Welcome to 25 Days of Christmas Books

I am so thrilled to bring to you 25 days of Christmas Books. All new releases for 2022 and by authors you will recognize. Most are Cozy Mysteries, but there are a few Romance and Paranormal as well. There are even a few anthologies. Each of these authors has answered a few questions for you about their holiday writing and, of course, you find the links to their books.

I hope you will find plenty of stories to stock up on and read-they are so good you can read any time, and re-read next year too.

Merry Christmas and Ho-Ho-Happy Reading!

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Kassandra Lamb

In her youth, Kassandra Lamb had two great passions—psychology and writing. Advised that writers need day jobs and being partial to eating, she studied psychology. Now retired from a career as a psychotherapist—which taught her much about resilience, perseverance, and the healing power of laughter—she spends most of her time in an alternate universe populated by her fictional characters. The portal to this universe (aka her computer) is located in northern Florida where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her.

Be sure to follow Kassandra on all her social media links (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, BookBub and Amazon) and visit her website. She also has a blog to read.

Lord of the Fleas While staying with her best friend in Williston, Florida, service dog trainer Marcia Banks wants only to spoil her godchildren and train her newest dog’s veteran owner, a vendor at the local flea market. But when the flea market’s owner is killed, her client becomes a prime suspect. She believes he’s innocent, but soon finds that the flea market is hiding dangerous secrets.

To Kill a Labrador; Marcia (pronounced Mar-see-a, not Marsha) has an unusual name and a rather abnormal vocation, training service dogs for military veterans with PTSD, and an even more abnormal avocation—amateur sleuth (Note: no dogs die in this series).

Now let’s ask a few questions…

Why did you choose to set your story at this time of year?

This story, Lord of the Fleas, is about a disable military veteran who is a vendor at a flea market. The story was inspired by a friend who lives near a flea market. We love to go there in the autumn to find unusual Christmas presents.

Is your book part of a series? Who is the protagonist and where is it set?

This book is part of a series set in central Florida. The protagonist is a service dog trainer who trains dogs for military veterans, to help with both psychological and physical issues.

Does your book focus on the season, or is it more of a backdrop?

The season is more the backdrop for this story, but there are several books in the series that focus on specific holidays—Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and July 4th, plus I have a new book coming out in a few months that focuses on New Year’s Eve and Day. I love writing holiday books!

This story happens to conclude on Thanksgiving, with a family feast!

How much research do you do to create your story?

I’ve had to research a lot of things for this series, including dog training techniques and the tasks that service dogs do, plus military ranks, protocol, etc. and different kinds of injuries. It’s been a fun series to write and I’ve learned a lot.

Victoria LK Williams

Fall Cozies!

There is that quiet time between the fun and randiness of Halloween and the excitement and anticipation of Christmas that somehow seems to get lost in all the noise. Fall, Autumn, Thanksgiving. But writers don’t forget, and I have some special books to bring your way for this sweet season of peace and reflection by several of my author friends. I hope you will enjoy them.

Lets start with Cathy Tully’s Chiro Cozy Mystery books; Misallignment and Murder & Fixation & Fraud.

Cathy has been featured in the blog before- her books are that good! You can follow her on Facebook, check out her Website and follow her series on Amazon.

Why did you choose to set your story at this time of year? When I started the series, I had thought about doing stories focused around holidays. I didn’t realize how POPULAR holiday cozy mysteries really were. The first one, Dr. Shine Cracks the Case was set at the Fourth of July. My sleuth, like me, is a chiropractor in a small town in Georgia. And also like me, the main character, Dr. Susannah Shine, isn’t from the town she lives in. She doesn’t come home to inherit a business. She starts one in a place and really loves, but she’s also a bit of a ‘fish out of water’. Her friends and her staff have to keep her grounded Southern traditions. I wrote Dr. Shine Cracks the Case after a decade in practice, where we actually were a part of the local business group and attended their festivals as a vendor to meet new people. What luck, right? I also had no idea how common it was to see plots that included local-festivals-run-by-the-business-group in cozies, especially the culinary cozies. I set that one on the Fourth of July because I wanted to have fireworks and watermelon at the festival. LOL. Our local festival was the weekend before Memorial Day. That just didn’t sound as good! So I moved it.

