New Year, New Beginning #3

VERENA DELUCA

https://www.aconitecafe.com/verenadeluca

https:..www.amazon.com/stores/Verena-DeLuca/author/BO8778FGD1

Verena spends her time homeschooling her artistic daughter, walking the nature trails around her Texas home. She is the owner, with her partner, of the Aconite Cafe, a publishing company. A true coffee lover, Verena is the author of A Fresh Brew: A Dragon Cozy Mystery. She also wires the Hill Country Mysterys, Dusty Paws Mysteries and is part of the Cozy Mystery Tribe Anthology books.

Forty, foxy, and fond of forensics.
Moving back to my old stopping grounds came with more trouble than I bargained for. I left my investigation agency back in Fort Worth to start over free from stress.

This is the first book in a series. The third book is planned to be released in February 2023 with another 2—3 books to release during 2023.

Who is your protagonist?
Blair Warren is a 43-year-old go-getter—or she used to be. Once upon a time, she had a dream to bring every cheater to justice. To give every woman the confidence they needed to leave relationships that were harboring their dreams. But that was before a heavy hitter in Dallas ran a slander campaign against her agency. Now she is living a small-town life she never wanted and trying to put back the broken pieces of her own confidence.

Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world?
Blair’s story takes place in modern day Kingsland, Texas. While the events, places and people of Blair’s story are fiction, the town is a very real tourist trap that fans of the series can visit for themselves. Like with all of Verena’s books, Blair lives in the same universe as the Hill Country Mystery series, even making pop in over appearances there.

Is your book part of a series? If so, tell us about the series.
Murder in LBJ Cove is a part of the Firedrake Investigation series. Throughout these books, we will follow Blair as she solves murders with her friends in Kingsland, Texas.

What has happened to propel your character into a “new beginning”?
In a prequal story, Cheated into Retirement, Blair is forced to leave a life she built from scratch.
For as long as she could remember, all she ever wanted was a successful P.I. business deep in the bustle of city life. She had it all, living the dream she worked hard to make a reality, but one case, one lie, one scorned spouse blew it all up.
Within less than a year, she found herself back home, living in the small town she ran from trying to find a new balance in a life she never asked for.

Is your protagonist happy about this new beginning or resistant to it? 
For the first time in her life, Blair is lost without a passion to drive her forward. When she lived in Dallas, a stable relationship, or a group of friends were not things she desired. At first, all she wants is to wake up from the nightmare and have everything back to the way it was.
She finds herself working in a job that is the furthest away from investigation she can be—a bakery—trying her best to hide from the realities of her new life. But a passion is a passion, and throughout Murder in LBJ Cove she discovers there’s more to investigating than just cheaters.

Give the readers a hint of what’s to come for your character in future books.
When we meet up with Blair in Murder in LBJ Cove, she is broken and humbled by her experiences in Dallas. The smear campaign against her hit her harder than she ever thought it would and she can’t imagine ever going back to investigation again.
But over the first few books, we’ll watch as each case gives her a little bit of her confidence back. She’ll discover how much of a blessing that tragedy was and find out what she really wants for her life. From friendship to romance, Blair is going to do a 180 on her life goals and discover that there is happiness on the other side.

Victoria LK Williams

Day 11b of 25 Days of Christmas Books

Patti Larsen

https://pattilarsen.com/home

https://facebook.com/authorpattilarsen

When retired Guild Artemis Inquisitor Georgia Drake is invited to go home for the holidays after her self-imposed exile to Whitewitch Island, her choice is complicated by a murder that entangles her in local politics. But should she poke her nose in where it’s not wanted to help her normal friend or is her past and the mystery of her old enemy more important?

Where/when is your book set?
Quaint and quiet (and deadly!) Whitewitch Island lies off the coast of California.

Who is your main character?
Retired Guild Artemis Inquisitor Georgia Drake

Why is Christmas so important to the story or you?
This is the sixth installment in Georgia’s series so far and leads her toward answers she’s been asking about her past since book one!

Victoria LK Williams

Day 11 of 25 Days of Christmas Books

Benedict Brown

www.benedictbrown.net

www.facebook.com/benedictbrownauthor

A company of famous actors throw a Christmas party in an ancient mansion on a snowbound English moor. When an uninvited stranger stirs up trouble in the house, bodies start to fall. Secrets, scandal and rivalries come to light but will renowned detective Lord Edgington solve the case in time for Christmas Day? A warm-hearted and witty 1920s mystery with twists, charm and plenty of Christmas spirit.

Where/when is your book set?
Each book in my 1920s series, “Lord Edgington Investigates…” is set in a different beautiful part of Great Britain. This one takes place on Dartmoor in the southwest of England during Christmas, 1926. Dartmoor was also the setting for “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and Agatha Christie’s “The Sittaford Mystery”

Who is your main character?
My detective is a seventy-five-year-old lord who was previously a police superintendent. With his well-meaning grandson Christopher, who narrates the books, he uses his skills, experience and impressive brainpower to solve the murders and mysteries they come across.

