Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Betting Off Dead by Tonya Kappes. This book is the second in the Spies and Spells Mystery series.

It's been a few months since Maggie worked with SKUL and the devilishly handsome Mick Jasper and she's having doubts that she actually found her true life's journey. Between working more hours at The Brew and diffusing community conflicts at Belgravia Court Maggie is more than ready when Mick appears once more with a new assignment from SKUL. Intelligence reveals that there's a horse doping ring which could lead all the way to the Kentucky Derby. Posing as a married couple, they'll infiltrate the world of high stakes horse owners. But getting close to Mick is dangerous, not only for her physical form, but her witchy heart as well.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

An Interview in Terror With Giveaway



I'm pleased  to welcome Marla Cooper to the blog today. Marla writes the Destination Wedding Mystery series. Terror in Taffeta, the first in the series, was released earlier this year.


Kathy: Kelsey McKenna is a wedding planner. Have you, or would you, use a wedding planner for the big day?

MC: I didn’t! I’m more the DIY type, and I loved planning my wedding. But I imagine if I were as busy as I am now, I might have been happy to have someone else take over. The right wedding planner will make sure the event really reflects who you are. Plus, they come in handy if you need someone to help solve a murder.

Kathy: In Terror in Taffeta, Kelsey is working a destination wedding in Mexico. Destination weddings are quite the thing. Would you consider having one? If so, where would you go?

MC: I would love to get married in Italy. I was invited to a destination wedding on the Amalfi Coast and, in retrospect, I can’t believe I didn’t go! My other choice would be a castle in Ireland. And also, the castle would be haunted, because what could be cooler than having a ghost at your wedding?

Kathy: I must ask. What is a tequila donkey?

MC: What, you mean everyone doesn’t have a tequila donkey at their wedding? It’s actually a Mexican tradition in which a burro leads the wedding procession through town. In addition to colorful blankets and flowers, he also comes bearing bottles of tequila from which the guests can do shots—errr, sip daintily.  



Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MC: I like the idea of mysteries because it’s much easier to keep the plot moving along when there’s a murderer on the loose. And I chose cozies over other types of mysteries because it’s almost impossible for me to be too serious for too long. I like to incorporate humor into everything I do, and cozies are known for having a lighter touch.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MC: This is my first foray into fiction, but I have written lots of other things. I’m a copywriter by day, which means I’ve written web copy, radio spots, print ads… you may have even seen a TV spot I wrote at some point. I also spent many years writing travel guidebooks, which meant weeks on the road followed by a month or so writing about it. I got a couple of gigs ghostwriting nonfiction books for Chronicle Books—one of which led to me writing a mystery! (More on that in a minute…)

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MC: Terror in Taffeta is the first book in the Destination Wedding Mystery series. As you may have guessed, the main character, Kelsey McKenna, is a destination wedding planner, which means each book takes place in a different locale. Kelsey is a problem solver by nature, so when one of the bridesmaids drops over in the  middle of the wedding ceremony, naturally she ends up getting involved (against her better judgment). The second book, Dying on the Vine, which comes out next March, finds Kelsey in the California wine country.

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

MC: I love Kelsey’s best friend, Brody. He’s a wedding photographer so they get to work together a lot, and the two of them have great banter together. He’s based on a couple of my real-life friends, so writing a Brody scene is kind of like getting to hang out with them.

I also loved writing the mother of the bride, Mrs. Abernathy. She’s totally pushy and demanding, and I imagine most wedding planners have encountered someone like her in the line of duty. For some reason, she was really easy for me to picture, so her scenes were always so easy to write, and she always made me laugh.

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

MC: I did! Several years ago, I got a job ghostwriting a nonfiction book on how to plan a destination wedding. While the wedding planner was telling me about her job, I remember sitting across from her thinking, "Going off to foreign countries with people you don't really know? Everyone expecting you to fix things when they go wrong? This is the perfect setup for a murder mystery!"

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

MC: It’s tempting to name some of the fabulous, warm, funny and awesome authors I’ve met who are part of the mystery community, but I’m going to go with people I don’t actually know.
Short story author Aimee Bender, because her brain fascinates me. Carolyn Keene, so we could talk about the Girl Detective. Armistead Maupin, because his Tales of the City books were what made me think it would be fun to write a book someday (and I’m sure he has some great stories!). And Agatha Christie, because if I didn't everyone would say, "Why didn't you invite Agatha Christie?"

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MC: I’ve been hard at work on my second book, Dying on the Vine, so I haven’t had much time for reading lately. But I do have a pretty juicy collection waiting for me on my Kindle—not to mention the stack of books I brought back from Malice Domestic. It’s going to be hard to know where to start!

