Meet the Mysterious Ava Mallory

Ava Mallory

I hope you are starting to catch the holiday buzz. I know I am! (Hallmark, bring it on)
Ava is next on our list of authors that have written a Christmas Cozy for the Anthology, Clues, Christmas Trees and Corpses

Rebel Without a Claus            by Ava Mallory

Traveling nurse Mercy Mares is looking forward to spending a quiet holiday season at home. Unfortunately, her favorite curmudgeon and former neighbor has volunteered her to help with the annual Christmas Jamboree.

Within hours of learning she has been pegged to play Mrs. Claus with her least favorite person reprising his role as Jolly Old St. Nick. After a heated exchange at a committee meaning, Franklin “Claus” McGee vanishes, and all eyes are on her.

Mercy prides herself on being able to think on her feet, but will those skills help her locate Santa Claus and clear her name before anything else goes horribly wrong?

What quirky Christmas tradition does your character do every year?

Mercy and Nubbin, her favorite curmudgeon, exchange gifts but in the traditional way. Nubbin will deny it if asked. He doesn’t want people to know he’s a softy and Mercy doesn’t want to embarrass him with a big show, so they hide each other’s gifts in odd places. The gifts he gives her leave her scratching her head. They’re odd things at first but as time passes, she comes to understand why he gave it to her. For instance, one year he gave her a box of nails. He hid them in her winter coat. While she was following clues to catch a thief, the suspect caught on to her. She searched her coat pocket for her phone and found the gift-wrapped box of nails. She sprinkled them all over the floor. The suspect stepped on them and injured his foot. He stopped chasing her. That’s a great gift!

What was your favorite or most memorable gift as a child?

My grandmother gave us new handmade blankets for Christmas every year. I still many of them. Those that became tattered, I used to make quilts for my kids.

Can you share an enticing (50 words or less) snippet that isn’t in the blurb?

“So what if he falls asleep every five minutes! Let him do what he wants. As long as he’s not bothering you, what difference does it make?” Nubbin asked. “But he’s in my bathroom. On my toilet. Sans pants.” Nubbin shrugged. “Hmm, you’re right. You should do something about that.”

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

My answer always raises eyebrows, but here goes… My favorite Christmas movie is Remember the Night starring Fred MacMurry and Barbara Stanwyck. I believe it’s from the 30s or 40s. It has everything: crime, comedy, redemption, and heartache. (I’m a classic movie buff.)

How does this story connect with your other books or series? This is a companion novella to my longest cozy series – the Mercy Mares Mysteries. It features Nubbin, a fan favorite, and my favorite amateur sleuth.

It’s my turn, and that’s just ackward!

Victoria LK Williams

The Toy Puzzle by Victoria LK Williams

The toys are gone!

All the toys the town has gathered for the local toy drive have disappeared without a clue. Leigh-Ann sets out to catch a thief and make sure the kids have a merry Christmas. Clues and gossip are easy to find at the Tattletale Café!

What quirky Christmas tradition does your character do every year?

Since this series is set in Florida, Christmas looks different than the pretty snow-covered postcard pictures. And that also means the activities are a bit different too. Two of the traditions Leigh-Ann looks forward to are parades; one is a boat parade and the other a golf cart parade. The boat/golfcarts are decorated for the holidays and in the evening, they join in the appropriate parade to show off and compete for first prize.

What was your favourite or most memorable gift you got as a child?

A barbie fashion show. What I remember most is we were not home in NY for Christmas; we had come to FL to visit my aunt and uncle. My brother and I were so scared Santa wouldn’t find us! But he did (we even got a telegram from Santa to tell us to be good and he would be there on Christmas eve). But back to the gift-I can remember my dad and uncle spending hours on Christmas day putting it together and hearing some rather nasty words about Barbie and all her stuff! But they finally got it together-and it lasted about half an hour before falling apart!

Can you share an enticing (50 words or less) snippet that isn’t in the blurb?

Liz and Nora looked at each other. It was clear they hadn’t thought beyond the fact that the toys were stolen. But on instinct, they both began making plans for what needed to be done next. These women weren’t the head of committees for nothing. They spent the next few moments making notes and plans for how they could start collecting toys so that not all the children would go without. But while their thoughts were going on how to be constructive and replace the missing toys, my thoughts went down a different path. I wondered what could be done to find the missing toys and bring the heartless person to justice.

What’s your favourite Christmas movie?

