Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dreaming with Mary Kennedy & Giveaway

I am so very happy to welcome Mary Kennedy to the blog today. Mary and I are kindred spirits and I can't wait for you to learn more about her! Mary has a new mystery series coming out, the Dream Club Mystery series. The first, Nightmares Can Be Murder, will be published September 2nd.



Kathy: Setting is very important to a story. Your new series is set in Savannah, Georgia. How did you choose this location?

MK: There's something wonderful and mysterious about Savannah. You have the feeling that anything can happen there and I figured it was the perfect setting for a Dream Club.


Kathy: Allison dreams of running an old fashioned candy store. I could get in trouble in her shop; rock candy, candy buttons, marshmallow ice cream cones, root beer barrels, Charleston Chews, satellite wafers...Do you have a favorite old fashioned candy?

MK: I love licorice! When I was researching the book (what fun!) I discovered all kinds of delicious licorice, everything from peach to pineapple.


Kathy: I've always found the study of dreams and dream interpretation interesting. I wish I could film my dreams, sometimes they're even better than TV. Do you often remember your dreams?

MK: I do, and I always advise people to keep a notepad by their bed. If you wake up in the night, just write down a word or two about any dream you remember. Even a fragment helps, and maybe you can reconstruct the dream the next day.


Kathy: You've written a non-fiction companion to the series, Dream Interpretation. Can you tell us about this guide?

MK: It's only 99 cents on Kindle and all profits go to a wonderful animal rescue group, the Wayne County Humane Society in Lyons, NY. it's one of the few shelters in the country that rescues farm animals as well as domestic pets.


Kathy: How has your work as a clinical psychologist helped in your writing?

MK: It's made me more conscious of body language and speech patterns. It helps when I'm writing "tags" for a character.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MK: It was a pretty natural progression. I'd written dozens of middle grade novels and young adult novels. They all were written in the first person. And I love to write humor, and I adore mysteries, so it seemed like a logical step.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MK: I'm re-releasing three of my Penguin YA's this summer with new covers and new titles and adding a sequel to one.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MK: The Dream Club is about a group of Savannah women who meet once a week to analyze their dreams, eat some delicious pastries and solve a murder or two! The Talk Radio Mysteries is about a psychologist who closes up her Manhattan practice to move to sunny Florida and become a radio talk show host like "Frasier." And she solves a murder in every book (like Jessica Fletcher). My agent sold the series to Penguin-Random House with five words: "Frasier meets Murder She Wrote." The two YA series are Hollywood Diaries and South Beach Tales. Hollywood Diaries is about a girl from a small New England town who finds herself starring in a Hollywood movie and later becomes a teen correspondent for an entertainment magazine. South Beach Tales are about a Miami beauty who learns that life in fast lane isn't all it's cracked up to be. They'll be on the website in the Fall.


Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
MK: I love Lola in the Talk Radio Mysteries, she's mid-fifties and a B-list actress still waiting for "her big break." I did modeling, acting and television news writing before turning to novels, so I know exactly how she feels.


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

MK: I had a dream about a place where people could talk about their dreams--seriously! I thought, "It would be like a book club and the same people would meet every week, but instead of talking about books, they'd analyze their dreams. And then I thought, "Whoa--it would be even better if they solve a murder or two!"


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MK: Someone offered me quite a bit of money to write a YA. That's exactly what happened. I'd worked as a copywriter for a rock radio station, and then written TV news for a CBS affiliate and I thought, "Why not?" It was a bit of a challenge because I'd just accepted a job as PR Director for a travel company the very same day and I only had 8 weeks to write the book. But it was for a Big Six publisher and they offered me money, so I said yes and signed on the dotted line!


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

MK: Oscar Wilde, Woody Allen, James Patterson and Janet Evanovich.


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MK: Currently reading Cliff's Edge by Carolyn Hart. It's set in first century Rome and is fascinating. Also reading Book Clubbed by Lorna Barrett and Never Tell by Alafair Burke.