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

MC: Sure! When it’s time to take a break from writing, I pick up my ukulele. I’ve never played a musical instrument before, so it’s been really fun using a different part of my brain. I love being able to pick it up and just play. I don't have to be good at it. Nobody will ever hear it. It's just for fun. And there's no physical proof left behind if I fail—unlike pottery or knitting or any of my other abandoned craft projects.

I’ve also been a little obsessed with genealogy lately. I have a great grandmother who seems to have just appeared on this earth at the age of twenty, because I can’t find any evidence of her existence before she married my great grandfather. I can spend hours on ancestry.com hunting down leads. I sure hope one of these days I have a breakthrough that will make it all worthwhile!

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

MC: Half and half, because coffee is essential to my job. String cheese, because it’s great for those moments when I’m suddenly ravenous because I forgot to eat. Peanut butter, because I like to eat it with apples. And a bottle of champagne because you never know when you might need to celebrate.

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

MC: Yes! Part of the fun of writing about destination weddings is thinking about settings. So after I finish Dying on the Vine, which is set in the California wine country, I get to start thinking about where to set Book Three. A couple of people have mentioned Reykjavik, which would be great because I’d “have to” travel there for research, but a haunted castle in Ireland would also be pretty fun!

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

MC: Connecting with readers. It makes my day when I get an email from someone who read the book and liked it. It’s one thing when your friends read it, but it’s kind of mind-boggling to think about some stranger reading it and enjoying it. I also love hearing about my book getting to go on vacation with people. So far this summer, I know it’s been to Canada and France. I hope at least someone read it on a beach!

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Interview at the Mansion With Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Janet Finsilver to the blog today. Janet writes the Kelly Jackson Mystery series. Murder at the Mansion is the second book in the series.



Kathy: Whale-watching season brings the tourists to town in Murder at the Mansion. Have you ever been whale watching?

JF: Yes, a number of times. I’ve actually touched gray whales! I go to San Ignacio Lagoon in Mexico. Small groups of people go out in 22-foot boats called pangas manned by local guides twice a day. They’ve been magical experiences. I hope to do it again this spring.


Kathy: Redwood Heights is a Victorian-style estate turned into a B&B. Is it based on a real estate, or is it entirely fictional?

JF: It’s fictional. However, the idea of using a mansion came after I spent a couple of nights in a historic home in Colorado called Cleveholm Manor when it was operating as a hotel. Construction on it started in 1897 and was completed in 1902. John Cleveland Osgood, the owner, spared no expense and the mansion was filled crystal chandeliers, hand-carved furniture, and marble fireplaces to name a few items. I really enjoyed seeing all the antiques and wanted to put some in one of my books.


Kathy: Kelly Jackson gets assistance from a group of brainy retirees. I'm always pleased to see older characters in mysteries, but why add the “Silver Sentinels" to the mix?

JF: When the manager has an “accidental” fatal fall from a cliff, I wanted a group of his caring friends to question what happened. They knew Bob, the manager, was a very careful man and familiar with the area. They’d been involved helping with small crimes in their community, so questioning rather than taking for granted was more their norm.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JF: I like books that have an interesting plot, a beautiful place to visit, and people you want to spend time with. When I read something, I want to know I’m “safe” in terms of the images that will come into my mind. I do not like graphic violence. I want to know the people and animals I come to care about will not be harmed and will be back in the next book.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JF: No. I’ve thought about writing young adult books centered around animals. Right now I’m enjoying being in Redwood Cove.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JF: Kelly Jackson and the crime-solving group of senior citizens, the Silver Sentinels, team together to help their community when problems arise.


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

JF: No, I don’t. I spend most of my time with Kelly, so I feel the closest to her. I enjoy all of the Silver Sentinels and the other regular characters. With each book I discover more about them.


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

JF: I enjoy Murder She Wrote and wanted to write something along those lines. The dogs with special abilities started with an article about a dog trained to detect cancer. That’s how Fred the basset hound entered Murder at Redwood Cove. From there my research lead me to termite and bed bug finders Jack and Jill, the beagles in Murder at the Mansion. Princess, a Chihuahua and retired hearing assistance dog appears in Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JF: Part of the fun of writing is sharing it with others. I also like to have new experiences and going through working with an agent, an editor, and the staff at Kensington Publishing Corporation has provided me with a whole new piece in my life.


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

JF: Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, and Rex Stout.


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JF: I’m not reading anything. When I’m working on a book, I don’t want to put someone else’s plot into my head. I’ll be getting the copy edits back soon for Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table. I want my mind to stay in that book right now.


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

JF: In college I trained dogs for field trials. My young Rhodesian ridgeback seemed to have a lot of fun on an agility course recently, so I’m thinking about working with her in that area. I love horseback riding and have enjoyed my trips to Bitterroot Ranch and Hunewill Ranch. I like to cook and am constantly saving recipes.