Anyway, after that, I asked myself what holiday comes next? My birthday didn’t count, so the next was Halloween, and then Thanksgiving. Since my cozies have a lot of humor and a lot of eating, both were no-brainers, even without mentioning pumpkin spice!

Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world? The second in the series, Misalignment and Murder, is set at Halloween. My series is a contemporary series, set in small-town Georgia, so it features a murder at a school Fall Festival. Like my Sleuth, Dr. Susannah Shine, I grew up in New York and fall festivals were not the big deal that they are here, so it was fun to write that scene where there are big bales of hay, games and a dunking tank! After that, Dr. Shine and her side-kick, Bitsy Long, find clues at a haunted house run by local teens, a civil war era cemetery and a Halloween costume contest for dogs and their owners, where Bitsy has entered a Bassett hound dressed as Sherlock Holmes—deerstalker cap and all. The third in the series, Fixation and Fraud, is set at Thanksgiving and features a murder that happens in the pecan orchard of Bitsy’s family, who owns a small farm. The investigation takes place around Thanksgiving and part of the plot is a dessert contest among Bitsy’s cousins and it includes dessert recipes, one of which–Double Chocolate Pecan Pie–I will be using this Thanksgiving. My mysteries also involve animals (non-talking), like Dr. Susannah’s office cat and her pal Henry the Betta fish. This book introduces a stray dog and a potbellied pig who become part of the team.

Who is your protagonist?
My protagonist is Dr. Susannah Shine, a former NYPD transit police officer, turned chiropractor. One of my best friend’s growing up on Long Island became a New York City Transit Police officer, so that bit of backstory I took from her life. I became a chiropractor and landed in a small Georgia town after chiropractic school, so that part is from my life. Everything attached to those backstories is made up, of course. The stories usually start in the office and then Dr. Shine and her staff (Larraine, her office manager and Tina, her assistant) and Bitsy follow the clues. These women have each other’s backs, and Dr. Susannah depends on them. They call themselves the Ladies Crime Solving Club, and they like to get together over meals to hash out the clues.

Is your book part of a series? If so, you tell us about the series.
The books are part of a series which is inspired by my life moving from NY to GA for chiropractic school and then opening a chiropractic practice in a small Georgia town which had peach orchards. There has been a lot of development in the decades since I moved here, and the peach orchards are sadly all gone, but they still exist in the novels, and in the name I chose for my small town, Peach Grove.

Does your book focus on the season, or is it more of a backdrop?
I guess it’s more of a backdrop. My series is not paranormal, so no one is talking to ghosts at Halloween. And in Misalignment & Murder, even though Apollo the Basset hound finds a clue, he doesn’t talk either. Fixation and Fraud happens between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so the season is more of a backdrop in that one also. But with my Christmas Novella, the Purloined Poinsettia, I made more of an effort to focus on the Christmas Season.

How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books?
It depends. A couple of my mysteries have poisoning as a subplot. In my education as a chiropractor, I’ve taken many classes on human physiology, nutrition and herbal medicine. So the transition to poisoning a character was fairly easy!

For The Halloween mystery, I had a lot of fun researching canine Halloween costumes! My original idea was a dog dressed as a hot dog, because, hilarious. Right? But then a couples costume with the dog as Sherlock Holmes seemed even better. For the Purloined Poinsettia, I spent a lot of time researching (if by researching you mean Googling images of) ugly Christmas sweaters. I own a few of those myself, so that was really eye opening. Some are in questionable taste!

For me, I’m very inspired by real life, especially things that have a lot of history behind them. For example, in the next town over from where I actually live, there is this old building that was a Feed & Seed store. I was only in it once as a Feed & Seed, and then it closed. Well, the building remained, and I would pass it every time I went to that town. When I began to write Misalignment & Murder, I decided that building would be a good place to put a haunted house. So I used the physical store as a template for the haunted house in the story, though everything about the haunted house and the cemetery behind it comes from my imagination.