Why is Christmas so important to the story or you?
This is my third Christmas novel in as many years (I also have a Christmassy novella) and I have always been obsessed with the season. I started writing Christmas stories for my family as presents every year when I was a teenager and, two decades later, I’m finally making my living as a full-time writer. I go crazy at Christmastime, attempting to recreate the magical memories of my childhood for my own four-year-old daughter, Amelie. She thinks I’m very silly, but likes all the cakes, lights and decorations I spend a month organising.

Vicctoria LK Williams

Day 9 of 25 Days of Christmas Books

Kathy Manos Penn

The halls are decked with holly. But can anyone be jolly when a precious pet vanishes without a trace? The Yuletide cheer turns sour when Leta Parker’s delightful doggo Dickens dashes out the door with a canine companion and doesn’t return. Can Leta and her team of Little Old Ladies unravel the Christmas caper in time to make the season merry and bright?

Where/when is your book set?
This cozy animal mystery is set in modern times in a Cotswolds village.

Who is your main character?
Leta Petkas Parker, the main character, is a fifty-something widow from Atlanta who retires to the Cotswolds with her two precious pets. She describes herself as a work in progress–making new friends and making her way.

Why is Christmas so important to the story or you?
It’s all about the memories. The  Christmas decorations and music I describe in the book all exist in my life. Pulling out my ornaments and collection of stuffed animals is a joyful trip down memory lane. Like me, Leta has a crocheted tree topper made by a loved one, and she listens to Christmas tunes from all eras of her life. Whether it’s Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, or more recent artists like Mannheim Steamroller, the tunes put a smile on my face and hers. For Leta, it can be bittersweet because she’s simultaneously thinking of her late husband and taking a big step with a new man in her life. I’d leave the tree up for months if it were up to me, and I’m pretty sure Leta would too.

Victoria LK Williams

Day 6 of 25 Days of Christmas Books

Julia Koty

https://www.juliakoty.com/

https://www.facebook.com/JuliaKotyAuthor

Mira is supposed to be cooking the Christmas Eve dinner, but there’s a missing Santa and he must be found before her sister arrives for the lighting ceremony.

Where/when is your book set?
The story is set in Pleasant Pond, Pennsylvania

Who is your main character?
Mira Michaels

Why is Christmas so important to the story or you?
Christmas is such a magical holiday, writing stories that include all my favorite traditions and foods is so much fun that I do it every single year!

Victoria LK Williams

Day 2b of 25 Days of Christmas Books

Eden Bloom

Eden Bloom (@edenbloomauthor) • Instagram photos and videos

Amazon.com: Eden Bloom: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

Santiago and Ripple have been best friends for their entire lives, so when she needs a fake fiancé, he’s more than happy to help her out. What neither of them expect is for a fake relationship to spark real feelings with the magic of the holidays…

Where/when is your book set?
The fictional small town of Misty Falls, on an island in WA state.

Who is your main character?
Santiago & Ripple

Why is Christmas so important to the story or you?
The whole town comes to life with the Christmas spirit, and it is during the magical season that the two main characters come to realize that love is what they both really need.

Victoria LK Williams

Day 1 of 25 Days of Christmas Books

Meet Adriana Licio

Reader Magnet: https://adrianalicio.com/murderclub/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianalicio.mystery

In this 3 short story collection Christmas cheer abounds and snow falls all around as Etta and Dora, our sexagenarian amateur detectives and their lovable canine overlord snuggle down next to warm fires, puzzling over twists and turns a-plenty, enjoying songs, humour and friendships old and new. 

  Where/when is your book set?
The three stories are set in Italy, from Tuscany to Venice to Vipiteno in the Alps, stumbling across mystery, mayhem and possibly even a murder or two…

  Who is your main character?
I actually have a whole trio, two retired teachers from Southern Italy and one lovably stubborn Basset Hound, they feature regularly in “The Homeswappers Mysteries” series. 

  Why is Christmas so important to the story or you?
In this collection, one story is dedicated to Halloween (the one set in Tuscany), and two to Christmas. Being Italian, Christmas is such an important tradition, whether you are religious or not. It is the time when families get together, when children anxiously wait for Santa Klaus to appear at their door. It’s time to sing for carols; search to buy (or make) presents for family and friends; cook traditional food but mostly to let go of daily grind and embracing giving and togetherness…

In mysteries that I read or write, I love the juxtaposition of Good and Evil, and never as during Christmas time, the two come in such vivid contrast. Spoiler: I love challenging quests but mostly happy endings!

Victoria LK Williams

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