Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Currently Reading...

I'm continuing to read Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry. I'm absolutely loving the first book of the Witch City Mystery series. Lee Barrett is back in her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, living once again with the aunt who raised her. Instead of the television reporter job she thought she would get, Lee winds up as the late night scary movie host-who also happens to be a call in psychic. When Lee finds the murdered body of the previous movie host she also uncovers something about her past...and a latent ability resurfaces. As Lee gets to know her new coworkers, she discovers they may not be who they seem to be. Is there anyone she can trust? Who is the reversed King of Cups? I can't wait to find out!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Spooktacular Time with Laura Childs

I'm thrilled to be able to welcome Laura Childs back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Gossamer Ghost is the 12th book in her Scrapbooking Mystery series and was just released October 7th.

Kathy: Gossamer Ghost takes place around Halloween. Do you enjoy all things spooky? Do you like to decorate for Halloween?

LC: Halloween is probably one of my favorite holidays. I have lots of little tchotchkes of goblins and witches that I bring out, and my husband has a full size, hand-carved Day of the Dead statue named Senor Muerte.

Kathy: There are tons of Halloween events occurring in New Orleans and it seems as if Carmela is attending all of them! I don’t know how she finds the time or strength. If you had the opportunity would you attend all of the events?

LC: Oh yes, I’d love to get my haunt on in New Orleans. They have witches runs, vampire cams, Krewe of Boo parade, the Endless Night Vampire Ball, and no less than six haunted houses. And everybody dresses up and tosses beads. It’s almost a mini Mardi Gras.

Kathy: If you could only attend one of the Halloween events that Carmela attends, which one would you pick? For me, I think it would have to be the Ghost Train!

LC: The Ghost Train in GOSSAMER GHOST is fictional, but I think it would be a riot to rumble along toward downtown with everybody partying and hanging out the windows!

Kathy: Death masks are an interesting, if somewhat macabre, tradition. I’ve seen a few in person and admit that I don’t quite “get it.” Have you seen any death masks? Would you want your own made?

LC: I’ve seen them in European museums and my roommate and I made them in college for an art class. We used Vaseline, plastic wrap and plaster. What a sticky mess – but it worked!

Kathy: What would you say is your most indispensible scrapbooking tool? Could it be used as a murder weapon?

LC: Maybe my X-Acto knife. And since it’s razor sharp and pointed, I think it would be extremely deadly if applied to a victim’s throat.

Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Carmela?

LC: The next Scrapbooking Mystery is Parchment & Old Lace. Carmela discovers a murdered bride-to-be in St. Louis Cemetery and gets pulled into helping solve her death.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

LC: Scorched Eggs, my new Cackleberry Club Mystery, will be out December 2. And Ming Tea Murder, my new Tea Shop Mystery, will be out in May.

This or That:

Kathy: Library or Bookstore?

LC: Mmn, that’s a hard one. Probably bookstore by a hair.

Kathy: Editing or Marketing?

LC: I spent twenty years at the CEO of a marketing firm, so I think it would be pretty easy to step back into that role.

Kathy: TV or Film?

LC: I’ve authored screenplays so I’d have to say film.

Kathy: Chocolate or Vanilla?

LC: Chocolate – the dark master.

Kathy: Mountains or Beach?

LC: Beach. The Hamptons are fun, so’s the Caribbean. Bali is nice but hot!

Kathy: Tea or Coffee?

LC: This is practically a no brainer for somebody who writes the Tea Shop Mysteries! (Tea)

Kathy: Cats or Dogs?

LC: My two Chinese Shar-Peis are eyeing me suspiciously right now, so . . . dogs.

Kathy: Summer or Winter?

LC: Living in Minnesota? I will definitely choose the warmth of summer.

Kathy: Normal or Paranormal?

LC: Paranormal. I once lived in a seriously haunted house and was able to connect with one of the ghosts.

Kathy: Vampire or Werewolf?

LC: Vampire. I’m much more of a night person and I love a good red wine.


Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries, and a recent recipient of the Romantic Times Book Review’s Award for Best Amateur Sleuth. In her previous life, she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, enjoys fund-raising for various non-profit organizations, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Meet Julie Anne Lindsey & Contest

Please, help me welcome Julie Anne Lindsey to the blog today. Julie writes the Patience Price Mystery series. The third and final book in the series, Murder in Real Time, was released September 29th.

