Friday, December 15, 2017

A Murder for the Books Interview & Review

I'm pleased to welcome Victoria Gilbert to the blog today. Victoria writes the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series. A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS is the first book in the series and was released this past Tuesday.

Kathy: Amy Webber moves to Taylorsford, Virginia in the first Blue Ridge Library Mystery. She lives with her aunt in the family’s historic home. I love old homes and architecture and their house sounds like a treasure, even if it needs some work. Do you enjoy classic architecture and design?

VG: Yes, I love it! I actually minored in Art History as an undergraduate, and have a great appreciation for fine architecture and all forms of art. I love the architecture of the Victorian period in terms of home design, but I’m not so fond of the heavy, dark, furniture of that period. I prefer the furniture and decorative arts represented by Art Nouveau, the Craftsman era, and Art Deco. I’m also a fan of more minimalist, modern architecture, especially when it fits its setting well (like in NYC or other cities).

Kathy: In A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS Amy and Richard look into a mysterious case from the past. Have you ever gotten involved with scandals from the past?

VG: Not involved, but there was a supposed scandal in my family that compelled my great-aunt to hide some historical documents from the rest of the family. After her death we discovered that one of our ancestors (from the 1700s!) had been branded because he was convicted of manslaughter in a carriage or wagon accident. (He did not mean to kill anyone, but was found negligent, and back then the punishment for such things was much more severe). Apparently my great-aunt thought this was something scandalous that she had to hide from the family.

Kathy: Do you ever research unsolved true crimes?

VG: I have certainly read about quite a few of them. I find it fascinating to read the known facts and compiled research, and then evaluate the theories, especially about historical crimes.

Kathy: Richard is a dancer. Are you a fan of dance? Do you have a favorite form?

VG: Yes, I am a fan. I cannot dance a lick myself, but I love to watch it, and I greatly admire anyone who can dance well.

I enjoy many forms of dance, but my favorite is contemporary, or “modern dance” as it is sometimes called. When I lived in NYC I had the good fortune to see performances by many fabulous companies, like Pilobolus, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Joffrey Ballet, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, ABT, the New York City Ballet, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company, among others. I’ve also worked for many years at a university with an excellent dance program, so I drew inspiration from that as well.

Kathy: There is a hint of the paranormal to be found here. Do you believe in spirits? Have you ever had a ghostly encounter?

VG: Honestly, like Amy, I am a skeptic, but I do have an open mind about such things. I think it is possible that ghosts or spirits exist—I’ve just never seen any evidence that absolutely convinces me (yet). As you can tell, I have not had a ghostly encounter myself, or I might be more certain! However, I do not rule out the possibility, and I certainly don’t immediately dismiss other people’s reports, or their belief in such things.

Curious tidbit: A historic home that is (very loosely, as in distant cousins from way back) linked to my father’s family is considered one of the most haunted homes in the United States!

Kathy: Partly because she’s a librarian, Amy is a wiz at research. I picked up a tip or two myself while reading. Do you enjoy doing research?

VG: Yes, I love research. It’s one of my favorite parts of library work. To be honest, I think many librarians are amateur sleuths at heart.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

VG: I have always loved reading mysteries of all types, including cozies. When I decided to switch gears in my writing career a year or so ago, my agent advised me to try writing in a genre I loved, so I chose cozy mysteries. They not only fit my reading preferences, but also (I think) my writing style.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

VG: When I started out I wrote YA Fantasy and Scifi (written as Vicki L. Weavil). I have a few books out under that name, but I am no longer writing in that genre. I love speculative fiction, but I think perhaps my writing style is better suited to the mystery genre.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

VG: The Blue Ridge Library Mystery series features thirty-something librarian Amy Webber, who becomes involved—along with some of her family and friends— in investigating crimes in her historic Virginia mountain town. Amy uses her research skills, wit, and insatiable curiosity to help solve murders, both historical and contemporary.

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

VG: Oh dear, that’s like asking a parent if they have a favorite child! I honestly love all my characters, even the murderous ones. Of course I like Amy, her Aunt Lydia, and her best friend, Sunny, and I suppose I must confess a bit of an author’s crush on dancer and choreographer Richard Muir. And I also have a fascination with the enigmatic art dealer, Kurt Kendrick. He’s so much fun to write!

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

VG: In terms of setting, yes. I grew up in a historic town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, so Taylorsford is based in part on the small towns in my home county. I also drew heavily on my experience as a librarian in both public and academic libraries.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

VG: I had published other books before this one, so I was already in the publication “game.” I guess my initial interest in trying to get any of my books published was simply to share them with readers. Having loved to read all my life, I really wanted to reach other readers with my writing.