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

JF: Hot chili oil, Parmesan cheese, sesame oil, ice cream with the word chocolate somewhere in the name or in the description


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

JF: I’m letting the next book in the Kelly Jackson series began to take shape.


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

JF: I like the creative process. I enjoy spending time in Redwood Cove and visiting with Kelly and the Silver Sentinels and sharing their adventures.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Spotlight & Giveaway - Die, Die Birdie


by J. R. Ripley
Cozy Mystery
• New Series
• Publisher: Kensington – Lyrical Underground
• (August 16, 2016)
•Paperback: 200 pages
•ISBN-13: 978-1601838315
• 288 Pages
• ASIN: B018CGZ1J8


For Amy Simms, hatching a birding shop in her hometown of Ruby Lake, North Carolina, hasn’t exactly been a breeze. But could a deadly discovery clip her wings for good?

It’s just days before Amy plans to open Birds & Bees on the first floor of her creaky Victorian house, but delayed seed shipments have prevented the fledging owner from stocking her shelves. And it doesn’t help that Amy’s best friend and business partner is out of town indefinitely. With locals skeptical about the niche shop taking flight, the last thing Amy needs now is a dead man in her storeroom-or for a crotchety tenant to catch her holding a bloody birdfeeder hook over his body . . .

Pigeonholed as a leading murder suspect by police and lacking a solid alibi, Amy’s delving into the victim’s ugly past and buzzing around Ruby Lake for clues on his killer . . . before she ends up like so many of her beloved feathery friends-trapped behind bars! 



About The Author
J.R. Ripley is the pen name of Glenn Meganck, the critically acclaimed author of the Tony Kozol mystery series. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, he has chaired the Edgar committee for Best Original Paperback novel and served on the Best Short Story Committee. As a member of the International Association of Crime Writers, he has served on the Hammett Award committee for Best Novel. When not writing books, Glenn is writing songs, often singing them to the consternation of his audience and neighbors, or involved in one of his many passions, none of which have involved any of the dead bodies that seem to keep cropping up in his mysteries. For more information about him, visit glennmeganck.com.

Author Links
Purchase Links:
Amazon

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Wolfman Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Susan Boles to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Susan writes the Lily Gayle Lambert Mystery series. Death of a Wolfman is the first book in the series and was released August 5th.


Kathy: Lily Gayle Lambert is a professional seamstress. Do you sew?

SB: Yes, I do. I learned some very basic sewing when I was about twelve and then had sewing in school in both eighth grade and ninth grade. Then, my original college major was Fashion Merchandising, so I took some clothing construction classes at that time. I used to make some of my clothes when I was in high school and college.


Kathy: Lily specializes in period dresses for convention attendees and re-enactment groups. Do you participate in these type of events? Are you a re-enactor yourself?

SB: I'm not a re-enactor. But I would love to do it! I have a friend who is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and I have attended some events as her guest...and made costumes to wear for the events. Early Renaissance. I've attended costume parties a some writers conventions too. I have a beautiful satin and lace Renaissance ball gown that I made and also a chiffon mid-calf length fairy dress.


Kathy: What period of clothing has your favorite style?

SB: I love the clothing from the Renaissance. All those gorgeous lacings and wild sleeves! And I love Antebellum costumes too.The ball gowns from that period are gorgeous!


Kathy: Lily is also an amateur genealogist. Have you tried tracing your roots?

SB: Yes. I have been a amateur genealogist for about twenty five years. I've traced some of my family lines back to the early 1600's. It's one of the most interesting and frustrating things I've ever done. When the trail is hot, it can be amazing. But when it goes cold, it gets so frustrating that I could just scream.


Kathy: Is the Wolfman your favorite monster?

SB: I'm a fan of all the old monster movies. Dracula...."Look into my eyes!....the Wolfman, The Mummy. They kept me mesmerized as a kid. Watching them now, I see how corny/campy they are, but the memories are priceless. Sitting deep in the couch. lights off, with a blanket handy for when the scary stuff happened. But the Wolfman fit this story, so he is the one who got top billing.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

SB: I've been a fan of Agatha Christie for as long as I remember. I think that's true of a lot of cozy writers. She's the Queen of the genre. I also read all of the Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books over and over. Later, I loved watching Murder, She Wrote. I still love reading cozies and am always excited when I find new ones.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

SB: I wrote a women's historical fiction titled Kate's Pride that is loosely based on the life of one of my Great grandmothers. She’s was one who I couldn't trace back. She was disowned by her family shortly after the Civil War and, by the time I came along asking questions, no one knew who here family had been. I'm still looking. So I wrote a book about what I thought might have happened to her in that time and place and in her circumstances. It's still available from Wings express. I also have a romantic suspense with a twist of paranormal. It's contemporary and set in Memphis, TN. Not based on any real life situations though.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

SB: Death of a Wolfman is the first book in the Lily Gayle Lambert mysteries. I have books two and three blocked out. I’m really looking forward to writing them. There are lots of adventures in store for Lily Gayle, Dixie and Miss Edna. I also have another cozy mystery series in the planning stages. The main character for that series will be Stella Mae Starlight.


