Fate: A Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery (The Witches of Doyle #6)
by Kirsten Weiss
Guest Post by the Author
November Kitchen Witchery
November is a cozy cooking time of year. And even though Jayce Bonheim, the heroine of my cozy witch mystery, Fate, calls herself an earth witch, there’s some definite kitchen witchery in her life as well. She knows that sharing a meal is about more than nutrition – it’s about sharing around a table and all the attendant emotions.
At its most basic, kitchen witchery involves cooking with intention. That could be the intention to heal, the intention to share love and gratitude, or simply the intention to make a delicious meal. It involves slowing down and making cooking a heartfelt meditation rather than a chore.
When Jayce practices kitchen witchery (when she’s not solving crimes and keeping her hometown free from bad mojo), she takes things a step further. She’ll stir clockwise to infuse her intention into whatever she’s cooking (if she lived below the equator, she’d stir counterclockwise).
She’d also choose ingredients which correspond to whatever she was trying to do. For example, chocolate is well known to be associated with love and romance, so cocoa powder in a dinner entrée for a romantic evening would work well. If you’re planning on making candied yams or sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving, those also correspond to love. This would be a good dish for Jayce to infuse with the intention of sharing the love. Pumpkin pie is associated with abundance and healing, and so is that Thanksgiving green bean casserole. When cooking either of those dishes, Jayce might stir in her intention of abundance.
Jayce uses the same basic process when she makes her non-edible coffee hand scrub, that she sells in her coffee shop, Ground.
But in book 6 in the Doyle Witch cozy mysteries, Fate, she’s brewing up more than hand scrub and happiness spells. Jayce is on the trail of a killer. And she must determine how the murderer of a local deputy is connected to a lodge of dark magicians intent on stealing a magical book, in…
Something wicked this way comes…
Witch Jayce Bonheim has spent the last four months waiting for a horde of dark magicians to come to town.
Now, they’ve arrived, embedded in a traveling circus.
And they’re bigger and badder than this ex-party girl could have imagined, wreaking havoc wherever they go.
But when a murder rocks her small town, Jayce must stop the chaos. Walking a tightrope between dark spells and past regrets, can Jayce stop a murderer and stop these magicians from transforming the world forever?
Start reading Fate, book 6 in The Witches of Doyle cozy mystery novels.
This novel is a full-length, witch cozy mystery featuring true-to-life spells in the back of the book, a trio of witchy sisters, and a dash of romance. Though Fate can be read as a standalone, it’s best read in series order. It’s rated PG-13 due to mild language and some romance.
Don’t forget to enter the two giveaways for the book or the entire series below!
Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at kirstenweiss.com
Memories and Murder (A Tourist Trap Mystery) by Lynn Cahoon
Jill runs a bookstore and coffee shop in a small coastal Californian town in Memories and Murder, the tenth entry in the Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. When her partner and aunt, Jackie, unexpectedly calls off her engagement to Harrold, her niece Jill worries that something is wrong. Little does she know how wrong…
Jackie has been a victim of a con before and it appears she is being targeted again. This time someone who says he is her dead husband but in witness protection is asking her for money. If her husband is alive, she obviously can’t marry someone else.
I really enjoyed my first foray into the Tourist Trap mysteries. The relationships in the book are sincere. The mystery had plenty of red herrings and a twisty plot. The denouement was truly surprising! After reading Memories and Murder, I will be reading the prior nine books in the series. 5 stars! It is recommended highly for all cozy mystery fans.
Thanks to Kensington Books, Great Escapes Blog Tours, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter for a free print copy of the book below!
It’s October in South Cove, California, and the locals in the quaint resort seem to be happily pairing off in the lull before the holidays. Everyone, that is, except for Jill Gardner’s elderly aunt, who just dumped her besotted fiancé—and she won’t say why.
When Jill hosts a talk at Coffee, Books, and More on the topic of elder abuse, all that’s really on her mind is lunch. But the topic hits close to home when she discovers Aunt Jackie has been getting mysterious calls. Jill’s certain the caller is a con artist, of course, but her feisty aunt claims to understand this, though she’s still shaken—and Harrold’s still heartbroken. Who’s behind the scam and why was her aunt targeted? When a volunteer from the Senior Project is found murdered, Jill’s detective boyfriend is on the case—and it soon becomes clear no one is safe when a caller from beyond becomes a killer in their midst.
About Lynn Cahoon
Lynn Cahoon is the award-winning author of several New York Times and USA Today bestselling cozy mystery series. The Tourist Trap series is set in central coastal California with six holiday novellas releasing in 2018–2019. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass market paperback. Her newest series, the Farm to Fork mystery series, debuted in 2018. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at www.lynncahoon.com.
Echoes of the Fall is the third in the Earl Marcus series of mysteries set in a mountainous and rural area of North Georgia.
What a way to wake up from a whiskey bender! Dunked headfirst unceremoniously into the river several times. After the third time, Earl Marcus remembered why he was so drunk. He had run over a young man lying in his yard last night when driving buzzed home from the local gin joint.
Earl quickly realizes that the man was already dead before being run over. Earl decides to bury the body and hide the man’s truck rather than call the corrupt sheriff’s office. But he is haunted by the man. Why was he waiting in Earl’s yard? Before hiding the man’s body and truck, Earl found only the man’s phone, a bookmark, and a letter addressed to Joe. Those items lead Earl and his two friends, Ronnie and Rufus, to investigate the mysterious boy’s reform school, Harden School.
Echoes of the Fall is another enthralling mystery in this series. It can be read as a standalone too. The lush descriptions of the locale make you feel like you are riding shotgun in Earl’s truck. Earl’s friendships with Ronnie and blind Rufus feel genuine as does the animosity between Rufus and Ronnie. Earl’s relationship with Mary, so prominent in the last series entry, is now sidelined by her being away from town. Instead, Rufus’ history is revealed including how he went blind. This book is a great atmospheric almost noir-like thriller. It is highly recommended. 4.5 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Suspect in High Heels (High Heels Mysteries) by Gemma Halliday
Suspect in High Heels is the tenth book in the High Heels cozy mystery series.