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

VG: William Shakespeare, Dorothy Dunnett, C.S. Lewis, and John Crowley.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

VG: Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, the latest book by John Crowley. He’s been one of my favorite authors since I read his Little, Big many years ago.

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

VG:I like gardening, traveling to discover new places, and cooking. I also enjoy music—listening and singing—and art of all kinds. I’m a film buff as well as a fan of theatre and dance Although I only have cats right now, I love most animals and would start up an animal rescue and refuge if I had the money and proper facilities.. Of course, I also love reading books—in almost any genre.

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

VG: Cheese, wine, fruit, and chocolate!

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

VG: Yes, there will definitely be two more books in the Blue Ridge series (hopefully more, but that depends on sales and other currently unknown factors). The second book is already written and has gone into production. It’s titled SHELVED UNDER MURDER and will be released by Crooked Lane Books in July 2018. I am now writing the third book in the series, which doesn’t have a title yet. It is tentatively scheduled for publication in Jan. or Feb. of 2019.

I am also currently developing a historical mystery series set in a 1920s farming community.

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

VG: I love being able to create characters, settings, and stories and bring so many of my thoughts and ideas to life. I’ve been an avid reader all of my life, so having the opportunity to write books and share them with other readers is truly a dream come true.


A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS by Victoria Gilbert
The First Blue Ridge Library Mystery

Taylordsford is a small Virginian town built on old families and secrets. Fleeing a disastrous breakup Amy Webber left the academic library of Clarion University and has come to live with her aunt and work as director for the town's public library. Although vowing to keep good looking artistic men at bay, Amy can't help but be intrigued by her neighbor's research, looking into an old town mystery. Instead of archival documents, however, they find the murdered body of an elderly patron. Who would want to kill the harmless woman? Was it a passing stranger? As Amy and Richard explore a mystery from the past they uncover secrets that may be deadly in the present.

A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS is a great start to a new series. Interesting, well developed characters inhabit the pages along with a current murder and a mystery from the past. Romance does play an integral part of the story, but I enjoy the developing relationship between Amy and Richard. It enriches the characters and leads us to learn more about them and their motivations by seeing their reactions to each other. 

I appreciate Amy's research skills, and even learned some new tricks myself and I loved the hint of the possibility of the paranormal. The mystery is well plotted and pairing the current murder with a mystery from the past, along with family secrets, provides an added depth. There's a lot going on in this first Blue Ridge Library mystery, but that adds to the interest and I look forward to the next book in the series.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Running Out of Time - A Visit from Dodie O'Dell & Review

I'm happy to welcome Dodie O'Dell to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Dodie on the pages of the Dodie O'Dell Mystery series by Suzanne Trauth. RUNNING OUT OF TIME is the third book in the series.

     It’s winter in Etonville, New Jersey. Living down the Jersey Shore in the past had not completely prepared me for the ordeals of cold weather months: substantial snow, ice, cold, wind, sleet, more snow, freezing rain. And now I’m sneezing! My remedy? Just the usual. Aspirin, vitamin C, and a shot of whiskey. That last was my great aunt Maureen’s remedy for whatever ailed you. She usually came down with “something” once a week.
     I’ve been spending my free Sundays overseeing a baking class on steroids at the Windjammer restaurant, which I, Dodie O’Dell, manage. The latest production of the Etonville Little Theatre is Eton Town, an adaptation of the classic Our Town, set during the American Revolution and featuring the founding of the town. I’m still into creating theme food for every play the theatre produces and for this show we’re making early American desserts: Swamp Yankee applesauce cake, apple pie, mulled wine, hot cider. The bakers are Etonville folks who are having a good time peeling apples and slinging batter.
     But the baking class is over, we’ve cleaned up the Windjammer kitchen, the bakers have left, and it’s time to go home. I step outside the restaurant. Falling snow has sprinkled a light layer of powdery white stuff on all surfaces. I stick out my tongue to catch the moisture. Reminds me of afternoons I shared with my little brother Andy on those rare occasions when it snowed down the shore.
     My cell chirps. A text from Bill. Aka Etonville Chief of Police Thompson: Sorry about last night. We’d gotten to know each other during the past year when I’d assisted in the investigation of a couple of homicides. Okay, so I “investigated” on the sly and jeopardized our budding relationship. But Bill was still grateful for my detection skills and I still got all jittery when I saw that sandy-colored brush cut and former-NFL-running back build. We’d been dating for the last couple of months. Which included a New York Giants football game and Christmas Eve dinner at the Windjammer. And an aborted attempt to go sledding in the town park. At the last minute, Bill had had an emergency.
     I crank the engine of my red Metro, flip on the windshield wipers to clear a patch of window, and set off down Main Street. Slowly. Carefully. Between the ice and wind chill—which could last anywhere from three months to five months in New Jersey—I’m ready to flee to Florida where my parents reside. I could have moved there two years ago after Hurricane Sandy hit my Jersey Shore community and destroyed the restaurant where I worked, as well as my rented home. But I opted to go north across the Driscoll Bridge and ended up in Etonville, a stone’s throw from New York City, managing the Windjammer restaurant, soothing chef/owner Henry’s feathers on a daily basis, riding shotgun on the staff, and providing support for various theater ventures.
     By the time I pull into my driveway in the south end of town, a fresh coating of white covers tree branches, my small patch of front yard, and the walkway leading to my door.  I stamp the snow off my boots, fling my jacket over a kitchen chair, and debate. Should I call Bill and listen to him apologize? He’d had a work conflict last night…I got it. But it was the third time in the last few weeks that he’d had to bow out of a dinner date. I sneeze, pluck a Kleenex from a box on the kitchen table, and blow my nose. When my high school boyfriend dumped me for my best friend two weeks before the prom, my great aunt Maureen said: Dorothy dear, life is messy but love is messier. As usual she’d nailed it. Tonight, I had to be content with a mystery novel and hot-buttered rum. I’d leave the mess for tomorrow.