Kathy: Setting is so important, especially in mystery series. How did you choose Chincoteague Island?

JAL: Oh, there was no other choice. I fell in love with Chincoteague when I visited several years ago. I’ve been dreaming of it ever since. I jokingly say I brought part of it home in my soul (and I’m not sure how much of that is a joke). Have you ever visited a place you instinctively didn’t want to leave? Like a piece of you connected with the location somehow? That was my experience on the island. I’ve set many stories there, trying to relive my visit and reimagine the unbelievable beauty. If you’re looking for a vacation destination, I highly recommend Chincoteague. – but be warned: you might not want to leave and it *might* turn you into a writer.

Kathy: Ghost hunts and other paranormal investigations have become quite popular. How did you decide to add this activity to Murder in Real Time?

JAL: My heroine in this series is Patience Price, who’s never quite lived up to her namesake, so in each story, I try to think up a new way to make her crazy. In book one, I use the high school soul mate who broke her heart (and his mother). In book two, I bring in busloads of birders. In book three, I thought….I bet she hates reality shows. I bet she’d really loathe all their fans and hoopla invading her island. Voila! Irritating Patience is one of my favorite things because she’s amazingly adept at “sucking it up” despite her desire to scream and hose people right off the island. I did it for her.

Kathy: Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had a ghostly encounter? Or witnessed other paranormal activity?

JAL: I don’t believe in ghosts, though I am afraid of everything, including but not limited to my shadow. I’ve never had a ghostly encounter or witnessed any paranormal activity. I do believe that people are unimaginably dangerous and I carry a gun. Just kidding. Not really. *nods*

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JAL: I first fell in love with Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books. Not exactly, “cozy,” but the idea of an amateur female sleuth made me happy. I devoured them and went looking for more. That’s when a librarian told me about cozies. From there, I chose authors like Gemma Halliday and her Spying in High Heels books. My style, I think, is similar to these authors because they’re the ones who speak to me. I prefer shenanigans to dry wit and enjoy a side dish of romance with my laughs. These are the kinds of books that drew me in and they’re the kinds of cozies I look for when I read.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JAL: Yes. I’ve written small town romance and YA (fictions for teens). Becoming an author, for me, has been like any other position in life. It’s a process. There’s growing pains and self-exploration involved. I’m taking time to find my place here, hoping to figure out where my voice is best suited and who I am as an author.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JAL: The one liner Carina Press devised to encapsulate the series reads like this Mayhem, murder and a sexy secret agent follow downsized FBI worker Patience Price when she returns to her sleepy seaside hometown of Chincoteague, Virginia.

One sentence leave out a lot, but it also says so much. I smile a little whenever I read it. Mayhem, murder and Sebastian all follow her home to Chincoteague, then the mayhem and murder never seem to stop. Patience is a bit of a modern day Lucille Ball at times, getting herself into things in the name of curiosity. Her adventures start out reasonable and take a turn she never sees coming. That part’s my doing. *insert proud author smile*

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

JAL: I don’t have a favorite character from my own stories, but my favorite character of all time is Alice from Alice in Wonderland. I’ve been in love with her all my life. Her spunk and curiosity captivated me when I was a child and as an adult, I admire her tenacious, brave nature. She was a bit mouthy for a girl in those days and I love her all the more for speaking her mind despite the time and strange circumstances.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

JAL: Yes. A few things started this series. The first is my obsession with Chincoteague, Virginia. Writing stories on the island helps me revisit whenever I want and I sincerely love that.

The second inspiration for the series is a friend of mine who works at the FBI in HR. I always thought the way people responded to her job was hilarious. They wanted inside secrets about investigations or other dirty details. They never heard the HR part. They heard FBI and went on tangents about their favorite crime shows. I modeled Patience after my friend. She’s a genuinely good-natured, upbeat, delight.

The final inspiration was a song by Katy Perry called The One that Got Away. It’s about a girl wondering “what could have been” in regards to a lost love. I wondered, what if he got away, a decade passed, and he came back? Would she still want him? Would she still be angry he broke her heart? Would she run to him or shove an ice cream in his nose?