Maddie is a shoe designer, mom of two-year-old twins, and wife of a police detective. However, she makes time to visit the set of Antiques Extravaganza with her mother, Betty, and her mother’s best friend. While there, Betty is told that her antique hatpin is worthless. Infuriated, Betty lashes out at the appraiser, Peter Carrington. Unfortunately, Peter is soon found dead by hatpin and Betty is the obvious suspect. With no alibi, Maddie is forced to investigate the crime to save her mother from being charged with murder.
The friendships and camaraderie are my favorite part of this series. Betty’s wacky friend is hilarious. The situations that everyone finds themselves in are good for a laugh for sure. Overall, Suspect in High Heels is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours with characters that soon feel like friends. 4 stars!
Thanks to Gemma Halliday Publishing and Great Escape Blog Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaways below to win a $25 Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of the first book in the series, Spying in High Heels!
When Maddie Springer—shoe designer turned amateur sleuth—tags along with her mother to the Antiques Extravaganza road show, the last thing she expects to have to do is pull her mom off of a celebrity appraiser after he calls her prized antique hatpin a phony. But things go from harried to homicide when the same appraiser is found dead just moments later—killed by Mom’s hatpin!
Now not even Maddie’s husband, LAPD Detective Jack Ramirez, can save Mom as the force’s two most bumbling detectives are assigned to the case. As if Maddie doesn’t have enough on her plate, her best friends, Dana and Marco, enlist her help to plan the most over-the-top Hollywood surprise party ever for Dana’s fiancé (who has a little surprise of his own up his sleeve), Maddie’s adorable twin toddlers are always up to no good, and the only thing that can calm her fashion-challenged and suddenly-a-suspect mom down are aura cleansing from her favorite Venice Beach psychic, Mrs. Rosenblatt. Whether they help or hurt, Maddie’s friends assist her in wading through a slew of murder suspects—none of whom are telling the truth and all of whom have ample motive to want the appraiser dead. Was it the frigid business partner with questionable ethics? The clown-collecting fan-turned-stalker? The auction house owner with a grudge? Or was the appraiser’s real business something much more sinister than his TV personality let on…and much more deadly?
Maddie and her eccentric gang of unlikely sleuths are under the gun to find out before the real killer strikes again…and Mom takes the fall!
About Gemma Halliday
Gemma Halliday is the #1 Amazon, New York Times, and USA Today bestselling author of several cozy mystery and suspense thriller novels. Gemma’s books have received numerous awards, including a Golden Heart, two National Reader’s Choice awards, a RONE award for best mystery, and three RITA nominations. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her large, loud, and loving family.
Gemma’s path toward becoming a bestselling author was not a straight line—more like a zigzagging path filled with obstacles! Prior to putting pen to paper, she worked as a film and television actress, a teddy bear importer, a department store administrator, an architect’s assistant, a preschool teacher, a temporary tattoo artist, and a 900 number psychic. Luckily none of these panned out.
The High Heels Mysteries:
#1 Spying in High Heels
#2 Killer in High Heels
#3 Undercover in High Heels
#3.5 Christmas in High Heels (short story)
#4 Alibi in High Heels
#5 Mayhem in High Heels
#5.5 Honeymoon in High Heels (novella)
#5.75 Sweetheart in High Heels (short story)
#6 Fearless in High Heels
#7 Danger in High Heels
#8 Homicide in High Heels
#9 Deadly in High Heels
#10 Suspect in High Heels
#11 Peril in High Heels – coming soon!
Murder at First Pitch: Ball Park Mysteries by Nicole Asselin
Guest Post by the Author
This book is a bit of wish fulfillment for me. A dream would be to work for some sort of baseball team in some sort of facility. Unfortunately, I never got the chance, but I have had some awesome jobs throughout the years including swim teacher, grocery store clerk, and now technical writer for the past 10 years.
One such job that I LOVED was working at my college library all four years of school. Curry College Levin Library was my home away from home during that time. I started out doing work study but ended up working as weekend circulation manager and Interlibrary loan assistant. I remember vividly after one big snowstorm the library was still open and I made the trek across an unplowed school to make sure the library was open for students. It was super quiet (no pun intended), but it was open. My dream was to continue to work in the library field, but unfortunately real life got in the way (and real life bills). I still dream of working at a library or a bookstore. I think most authors have that secret dream.
I recently went back to my old stomping grounds for Homecoming weekend. I returned to my roots at Curry College and brought my newly released book baby on a little field trip to my old stomping grounds. I introduced her to the places I knew and loved during my time there. It wasn’t always peaches and cream, but the library was my safe zone.
The campus itself has undergone MASSIVE changes since I competed my English degree there, but it still feels memorable when I walk across the green. I spent many afternoons and weekends in the library and returned to the circulation desk. I probably scared the poor kids working by asking if I could take a picture of my book there, but I’m a weird debut author. So I hope they understood.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for five copies of the eBook below!
32-year-old Madeline Boucher’s Grandfather instilled a love in the Boston Red Sox into her from an early age and increased that love by purchasing a local Independent League Baseball team, the Abington Armadillos.
After losing her corporate job in Boston, Madeline realizes her best option is to join the family baseball business. As the new “Social Media Director” for the team, Madeline attends her first business function and witnesses an argument between her brother Ben, and a strange man.
A few days later when walking the ballpark during her early morning hours, she finds the body of a man beaten to death with a baseball bat in the Visitor’s Dugout. It was the man her brother was arguing with at the party. Madeline is concerned that her brother would be considered a suspect. Through the local Detectives and Davis – the head of security for the ballpark she learns the victim is Christopher Dailey, a local baseball scout and prior felon.