RUNNING OUT OF TIME by Suzanne Trauth
The Third Dodie O'Dell Mystery

Dodie O'Dell is back, this time supplying Revolutionary war fare for the Etonville Little Theatre's production of Eton Town, Walter's version of Our Town. As usual, the ELT is having its share of problems, from the 3 hour long run time to the turntable on stage that doesn't always want to turn. No one expects a smooth opening night-but no one expected a murdered body found on stage cancelling the performance. Now a timid young member of the troupe has disappeared, fleeing the scene of the crime with bloodied hands. Dodie believes she must be innocent, but all signs, and her behavior, point to guilt. Will Dodie go against the chief of police, who she is dating, and his new PI right hand man? Things get ever more dangerous for Dodie as she tries to find Sally and the truth. 
I always enjoy visiting the Windjammer and seeing what trouble the Etonville Little Theatre is cooking up. The antics of the actors and stage manager brings me back to the days when I was involved in theatre. The people involved in the ELT are over the top, but it's completely believable because, as over the top as they are, that's exactly what it's really like in the world of theatre. 

As enjoyable as it was reading this third outing, I had issues with Dodie's behavior. I consider Dodie an intelligent woman, but her actions were downright stupid through most of this book. True, those actions kept the story going, and some things could be overlooked, but when a truly serious thing happened to her she didn't even tell the police...when she's dating the Chief! I hope that future books will have Dodie revert to her intelligent self.

Despite my disbelief at what Dodie did...and didn't do, I still enjoyed the book as a whole. It was well paced with action buffered by daily life in the restaurant and responsibilities of the theatre.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Honey-Baked Homicide by Gayle Leeson. This book is the third in the Down South Cafe Mystery series and was released December 5th.

Mr. Landon's honey is so tasty that Amy Flowers decided not only to use it at her Down Home Cafe, but sell jars of it on consignment. With the honey selling quicker than anticipated, Amy decides to ask for additional jars only to find the quiet beekeeper livid. His neighbor has been improperly spraying pesticides, killing many of his bees. Amy's concerns over Mr. Langdon's vow to handle matters increase when a stranger comes to town looking for him. But nothing could prepare her for finding his murdered body in front of her cafe. Enmeshed in his death, Amy finds herself threatened while simply trying to help. Just who was Mr. Landon? And more importantly, who wanted him dead?

Recipes included.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Visit from Snoop Steckle

We have a special guest at Cozy Up With Kathy today. Snoop Steckle is here from the pages of the Brilliant Minnesota Mystery series by Julie Seedorf. The Discombobulated Decipherers is the second book in the series and was released last month.

Shh, don’t tell Jezabelle Jingle I am here if she calls. I locked her in the basement of her bistro before I hopped on over here for an interview. I know you were expecting Jezabelle for the interview about her life in Brilliant, Minnesota, but what kind of a reporter would I be if I didn’t steal her thunder? My name is Snoop Steckle and I am the ace reporter for the Brilliant Times Chronicle.