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

SB: I have to admit, I kind of love Miss Edna. She's in her seventies and has a lot to say about life and love having lived so long. She's a great foil for Lily Gayle and Dixie. It helps that's she's an 'observer of human nature'. She sits on her front porch with binoculars and does 'bird watching' so she sees a lot of what goes on in town.


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

SB:I grew up in a small town setting where my family has lived for generations. At the time I was growing up it was a real nuisance. There was always someone to see you where you weren't supposed to be. And they weren't afraid to call your Mama and tell on you. But, looking back, I'm pretty nostalgic about it. It really gives a person a sense of roots to grow up that way. I wanted to portray that in this series.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

SB: All the way back to junior high school I wanted to be a published author. I have two friends who formed a group with me back then and we wrote short stories that we only showed to each other.


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

SB: Greg Iles - I love his lyrical southern writing.

Stephen King - Quirky mind

Jane Austen - I read her books over and over

Agatha Christie - I read her books over and over


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

SB: Summer of the Dead by Julia Keller. It's a great series about Bell Elkins who returned home to a small mountain town in West Virginia and became a prosecutor.


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

SB: I am all things crafty and DIY. I love fixing up my home but am on a somewhat limited budget. So I have done some tile work inside and am landscaping the backyard myself. I enjoy knitting and crocheting during the winter months but don't seem to want to work with yarn during the summer. I recently bought a Zoom Loom. It reminds me of those pot holder weaving frames I had as a child. I plan to Zoom Loom a bunch of squares and make some throws for my den this fall and winter.


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

SB: In the freezer, I am never without Haagen-Dazs chocolate and almond ice cream bars. In the pantry, Velveeta mac and cheese, red potatoes (I love homemade mashed potatoes and gravy), and Wolf brand chili with beans. LOL. Kind of a weird mix now that I'm looking at the list!


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

SB: I have books two and three broadly outlined in the Lily Gayle series and I have the broad strokes of the first book of another series with a character names Stella Mae Starlight.


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

SB: My day job is tracking regulatory changes in the investment industry. That's a very left-brain activity. With no room for creativity. Being an author opens the door to creativity as wide as I can swing it. I'm free to make up anything that I choose and run as far as my ideas will take me and my characters.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading A Story To Kill by Lynn Cahoon. This book is the first in her new Cat Latimer Mystery series and will be released August 30th.

Leaving California for Colorado, Cat Latimer has returned to the home she once shared with her husband. Surprised that her ex left the house to her when he died, Cat is nonetheless excited to start a new chapter in her life. Along her her best friend Shauna, Cat is converting the Victorian into a writer's retreat. Inheriting the house is only the first unexpected event for Cat. She soon discovers that the handyman Shauna hired is none other than her old flame. Not wanting to appear rattled at his appearance, Cat busies herself preparing for her first set of guests, which include a famous author. Life has more curve balls for Cat, however, as she discovers that her guests are not quite what she expected and that while one guest is a major fan girl another another has a major grudge against that famous author. Cat goes to his room in an attempt to warn him only to find his murdered body!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Spotlight - Ukulele Murder

I'd like to shine a spotlight on a book that's been patiently waiting on my actual TBR pile. Ukulele Murder by Leslie Langtry is the first in the Aloha Lagoon Mystery series (A Nani Johnson Mystery) and was released last month.

From the back cover:

Nani Johnson thought she had it made when she moved from Kansas to the resort town of Aloha Lagoon, Kauai. In spite of her certifiably crazy mom, Nani is determined that nothing will stop her from becoming a ukulele virtuoso! Unfortunately her Julliard training doesn't help her break into the local music scene due to some heavy competition from the terrible Trio-three hostile, local musicians. The only work she finds is a few bar mitzvahs and gigs at the kitschy Blue Hawaii Wedding Chapel.

But when one of Nani's competitors drops dead right after a public feud, Nani becomes the police's main suspect. A missing murder weapon, mysterious threats, and a heck of a frame-up job all have Nani worrying she'll be trading in her flowery muumuus for prison orange. Enter hunky local botanist Nick Woodfield, who just might be able to help her clear her name...that is if he doesn't have secrets of his own. With the bodies stacking up, the danger closing in, and the authorities circling, Nani must track down a killer...before she ends up the latest victim of the Ukulele Murderer!