When her brother is arrested and taken to the police station, she realizes she needs to figure out who the real culprit is, so her brother doesn’t take the fall for something she knows he didn’t do.
About Nicole Asselin
Nicole Asselin grew up a Navy Brat, and spent her formative high school years in the middle of Pennsylvania but always identified with her New England roots. Nicole’s family is originally from Connecticut, and her Grandpa Asselin introduced her into the Red Sox nation where she has been a member for her whole life and her Grandma Asselin introduced her to the world of mystery novels.
Nicole graduated from Curry College in Milton Mass with a degree in English/Creative Writing, minoring in Dance in 2004. She also attended George Mason University and received a Master’s in Arts Management… Now working just outside of Boston as a Technical Writer, she lives on the South Shore of Massachusetts with her three cats Julia, Jacques, and Madeline (no relation to the main character of her book).
Nicole is a current member of Sisters in Crime (National and New England) and the Mystery Writers of America. She sits on the Board of Directors for the NE branches of both groups as Social Media Liaison.
The sister of the Psychic Eye cozy series, Cat, pairs up with the sidekick from the Ghost Hunter Mysteries, Gilley, in the first book in the Life Coach Mysteries, Coached to Death.
Heather is what happens when a bully grows up. She becomes even more vindictive and vicious. After all, what had Cat done other than build her new mansion next door? Heather decides to return the favor by humiliating Cat at a party with all of the East Hampton socialites in attendance.
At least, Cat has a dinner date with the suave Maks, who is also her newest tenant. Plus she has her first client’s messed up life to fix. Unfortunately, when Heather is bashed in the head with the punchbowl that Cat brought to the party, handsome Detective Steve suspects Cat. It could be because Cat threatened to leave Heather “a bloody mess” before storming out.
I’ve read every book in the Ghost Hunter series. My favorite part is Gilley, whose humorous take on life is the best part of any book he is in. It was a sad day for me when he mentioned that M.J. and her new husband, Heath, have given up ghost hunting. However, this new series has the same humor and distinct characters. It’s just missing the paranormal subject matter.
Coached to Death is a good first book in this new cozy mystery series. I believe it is the only cozy exploring life coaching. Also, Cat is a strong female lead with a backstory of starting and running a successful marketing firm. Plus she is rich, which always helps.
Still, the star here is Gilley. He is still fluttery and anxious. But he seems more adult and less frantic with no ghosts to worry about. Of course, his over-the-top humor is always welcome. If you like funny cozy mysteries, you should pick up this book. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Apple Cider Slaying (A Cider Shop Mystery) by Julie Anne Lindsey
Set in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia, Apple Cider Slaying is the first book in the Cider Shop Mystery series. And it’s a great start!
Winnie and her Granny Smythe are trying to save the family orchard by persuading a local banker to fund a loan to open a cider shop in their barn. But when Granny’s nearest, and definitely not dearest, neighbor, Nadine, is found dead in their cider press, the new, and hot, Sheriff Colton states that Granny is suspect number one. Immediately after arriving at the crime scene, the Sheriff says this to Granny,
“You’re free to go, but I’d consider getting a good lawyer.”
Worrying that the Sheriff won’t look further than her Granny, Winnie is determined to prove her Granny’s innocence by finding the real killer.
This book is chockful of descriptions of small town life in rural America. The residents of Blossom Valley are gossipy but also kind and look after one another. You can picture the beautiful fall countryside in your mind easily. It is a wonderful and relaxing escape to a completely different lifestyle for this born and bred Southern Californian.
Winnie is motivated. She is extending the selling season of the orchard by booking fall bus tours to taste samples and have a hay ride to see the property’s inner workings. She also sells her Granny’s jams and pies to the locals and the tourists from their existing fruit stand. To help with expenses, Winnie works as a part-time waitress while attending community college to acquire a business degree. She uses her business education to create a business plan to turn one barn into a cider shop. To do so, Winnie needs to convince local banker, Sherman, to give her a loan. Too bad he was touring the property with her when she found Nadine.
I really enjoyed Apple Cider Slaying. It was a nice relaxing fall evening read visiting Winnie and her friends and family. The Sheriff and Winnie seem to have a mutual attraction that hopefully will grow in subsequent books. Winnie’s method of using local gossip to lead her investigation is innovative. The killer’s identity totally blind-sided me because the clues were carefully hidden among numerous red herrings. If you would like to spend a few hours, saving a family orchard, defending a Granny from murder, and visiting the residents of Blossom Valley, pick up this book. You won’t be disappointed. 5 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget about entering the giveaway for one of five print copies listed below!
Apples are at the core of the family business run by Winona Mae Montgomery and her Granny Smythe. But this year’s crop is unseasonably ripe with murder . . .
ONE ROTTEN APPLE
Blossom Valley, West Virginia, is home to Smythe Orchards, Winnie and her Granny’s beloved twenty-five-acre farm and family business. But any way you slice it, it’s struggling. That’s why they’re trying to drum up business with the “First Annual Christmas at the Orchard,” a good old-fashioned holiday festival with enough delicious draw to satisfy apple-picking locals and cider-loving tourists alike—until the whole endeavor takes a sour turn when the body of Nadine Cooper, Granny’s long-time, grudge-holding nemesis, is found lodged in the apple press. Now, with Granny the number one suspect, Winnie is hard-pressed to prove her innocence before the real killer delivers another murder . .
About Julie Anne Lindsey
Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. When she’s not creating new worlds and organizing the epic adventures of fictional characters, Julie can be found carpooling her three kids around Northeastern Ohio and plotting with her shamelessly enabling friends. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world. Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime.