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

MK: My main (and very pricey) hobby is cat rescue. I love all animals, especially cats, and have 8 rescued (and highly neurotic) indoor cats. I've done my best to psychoanalyze them, but have failed miserably. They'll just have to be "charming neurotics." It's surprising how many writers are animal lovers. I support about ten animal charities and I donate all my speaking fees to a cat welfare group.


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

MK: Dolphin-safe, water-packed tuna fish (for the cats). Gourmet salmon in tomato sauce (for the cats.) Fancy Feast (obviously for the cats) and CD vet food (again, for the cats.) I bet you're beginning to see a pattern here.


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

MK: I hope to continue both the Dream Club Mysteries and the Talk Radio Mysteries,along with the two young adult series I've revived.


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

MK: Meeting readers from all over the country, either by e-mail or social media the occasional book signing. I recently wrote a funny blog on The Cozy Chicks about some rather disastrous book signings. The Cozy Chicks are a group of seven "cozy" mystery writers and we take turns blogging each week. You can read it here. http://www.cozychicksblog.com/search/label/Mary%20Kennedy And I did a sequel the following Saturday, More Book signings from Hell.


****** UPDATED ********You now have more time to enter! *****************

Mary has generously offered a signed ARC of Nightmares Can Be Murder to one lucky reader. In order to qualify all you have to do is leave a comment here by Thursday night, July 31, 2014 at 11:59 pm EST telling us about your dreams. Are they vivid? In color? Do you remember them? Would you like to learn more about them? I'll use random.org to pick the lucky comment. Be sure to leave your e-mail address as well, so that I'm able to contact you should you win!


For more information about Mary and her books, check out the following links:

http://www.marykennedy.net -visit Mary's website.
Nightmares Can Be Murder, the first in The Dream Club Mysteries, available as pre-order right now! http://www.amazon.com/Nightmares-Murder-Dream-Club-Mystery/dp/0425268055/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397658929&sr=1-1&keywords=nightmares+can+be+murder+by+mary+kennedy
Be Mary's Facebook friend https://www.facebook.com/mary.kennedy.948
Follow Mary on Twitter https://twitter.com/marykennedybook
Link with Mary on Linked In  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10658765&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile
Mary blogs every Saturday with the Cozy Chicks. http://www.cozychicksblog.com



Friday, July 25, 2014

Review - A Potion to Die For

Review

A Potion to Die For by Heather Blake
The First Magic Potion Mystery

A Potion to Die For is a fun read that kept me up way past my bedtime, even though I had to get up early!

Heather Blake writes a fast paced story for this, the first in the Magic Potions Mystery series. It starts with a mob chasing Carly Bell Hartwell, careens through various wacky characters, includes two wild car rides, and ends with me pushing on to finish as I had to know the ending.

The characters are fresh and funny, but there is a depth to these characters as well. I want to know more about them. A perfect example is Delia. When she first made the scene I thought, "OK, here's the nasty character that's going to make all sorts of trouble and is going to annoy me". Delia may be dark to Carly's light, she may cause problems, but I like her. There's a lot more to her than the stereotypical nemesis and even Carly comes to that realization. Plus, Delia has Boo!

If you're looking for a fun, fast read you need look no further. A Potion to Die For is perfect for whatever ails you!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Currently Reading...

It's been a very busy week for me, with, sadly, little time for reading. Therefore, I'm still reading Scene of the Climb by Kate Dyer-Seeley. I am also thoroughly enjoying the story. The new journalist at an extreme sports magazine, Meg has padded the adventure experience part of her resume, and is soon forced to demonstrate her skills on a hike. No easy stroll through the park, the hike spirals downhill when a loud mouthed competitor winds up dead.

Although our protagonist, Meg, is quite young (a recent college graduate) I can still relate to her and enjoy learning more about her and her take on the murder investigation. I also love Gam and hope she takes an even larger role.

Adventure tips and scenic tour included.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spotlight - Buried in a Bog

I'd like to shine a spotlight on a book that's on my TBR pile. I own it and the second in the series, but haven't had a chance to read it yet! Buried in a Bog by Sheila Connolly is the first in the County Cork Mystery series.

