Monday, March 19, 2018

The Russian and Aunt Sophia Interview

I'm happy to welcome Rita Moreau to the blog today. Rita writes the Mary Catherine Mahoney Mystery series. The Russian & Aunt Sophia is the first novella in the series and was released earlier this year.

Kathy: Mary Catherine inherited her family’s psychic abilities. Have you ever had a reading from a psychic?

RM: No, but I have attended what an evening with a psychic. She gave messages from loved ones to some of the audience. She gave me one from my mother, Georgia. She mentioned something she would not have known in the message. I do believe they are just across the shore. My mother was a big fan of fortune-tellers.

Kathy: The Russian and Aunt Sophia is described as a madcap cozy mystery novella. Do you enjoy watching screwball comedies such as Bringing Up Baby or What's Up, Doc?

RM: I love comedies such as Seinfeld, Taxi, Cheers and reading Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey.

Kathy: How is writing a novella different than writing a full length novel? Do you find one more challenging than the other?

RM: It did not start out as a novella. I had 50,000 words and decided to enter the 2017 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Contest. No more than 20,000 words. It was challenging but in the process I learned to let go. Readers don’t need to be spoon fed. I am glad I did since it was chosen as a quarter-finalist. My editor suggested publishing it as a novella. So I did.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

RM: I read mysteries of all sizes and types. It was just natural.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

RM: No, not at the moment but I would like to write in women’s fiction and set the book in the 1950’s.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

RM: I love the fact that readers tell me they laugh out loud when reading my books. I think PatZi said it best when Feisty Nuns came out. I like to think my books are a fun read but also contain intelligent observations.

“Rita brings to cozy mysteries a sharp intelligence and a delightful ability to capture characters. Her main character, Mary Catherine Mahoney, MC for short, is one you won't forget. Feisty Nuns is the third book in a series that blends a bit of psychic abilities with a myriad of plot twists and intelligent observations. A great read!”  PatZi

PatZi Gil Creator/Host
A syndicated radio program broadcast from the studios of Tampa Bay's Tan Talk Radio Network Every Tuesday & Thursday at 11 a.m. (EST)

Also the judge’s commentary from the 25th Annual Writers Digest Self-Published contest:
“Feisty Nuns” is a fun mystery, with characters readers will care about and enough humor to have them laughing out loud on almost every page. The characters, particularly MC and Velma, are well-drawn, and even minor characters are distinct and not cliché or superficial.

Readers will root for the right people and be glad that the “good guys” win in the end, and particularly that MC sails off into the sunset with Theo (and Izzy). The nuns, with the exception of Sister Clarissa, are all ones some readers will wish they’d had in school.

The author also isn’t afraid to tackle the very real issue of nuns and their position with the Catholic Church in a realistic and informed way.

Judge’s Commetary from ScreenCraft:
Quarter-Finalist in the 2017 SCREENCRAFT Cinematic Short Contest – Judge’s Commentary:

"The Russian & Aunt Sophia is a very unique and delightfully quirky tale of mystery and murder. The locations are vivid and fun, the characters are engaging, and the plot is very solid and effective. The Russian & Aunt Sophia would work immensely well as a cinematic adaptation." SCREENCRAFT

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

RM: I love Aunt Sophia and Aunt Anna – they are a combination of my mother, Georgia.

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

RM: Yes, my mother. She was born in 1926 and she had a dream to become a star. She was asked to sing with big bands but my grandmother put her foot down. She went on to raise three children and care of an extended family as a single mother in the 1950’s. She never gave up her dream. She became a public access TV producer in Tampa, FL and is remember to this day.

I hope someday my books will make it to the big screen and my mother’s dream will come true.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

RM: I retired as a CPA with the Treasury department and had to keep busy, and that included my brain. It was on my bucket list. I wasn’t getting any younger so I decided to go the indie route.

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

RM: Michael Connelly, Carl Hiaasen, Sue Grafton, Robert Crais

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

RM: The Case of the Dearly Departed by Jim Stevens. A Richard Sherlock Whodunit.

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

RM: I have taught group fitness since 1991. I taught all types of classes at the University of South Florida (my alma mater) and currently teach for Tivity Health SilverSneakers.. Walking on the beach and taking Zumba.