A Word From Cathy; I enjoy writing seasonal stories because it adds flavor and texture to the plot. The characters all react differently to different holidays depending on their family history and their own likes and dislikes, so it’s a way to continue to explore the characters along with remembering what the temperature should be! LOL!

Victoria LK Williams

Boo! Meet Ileana Munoz Renfroe

Meet my fellow Sister In Crime member! I’m thrilled to introduce you to Ileana’s newest book and series, The Wisterious Witch; Wisterious Bay Cozy Paranormal Mystery. Ileana was born in Cuba, but grew up in New York City’s Washington Heights. (This is also the setting for her Rosa the Cuban Psychic Mystery series). Ileana loves to travel, read, and listen to music. You can find all her books on Amazon. You can find out more about Ileana on these sites:

Ileana Renfroe

RenfroesReadingRoom

Holiday Corner

Books Available

Twitter

Instagram

FB Author Page

Cozy Mystery Village

Now lets find out more about the Wisterious Witch….

What type of witch do you write (think Bewitch, Sabrina, Charmed, Hocus Pocus)?
That’s a good question Victoria. My main character, Alicia Whimblebright, is a combination of Bewitch and Hocus Pocus. She’s wholesome, with a hint of wacky sprinkled on making her a fun-loving character.

Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world?
The story is set in the fictitious town of Wisterious Bay during the month of October. The streets are adorned with skeleton garlands, orange twinkling lights, and Halloween props. 

Who is your protagonist?
My protagonist is Alicia Whimblebright. She’s in her mid-thirties, of Cuban descent, excited about her new ideas for the coming year, and overall satisfied with her life. That is until precisely at seven-thirty on the third of October.

Has she/he always known they were a witch? How did they discover their power?
Alicia grew up in a family of witches. Her mother was a witch as were her Tias. 

What sets your mysteries apart from other paranormal cozies?
My paranormal cozy mystery has elements of my Cuban culture which are unique. For the most part, my novels are somewhat bilingual as they include words both in English and Spanish throughout the dialogue. In addition, you’ll notice the quality of my main character’s voice, her tone, and, of course, several of her idioms.

How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books? Or your story pure fantasy?
For all of my stories, I conduct some form of research. For A Wisterious Witch, I searched used bookstores for books, as well as the internet for anything related to Wiccan beliefs, spells, and beliefs. I even spoke to someone who believes in all things paranormal. 

Also, in this story, there is some fantasy as Alicia creates magical candles that are activated when lit by a witch or warlock. That obviously doesn’t happen in real life, although how interesting it would be if it did?

Do you feel the crimes committed in paranormal cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy?
Sometimes the crimes portrayed in paranormal cozy mysteries are different, especially if the murder weapon is a spell or a hex delivered by a witch or warlock. However, in my novel, the murder weapon is something you’d find in any household.

One more thing to keep in mind. A Wisterious Witch, not only has a wacky and fun-loving protagonist, but there’s also Felix, the talking skeleton, and Augustus, the banished reaper. They only come to life at night and boy, are they a hoot.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!!

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Sara Rosett

First off, a big thank you to Sara. She took time out of her vacation to answer our questions and send her infermation to me. But that’s how Sara is, giving back to the writing community. This is apparent when you listen to her podcast too. She hosts Mystery Books Podcast an the Wish I’d known then podcast with Jami Albright.

Sara is a native Texan, and her years as a military spouse gave her plenty of material to use in her books. Sara writes the Ellie Avery series, On the Run series, Murder on Location and High Society Lady Detective series. You can find her on InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterestGoodreads, or BingeBooks. Be sure to visit her website to explore all her books.

Let’s find out more about Sara’s Historical Cozy Mysteries…

What made you decide to write a Historical Cozy?
I love escaping to a simpler time when there weren’t cell phones or 24-hour news cycles. And for the mystery aspect of writing historical cozies it makes my sleuth, Olive Belgrave, rely on her “little grey cells,” as Poirot would say, since forensic investigation was in its infancy.

Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world?
The High Society Lady Detective series is set in the early 1920s. The first book, Murder at Archly Manor, takes place in 1923 in London. During the series, Olive solves cases in grand London townhouses and at stately homes in the English countryside. In the future, she’ll do some international travel too!