I have to cheat! I have loved How the Grinch stole Christmas since I was a kid. For me that was the official start of the holiday season. My son loved it too (year-round-you’d never believe how many times I read that story to him! My new favorite is The Christmas Train. It is a new one, Hallmark I believe, taken from the book of the same title by David Baldacci.

How does this story connect with your other books or series? This story is the first of 6 novellas in the Tattletale Café Series. Like all my cozies, it takes place in South Florida, USA.

Click to pre-order your copy. Don’t forget, the book isn’t available after January 1st, 2022

Meet My Co-Authors!! part 2

It’s October first and that means in one month, Clues, Christmas Trees and Corpses will be available for purchase. But I won’t wait…it’s on pre-order now. And after January the book goes away, so don’t miss out.

Need some more incentive to add this Cozy Mystery Anthology to your reading list? Then lets get on with the introductions! Here are the next ten authors and a short blurb about their stories. In random order, let me introduce you to…

The Secret Santa Mystery                                            by R.B. Marshall

Security expert for a British bank by day, horse trainer at night, Izzy Paterson is a multi-tasking, dressage-riding computer whiz with an addiction to strong coffee and a penchant for CSI on Netflix. So when the Secret Santa at her office Christmas party hands her a perplexing riddle, she just can’t ignore the mystery.

Claus of Death                                                             by Moira Bates

Deep in the heart of Texas, where mayhem and mysteries roam—spend the holidays with the people of Baseless. Julia Jane Melvin is forty-something and fierce, and she’s throwing the party of the year in an attempt to get Baseless on the map—literally. She’s even hired “Santa to the Stars,” Ike Cumberland of Muleshoe, Texas. Poppy Price is a rising food-star, so she easily won the bid to cater. People come from miles around for her creations—and she is best friends with Julia’s son—no one else would do. When they promise attendees it will be an evening to remember, they mean it.

Poison and Poinsettias                                                by Aubrey Elle

Instead of enjoining a quiet off-season, Madis Harrah and her landscapers arrange a holiday plant sale just before Christmas. As if that’s not enough chaos, her best friends are due to marry in the old conservatory at the estate. Flowers are delivered, and as Madis and her crew store them near the wedding site, they realize Zarsettia’s Poinsettias has brought something else along—a dead body! Someone has poisoned the owner of the poinsettia farm, and all three employees are suspects. Is there a chance Madis can figure out who the killer is before the Christmas wedding plans come undone?

Malbec and Mistletoe                                                   by Daisy Linh

It’s been a long 12 months for Jasmine Mai, but Christmas is looming, and nothing’s going to ruin the party she’s had planned at her winery, Simpatico Wine Estate. So when her groundskeeper collapses in the middle of her cooking class and is rushed to hospital, closely followed by a slew of other mysterious similar illnesses in the community, something doesn’t feel as Christmas-y as she wishes. While everyone else is juggling Christmas puddings and parties, Jasmine finds herself on a one woman mission to catch what evil is lurking in her town. That is…if it doesn’t catch her first. Join Jasmine in this stand alone Christmas novella set in the world of the Barossa Valley Mysteries and meet the chaotic but loavable charaters who live there.

Peppermint Twist                                                         by Mary B. Barbee

When travel journalist Sophia Adams learns that she has a special Christmas assignment in the small town of Breeze, Washington, she couldn’t be more excited. But after coming close to hitting a young man with her rental car on the way into town, she worries that this might not be the Christmas experience she was expecting.

Convinced that a visit to the Amish bakery the next morning would fix everything, the investigative reporter quickly notices that, despite the delicious treats, there isn’t a whole lot of peace on earth happening in Breeze.

Armed with her camera and pen in hand, Sophia discovers that the small town contains wonderful Christmas lights, spectacular camera shots, edge-of-your-seat action …and a peppermint tea that is simply to die for.

 A Corpse Wrapped in Tinsel                                       by Benedict Brown

When (semi-)famous detective Izzy Palmer is dragged along to a London department store to see Santa by her eccentric best friend, she expects whiny kids and bossy parents, not a dead Mrs Claus wrapped in tinsel. Charged with getting to the truth, Izzy must face off against caroling police officers, the most handsome Father Christmas south of the North Pole and three elves who all claim to be the killer. It’s not the Christmas present she was hoping for, but at least this case comes

The Purloined Poinsettia                                              by Cathy Tully
Christmas is coming, and office manager Larraine Moore is looking forward to her duties on the Decorating Committee at her church when the order of poinsettias is cancelled. Together with her boss, Dr. Susannah Shine, they follow the trail of purloined poinsettias down a candy cane lane of clues that leads to murder.