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JAL: Six years ago, I saw Twilight and something changed. It was a very random night. I was up nursing a newborn. I was sleep deprived and desperate. Twilight was on Pay Per View. I watched. I was drawn into the world and when I learned it was a book, I read the books. It was the first time I’d read anything like it. In fact, I hadn’t read for pleasure in years. My book shelves had become overcrowded with “How-To” numbers. Be a better wife. A better mother. A better Christian. Reading had become exhausting and defeating. I could never do or be half the things described in those books.

The Twilight stories lurked in my mind, popping up throughout the days as I changed diapers, potty trained my toddler, homeschooled my kindergartener, and I needed to know more about the woman who did this to me. I looked for more information online, and found an interview with the author. As it turned out, she was a stay at home mom, like me. She’d never written a novel before and her degree was in English, not fiction or writing. That was the day I opened a search engine and typed in “how to write a book.” I knew nothing, so I started at the beginning and set a goal to complete an entire novel. I did this in the hopes of getting published one day. I’d never written a novel before and I’ve never written without the goal of publication.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

JAL: Oh, fun! I’d definitely invite Gemma Halliday because I think we could be girlfriends. I’d invite Stephen King because I have so much to learn and he’s the master. If I could talk to him about craft or brainstorm some story plots, I’d be happy forever. I’d love to sit with Emily Dickinson and ask what life was like for her as a writer, in a time when women were thought to have nothing to say and pen names were a must. Was it lonely? Writing can be lonely, even today, with the Internet to connect us. Who did she talk to about things? Writers are already an odd and often misunderstood bunch, I can’t imagine how difficult it was for women writers in that time to find companionship and not sound in need of an asylum.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JAL: I’ve got a Kindle load of books I can’t wait to dig into, but I’m starting with the books coming to (or in) the theatre. I like to read the book before seeing the movie, so I have many to read! For example: Gone Girl, Maze Runner, The Fault in Our Stars, If I Stay, and The Giver are waiting for me right now.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

JAL: Aside from writing and reading (which I do with every free moment throughout my day/week/life), I’m into my shows. I get very involved with the characters I watch on television and I have a list of shows ten miles long that have been on hiatus all summer and I’m dying to get back to ASAP.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

JAL: Milk, cereal, peanut butter & jelly. I have three kids under 12, can you tell?

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

JAL: The Patience Price Mysteries were designed to be a three book miniseries, but I miss the island and may need to see about finding my way back. The characters are real to me and I think about them every day.

I’ve just finished writing the first in a new series similar to this one. These books are under contract as A Geek Girl’s Guide to Murder, but the title will be changed once the publisher begins to prep it. The heroine in my Geek Girl stories is a modern day geek, tech savvy, enjoys comic books and renaissance fairs. She’s a ton of fun and I can’t wait to see her meet readers next year. She’ll put her wit to work and solve some murders. Maybe find love along the way.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

JAL: The best thing about being an author is that I have the privilege to interrupt someone’s crappy day and insert a smile. I try my best to add humor in every chapter of my books. I want to make people smile, give them a small reprieve from the challenges of their life. Unfortunately, my life is small, and I can only cheer up those in my reach. As a writer, my reach becomes unlimited and I love that.


Murder in Real Time

With the chaos of summer tourists and fall birders out of town, counselor Patience Price is looking forward to the quiet life she remembers. She longs for some peace. And an apple fritter. But the calm is cut short when a reality show sets up camp to film a special about ghosts on her little island. Now fans, reporters and crew have flocked to sleepy Chincoteague. Who knew ghost hunters had an entourage?

When two cast members are killed in a room at the local B&B—a room usually occupied by Patience's FBI agent boyfriend, Sebastian—she finds herself on the case. Sebastian doesn't want Patience ruffling any feathers but, as always, she can't help herself.

Patience promises to let Sebastian handle the investigation—he is FBI, after all—but after a drive-by shooting, her wicked curiosity gets the best of her. And with the TV show forging ahead with filming, the list of suspects (and the line of food trucks) only grows. But has the shooter already flown the coop? And how do you find a killer when you don't know who the target is?

Amazon Barnes&Noble Carina Press


About Julie:

Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world.

Murder in Real Time is the conclusion to The Patience Price Mysteries series, from Carina Press.

Learn About Julie at:

Find Me on Facebook!
Read with me on Goodreads
Pin with me on Pinterest
Blogging at Musings from the Slush Pile
Capturing life on Instagram

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Welcome to Goose Pimple Junction

I'd like to welcome Amy Metz to the blog today. Amy writes the Goose Pimple Junction Mystery series. The first, Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction, was re-released on September 6th, 2014.