Who is your protagonist? Tell us a bit about them and why they were chosen.
Olive Belgrave is a young woman with an aristocratic background, but her family doesn’t have much money (something many genteel families faced in the 1920s) but she’s determined to make her own way in the world. However, her lack of business skills such as shorthand and touch-typing means she has a hard time finding work. But then her aunt asks for Olive’s help in checking into the background of her daughter’s suitor. Olive’s intuition and determination mean that she doesn’t give up her pursuit of the truth, even when a murder occurs. Once she sorts the truth from the lies, Olive realizes she’s fallen into work she’s uniquely suited for. Her connections with the upper crust, who are often reluctant to consult a private detective, give her a client base of people who are eager to engage a discreet “lady sleuth” when problems arise.

What sets your mysteries apart from other cozies?
I love research and sprinkle interesting details about historical people and events throughout my books. Often a tiny detail becomes a plot point or even the basis for a book. Setting and sense of place are also important to me. I love to create a vivid setting that lets the reader experience the place as if they were there. And, last but certainly not least, I love a good puzzle and try to make every mystery twisty and surprising. 

How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books?
I read lots of books about the 1920s and include details that I think are interesting or that spark an idea for a plot or red herring. For instance, when I learned that people who had asthma during the time period were often “treated” with cigarettes containing herbs, including atropine, well, that had to go in a book!

Do you feel the crimes committed in historical cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy?
No, I don’t think the crimes are different, but the motives are. Things that wouldn’t cause any distress today could be a motive for murder one hundred years ago. For instance, having a child out of wedlock would have been a scandal in the early 1920s. Even divorce wasn’t so common then. Situations like these could be motives for murder, which would be a stretch in a contemporary cozy. 

A big thank you to Sara and all the wonderful Historical Cozy Mystery authors who were so gracious to let me ask a few questions to share with you. This ends the series on Historical Cozy Mysteries. But hang onto your brooms! Our next series is about those Witchy Writers!

Victoria LK Williams

Catherine Coles, Historical Cozy Mysteries

Catherine has always wanted to be a writer, and after working a wide range of jobs, from legal secretary to family law practitioner and everything in-between. But now she is a full time author! She writes the Tommy and Evelyn Christie Mysteries and the Martha Miller Cozy Mysteries. Catherine has give all of her links to connect, and I hope you’ll check them out. I was honor to work with her on our Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders anthology where she worked behind the scenes on our prize pack. Here are her Links;

Website: https://catherinecoles.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatherineColesAuthor

FB readers group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/329269528445295

Twitter: https://twitter.com/catherinecoles

Insta:  https://www.instagram.com/catherinecolesauthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1446626.Catherine_Coles

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/catherine-coles

Newsletter: https://view.flodesk.com/pages/62f2969f85187de9a5503d04

Buy link: https://books2read.com/ap/xqjE9z/Catherine-Coles

Lets hear Catherine’s answers…

What made you decide to write a Historical Cozy?
In May 2020 I was locked down in my home with my two teenagers (during the first major Covid lockdown in the UK) and I’d started writing again. Years earlier I had written category romance books (self-published) and naturally started writing in the same genre again during lockdown as I was desperate to do something to pass the time! However, my daughter suggested I try to write a crime book because I was always watching crime/mystery programmes on the TV, and I’ve always been a big fan of Agatha Christie books. In fact, whenever I feel as though I need comfort TV, I turn to the BBC adaptations of the Miss Marple books with Joan Hickson. At the same time, I was re-watching Downton Abbey from series 1 and thought it would be really cool to create a series that was a bit of a mishmash of the two programmes. So, in that very roundabout way, I decided that I would write a historical cozy.

Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world?

My Tommy & Evelyn Christie mysteries are set in the 1920s with the family being based in North Yorkshire, England though the characters have also got around a bit – in that series I have mysteries set in London, India, and a book planned for Ireland.


My Martha Miller mysteries are set in the 1940s in the Berkshire, England countryside.