In Murder Can Mess Up Your Masterpiece, Celeste Cabot, with her Chihuahua Van Gogh, is embarking on a new life as a freelance artist. Living in her tiny bright pink trailer, Celeste has good sales at her first craft fair until she finds the organizer murdered and she is the number one suspect.
Murder Can Mess Up Your Masterpiece but so can her first sales return. The customer says the painting is haunted. Celeste thinks that’s absurd until she sees the ghostly Victorian women from the painting appear that night in her trailer. It couldn’t be her imagination if Van Gogh also saw it too, right?
Celeste has the perfect amount of chutzpah without stupidly stumbling into dumb situations. Handsome potential love interest Caleb is a good match for her—provided he is not the killer. They both are dog people and artists after all. I also enjoyed the ghostly elements. It was fun to have two mysteries to solve. However, I was disappointed that the three female suspects within the fair—Ruth, Shar, and Carly—were not fully fleshed out so I didn’t really care if one of them was the murderer. In addition, the travel trailer tips beginning each chapter were kind of corny. I also felt the mystery was too easy to solve. 3 stars.
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Serf and Turf: A Silicon Valley Mystery by Marc Jedel
How did you get started writing cozy mysteries?
I’ve wanted to write a book forever. For the longest time, it seemed I couldn’t come up with a good plot. Unfortunately for my prospective writing career, I had learned that having a plot is critical for a successful book. One day, I received this awesome birthday drawing from my nieces. And my kids, or nieces, or one of our friends’ kids had done some crazy things. Probably all of the above.
One thing led to another and the idea formed to loosely base a mystery with a self-absorbed, fashion-backward software engineer, his sister, and his nieces on my life. It’s clearly fiction. I mean, I’m not a software engineer. Check out the drawing on my blog (www.marcjedel.com/blog).
After that, the ideas kept flowing so I had characters, plot points, and concepts for more books. Although the books can be read standalone, they share many of the same characters. Serf and Turf, starts the day after Chutes and Ladder ends. And that book took place only about six weeks after book 1, Uncle and Ants, ended.
How do you flesh out the ideas for your books?
Much dog walking is involved. Well, the dog doesn’t seem to contribute all that much dialogue but he’s a good listener. My wife is amazing. She’s taken on an unpaid role as brainstormer-in-chief, but she doesn’t complain often. I also do a lot of outlining. That keeps me from forgetting who killed whom.
Are the anecdotes in the book autobiographical?
A frightening number are based on truth. The escapades of Buddy the Labrador are based on a family friend’s dog. The cat scene in Serf and Turf comes from another friend. And the ice cream truck story that finishes chapter two in Uncle and Ants is completely true, believe it or not. As for the rest, it’s loosely based on reality except where I’ve exaggerated, made it up or falsified my memories to fit the story.
Do you tell a lot of dad jokes?
Well I’ve been a dad myself for a long time so I’ll plead the fifth. Also, it’s not my fault that I did grow up with a master dad joke teller. But, don’t worry about too many stupid jokes in the book. That’s the best part about editors — they keep writers honest. Mine kept saying “that’s funny, but put more focus on the mystery.” Hearing that she thought my writing was funny sure felt good. After the warm and fuzzy feeling wore off, I followed her advice and made sure the story balanced humor with a crisp pace and an interesting mystery.
What’s different about your book from other cozy mysteries?
Besides the author? Well, my book doesn’t take place in a small, seaside town where the main protagonist runs a bakery, bookshop, or bed & breakfast. While I like those cozies as much as the next reader, I find myself getting bored by similar settings and characters over and over. Setting my novel in Silicon Valley allowed me to show a little more of its unique people and environment without delving into boring techno-babble. Many readers write me to tell me which characters they like best and I love that. Some of the recurring and other wacky side characters help and some hinder the protagonist’s progress in solving the cases.
Any last comments?
Serf and Turf, book 3 in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, can be read standalone. All of the books in the series are free for Kindle Unlimited readers. Buy them on Amazon at: amazon.com/gp/product/B07PHNT7XM and watch for the audiobooks of the whole series from Recorded Books coming later this year. For more about my books or me and to sign up to hear about special offers and free chapters, please visit www.marcjedel.com.
For another author interview with the same author for an earlier book in this series, go here.
The third zany mystery in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, Serf and Turf, is here!
Bumbling amateur detective, Marty, once again tries to juggle family, relationships, and work with determining who murdered girls’ soccer coach Gio. It appears that everyone who wasn’t sleeping with Gio hated him. So why does Marty’s girlfriend, Meghan, admire him so much?
The books in the Silicon Valley Mystery series just keep getting better. Serf and Turf is the best so far! It reminds me of early Stephanie Plum mysteries. First, start out with a seemingly simple idea. In this book, it is for Marty to help his girlfriend investigate Gio’s death. After all, Marty is convinced that he is almost a police consultant. Unfortunately, the police don’t appear to agree with him. Second, mix in several odd settings and top with a witty sense of humor. The investigation involves many of Gio’s side hustles—from a science camp to a Renaissance Faire. Both are shown with humor and moments of pure hilarity. Reading this book’s description of the RenFaire inspired me personally to dress as an Irish maiden for Halloween—that is how far into this book I got! Finally, add an unusual family known for their eccentricities. Marty’s sister, two nieces, and their dog are uproariously human–yes, even the dog that has a sweet tooth.
Everyone who loves funny cozy mysteries should pick up this book. It promises to be a great series and this book is a fun ride. 5 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escape Book Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
About Serf and Turf
Serf and Turf: A Silicon Valley Mystery Release Date – October 7, 2019
Print Length – Approximately 200 pages
He’s afraid of losing his girlfriend. But maybe he should be more concerned about the dead body she’s crying over?