Kathy: Goose Pimple Junction is quite a unique name for a town. How did you come up with it and why choose it as the setting for your series?

AM: In 1985, I visited a relative who lived in Abingdon, Virginia, and she told me about a nearby town named Goose Pimple Junction. I thought the name was great, and she eventually took me to see it. I took a picture of the real town’s sign, and twenty-seven years later, the artist used it on the cover of the book, although we changed the state to Tennessee. I didn’t want anyone thinking my GPJ was a real town.

I love to laugh, and I knew I wanted my murder mystery to be humorous. There’s nothing humorous about murder or killers, so I made the town and the characters humorous. The name Goose Pimple Junction had stuck with me all those years, and it seemed right for the name of my fictional town. The whackiness of the name perfectly captured the community I was creating.

Kathy: Many mysteries are set the Southern part of the United States and have a special Southern flavor. Aside from being set in the South, what makes a mystery truly Southern?

AM: It’s got to be deep fried and slathered in butter. J Seriously, I’m not sure how to put it into words. There’s a certain tenor, a feel to a Southern book. The South has an undeniable warmth—both in its people and its temperatures! I’m not saying all Southerners are warm and friendly and all Northerners are mean and unpleasant. Not at all. But Southern characters have a particular charm. They’re friendly, laid back, family-oriented, and God-fearing. They speak in a distinct dialect, which tends to make things less serious. There’s nothing particularly Southern about a mystery; it’s the people, the setting, and the feel of the story that makes it uniquely Southern.

Kathy: In Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction Tess begins looking into a 75-year-old murder. How does working to solve a mystery from the past help and/or impede a current investigation?

AM: Mostly, time is the major impediment. All of the evidence and witnesses are long gone—hence the term “cold case.” Tess and Jack had to rely on research. They searched online and found old newspaper articles, and they talked to relatives of the people who were involved in the murder, looking for the slightest memory that might trigger a breakthrough. They had to do a lot of digging to figure out who was the killer.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

AM: I actually didn’t know I’d written a cozy mystery until I submitted the manuscript to a publisher and an editor called it that. Cozies don’t have much, if any, violence or sex, they usually have a woman sleuth, and they’re set in small, socially intimate communities. Often, there is a dog in the story. By those standards, Murder & Mayhem is a cozy. But I stumbled on the genre by accident!

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

AM: I have started writing (but put on hold for the time being) a mystery/thriller and also a chick lit book. I’ve written a semi-autobiographical novel about a mother/daughter relationship and the trials of being a caretaker for a parent with dementia. I’ve also written a children’s book that needs illustration. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish the thriller, publish the novel about my mother, or find an illustrator for my children’s book, but each one of them served a purpose in my writing journey. Here’s a little known fact: I had a poem published in an online magazine. But no, I am not a poet.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

AM: The Goose Pimple Junction series will always have the same characters, with a few new ones thrown in with each new book, but each book will have a different main character. There will always be a murder to solve, a budding relationship, and lots of laughter.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

AM: Well…that’s a tricky question, because I killed off my favorite character in Murder & Mayhem. He was a lot of fun to write, but fate had other plans for him. I don’t really have a favorite, but I do enjoy writing Lou’s lines. Lou is the opposite of me: she’s a take charge, outgoing, loud, sociable person, and she has an encyclopedic knowledge of goosepimpleisms (Southern euphemisms). Plus she owns a bookstore.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

AM: The inspiration for the first book in the series was my family history. The murders that occur in the book actually happened to members of my family in the 1930s. But the root of the goosepimpleisms is my father. He spouted off funny euphemisms all the time. He also told me a lot of stories that are intermingled throughout the books.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

AM: A publisher offered to publish it!

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

AM: I’d invite David Rosenfelt because he’d keep us laughing and I love his work; Robert B. Parker because he’s my favorite author; and Mark Twain and Rick Bragg because they’re Southern, brilliant and funny. Of course, I’d be too intimidated to talk to any of them. If Mark or Robert couldn’t make it, I’d invite Michael Lee West because I wish I could write like she does, and Dennis Hart because I know he would keep us laughing.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

AM: Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

AM: I love photography, and I love turning my pictures into coffee table books. Of course, my favorite subjects are my sons, daughter-in-law, and granddogs, but besides them, I shoot mostly landscapes, trees, flowers, and birds. I really like designing page layouts for the photos I take and producing books with them. I also love to bake—or maybe I just like to eat desserts—in any event I do both—bake and eat. And I love to attend my son’s concerts. He’s majoring in music performance and it’s pure joy to watch him play. It’s a bit harder to do now that he’s in college and the concerts are two hours away instead of twenty minutes, but I wouldn’t miss one.