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

RM: Eggs, Coffee cream, canned chicken and tuna. Boring but healthy.

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

RM: Yes I would like to write a book about a single mother in the 1950’s, a lot like my mother. Also a fifth book in the Mary Catherine Mahoney mystery series.

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

RM: Socialization. When I retired I lost a chunk of my social world.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Six Feet Under - Review


SIX FEET UNDER by Tonya Kappes
The Fourth Kenni Lowry Mystery

Kenni Lowry's mama done lost her mind! Sure Viv's head got a little swelled up when she won the cooking contest with her chicken pot pie, but now her face is swollen too! The big news is that a famous food critic is bringing his TV show to town and is debating featuring Ben's Diner and Viv's pot pie or a barbeque joint up in Clay's Ferry. Meanwhile Viv is acting odder and odder. A face that looks somewhat different, checking out the competition and causing a ruckus, and mighty shifty behavior make mama suspect number one when the critic is found dead...with a pot pie on his nightstand! Sheriff Kenni Lowry may be forced to take a backseat in the investigation, but with the help of her deputy and the ghost of her Poppa, she'll prove her mama innocent.

Poppa is back and that means murder! The murder hits much closer to home in the fourth Kenni Lowry Mystery, not with the victim, but with the prime suspect! The evidence points directly to Kenni's mama and Kenni finds herself with a bit of a moral dilemma. Love and the desire to protect your loved ones whatever the cost compete with honor, duty, and responsibility.

We see a more human Kenni in SIX FEET UNDER. One with more foibles, but one also finding enjoyment outside of her job as Sheriff. I am delighted to see the relationship between Kenni and Finn grow, even as more conflicts erupt. Of course, I always enjoy reading about Duke and Poppa and love their interactions as well.

SIX FEET UNDER is a wonderful mystery that explores the themes of love and duty with a humorous Southern flair.


About the Author:

For years, USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes has been publishing numerous mystery and romance titles with unprecedented success. She is famous not only for her hilarious plot lines and quirky characters but her tremendous marketing efforts that have earned her thousands of followers and a devoted street team of fans. Sign up for her newsletter on her website at .


Visit Tonya:

Facebook at Author Tonya Kappes,  
Kappes Krew Street Team  
Purchase Links: Amazon B&N kobo

Friday, March 16, 2018

Lethal in Old Lace - Review & Giveaway


The Fifth Consignment Shop Mystery

Finally, everything is going right for Reagan Summerside. Not only has hunky Walker Boone been cleared of any wrong doing-he actually her! Add to the thrill of being engaged, customers are finally returning to the Prissy Fox. All is right with the world. Except for the dead body...which keeps disappearing! And the fact that Auntie Kiki stole from a dead man...and is being blackmailed by the man's grandson. Did I say everything was going right?

Reagan Summerside is back in another outrageously funny Consignment Shop mystery. As always there is laugh out loud humor, memorable characters, and nonstop action. From wedding planning to wake attending, with interesting transportation choices, and a retirement home with the nickname Sexy Pines, Reagan deals with it all with pluck, determination, and a little help from her friends. 

LETHAL IN OLD LACE is all about love, acceptance, and loyalty. It's about doing all you can to help those you love and accepting them, faults and all, for who they really are. That's truly a great lesson. It's also endlessly entertaining and will leave you with a smile on your face long after you finish reading. And you'll never look at a Snickers bar the same way again.

So grab your martini and settle in for a fun time in Savannah. Don't know how to make a martini? Never fear Auntie Kiki shares several drink recipes at the end of the book. 


Duffy Brown has graciously offered a LETHAL IN OLD LACE tote to two of my readers. To be eligible, please leave a comment on this post no later than 11:59 pm EDT Saturday, March 17th. Sorry, US addresses only. Be sure to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you. Thanks and Good Luck!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Death of an Unsung Hero

I'm happy to shine a spotlight on DEATH OF AN UNSUNG HERO by Tessa Arlen. This book is the fourth in the Lady Montfort Mystery series and was released this past Tuesday!