Who is your protagonist? Tell us a bit about them and why they were chosen.
When I decided to write a cozy mystery, I first wrote out a family tree (I do still have this if you want to show it as a photo) so I could keep straight who was who in the large family! I also did this to make sure I was clear on how my main character inherited his title. Tommy served as a police officer prior to his time in the Army during WW1 – at that time he was 4th or 5th in line to the title so there were no constraints on his choices. Evelyn wanted to be a police officer but could not because she was a woman. Although she was allowed to join up during the war, she was only permitted to do very low level tasks. During the books she fulfills her wish to investigate crimes and is every bit as involved as her husband despite the prevailing social expectations of her during that era. I chose a couple as my main characters as I wanted to have them both investigating and interviewing suspects on their own. They then meet up to discuss what they have found out and plan their way forward. This means the reader gets to see everything that happens through the eyes of the characters and can keep up with their thought processes throughout the books.

I was asked to write a second series by my publishers, Boldwood Books, and came up with the protagonist Martha Miller. She was abandoned by her husband and managed to make ends meet by taking in her glamourous younger sister, Ruby, as a lodger and by selling and trading the food she grows in her garden. Despite popular village belief, her missing husband, Stan, is not underneath her potato patch! Martha starts off as a rather mousy, subservient character but really comes into her own when she pairs up with the dishy village vicar to investigate crimes!

What sets your mysteries apart from other cozies?
The things that readers tell me over and over is how much they love my characters – especially the irrepressible Aunt Em in the Tommy & Evelyn series and the dogs that also feature strongly through both series (Gordon Setters in the Tommy & Evelyn books and an Irish Setter in the Martha Miller series).

How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books?
Lots! Probably too much is the answer. I read books set in that era, watch as many TV shows set in similar time periods, and any research books I can find that include information on what it was like to live in England during those times – including social, political, fashion, pop culture etc. However, all that research did not stop me including a fridge in my first Martha Miller mystery – you can bet reviewers quickly told me how bad my research was when they read that!!

Do you feel the crimes committed in historical cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy?
I think the crimes are probably the same: strangling, shooting, stabbing, hit over the head, etc. but the reasoning behind the crime is often very different. For instance, when I researched the motives in the Miss Marple books, I found the same ones again and again: love, money/greed, secret, revenge. Whilst I think those motives are also present in a contemporary cozy, the character’s reasoning is usually very different – ie people will kill to keep secrets in the 1920s that they wouldn’t care about being uncovered in modern times.

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Colette Clark, historical cozy mystery author

Colette Clark, author

Colette Clark started her literary career as a legal research librarian-isn’t that perfect for writing historical crime/mysteries? She loves crime shows, crossword puzzles and traveling. A true creative, she works on art quilts, drawing and sampling the weird cocktails on the menu. Colette writes the Penelope Banks Murder Mysteries, and you can follow her on BookBub, Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.

Let’s find out more about Colette’s books, I think you’re going to love her main character, Penelope Banks, background!

 What made you decide to write a Historical Cozy?
I was a history major in college and have always been interested in the subject. As a reference librarian for my day job, it makes it easy to find resources and research. Since mysteries are my favorite genre to read, it just made sense to combine the two. In fact, I’ve begun including portions of my research as author’s notes in the back of my books.

Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world?
I picked the 1920s New York (though next year, my protagonist will do a little world traveling) since it’s such a fascinating period of change, especially for women. I know most mysteries of this period take place in the UK, but I’m in love with New York and think that era is particularly exciting for that location, what with Prohibition, the mob, jazz, flappers, the Harlem Renaissance, etc. I also enjoy witnessing the transition through my protagonist’s eyes. When she was a child, horse-drawn vehicles were still the norm and electricity was still a new-fangled thing. Now, cars are taking over and electricity is the norm in a lot of areas. She’s very much a modern woman.

 Who is your protagonist? Tell us a bit about them and why they were chosen.
Her name is Penelope Banks. She’s a former wealthy socialite who was cut off and spent the three years prior to the start of my series gambling at cards in speakeasies and clubs for extra money. I wanted her to be exposed to and familiar with the various inhabitants of New York, not just the wealthy and privileged set of her past, but people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, socio-economic status, races, “proclivities,” careers, and yes, the criminal element as well. For the most part, they all play a role in each book. However, in her new occupation as a private investigator, she is still learning as she goes. For example, she eventually learns to use a gun, drive a car (there’s a fun bit in one of my books about being a New Yorker and never having learned to drive a car–which is still a thing today), and educating herself about local and world politics. Think Miss Fisher, before she became the great and worldly Miss Fisher.