Kathy: Name 5 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

AM: Chocolate chips, plain M&Ms, peach Joe Tea, Club Cracker Minis, and Pepper Jack cheese.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

AM: Yes, the second book in the Goose Pimple Junction series, Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction, is almost ready for release, and I’m currently writing the third book, Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

AM: I like getting lost in my work. That’s what got me started writing the series, and it’s what makes me continue to write (aside from the fact that I love to write). I escape to Goose Pimple Junction where all the problems are someone else’s and life is good.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Currently Reading...

I'm actually in between books at the moment. I was about to start a new October release, but it had a winter theme and I thought I'd stick with something more in line with Halloween. So I believe I'm going to start reading Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry. This book is the first in the Witch City mystery series and was released just last month.

Lee Barton has returned home to Salem Massachusetts, but instead of "reporter" the only job available is that of a psychic. She reluctantly takes the job and begins to "see" real events. Could she really have psychic abilities? Is her aunt really a practicing witch? It's October in Salem, you never know!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

All Aboard for the Crafty Christmas Tour & Giveaway

Let's get into the Christmas spirit and welcome Mollie Cox Bryan and the Crafty Christmas tour. Mollie writes the Cumberland Creek Mystery series. A Crafty Christmas is the 4th in the series.

Kathy: I love holiday themed books. How did you decide to write one with a Christmas theme and then set it in a non Christmas like location?

MCB: I wanted to explore a bit what the holidays mean to people. You'll notice that while the group is on the ship, some of them are getting quite homesick, longing for a Cumberland Creek Christmas, which is quite opposite from asleep cruise ship in the tropics.

Kathy: When it comes to magazines I know that articles are prepared during opposite seasons-summer issues in the midst of winter and Christmas during the dog days of summer. I imagine its the same with books. You may have worked in some of it during the holiday season, but, odds are you were working on it well after Christmas as well. How did you get in the spirit to write a mystery set at Christmastime?

MCB: I listened to a lot of Christmas music and watched Youtube videos of holiday scenes.

Kathy: The Cumberland Creek gang go on a scrapbooking cruise in A Crafty Christmas. Have you ever gone on a cruise, scrapbooking or otherwise?

MCB: No. Once again, I turned to YouTube for what it's like on a cruise ship. And I researched a lot about cruises online, as well as attend a session at Malice Domestic bout setting mysteries on cruises. I'd LOVE to go on a scrapbook cruise!

Kathy: While I don't scrapbook, I am a card maker and explore other paper arts. Will you share one of your favorite techniques?

MCB: I like layering and tearing paper. You know, giving what's behind a picture some textures and depth. That's a lot of fun to play with until you get the look you want. In fact, "play" sort of sums up my approach to crafting. If we are not having fun with it, why bother? I plan things out only so fares to know I have the right materials and then I just play.

Kathy: What would you say is your most indispensable scrapbooking tool and could it be used as a murder weapon?

MCB: I love my x-acto blade and it could absolutely kill someone, especially if jabbed into an artery.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MCB: I love to read mysteries, not just cozies, and I thought that my scrapbooking theme would work well in the genre.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MCB: Yes, I write romances under another name. I also write nonfiction and have two cookbooks published along with a book of essays, under my own name.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MCB: My Cumberland Creek series centers around the same group of women, who get together to scrapbook, eat, drink, gossip, and solve murders. The series is set in Cumberland Creek, Virginia (a fictional town) in the Shenandoah Valley.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

MCB: It fluctuates. In this particular book, it would be a toss-up between Sheila and Randy. In this book we, really get to know what Sheila is made of--it's really her story. And Randy is a delight. It's our first glimpse of him and I love that he's rebuilding his relationship with his parents.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

MCB: I used to get together pretty regularly with a group of women to scrapbook. As I sat and listened to them sharing stories about their families and lives, stories began to spin.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MCB: I love sharing my stories. Publishing is a great way to do that.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

MCB: This is a tough one! Agatha Christie, William Shakespeare, JK Rowling, Jane Austen.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MCB: Rock, Paper, Tiger by Lisa Brackman. (LOVE it.)