From the back cover:

New York Times bestselling and Agatha Award-nominated author Sheila Connolly introduces a brand-new series set in a small village in County Cork, Ireland, where buried secrets are about to rise to the surface...

Honoring the wish of her late grandmother, Maura Donovan visits the small Irish village where her Gran was born-though she never expected to get bogged down in a murder mystery. Nor had she planned to take a job in one of the local pubs, but she finds herself excited to get to know the people who knew her Gran.

In the pub she's swamped with drink orders as everyone in town gathers to talk about the recent discovery of a nearly half-century-old body in a nearby bog. When Maura realizes she may know something about the dead man-and that he might be connected to another, more recent, death-she's afraid she's about to become mired in a homicide investigation. Maura has a sinking feeling she may really be getting in over her head...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Trip Back to the Jazz Age & Contest

I'd like to welcome Ellen Mansoor Collier to the blog today. Ellen writes the Jazz Age Mystery series. Gold-Diggers, Gamblers and Guns is the third and most recent addition to the series.


Kathy: Gold-Diggers, Gamblers and Guns is considered a soft-boiled mystery inspired by actual events. How did you come across the actual events?

EMC: While doing research, I was amazed to discover that Galveston’s Bathing Girl Revue evolved into the Miss Universe pageant, attracting bathing beauties from all over the world. The promoters wanted to compete with Miss America in Atlantic City so they decided to one-up that pageant and turn their contest into an international competition. Hard to believe that these young women—all in their teens to twenties, many of whom couldn’t speak English—had traveled so far to a tiny island, then population 50K, to seek fame and fortune. I turned that premise, with a twist, into BATHING BEAUTIES, BOOZE AND BULLETS.


Kathy: As part of the Jazz Age Mystery series, Gold-Diggers, Gamblers and Guns is a historical mystery which requires some amount of research. What is your favorite research method?

EMC: I’m very visual and really enjoyed watching old movies to study the settings, styles and period detail of the 1920s. The snappy dialogue, slang and mannerisms seemed so over the top that the characters were almost like caricatures—but that’s how people really talked and behaved, at least in the movies. Luckily I found actual clips of Galveston’s Bathing Girl parade on YouTube showing how the girls perilously stood in open cars with little support, which I described in BATHING BEAUTIES. So dangerous! During the parade, tourists milled around the Seawall, walking between the cars, and the poor beauties had to hold on for dear life.

I also like to peruse old magazines, newspapers and photographs to get a feel for the era. One of my favorite ways to research is browsing at antique malls or shows and seeing vintage clothing, hats and shoes on display, and examining the old appliances and equipment they used then. Besides being a great history lesson, it’s a perfect excuse to go antique shopping! LOL


Kathy: Jasmine Cross is stuck between the world of gossip and glamour and the world of gangsters and and gamblers. If you had a choice, which world would you be in?

EMC: I’d like to do some of both since I think both worlds are fascinating in their own way. I’m intrigued by the criminal element—but only from a safe distance. That’s why I enjoyed freelancing for a variety of magazines, so I could explore different topics, meet interesting people and learn new things. I’ve interviewed all types of people, from garbage collectors to semi-celebrities, including Nancy Brinker and Suze Orman.


Kathy: Do you gamble (legally, of course-wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more)? If so, what games of chance do you prefer to play?

EMC: My idea of gambling is going to Vegas, sitting close to a band and playing nickel slot machines. Sometimes I even splurge on the quarter slots if it gets me closer to a good band. LOL I love the people-watching aspect in a casino, especially while they play Black Jack or poker.

Personally, I’d rather invest in a vintage purse or piece of jewelry than gamble. That’s where my research comes in!


Kathy: When I lived in Texas I visited Galveston and enjoyed my time there. What is your favorite thing to do on the island?