I moved to Brilliant about eight years ago. I thought I would lead a quiet gentle life reporting in a small town but did that happen? NO! Brilliant has hidden secrets and Jezabelle and her neighbors keep me busy following them so I can try and get the scoop on their activities.

First they formed the Penderghast Puzzle Protectors. They were a little upset with me when I snapped a picture of the bunch cutting up a floor to see if they could find more clues to the murder and puzzle they were working on. It got them arrested so then they wouldn’t give me the time of day.

They solved that murder and things seemed quiet for a short time but it’s almost Christmas and Ernest the elf got himself murdered. Hank Hardy, our police chief, instructed Jezabelle, Lizzy, Phoebe, Mr. Warbler and Miranda Covington to disband the Penderghast Puzzle Protectors, so what did they do? They reorganized and now they call themselves the Discombobulated Decipherers. They think the name change will throw Hank off while they investigate the new murder.

The Decipherers didn’t count on me snooping around trying to get the scoop. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan on getting caught up in the subterfuge either and it almost got me killed.

There’s more going on in the staid Brilliant town then meets the eye. Jezabelle has a secret admirer who is sending her weird gifts. Phoebe is not as flirty as usual but she sure is crabby and she keeps hanging around the stable making remarks about the shepherd when she is not flirting with Santa.

Our town is filling with strangers because it is also time for the Christmas Pageant. I happen to think it is the perfect time for another crime.

You might think I am little shallow and only out to get a story but I really like the residents of the Penderghast neighborhood. I know deep down they are good people, but good people harbor secrets and I am not called the snoop sleuth for nothing.

Whoops, here comes Jezabelle and her lips are kind of pursed in a... a... well, I’m not going to wait around to find out. Remember I wasn’t here, so make sure you ask Jezabelle some questions because she and the Discombobulated Decipherers are investigating the elf’s murder but you didn’t hear that from me, and make sure you don’t tell Police Chief Hank Hardy. I trust you to keep our secret and if you don’t...I guess you don’t. Snoop Steckle signing off.


Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series  
Self Published (November 21, 2017) 
Print Length: 195 pages
It’s Christmas in Brilliant, Minnesota, and Brilliant is known for its glitzy Christmas traditions. A world-renowned Christmas pageant, the town square decked out with Santa’s Village and a live nativity scene bring visitors to Brilliant each year. Just as the tourists arrive, Jezabelle Jingle and her mystery writer friend, Miranda, find the body of Ernest the elf dead and wrapped in a bundle of Christmas lights in the town square. Is Ernest part of a new holiday puzzle the Discombobulated Decipherers need to solve? Or is dead Ernest part of a bigger plot? Will Jezabelle decipher the clues so Brilliant can celebrate Christmas in peace? Or will Jezabelle be the next gift-wrapped box under the village tree?

About the Author:

As human beings, we are always a work in progress. From birth to death we live, hurt, laugh, cry, feel, and with all of those emotions we grow as people, as family members, and as friends. I am a dreamer and feel blessed to have the opportunity in my writing to pass those dreams on to others. I believe you are never too old to dream and to turn those dreams into a creative endeavor. I live in rural Minnesota and I am a wife, mother, and grandmother.
I have worn many hats throughout my lifetime such as working as a waitress, nursing home activities, office manager and finally computer repair person eventually owning my own computer repair business. I never forgot my love of writing and quit my computer business in 2012 after signing a contract with Cozy Cat Press for Granny Hooks A Crook, the first book in my Fuchsia, Minnesota Series.
Adding four more books to the Fuchsia Series, adding a new Brilliant, Minnesota Series and writing a column for local newspapers feeds my writing creativity.
I also dabble a bit in watercolor painting and hope to eventually add pictures to my children’s book series, Granny’s In Trouble.
Oh, and did I tell you I like to be a little bit silly.

Author Links:  
Sprinkled Notes Blog:  
Merchandise from my books:  
Purchase Link - Amazon

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Mr. Mottley Interview and Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Ellen Seltz to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Ellen pens the Mottley & Baker Mystery series. Mr. Mottley and the Dying Fall is the second book in the series.

Kathy: The Mottley & Baker Mysteries are classic whodunnits set in the Golden Age of 1930’s traditional detectives. Who is your favorite detective from this time period?