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

MCB: Besides scrapbooking and crafting. I love to read, do Yoga, run, and spend time with my family.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

MCB: Almond milk, Veggie burgers, Constant Comment tea, Salad.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

MCB: I always have a lot of ideas. But I have no specific plans right now, regarding a series. I am working on a standalone right now.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

MCB: The actual writing.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Meet Sheila Webster Boneham & Contest

I'd like to welcome Sheila Webster Boneham to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Sheila writes the Animals in Focus Mystery series. Catwalk is the third in the series and was just released last month. 

Kathy: Janet MacPhail is an animal photographer. I enjoy seeing pictures of my furkids, but they aren't always the most cooperative subjects when it comes to a photo session, at least when I take the pictures. Have you used a professional photographer for your animals?

SWB: Photography has one of my hobbies since my teens. I’ve taken a number of photography courses over the years, and have had a few of my photos hung in photo and art shows. I’m particularly fond of photographing birds, and, of course, my own animals. Still, I’m not a pro, and I don’t have all the snazzy equipment I would like to have.

I have had professional photos taken of my dogs, and I have two friends who are professional animal photographers. I met Cheryl Ertelt of Fort Wayne, Indiana (the setting for my mysteries) while I was trying to sell Drop Dead on Recall, the first Animals in Focus mystery, to a publisher. We both trained at the Fort Wayne Obedience Training Club, and Cheryl took some gorgeous photos of the real Jay and of my Lab, Lily. So that was fun. And I met Helen Peppe, a writer and photographer from Portland, Maine, about two days after the Animals in Focus series was acquired by Midnight Ink. Cheryl and Helen have both answered questions for me and shared some of their experiences, and some of that shows up in the books. It’s a lot of fun when an author starts meeting her characters!

Kathy: In Catwalk, Janet is training her cat, Leo, for his first feline agility trial. I'm familiar with agility for dogs, but I haven't heard of feline agility. I, for one, would love to see that. Have you ever been to a competition?

SWB: Sadly, no, not yet. I hope to get to some in the next few months. I have seen many videos, though, and in fact I’ve written a piece about the sport, with video links. Here are three to give you a taste:

Here’s a dose of cuteness—a kitten beginning to learn about agility on a kitten-sized course-- .

Here are two spectacular clicker-trained agility cats -

Here are some beginners in competition -

Cat shows in general are lots of fun—very different from dog shows!

Kathy: Dog lovers can be partial to certain breeds. While I love all kinds of animals I prefer large mixed breeds when it comes to dogs. I'm drawn to Siberian huskies and German shepherds while my "dream dog" is the Owczarek Podhalanski-the Polish Tatra Sheepdog. The Animals in Focus Mystery series features Australian shepherds and Labrador retrievers. What draws you to these two breeds in particular?

SWB: Let me first say that I, too, love all dogs—purebred, mixed breed, big, small, whatever. I grew up with two Chihuahua, a big mixed breed, a spaniel mix, an Irish Wolfhound, and a Scottish Deerhound, and I brought a cute little mixed breed back from North Africa, where I taught. When the real Jay died in 2012, we adopted an 11.5 year old Golden Retriever from a Golden rescue group in Charlotte. There are many breeds I admire that I might some day want to have in my home, and others that I know would not me a good match for me or my husband. No breed is right for everyone, and I don’t think any person is ideal for all breeds. That said…

First, the Aussie, since that’s the “protagdog” of my series. Like many people, I was first drawn to the Australian Shepherd by the beauty of the breed. Then I met some Aussies and that was that. My first Aussie was a gorgeous red merle named Teddy (UCD Thistleridge Highland Dancer AKC & ASCA CD, CGC, TDInc), and in addition to being an eyeful, he was smart, funny, athletic, and up for anything I wanted to do. In my book The Money Bird, Jay the Aussie participates in water retriever training, and those scenes are based on my Teddy. He LOVED water. Twenty years later, I still love the breed for its beauty, athelticsim, versatility, intelligence, and sense of humor. But they aren’t for everyone! Here’s a recent piece I wrote about Aussies - .