Rebel Without a Claus                                                  by Ava Mallory

Traveling nurse Mercy Mares is looking forward to spending a quiet holiday season at home. Unfortunately, her favorite curmudgeon and former neighbor has volunteered her to help with the annual Christmas Jamboree.

Within hours of learning she has been pegged to play Mrs. Claus with her least favorite person reprising his role as Jolly Old St. Nick. After a heated exchange at a committee meaning, Franklin “Claus” McGee vanishes, and all eyes are on her.

Mercy prides herself on being able to think on her feet, but will those skills help her locate Santa Claus and clear her name before anything else goes horribly wrong?

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

Carol finds herself at the center of a crime she did not commit in a town she is a stranger to. She must work with the Scrooge-incarnate Chief of Police, Brogan Peterson, to find out who killed William, a storeowner, before anyone else is targeted. Carol is a tough woman, but could her own need for mystery put what is precious to her in the firing line?

The Toy Puzzle                                                            by Victoria LK Williams

The toys are gone! All the toys the town has gathered for the local toy drive have disappeared without a clue. Leigh-Ann sets out to catch a thief and make sure the kids have a merry Christmas. Clues and gossip are easy to find at the Tattletale Café!

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

Keep an eye out for the next post: each of the authors will be answering you and getting to know you.

Victoria LK Williams

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.

Click on picture!

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?’

Click to see book

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.

Click to see book

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 Gilbert

Victoria Gilbert writes mysteries, but she has penned a few science-fiction as well. Her books are wide, published by Crooked Lane Books.

Victoria Gilbert

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
I love traveling, and don’t have one place I would select over all others. I really prefer to explore new places and cultures rather than return to one spot over and over. But based on the list in the question, I would choose the beach.

 Everyone takes a tote bag with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
Water bottle, sunscreen, a couple of books, keys to my timeshare condo, a small bag of salty snacks, hand wipes, a coverup if I get too much sun, my cellphone.

 What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
My Booklover’s B&B series is set in coastal community near Atlantic Beach, NC, so the setting of that series is perfect for a beach read. My Blue Ridge Library Mystery series is set in the mountains, but the stories are full of adventure and fun, and the characters are endearing, so I think they also make for enjoyable beach reads.

NEW RELEASE!!

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting?
Don’t be afraid to experiment with new genres or age group classifications. I started out writing YA fantasy and scifi, and had books published in those genres. But after some issues with a former publisher, I switched gears and have ended up having a much more successful career writing in the adult mystery genre I wouldn’t have known I had that capability unless I had experimented with writing in a new genre and age category.

So I always say, if you find your career derailed or stalled, maybe try writing something different!

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve completed 13 novels. Nine are published, two are permanently shelved, one was pubbed but is now out-of-print, and one is written but won’t be released until Dec. 2021. I also have four more books under contract for release in 2022, 2023, and 2024.

I don’t have a favorite. That would be like having a favorite child!

What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?
There will definitely be one more book (bk 3) in the Booklover’s B&B series and one more (bk. 7) in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series. After that, who knows? That’s up to my publisher (based on popularity and sales of the previous books).I also have a new series, the Hunter & Clewe Mysteries. Those books don’t release until 2023 and 2024, but you can read more about them here: HUNTER AND CLEWE MYSTERIES (victoriagilbertmysteries.com)

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
I always have a multitude of ideas. The question is whether they are marketable or not.

My most recent idea involves a 30-something art historian and her first cousin who discover that their barely known, recently deceased, grandfather was an art thief. They attempt to return the stolen art pieces without involving the authorities, which of course results in adventure and shenanigans!

Do you have a library membership?
Of course! I worked as a professional librarian for over thirty years, so libraries are a major part of my life. I’ve been a research librarian, reference librarian, and a library director for a performing and visual arts university. Libraries and librarians are also featured in many of my books.

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid of failure – give it a try and start a lot earlier! Although I always loved writing, I didn’t actually complete a novel until I was 56, and I was 58 before my first book was published. But I have made up some of the time by writing 13 novels over the last nine years. (But I still wish I’d started sooner).

Books by Victoria

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Victoria. I have read several of your books, and I’m a fan! Keep an eye out for her newest release, Renewed for Murder, to be released on December 7th.

Victoria LK Williams

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

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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!