By Tessa Arlen 
Minotaur Books March 13, 2018


In 1916, the world is at war and the energetic Lady Montfort has persuaded her husband to offer his family’s dower house to the War Office as an auxiliary hospital for officers recovering from shell-shock with their redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Jackson contributing to the war effort as the hospital’s quartermaster.

Despite the hospital’s success, the farming community of Haversham, led by the Montfort’s neighbor Sir Winchell Meacham, does not approve of a country-house hospital for men they consider to be cowards. When Captain Sir Evelyn Bray, one of the patients, is found lying face down in the vegetable garden with his head bashed in, both Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson have every reason to fear that the War Office will close their hospital. Once again the two women unite their diverse talents to discover who would have reason to murder a war hero suffering from amnesia.
Brimming with intrigue, Tessa Arlen's Death of an Unsung Hero brings more secrets and more charming descriptions of the English countryside to the wonderful Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson series.

An Excerpt:

Chapter One

“How very nice, Mrs. Jackson.” Iyntwood’s elderly butler settled into his chair by the window. “Why, it’s almost like old times again.” George Hollyoak’s glance took in the claustrophobic and over-furnished room: shabby velvet chairs jostled with a heavy mahogany desk, taking up far too much space in front of the win- dows, both of which were swathed in heavy curtains in a dusty but strident red plaid.

The dowager Countess of Montfort had died two years ago and her character, or that of the late Queen Victoria, whom she had revered, was still heavily imprinted on the dower house furnished as a faithful replica of the old queen’s beloved Balmoral Castle. Bright and, to Mrs. Jackson’s flinching eye, brash tartans dominated most of the reception rooms on the ground floor of Haversham Hall.

Mrs. Jackson was encouraged to see George Hollyoak sitting in her new office. It had taken weeks to coax him to visit her and now after all sorts of silly excuses here he was. Though even with her old friend and mentor sitting at his leisure with a cup of after- noon tea in his hand it wasn’t really like old times, no matter how much they all wished it were. The war had changed everything. Her face must have reflected her thoughts as she followed his gaze around the oppressively furnished room. “Perhaps not quite like old times.” Her guest smiled as he observed a shaft of dust motes dancing thickly in the late summer sunlight. “I must say you are looking well, Mrs. Jackson, and so very smart in your uniform: Voluntary Aid Detachment or Red Cross?” This was the first time he had acknowledged that Iyntwood’s dower house had been transformed into an auxiliary hospital.

“The hospital comes under the jurisdiction of the Red Cross, but I trained with the VAD. I am not an assisting nurse, so I am spared the traditional starched apron and the rather claustrophobic cap,” she answered. Long aprons and linen caps, in her experience, were worn by cooks, and although Mrs. Jackson was not a snob, she was conscious of little things like rank and station.

In acknowledging Haversham Hall’s new status the old man evidently felt he might ask his next question. He leaned forward, curiosity bright in his eyes. “And how are you finding life in your new abode?”

Mrs. Jackson hesitated before she answered. She had never liked Haversham Hall; it was as overbearing as the Victorian age it had been built in and an ugly building in comparison to the Elizabethan elegance of Iyntwood. But she had made the adjustment from being a senior servant to Ralph Cuthbert Talbot, the Earl of Mont- fort, at his principal country-seat, to the rank of quartermaster at Lady Montfort’s new hospital far more easily than she had anticipated. The real challenge had come when their first patients had arrived, but this was something she was not prepared to share with Mr. Hollyoak—not just yet.

“It is not as different as I thought it would be. Haversham Hall is not Iyntwood, but it is a building I am familiar with, and my duties here are similar to those of my position as housekeeper at Iyntwood.” That’s not strictly true, she thought, but it will do for now.

Her new job was not at all like her old one, any more than this hospital was like many of the others that had sprung up all over the country in the many private houses of the rich and titled, speedily converted to cope with an unceasing flow of wounded men from France. At Haversham Hall Hospital there were no wards lined with rows of beds, no operating theaters with trays of steel surgical instruments, or hastily installed sluices and sterilizers. Certainly there was an occasionally used sick bay and a first aid room in what was known as the medical wing, but they were merely a token adjunct. And it was these differences that were the cause for Mr. Hollyoak’s initial reluctance to visit her and for his searching question, “How are you finding life in your new abode?” because Haversham Hall Hospital was not a conventional Red Cross hospital, not by a long stretch of the imagination.