And what’s not to like about Labrador Retrievers? When I was ready for my first “intentionally acquired” dog, I did a lot of research and decided the Lab was for me. My first Lab was a big, goofy field-bred chocolate boy named Raja, and he was my buddy, hiking companion, exercise coach, and best friend. I’ve had a Lab in my life ever since. I love the look of the old-style moderate Lab, their courage and work ethic, their playfulness, and their kindness.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

SWB: I was in a critique group with three writers who were working on cozies, and they were having so much fun that I thought for quite a while about trying to write one. I didn’t think I could make up a story, though—I had always written nonfiction. Then I was driving home from a dog show with Teddy, and the idea for Drop Dead on Recall popped into my head. By the time I got home, I had a good hunk of the plot, the main character, and the title. I didn’t really set out to make it a cozy; it just grew into one!

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

SWB: I do. I recently won the 2014 Prime Number Magazine Award for Creative Nonfiction for an essay I wrote about encounters with different kinds of corvids—crows, magpies, ravens, and others--and I regularly publish essays, short stories, and poems in literary magazines.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

SWB: The Animals in Focus series features Janet MacPhail, a 50-something professional photographer and accidental amateur sleuth. She’s been living a reasonably quiet life in Fort Wayne, Indiana, taking photos of animals, training and showing her dog, and playing with her cat. In Drop Dead on Recall, she witnesses what turns out to be a murder, meets Tom Saunders, an attractive anthropologist, and wrestles with her mother’s advancing dementia. Each book in the series highlights at least one animal activity—canine obedience in book #1, retriever training in #2, The Money Bird, and both canine and feline agility in #3, Catwalk. The mystery in each book hinges on an issue of some sort—breeder ethics in #1, wildlife trafficking in #2, and feral cat colonies, endangered species, and run-away land development in #3. Of course, the other elements of Janet’s life continue through the series too—she has to deal with her mother’s declining health, and her own very mixed feelings about her increasingly serious relationship with Tom. A few of the other series characters have become popular with readers, too. And that includes the animals!

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

SWB: That’s like asking a parent which kid is her favorite! I’ll never tell—I love them all. I will tell you, though, that I get a lot of positive feedback about Janet herself, her quirky neighbor Goldie Sunshine, and fellow dog enthusiast Giselle Swann, who changes book by book. I guess you’ll have to read the books and pick your own favorites!

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

SWB: I’ve been involved with dog sports for two decades, and have had animals all my life. And who doesn’t know some quirky characters? The series just sort of grew out of my love of writing, books, and critters, and my varied experiences.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

SWB: I don’t know that I ever made such a decision. I come from an academic background in which publication is the natural goal. My first publication was in junior high—a poem in a state-wide magazine—and my first adult publications were academic papers (I have a PhD in folklore). Then I moved to writing feature articles for magazines, and in 1998 Alpine Publications published my first nonfiction book about purebred dog rescue. Catwalk is my third mystery but twentieth book.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

SWB: Walt Whitman (poet), Loren Eiseley (essayist and scientist), Jane Austen (novelist), and Agatha Christie (obviously!). Now that should be an interesting dinner!

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

SWB: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

SWB: I think I already have! But in addition to dog sports (especially obedience training and competition, and tracking) and photography, I also love to hike and take long walks, paint (mainly watercolors), and observe people and animals.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

SWB: Milk, pasta, fresh fruit, and carrots. But I confess, I rarely cook. Luckily for me, my husband Roger is an excellent cook. And Lily, my Lab, gets most of the carrots!

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

SWB: I’m working on Animals in Focus #4 right now (it’s scheduled for release in fall 2015). I’m also working on a literary thriller set in Reno, Nevada, and on several nonfiction projects.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

SWB: I’ll tell you two things, because writing is both a solitary and a social pursuit. On the solitary side, I love that I’m always learning something new. In fact, I can get lost in the research—one fascinating thing leads to another, and that’s just delicious. On the social side, I really enjoy meeting readers, whether individually in person or online, or in group events. I particularly enjoy meeting with book groups who have read my book and come with questions and feedback. I always learn a lot from my readers. One place I get lots of feedback is on my Writers & Other Animals Facebook page at

For more information about Sheila Webster Boneham, check out the following links:

Animals in Focus Mysteries:
     Drop Dead on Recall (2012)
     The Money Bird (2013)
     Catwalk (September 2014)
Award-winning nonfiction, including
     Rescue Matters! How to Find, Foster, and Rehome Companion Animals
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