What sets your mysteries apart from other cozies?
Other than taking place in New York, I really like to incorporate actual history into my stories. For example, the fight over extending Park Avenue and the reasons behind it, the Asian Exclusion Act, the Black and Tan clubs of Greenwich Village, the true history of specific cocktails and slang words. Sometimes they play a major role in the story. Sometimes they are little Easter eggs, like law students off-handedly discussing the Scopes Trial (from the play, Inherit the Wind) the way we might debate Roe vs. Wade today. I still like to keep things cozy, but I can’t help inserting real and sometimes controversial history into each of my books.

 How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books?
Quite a bit! Thank goodness for the internet, but I also take full advantage of being in the city where my stories take place. The Brooklyn Public Library is my second home. I’ve also learned quite a bit from the various tours the city offers, where I learn so many weird and wonderful facts. A Murder in Washington Square came about because of one of these tours, in fact. QUITE the interesting history there! I found the most ridiculous quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald that lead to A Murder in the Gardens. I’ve even visited a few authentic speakeasies–strictly for research purposes, of course. 😉 But seriously, research is one of my favorite parts of writing these books.

 Do you feel the crimes committed in historical cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy?
Not really. Anyone who has ever traveled soon realizes that at our essence, humans are more alike than we are different. Time hasn’t changed that, and motives like jealousy, greed, anger, etc. remain the same. The only difference is laws and social norms that made means and opportunity easier or more difficult. Guns and dangerous substances weren’t quite as regulated back then. It was also easier to disappear in 1920s before Social Security came about, and when many people’s only record of birth was a name in the family Bible (like my own grandmother!). 

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Lynn Morrison

Lynn writes both nonfiction (How to Be Published and How to Market Your Book) and fiction. Her series include Oxford Key Mysteries, Cleo’s Midlife Series, Stakes & Spells Mysteries. She also writes  The Nomad Mom Diary. Lynn follows on simple question in her quest to create her delightful cozy mysteries; What IF… then she lets her imagination take her and her readers on some amazing adventures. Find out more about Lynn by visiting her website or following her on Facebook.

Click to go to book

A dead chef, a ruined gala, and the ghosts didn’t see a thing!
Natalie’s newfound magical abilities might be the only thing that can save her dream job at Oxford from turning into a nightmare. But only if she figures out who murdered St Margaret’s famed chef in time to save the autumn gala.

Now, lets find out what Lynn has to say about her Love-Kissed Cozy!

Which is more important to your book, the mystery or the love story?
The mystery always sits front and center in my stories. I start by asking myself who’s dead, who might have done it, and how will my sleuth solve the mystery. Once I’ve got the mystery in place, I turn to a secondary focus on character development. Romance is central to helping my sleuth change and grow. The love interest can bring out the best and the worst in my sleuth, and can act as a foil when she gets carried away. I also like to leverage the romance to provide some light-hearted comic relief.

What type of love story plays out in your book—friends to love, enemy to love, instant love, or something else?
I wanted a romance which would slowly build over the series. In Murder at St Margaret (book 1 in the series), I played up the enemies to friends trope. Natalie (my sleuth) and Edward (her love interest) couldn’t be more different if they tried. They get off on the wrong foot and every subsequent interaction only seems to make it worse. And yet, they can’t stop turning to each other – there is a clear flame of interest, even if they haven’t realized it. The first four books in my series span a year in time, which gave me plenty of room to let the relationship grow at a pace which feels very natural. Watching the pair go from adversaries to grudging respect to admiration and finally love makes for a lovely arc over the course of the series.