Marty Golden can barely string a voicemail message together, let alone keep up with his new love. This quirky uncle’s hectic Silicon Valley lifestyle needs a reboot when a youth league soccer game becomes a murder scene. And nothing can stop him from donning his amateur sleuth uniform when he discovers his sweetheart used to have quite a thing for the dead guy …
With a not-so-helpful paw from Buddy the Labrador, he does his best to sniff out a long list of possible suspects. But between gossipy soccer moms and the costume-clad members of a Renaissance Faire, Marty’s theories fall harder than a jousted knight.
Can Marty solve the case before the trail and his new flame grow cold?
Serf and Turf is the third book in the zany, Silicon Valley cozy mystery series. If you like laugh-out-loud comedy, dorky sleuths, and a festival of old-world fun, then you’ll love Marc Jedel’s humorous murder mystery.
Buy Serf and Turf to sign in to a great mystery today!
About Marc Jedel
For most of my life, I’ve been inventing stories. Some, especially when I was young, involved my sister as the villain. As my sister’s brother for her entire life, I’m highly qualified to tell the tale of this evolving, quirky sibling relationship.
My writing skills were honed in years of marketing leadership positions in Silicon Valley. While my high tech marketing roles involved crafting plenty of fiction, we called these marketing collateral, emails and ads.
The publication of my first novel, Uncle and Ants, gave me permission to claim “author” as my job. And achieving Amazon Best Seller status gave me even better adjectives to use in front of “author.” This has led to way more interesting discussions than answering “marketing.”
My family would tell you that Marty’s character isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination for me, but I’m comfortable with that situation.
Like Marty, I live in Silicon Valley and can’t believe that otherwise normal people would willingly jump out of an airplane and call it fun. Unlike Marty, I have a wonderful wife and a neurotic but sweet, small dog, who is often the first to weigh in on the humor in my writing.
Beware the East Wind (The Mah Jongg Mysteries) by Barbara Barrett
Author Guest Post
The Mysteries of Mah Jongg
I decided to use the game of Mah Jongg as the focus of my first mystery series for two reasons. First, it was a subject with which I had some familiarity since I’d been playing it for over a decade and could, therefore, write with a certain degree of credibility. And second, it was a relatively unknown niche in the cozy mystery market which promised a whole new group of potential readers.
I soon learned that decision came with challenges of its own. The people I’d been playing with over the years offered a rich panorama of personalities to include as either main or secondary characters. However, to keep myself out of legal trouble, and avoid offending anyone, I didn’t feel I could base any one character on a specific person. I had to either use certain traits of one person and mix them with others’ characteristics or use them solely as inspirations of totally original characters. Though I managed to steer clear of legal issues by creating my characters under those restrictions, I also discovered I had some disappointed readers who bought the first book hoping they’d find themselves somewhere on its pages. Go figure.
Another challenge was the subject itself. Mah Jongg has a large and growing base of players. They had been my target when I selected this hook for the series. However, not all Mah Jongg players read mysteries. I had to tap the pocket of cozy mystery fans for sales. But the subject matter didn’t necessarily appeal. Reference to Mah Jongg comes with its own connotations, primarily, the perception it is played mainly by little old ladies and also that it was hard to understand let alone learn how to play. While there’s some truth to both—I could be seen as a little old lady, although I prefer to characterize myself as in my late middle age, and it does take a little time to learn the terms and rules—I didn’t see either as being a huge problem as long as I approached my stories with those in mind.
Admittedly, since my four protagonists are all retired, which could conceivably reinforce the “little old lady” notion, I’ve made all four active seniors, each with her own strengths and foibles. I keep mention of the technicalities of the game to a minimum, usually as simply the backdrop of the opening or closing chapter. The rest of the Mah Jongg theme is setting, and it also has served as the connection to someone involved with the murder. Oh, yes, each title contains a Mah Jongg term.
I spent the first four books in the series “settling into” the format. This summer, I had a chance to expand my horizons when it comes to characterization. The group I usually play with during the summer months decided to decrease from weekly sessions to two a month. With that in mind, I looked for other groups and found two contenders. (I actually found a couple more, but I needed to spend time actually writing, so I limited it to two.)
The first was a group who met at their church. The church actually supported them as one of their outreach activities. Given the surroundings, they didn’t play for money, simply the joy of learning the game and winning. That was a bit of a mental switch for me, although not unheard of as I’d also played for a time with a group that met at the local Y. The church-based group also played for only two hours each session; I was more accustomed to three or more hours. With the shortened time frame and no-money approach, I found I was mainly playing to enjoy the game itself. There’s a lot to be said for that. The competitive urge had to be curbed.
I was most impressed by their friendliness. They were very welcoming, which in my experience, hasn’t always been the case with some groups. They had also worked out a way to determine who played at which table at each session, which prevented factions from forming, although, from my writer’s perspective, that may have reduced my chances of tapping some juicy confrontations.
The second group played in the food court of a local mall. (The way seniors have taken over the malls during daytime hours is a whole article in itself for some future blog.) The setting alone offered potential new aspects for my stories, due to the number of other people in the mall who’d stop by. This group, too, didn’t play for money. They did tend to play a little longer, two and a half to three hours. Unlike the church group, there was no method of picking tablemates; people just sat at place that had openings, although they did attempt to move around whenever there was a winner, who was supposed to move to another table. That happened sometimes but not always.
This group played another version of Mah Jongg, which was why I selected them, so that I could continue playing this version over the summer. However, they radically changed the way the game was played by using Jokers (the wild tiles), which are not typically used in this version of the game. It took me a few weeks to adapt to this style, because it totally changed the strategy. I hope I can devise a way to introduce these features in a future story without getting overly complicated, because they offer rich back story.
How will these two experiences contribute to future stories otherwise? Those threads are still coming together. The main realization I’ve had is not to let my four Mah Jongg-playing protagonists get too comfortable with the game. I need to throw in some curves from time to time to keep it interesting and evolving.