EMC: How cool! When did you live in TX? I enjoy sitting or walking on the beach, but when it’s hot, we prefer eating seafood in a restaurant like Gaido’s or Landry’s with an ocean view. Actually I love going to Artwalk and Artoberfest on Post Office Street in the Fall—live music, wine and cheese, antiques and artwork. I relate to artists trying to sell their creations!


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

EMC: I love the puzzle aspect and relationships in mysteries, not the blood and guts. I’d call my novels more soft-boiled rather than traditional cozies since they have hard-boiled elements, but the violence tends to be toned down. I get so queasy, I can’t even watch CSI or Law and Order!


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

EMC: No.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

EMC: In my soft-boiled Jazz Age mysteries, real-life rival gangs fight over booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston, Texas—the “Sin City of the Southwest.” Jasmine (“Jazz”) Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, feels caught between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette.


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

EMC: Jasmine is my favorite, followed by Amanda, because they’re both good girls struggling to make their mark in a town filled with corruption, decadence and temptation.


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

EMC: After going on a “mobsters tour” in Chicago, I found out Galveston had its own crime familes and connection to Al Capone. I heard all these wild rumors about Galveston gangs and wanted to learn more about the Maceos and the Beach and Downtown gangs.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

EMC: I came close to getting an agent but that was before Boardwalk Empire and the Great Gatsby helped fuel the Jazz Age craze. I’ve worked as a professional magazine editor and writer half my life, my brother is a graphic artist, and l have several editor friends so I charged ahead and decided to do it myself.


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

EMC: My answers may change every year, but for now: Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker and either Agatha Christie, Edgar Allen Poe or Shakespeare.


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

EMC: The Illusion of Murder by Carol McCleary about the adventures of Nellie Bly. As the first female investigative reporter, she was fearless!


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

EMC: I worked for two antique dealers/designers between journalism jobs in my 20s, and became interested in old things.

I collect vintage purses and Deco vanity items, and enjoy getting worn or damaged pieces restored to their original condition—or better!


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

EMC: Milk, 7 Up Ten, ice cream, seasonal fruits, especially grapes and watermelon during the summer.


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

EMC: I have a few new ideas but it depends on interest and time. I want to end on a high note and keep the series fresh, rather than wear out my welcome.


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

EMC: I love connecting with readers who enjoy my books and give me their opinion and thoughts on my characters. A few readers have e-mailed me wanting to friend me on Goodreads—and I’m delighted—but now it looks like only my good friends give me five-star reviews! LOL

One gal e’mailed me at 3 a.m. after finishing Bathing Beauties and was so excited that I was working on GOLD DIGGERS. She knew so much about the history that she actually gave me an idea for the ending.

One fan of the series is designing knitwear based on Jazz’s character—cloche caps, I think. Can’t wait to see her book!

These types of reader responses make all the hard work worthwhile.

For more information check out the following links: 

Website: http://www.flapperfinds.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ellen.mansoorcollier?fref=ts
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Gold-Diggers-Gamblers-Guns-Jazz-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00KF3TJCM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401823006&sr=1-1&keywords=ellen+mansoor+collier
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6452242.Ellen_Mansoor_Collier


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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Currently Reading...

I just started reading Scene of the Climb by Kate Dyer-Seeley. This book is the first in the Pacific Northwest Mystery series. Meg Reed is a recent college graduate with a degree in journalism. Sadly, she graduated when newspapers and other print media are laying off reporters rather than hiring newbies. Crashing on a friend's couch, Meg is desperate to find a job. When a surprise opportunity appears, Meg jumps at it-even though her experience with extreme sports is as a viewer, not as a participant. I love it when the character says, "What do I have to lose?" Uh oh....

Adventure tips and scenic tour included.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chatting with Victoria Hamilton

Join Victoria Hamilton and me as we talk about her latest mystery, Muffin But Murder, and other things!


Kathy: Merry has an eclectic group of friends of various ages, both in NYC and Autumn Vale. Is your circle of friends as eclectic with people from different generations? Do have both Shilos and Pishes?