Does the love element cause problems for your protagonist?
Absolutely! My sleuth Natalie discovers she has a magical connection to Oxford – one which is kept a secret for obvious reasons. With ghosts and supernatural creatures forming a key part of her sleuthing team, she is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to explaining how she uncovers some of her clues. The love aspect adds another level of complexity. She wants Edward, her love interest, to respect and admire her… and telling him that a ghost told her isn’t going to help!
Edward encounters problems as well. He knows Natalie is hiding something from him, but what is it? He has to battle his own inner doubts. The pair have to take that leap of faith in deciding whether to proceed with a relationship or not, before the truth can be shared. That they do is testament to the power of love.

What comes first, the plot or characters?
Character first, always! I start with my main character and a setting, and then build the rest of the world around them. In this case, I started with Natalie, mulling over her identity, history, and interests until I had a clear picture of her in my mind. The setting was key – why was she coming to Oxford, what made this particular job so special to her, and what would being in Oxford allow her to do/think/feel. When I could see a natural progression for her character, I began plotting the books.

Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Although my book is set in the modern day, it has turned out to be equally popular with fans of historical mysteries. This is no accident! For each book in the series, I researched the real history of the college where the book is set, and loosely based my magical Eternals on people from the college archives.
This blend of historical facts and magical fiction fits perfectly within my setting of Oxford University. Oxford is a magical place, where historic halls sit side-by-side with modern shops and restaurants. When you walk through the streets and alleyways, it feels entirely possible that you could meet a ghost or a cheeky wyvern around the next corner. When I set out to write my books, I made sure I wove strands of past and present into the stories, so readers could feel what it is really like to live in Oxford.

Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.
Although I’ve lived in Oxford, England for nearly a decade, and in Europe for almost 14 years, I am American. Oddly enough, I grew up in Oxford, Mississippi, and somehow ended up living in Oxford, England. I have been the fish out of water many times in my life. Those experiences proved to be very useful when writing cozy mysteries. While I’ve never stumbled across a dead body, I do know what it is like to walk into a strange place where everything seems topsy turvy.

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Rimmy London

Picture
Rimmy London

The temperatures have dropped (even in FLORIDA!) and the wind is howling. Perfect for snuggling up with a blanket and a good book. A love-kissed cozy mystery in fact. And this next author has just the book.

Seaside Inn Mystery, book 1

Rimmy writes the Seaside Inn Mystery series, Mondello Beach Mystery series and sweet romance. She grew up in Northern California, with an imagination inspired by nature; the coast and the redwood forest. Maybe thats why you’ll find a strong heroine and “critters” in her cozies. To find out more, be sure to sign up for her newsletter at www.rimmylondon.com . And follow this author on Facebook at FB page @rimmylondon.

Let’s ask a few questions…

Which is more important to your book, the mystery or the love story?

They both are so important! But I have to say the mystery comes first. I need the reader to be sucked into the quest of figuring out what happened, and then the love story is a delightful bonus. J

What type of love story plays out in your book—friends to love, enemy to love, instant love, or something else?

The Secret of Poppyridge Cove has a beautiful story of an established couple who goes through a rocky time when one wants to follow their dream, but not the other. It pulls them apart, but only for a time. They find their way back to each other.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I live in a beautiful area where I can ride my horse down a little dirt road next to a creek behind my house. It’s definitely one of my favorite things, as well as any time I can spend with my husband and five kids. Game nights are so much fun.

I hope you are enjoying this series of author interviews. We have ten more to go, finishing at Valentine’s Day!

Until next time, keep warm and snuggle up with a good book,

Victoria LK Williams

Meet John D. Ottini

John writes mostly short stories that fall within the mystery or suspense genre. His books can be found on Kindle and in the Kindle Unlimited program. You can check out his stories and find out more on the links below.

Amazon Authors Central: Amazon.com: John D. Ottini: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

My Personal Author Blog: John D. Ottini – Author | Stories of Mystery, Suspense and More (wordpress.com)

Author Facebook Page: John Ottini Novels – Home | Facebook

A word from John;
I have always disliked books that doddle on and on with long descriptive passages, having little to do with moving the story forward. You won’t find that in my books, I’m more in tune with the late great detective/mystery novelist Robert Parker’s style of writing, where the story is told through fast and witty dialog.
Another aspect of my writing is to incorporate a number of twists and turns along the way, so as to keep you guessing until the end of the story. If you figure out whodunnit before the end of the book, then I haven’t done my job.
If these are the type of mystery, suspense, or thriller books you find pleasure in reading then I think you will enjoy reading my stories.