She raised her teacup to her lips and took a sip. If she was to help a man whose conventions were deeply mired in the nineteenth century to understand the value of the hospital’s purpose, she must proceed with cautious tact. She decided to start with a prosaic description of the practicalities.

“I am responsible for the running of the hospital’s housekeeping and for ordering all supplies, which means I spend most of my time sitting at my desk filling in requisition forms; the bureaucracy of wartime, her ladyship calls it. But we have plenty of nice young women from the Voluntary Aid Detachment to help with the housekeeping as well as some of our nursing duties. And I certainly need to be well placed here on the ground floor of the house to supervise them.” She did not add “every step of the way” because that way of thinking made her resent how difficult it was to work with inexpert help. To go with her cheerful tone she exhibited her most optimistic smile. VAD girls from nice middle-class families were a nightmare to train in comparison to sensible, sturdy village women who were ready to roll up their sleeves and had no roman- tic illusions about their part in the war effort.
Having given her visitor the briefest outline of her duties, she decided that she would wait for him to display genuine interest— enthusiasm would be too much to hope for—in what they were accomplishing here before she continued. She offered Mr. Hollyoak a plate of sandwiches: delicate triangles of egg with cress. She had prepared them herself, mashing the hard-boiled egg finely with a narrow-tined fork and adding just the right amount of salt, pepper, and cress to spread on lightly buttered crustless bread. He took a sandwich and closed his eyes as he chewed and swallowed the first bite.

“Perfect,” he said and smiled his appreciation, “quite perfect. I need not say how much you are missed at Iyntwood.” He took another bite of sandwich and then slowly shook his head. “The house simply isn’t the same without you.”



TESSA ARLEN is the author of Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, Death Sits Down to Dinner and A Death by Any Other Name. She is the daughter of a British diplomat and had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi, and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to the US in 1980 and worked as an HR recruiter for the LA Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Lethal in Old Lace by Duffy Brown. This book is the fifth book in the Consignment Shop Mystery series and was released yesterday!

Finally, everything is going right for Reagan Summerside. Not only has hunky Walker Boone been cleared of any wrong doing-he actually her! Add to the thrill of being engaged, customers are finally returning to the Prissy Fox. All is right with the world. Except for the dead body...which keeps disappearing! And the fact that Auntie Kiki stole from a dead man...and is being blackmailed by the man's grandson. Did I say everything was going right?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Southern Discomfort - An Interview & Review

I'm happy to welcome Caroline Fardig to the blog today. Caroline writes the Southern B&B Mystery series. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT is the first book in the series and was released last week.

Kathy: Quinn Bellandini runs her grandfather’s B&B with her sister, Delilah in Savannah, Georgia. Is this Bed and Breakfast based on a real place, or is it purely fictional?

CF: It’s fictional, mostly. I scoped out the location last summer when my family went to Savannah, so the building I use in my head for the setting is an actual place, but it’s not a bed and breakfast.

Kathy:Quinn whips up breakfasts for her guests, including scones and grits. Do you enjoy cooking? And how do you feel about grits?

CF: I love to cook! My daughter and I make scones and pastries on a regular basis, especially after we’ve been binge-watching The Great British Baking Show. And I have cheesy grits every morning for breakfast—no lie. However, I make instant ones, which would make Quinn faint, probably. Don’t tell!

Kathy:What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

CF: I like the lighthearted aspect of having an amateur sleuth be the center of the investigation. Sure, it requires a bit of a break from reality, but wouldn’t it be fun to solve a mystery in real life?

Kathy:Do you write in any other genres?

CF: Yes! I’ve got a new series (The Ellie Matthews Novels) that is much darker and grittier than anything I’ve ever written. They’re forensic police procedural mysteries, and to prepare for writing them, I’ve taken some forensics courses at my local college. I’m also developing a psychological suspense novel. A big departure from this book, but I’m loving the dark side!

Kathy:Tell us about your series.