How about you, reader? Have you encountered any new situations with the game that have sharpened your playing ability?
Beware the east wind! It’s hurricane season in Florida, and everyone’s attention is focused on preparing for the latest tempest. But in Serendipity Springs, mah jongg pals Marianne, Sydney, Micki and Kat are caught in a different kind of whirlwind—a mesmerizing murder case involving a slain hypnotist/chef and the woman police suspect of doing her in, her embittered catering partner, Portia.
About the Author
Barbara Barrett started reading mysteries when she was pregnant with her first child to keep her mind off things like her changing body and food cravings. When she’d devoured as many Agatha Christies as she could find, she branched out to English village cozies and Ellery Queen.
Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn’t at her day job as a human resources analyst for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and one novella, she returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.
Bamboozled, the second book in her “Mah Jongg Mystery” series, features four friends who play mah jongg together and share otherwise in each other’s lives. None of the four is based on an actual person. Each is an amalgamation of several mah jongg friends with a lot of Barbara’s imagination thrown in for good measure. The four will continue to appear in future books in the series.
Anticipating the day when she would write her first mystery, she has been a member of the Mystery/Romantic Suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America for over a decade. She credits them with helping her hone her craft.
Barbara is married to the man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.
Meg is helping her Grandfather run Owl Fest 2019 at the Caerphilly Inn at Christmas. When its 200 ornithologist guests are stranded by a snowstorm, one of the most cantankerous and least-loved professors is killed. Time for Meg to step in, with help of her extensive family, to solve the mystery in Owl Be Home for Christmas, the twenty-sixth entry in the Meg Langslow cozy mystery series.
I absolutely love this series. While this entry doesn’t involve the nuclear family dynamic as much as earlier entries, I still love returning to visit Meg’s crazy extended family. The new characters from ornithology were interesting. Each had a real personality and fit well into Meg’s humorous world. The mystery was solid and I enjoyed the twist at the end. Overall, Owl Be Home for Christmas is one of my personal favorites. 5 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
You don’t have to have lived in the 1950s to enjoy The Man that got Away. However, it is eminently easier to understand if you’re from England.
There is a murder, a con man, and a criminal mastermind in Brighton, a beach town on the English coast in1957. Only young Constable Twitten has a chance to solve the crime if his bungling co-workers don’t stop him.
I read many British mysteries. But this series continues to confuse me with Briticisms and product names available only in England. Possibly only in the past. My Kindle dictionary doesn’t even know what they mean. I also don’t like or relate to the bumbling policemen. They have an office cleaner who is really a master criminal. Their chief didn’t notice he was being conned by the local wax museum. Reading The Man that got Away forces the reader to totally suspend disbelief.
While I enjoyed this entry, the second, more than the first, I still believe it was only good—not great. Still the mystery itself was entertaining. Plus I enjoyed the delights and surprises of an English beach town. 3 stars.
Thanks to Bloomsbury USA and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Molded 4 Murder (Sophie Kimball Mystery) by J.C. Eaton
When an acclaimed local potter is killed by suffocation, he is truly Molded 4 Murder.
In Glendale Arizona, Phee is a bookkeeper at Williams Investigations, a private detective firm. One day two acquaintances come in asking for Phee’s help. Someone is stealing small items at their luxurious retirement residence hotel. Tuna cans, yarn, olives, a $5 bill, and an old jar don’t sound like much but it means someone has access to their locked apartments. Phee agrees to look into the thefts. After all, she is a former police officer.
I enjoyed the characters most of all. Phee and her newish boyfriend/co-worker Marshall’s romance is moving forward nicely. You can feel the attraction. The retirees of Sun City West, including Phee’s mother, feel genuine—not generic—too. And who wouldn’t want to pal around with the enterprising Phee for a day or two?
The multitude of mysteries is intriguing too. The twists and turns in the plot allowing all to be unveiled at the conclusion are skillfully created by the author.
If you like your cozy mysteries with a touch of romance and humor, I highly recommend Molded 4 Murder. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
How did you decide on your pen name?
Our pen name is J. C. Eaton. The J.C. are Jim Clapp’s initials and Eaton was his mother’s maiden name. Since Ann writes YA time travel mysteries under her own name, we needed to create one that was strictly for the cozy mysteries we co-author.
Describe your new book in 5 words or less. Over-the-top comic romp!
How do you share writing duties between you?
We do a rough plot together but Jim flushes it out, adding the detail and sequence before turning it over to Ann for the descriptions. We both work on the characters and do the dialogues together. We go back and forth constantly and work in different parts of the house since Ann likes absolute quiet while Jim could write with a full-blown circus in front of him.
Of all the characters in your book, which ones would you kiss, marry, or kill? No fair picking the book’s murder victim to kill. They are already dead so it really would be overkill. Ann would definitely marry Nate Williams, the down-to-earth investigator and Phee’s boss. Hmm, he seems to be a lot like Jim… Jim would probably kiss those adorable blondes at The Madison Senior Living Resort.
Who are your favorite cozy writers and why?
For Ann, Nancy Atherton because she has a unique way of drawing the reader into the setting and not letting go – it’s magical. For Jim, it’s John Lamb because his protagonist is a seasoned detective working in the world of teddy bear artistry and learning as he goes. We both enjoy Agatha Christie, and pet themed cozies such as V.M. Burns, Libby Klein, Bethany Blake, Jody Holford, as well as wine and food themed cozies such as Sarah Fox, Tina Kashian, Vivien Chien, Debra Sennefelder, Jenny Kales, Linda Reilly, and Shari Randall. Ann has a penchant for paranormal cozies and adores Lena Gregory and Carol J. Perry.
What’s coming soon in J.C. Eaton’s world?