VH: I have a group of friends whose ages range from fiftyish to mid-seventies, and acquaintances much younger. I don’t exactly have Shilos and Pishes, but my friends are quirky in their own unique ways, as we all are.


Kathy: Merry Wynter, who previously resided in NYC, now lives in a castle in the Finger Lakes region of NY. Jaymie Leighton lives in a 19th-century yellow-brick house on the Michigan/Ontario border but also stays in an island cottage. Sophie Taylor lives in an apartment above her grandmother's tea shop. If you could live in any of these places, which would you choose?

VH: What a great question! Sophie’s apartment is too tiny for me; I need storage… lots and lots of storage! I’d love to stay in Merry’s castle for a while, but I think it would get exhausting just running up and down stairs for stuff. And to clean!!! What a nightmare, not to mention the cost of running it, which is one of Merry’s main concerns. Ultimately I would love Jaymie’s house in Queensville, Michigan. I love everything about it, including the Belfast sink in the kitchen, the summer porch on the back and the long lawn ending in a parking lane behind.

But I kind of like Rose Tree Cottage, too… ;-)


Kathy: In Muffin But Murder Merry decorates the castle for a spooky soiree. Do you enjoy all things spooky? Do you like to decorate for Halloween?

VH: Actually no. I’m just not a fan of Halloween, and neither is Merry. (What a coincidence!) That’s why she tries to make it Hallowe’en Lite, though the coffin kind of lends itself to creepy!


Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for Muffin But Murder?

VH: It was basically a continuation from Bran New Death. The story wasn’t quite done yet, so I just continued on. It started with the party shop in Ridley Ridge… I got a clear image of the place in my head, and knew where I was starting.


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

VH: I’m in the thick of writing Book 3 right this minute! Merry is up to her ears in elderly ladies, amateur opera, snipey tea parties and Binny Turner still convinced there is treasure to be found in the castle! A whole passel of folks have moved in, and she’s tearing her hair out by the roots, right now. Oh, and muffins. Always muffins!


Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books in any of your series?

VH: Dee-lighted! I just finished a copyedit of No Mallets Intended, Book 4 of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, out November 4th! I’m so excited, because the copyedit gave me the chance to go through it again, and I’m hoping that readers like what I’ve done. Jaymie is excited too because she gets to go hunting for another Hoosier cabinet! It’s definitely mostly mystery, but Jaymie’s love life is going to be in turmoil.


Kathy:A new interview section-this or that. Pick one of the 2 choices given.

Library or Bookstore: Library. I believe in libraries and contribute my books whenever I can, especially to small town libraries with a small budget. Libraries kept me going back in the poverty stricken days. I just love browsing, and I’d always leave with a heavy stack of books: fiction, art, history, cookbooks, you name it!!

Expositional or Continuing Story: Do you mean a series? I adore reading series, and have several that I follow. I can’t wait every year for another Sue Grafton!

Editing or Marketing: Dang… marketing I guess, because I love talking to readers and other writers! But editing is fun; I’ve written the book, so I’m not in a panic, and I just get to go through and clean up, rewrite, perfect. So… both??

TV or Film: TV. I’m a stay-at-home type.

Chocolate or Vanilla: Chocolate. With nuts.

Mountains or Beach: Beach. Mountains make me feel claustrophobic.

Tea or Coffee: Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon!

Cats or Dogs: Love dogs, but cats are just easier.

Summer or Winter: Fall.

Normal or Paranormal: Normal. Every time I try to write a paranormal, it turns out… normal. Mostly. Except for the werewolf series (Awaiting the Moon, etc.) I wrote several years back. Mwah-hah-hah!!

Vampire or Werewolf: Ah, well, there you go. Answered kind of in the previous question. Love wolves, so… werewolves, but only the kind that are actually beautiful wolves when they’ve shifted, not the standing-on-their-hind-legs, slavering, drooling and red-eyed kind of werewolf. Werewolves as heroes, I guess. Have a look at this page! http://donnaleasimpson.com/AwaitingSeries.html


Learn more about Victoria Hamilton and all her mystery series at: www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com