a book I’ve read. I enjoy mentioning books throughout my stories, though I must admit I haven’t read every single book I mention—most of them, but not all. Leta, my main character, was an English major and briefly an English teacher before moving on to corporate America, and her best friend Wendy taught high school English for thirty years. It’s only natural that they talk books.  And guess what, I too briefly taught English, and I’m forever talking books with my friends.

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Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?
My friends would tell you it is, that writing has become my full-time second career and that I never really retired. I call it my passion. I find myself going into withdrawal when I don’t write every day.  Fortunately, I continue to write weekly newspaper columns, so when I’m not deep into writing the next book, I can get my fix with a column.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Read!  I must read every night and now that I’m retired I stay up way too late doing that.  When I worked, I made myself turn out the bedside light by ten. Much as I say about Leta in my books, I turn into a pumpkin by that time. And so you know I’m not a complete couch potato, I work out several times a week and walk with my sister too. Times were I rode bicycles with my husband, but his health has taken that activity off the table, and I don’t much enjoy cycling by myself. You’ll notice in my books that Leta rides a bicycle.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
I followed the adage to write what you know, so my pets are the inspiration for the personalities of Dickens & Christie. Banjo and Puddin’ hang out with me in my office—Banjo snoozes at my feet and Puddin’ is either demanding treats by leaping on the desk or she’s snoozing in my desk drawer. As does Dickens, Banjo loves belly rubs and is always scarfing his feline sister’s wet food. Puddin’? She’s a demanding little thing who rules the roost and thinks she “owns” both me and my husband.
Leta, my main character, is a transplanted Atlantan and is Greek. I only wish I were a transplanted Atlantan!  I doubt I’d ever have the gumption to leave friends and family behind and move to England, but I AM Greek. Leta is known among her new British friends for her Greek salad, as I am here among my Atlanta friends. You can find her salad recipe in Book One and two additional Greek recipes in Books Two and Three.
Beyond that, my bucket list trip to England in 2018 inspired the Cotswolds village setting and much of the literary plot for the first book in the series. In book two, the ladies take a trip to Dartmouth and Agatha Christie’s summer home because I’d visited both. One thing leads to another as I research ideas on the internet, and things move along from there.
Because I took yoga for years, there’s a yoga studio in Astonbury and Leta takes a class several times a week. I’ve long had it in the back of my mind to include a yoga retreat in one of my books. I only need to figure out who gets murdered and why! This idea could show up in book five. You never know.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our first “Holiday Author”! I know I have. And I’m now in the mood to start reading holiday books.

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Don’t forget, you can get my books at a discount when you buy direct from my website. And to help you start start preparing for the holidays, check out the cute designs below!

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