CF: The Southern B&B series is a super sweet, clean series—one that will appeal to traditional cozy fans. The Java Jive series and The Lizzie Hart Mysteries series are definitely not your grandma’s cozies. They’re sassy and modern, just like their heroines. And then of course The Ellie Matthews Novels are at the other end of the spectrum—thrilling and sometimes disturbing.

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

CF: In SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT, Delilah is definitely my favorite. She’s sarcastic like me. Overall, I’d have to say Juliet from the Java Jive series is my very favorite, though. That girl speaks her mind and doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but she is fierce when it comes to protecting the people she loves.

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

CF: The lovely town of Savannah! My family goes to Hilton Head every year, and we always make a day trip to Savannah. The town is so full of rich history, beauty, and (supposedly) ghosts, I thought it would make a wonderful setting for a mystery.

Kathy:What made you decide to publish your work?

CF: Originally, I didn’t even consider it. I wrote the first draft of my first book, IT’S JUST A LITTLE CRUSH, and told no one—not even my husband. I honestly thought writing a book would be yet another hobby project that I’d abandon halfway through, so I didn’t want anyone to know about it. But then I got the courage to give it to a friend, and she encouraged me to work on it some more. I did that, and then I told my husband all about it. He was so excited for me, and urged me to do something with it. I self-published it and was lucky enough to turn it into a successful series. Now I’m so happy I did—and I’m so thankful for my support system of family and friends.

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

CF: Jane Austen, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, and Tami Hoag. How’s that for eclectic?

Kathy:What are you currently reading?

CF: A GRAVE SEARCH by Wendy Roberts. Love it. In fact, Wendy Roberts was one of my inspirations when I first started writing. I love her strong, sarcastic female leads who are rough around the edges. Now I’m lucky enough to have gotten to know her through some author circles I’m in. I love to be able to connect with other authors!

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

CF: I love to cook and to travel, and I’ve taken up jogging, but I can’t say I enjoy it. I absolutely adore music (my degree is in music), and my husband, kids, and I play in our church band. I’ve written and recorded some songs for my Java Jive series (the main characters are singer-songwriters), which has been an amazing experience. They’re on iTunes, Spotify, etc. if you’d like to hear them!

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

CF: Coffee, for sure. I make myself a latte every morning. Grits—HA! Protein drinks, which are gross but a necessary evil. And chocolate, of course, although I keep my stash in my desk so my husband and kids don’t steal it.

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

CF: I have more ideas than I know what to do with! I’ve got all kinds of stuff in the works—I just wish there were more hours in the day to get it done.

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

F: I love developing characters. That’s the most fun for me. I love to give them flaws and real problems that everyone has. It’s great when I’m writing and the character takes over and goes in a different direction than I’d anticipated.



The First Southern B&B Mystery

Quinn enjoys visiting her friend Drew at his restaurant, despite his surly chef brother, Jason, and the venomous looks and nasty comments Jason's wife always gives her. But when she pays a late night visit to clear the air over a misunderstanding, she finds the kitchen a disaster and the chef dead on the floor. When she and Drew are named prime suspects, Drew convinces her to help him find the real killer. But when Drew's arrested, Quinn is on her own and the more she investigates, the less forthcoming Drew becomes. Between running the B&B with her sister and grandpa, making music with her band, and dealing with the neighbor who made high school hell for her sister, Quinn is determined to stand by her friend, and she won't stop asking questions until she uncovers the truth. 

I found the start of SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT a bit slow, but once it hit its stride it was off and running. I appreciate how Quinn grew as the story progressed. While naive and a bit too wimpy, she was also a bit narrow minded and stubborn. Yet as the story progressed Quinn discovered Sassy Quinn and was able to dish out what she needed to dish out. She also slowly began to open her mind, not only to Tucker and the truths of the past, but to Uncle Frank as well. As for Uncle Frank...I think he's my favorite character. What's Savannah without its ghosts and Uncle Frank is the perfect addition to Bellandini's B&B.

The first Southern B&B mystery is as sweet as the tea served with Quinn's scones. It combines Southern hospitality with murder while underscoring manners, loyalty, family, and dogged determination.