Wow! Have we been busy! MURDER AT THE MYSTERY CASTLE, in our Marcie Rayner detective series, just came out last week (Camel Publishing) and will be followed in December, 2019, by SAUVIGONE FOR GOOD, in our Wine Trail Mysteries (Kensington Lyrical). Fans of Sophie Kimball can look forward to DRESSED UP 4 MURDER in late February, 2020 where Streetman, the neurotic Chiweenie, takes center stage.
Also, we will be attending the Tucson Festival of Books on March 14, 15, 2020, in Tucson, Arizona. Ann will be moderating a panel and we’ll be on board for book signings.
Thank you both for taking the time to answer my questions!
Don’t forget to enter the contest for one of three paperback copies of the book below!
Sophie “Phee” Kimball enjoys working as a bookkeeper for a private investigator. If only her mother Harriet could enjoy her retirement at Sun City West in Arizona—instead of constantly getting involved with retirees being prematurely put out to pasture. This time Quentin Dussler, a prominent member of the clay sculpting club, was found dead, clutching a piece of paper scrawled with Phee’s mother’s name.
Terrified she’s been targeted by assassins, Harriet begs Phee to investigate. What Phee uncovers is a complicated scheme that only the most diabolical of murderers would ever devise. And as she chisels away at confusing clues and potential suspects, Phee unearths something far more precious and valuable than she could imagine. Eager for answers, she takes a bold step—placing herself in the crosshairs of a stonefaced killer …
About the Authors
Ann I. Goldfarb
New York native Ann I. Goldfarb spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing as J. C. Eaton, along with her husband, James Clapp, she has authored the Sophie Kimball Mysteries (Kensington) was released in June 2017. In addition, Ann has nine published YA time travel mysteries under her own name. Visit the websites at www.jceatonauthor.com and www.timetravelmysteries.com
James E. Clapp
When James E. Clapp retired as the tasting room manager for a large upstate New York winery, he never imagined he’d be co-authoring cozy mysteries with his wife, Ann I. Goldfarb. His first novel, Booked 4 Murder(Kensington) was released in June 2017. Non-fiction in the form of informational brochures and workshop materials treating the winery industry were his forte along with an extensive background and experience in construction that started with his service in the U.S. Navy and included vocational school classroom teaching.
Here is a quick look at the paranormal cozy mysteries featuring Viola Valentine
A Ghost of a Chance
A Viola Valentine
Mystery Book 1
by Cherie Claire
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
From award-winning novelist Cherie Claire comes
a new paranormal mystery series.
They say there are blessings from Hurricane Katrina. For Viola Valentine of New
Orleans, it was losing her dead-end job and leaving behind a loveless marriage
and an overbearing family.
But the storm also blew open a psychic door. Now she sees ghosts who have died
As she enters her new career as a travel writer, solving mysteries that appear
with apparitions everywhere she goes, the one person she hopes to speak to — her
daughter who died of leukemia years before — continues to elude her.
Every day at dusk, in a small Louisiana town,
the dead emerge from Lorelei Lake. And travel writer Viola Valentine must use
her “gift” of seeing ghosts to rid this town of its apparitions. Viola
struggles not only with the task-at-hand but hopes that this evolving ability
she obtained after Hurricane Katrina will help her reach her beloved
Yet, the more Viola struggles to talk to her departed daughter, the more
frustrated she gets. Plus, it’s 2008, the height of the Great Recession, travel
jobs are hard to come by, and her suffocating family and ex-husband keep making
demands. She takes solace in a new love interest, one who teaches her how to
harness her anger.
In the end, Viola realizes that only love can solve her problems, from ridding
ghosts of lakeside towns to healing a broken heart.
Ghost Town, book two in the Viola Valentine Mystery Series by award-winning
author Cherie Claire.
Award-winning novelist Cherie Claire continues
her paranormal mystery series as travel writer Viola Valentine takes a trek
down the historic Natchez Trace of Mississippi. Traveling with her is an
adventurous heiress who’s been dead since 1860 and a living fellow travel
writer who’s not what he seems. In the end, it’s a showdown between good and
evil, and a bargain made with the devil at the crossroads may be Viola’s final
Book Three in the Viola Valentine Paranormal Mystery Series.
John Valentine left home for a birding
conference and never returned, his family chalking it up to the divorced
father’s mid-life crisis. But when a body is found on the old family homestead,
his daughter Viola must piece together the clues her father left behind. Along
for the ride are her witchy Aunt Mimi, her uptight lawyer sister Portia and her
sometimes ex-husband Thibault Boudreaux, otherwise known as TB. What they
discover on this crazy ghost trip through Texas will be much more than they
anticipated.Ghost Trippin’ continues the story of Viola Valentine, who changes her life
after Hurricane Katrina and follows her dream of being a travel writer. But the
storm also blew open a psychic door and now she sees ghosts who have died by
water. As she travels the South in her new career she must also solve mysteries
that appear with apparitions. But the one person she hopes to speak to — her
daughter who died of leukemia years before — continues to elude her. Or does
In 2005, Hurricane
Katrina uprooted Viola Valentine from her dead-end job and what she deemed
a loveless marriage. Four years later, she and her husband Thibault “TB”
Boudreaux are starting over on a Tennessee houseboat, she is following her dream
as a travel writer and TB finishing school at Smoky Mountain University.But the ghosts of the past continue to hound the couple, infiltrating negative
energy into their peaceful cove. With her family at stake, Vi must learn to
harness her supernatural powers, face her fears and fight the evil that
threatens to unravel them all.Book Five in the Viola Valentine Paranormal Mystery Series.
Cherie Claire grew up
in south Louisiana, with mud between her toes and a rabid love of Mardi Gras
parades. Born in New Orleans and now living in Cajun Country, she couldn’t help
but write about her unique, colorful state.