Click picture to go to book!

What is your favorite holiday/season (fall, Halloween, winter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s)?
Christmas is without a doubt my favorite holiday and time of the year. I’m a spiritual person, so Christmas and the birth of Jesus holds a special place in my heart. But even if I wasn’t a believer, I’d still find the Christmas season and the spirit of love and goodwill it brings to all who embrace it a very special time of the year. A time of forgiveness, a time for reflection, a time of love, a time for sharing, a time for giving, and a feeling of goodwill towards all our fellow brothers and sisters.

Is there a special way you celebrate the holidays?
I like to celebrate it with my family and friends. I enjoy giving gifts, more than receiving them, and I love to go Christmas caroling door to door, even though I’m not a particularly good singer.  I’m also not ashamed to admit that my wife and I love watching all the (sometimes hokey) movies presented on The Hallmark Channel during the Christmas season. 

Do you write holiday or seasonal books? If so, please give an example
I’ve written one holiday book, A Very Furry Christmas: Holiday Cat Tales, and that was done under special circumstances. I’d published a couple of books of mystery and suspense fiction stories prior to writing A Very Furry Christmas, which were well received by a slowly growing audience.

A good friend and colleague who read my first few books said, “I love your stories, but why can’t you write something with a happy ending?”
I laughed. “The stories were about people behaving badly. People behaving badly don’t normally see happy endings. There are consequences to their actions and those consequences aren’t usually positive ones.”
She understood what I meant, but the seed of her discontent was planted in my head.
That’s what made me decide to write more positive and inspiring stories. It all started with A Very Furry Christmas which is a book filled with stories about the mutual love and relationships shared between humans and their feline friends. The stories are heartfelt, and all have happy and inspiring endings. I’m proud to say that it’s become one of my best-selling books to date.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’d be lying if I said I did. I always enjoyed reading and I remember dabbling in fiction and poetry writing during my years in college, but I never took writing seriously until later in life. Once I’d gotten my career in Cartography, and later Geographic Information Systems (computer mapping) out of my system, I finally began writing fictional short stories and taking the idea of writing more seriously. It also helped that Amazon Kindle and their publishing arm, Kindle Direct Publishing came into being, making it easier for aspiring writers like me to find an audience.  

What comes first, the plot or characters?
For me it is the plot first, then the characters. I like to plan out the beginning, middle, and ending of the plot before I even begin writing a single word. I base the characters and their strengths and weaknesses around the needs of the plot.

What books or authors have most influenced your writing?
The late great detective/mystery novelist Robert Parker was a great influence on my style of writing. I was always fascinated by his ability to tell his stories using fast and witty dialog while avoiding long descriptive paragraphs and disruptive flashbacks. The reader was never bored and always in the moment while reading one of his books. His stories flowed smoothly from start to finish. That’s what I try to achieve in my writing.
I also admire the writing styles of short story writers like Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, and Ray Bradbury for their ability to incorporate unexpected twists and turns, and surprise endings into their works… something I try to emulate in my writing.  

If you could only have one season, what would it be?
Although it’s not something we get to enjoy down here in Florida, Autumn has always been my favorite season. I still have vivid memories of walking to my first day of elementary school on a cool Canadian Autumn morning. I remember my Mom making me wear my jacket to stay warm, and I recall the feeling that summer was on its way out and old man winter was on the horizon. The excitement of a new school year and seeing my friends again was only matched by the feeling that Christmas was right around the corner.
Ah! Yes, I still remember the promise of Autumn.

How did you come up with the title?
There are two things I do when I’m trying the come up with a title for my next book. First, I try to choose a word that best describes the theme of my novel or stories, and then I incorporate it into the title. Next, I do a search through Amazon’s website to make sure that the title I chose is unique and has never been used before.
I know! It’s really that simple, and that complicated!  LOL!

Thank you John for taking the time to share a bit of your writing live with us! Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season.