Cherie is the
award-winning author of several Cajun historical romances and The Cajun Embassy
series of contemporary romances. She’s a Holt Award finalist, a Romantic Times
Reviewer’s Choice Award finalist and received the Louisiana Press Women Book of
the Year. Her latest is a paranormal mystery series featuring ghost sleuth
Viola Valentine of New Orleans.
Better Watch Out (A Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery) by Christina Freeburn
Author Guest Post
Favorite Holiday Reads
By Christina Freeburn
It’s that time of the year, where I start making my list and checking it twice for the newly released and new-to-me holiday books. From November 1 until January 7, I only read novels (and pretty much watch Christmas movies exclusively) set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. There is just something about Christmas themed entertainment that cheers me up and boosts my spirit. I like to immerse myself as much as I can into the holiday season. My love of the Christmas/holiday season was one of the reasons my new series, Merry & Bright Handcrafted mysteries, features a heroine who loves the holiday and has built a crafting business around her love for Christmas.
Since 2011, I have posted holiday reviews on my blog (The Self-Rescue Princess) and I’m going to share with you my Top 10 holiday reads from 2011-2018. I can’t wait to see/read if my list will change for next year. Please comment with some of your favorites or any new holiday books coming out (fiction or non-fiction, children, teen, or adult). I’m not picky when it comes to holiday books, well except I prefer less angsty books and definitely want a happy ending.
Happy Holiday Reading!
My Top 10 Christmas Reads
On Strike for Christmas by Sheila Roberts
Orphaned Hearts by Shawna K. Williams
Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs
Santa’s Sleigh is on its Way to West Virginia by Eric James
Making a list. Merry’s life is Christmas chaos. Her divorce is still in question. She’s behind on crafting orders. Ebenezer is an escape artist. And with one day left, she hasn’t completed the line-up for the annual Christmas parade, thanks to one grinch. Once Merry knows the Christmas secret, she realizes Santa isn’t what’s coming to town.
Checking it twice. Santa’s naughty list, courtesy of Jenna Wilcox, will roll down Main Street with names of residents who deserve a lump of coal in their stocking. Saving the parade won’t be easy, but Merry is up to task. Or so she thinks until she discovers Jenna’s body stashed in Santa’s sack.
Going to find out. As facts are unwrapped, Merry finds the line blurred between who’s naughty and nice. As threats are aimed at her and those she loves, Merry dashes for the truth before the murderer puts her on the naughty list and crosses her off for good.
About Christina Freeburn
Christina Freeburn has always loved books. There was nothing better than picking up a story and being transported to another place. The love of reading evolved into the love of writing and she’s been writing since her teenage years. Her first novel was a 2003 Library of Virginia Literary Award nominee. Her mysteries series, Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery and Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mysteries, are a mix of crafty and crime and feature heroines whose crafting time is interrupted by crime-solving.
Christina served in the US Army and has also worked as a paralegal, librarian, church secretary, and golf shop pro. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, dog, and a rarely seen cat except by those who are afraid and allergic to felines.
Read and Buried: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates
Character Guest Post
Into the Center of the Earth
By Lucy Richardson from the Lighthouse Library Series by Eva Gates
My employment contract says “other duties as assigned”.
I guess descending toward the center of the earth qualifies. Although I’d rather it didn’t.
Let me explain. The Bodie Island Lighthouse, in which our library is situated is old and in need of repair. After a lot of fund-raising (as described in Something Read Something Dead) the library community came up with the needed funds and work began.
Work was well underway and all progressing well when suddenly… it wasn’t.
Deep in the earth at the base of the lighthouse tower, the crew found a tin box. Just a box (thank heavens they didn’t find a skeleton or old bones) but it is a potentially historical relic, after all it wasn’t put there yesterday. So someone from the library had to go down and get it.
Bertie James, our director, refused outright. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her face quite that shade of pale. It seems she’s severely claustrophobic. Who knew?
In her panic. Bertie turned to the closest person, shoved the hard hat at her, and ordered her to descend into the pit in her place
That closest person just happened to be me. Conscious of my interrupted performance review, I reluctantly did as I’d been asked. It wasn’t too awful. I didn’t care for the sense of the earth closing around me, but Zack went ahead of me and we didn’t have too far to go. We got the box and carried it up. Now we’ll all troop into the library to open it and see what we have. It might be quite exciting. We don’t know if the box was deliberately buried there or someone dropped it and didn’t care enough to go in after it.
I only hope whatever it is it doesn’t lead to another murder at the Lighthouse Library.
Don’t forget to read my review of this book here and enter the giveaway for one signed hardcover copy of Read and Buried below!
Librarian Lucy Richardson unearths a mysterious map dating back to the Civil War. But if she can’t crack its code, she may end up read and buried.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library Classic Novel Book Club is reading Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne while workers dig into the earth to repair the Lighthouse Library’s foundations. The digging halts when Lucy pulls a battered tin box containing a Civil War-era diary from the pit. Tucked inside is a hand-drawn map of the Outer Banks accompanied by a page written in an indecipherable code.
The library is overrun by people clamoring to see the artifact. Later that night, Lucy and Connor McNeil find the body of historical society member Jeremy Hughes inside the library. Clearly Jeremy was not the only one who broke into the library–the map and the coded page are missing.
Lucy’s nemesis, Louise Jane McKaughnan, confesses to entering the library after closing to sneak a peek but denies seeing Jeremy–or his killer. When Lucy discovers that fellow-librarian Charlene had a past with Jeremy, she’s forced to do what she vowed not to do–get involved in the case. Meanwhile, the entire library staff and community become obsessed with trying to decode the page. But when the library has a second break in, it becomes clear that someone is determined to solve that code.
About Eva Gates
Made with Repix (http://repix.it)
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than thirty books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea By The Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Year Round Christmas mysteries for Penguin Random House, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series and, as Eva Gates, the Lighthouse Library books for Crooked Lane.
Vicki is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It crime writing festival. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.