ES: Ah, that's a tough call. I've had a "pash" (as they used to say) for Lord Peter Wimsey since I first read Sayers' Have His Carcase as a teenager. But as I've gotten older my appreciation for Albert Campion has grown. He's introduced as a wild card in The Crime at Black Dudley, a rather outlandish figure who's almost a spoof. But the novels develop across the series in subtlety and depth, and Campion changes too. The earlier books are more adventures or thrillers than true mysteries. The later ones are very character-driven and psychological.

I think my love for both characters is rooted in the same teen crush I had on the Scarlet Pimpernel - a witty, vain, showman persona camouflaging deep passions and deep virtues. Mottley is very much in the same wheelhouse. Indeed, the name Mottley is a reference to traditional motley garb, with its associations to the trickster Harlequin from commedia dell'arte.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite author or book from the Golden Age of detective fiction?

ES: Just one? Can't possibly. But I'll throw out a few. For Agatha Christie, I'd put The 4.50 From Paddington and Murder on the Links at the top of the list. For Dorothy L. Sayers, probably Murder Must Advertise and Have His Carcase, for Ngaio Marsh I'll say Artists in Crime and Clutch of Constables (although that was much later). For Margery Allingham, I'll pick Sweet Danger (aka The Fear Sign) and Death of a Ghost, which she though of as her best. I have to say, though, I can't say enough good things about Tiger in the Smoke and The Mind Readers. They aren't in the same vein as classic mysteries, but they are fantastic novels. Mind Readers is positively prescient about the future of omnipresent social media and its effect on people, particularly young people.

Then to round it out I'll pick Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time. A masterpiece.

Now if you ask me tomorrow or next year, I'll probably come up with a different list. I have a terrible time with the whole concept of "one favorite thing."

Kathy: Why did you choose to set your mysteries in this time period?

ES: It was more a "go with the flow" than a deliberate choice. As you can tell from the list above, I'm pretty far gone obsessed with the genre. I found myself making up stories in that world, and decided to write them down and see what would happen.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

ES: My whole family are voracious readers, but we have wildly divergent tastes in food, music, movies, sense of humor, clothes, politics, everything. Mysteries were one thing we liked, and my parents loved the BBC series that were on PBS when I was a child -- Upstairs Downstairs, I Claudius, pretty much anything on "Masterpiece Theater" or "Mystery." So that heightened world of idealized British history and culture was kind of a meeting place for us. It evokes very happy memories and has a lot of warm-fuzzy feelings attached.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

ES: I have written some web series in contemporary chick-lit and comedy science fiction, but the mysteries are my only novels so far. I have a few different ideas in development, though!

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

ES: The Mottley & Baker Mysteries feature Edmund Mottley, a constitutionally incorrigible gadabout who styles himself a "Specialist in Discreet Enquiries." Mr Mottley is actually Lord Edmund Mottley, but he refuses to use his title due to an estrangement from his father. In the first book, Mister Mottley Gets His Man, he reluctantly acquires his valet and assistant, Aloysius Baker. Baker was formerly a footman at the Mottley estate, but was forced to leave hurriedly under mysterious circumstances. The two misfits find a common bond in solving crime.

In the new book, Mister Mottley and the Dying Fall, Mottley and Baker investigate the disappearance of an eccentric millionaire and wind up trapped on a remote island while the inhabitants are being picked off one at a time.

The series also includes several short stories -- some of them are prequels to Gets His Man, and some feature Mottley & Baker together. By the time this interview goes live, my Christmas collection should be out. It's called Happy Bloody Christmas, and will include the two previously-published holiday shorts, and a new one, "Mister Mottley Pulls a Cracker."

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

ES: Well, naturally Mottley and Baker come first. I couldn't possibly keep writing about them if I didn't like them!

I think my favorite character from Dying Fall must be Mr. Wickie, the lighthouse keeper. He's about three parts odd-duck to one part quite mad, but very sweet. I enjoyed writing him very much and have a soft spot in my heart for him.

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

ES: It sounds quite cliche, but it was a dream. Unfortunately, I can't tell you what it was exactly because it's a scene that won't show up until Book 4 or perhaps 5. But I was so taken with the characters and situation that I felt compelled to write it. You know how dreams are -- you come into the middle of a situation, with a great deal of emotional intensity and meaning. As I reconstructed it in waking words, I realized that it was impossible to convey that moment without getting to know the characters. They had to live up to it.

The series grew from that need -- to make these characters live.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

ES: Fiction writing is my second career, creatively speaking. I started out in theater and film -- acting, then writing, then producing. I see fiction very much as entertainment, and entertainment is closely related to hospitality. You have to entertain somebody. It's relational. I felt that my writing wasn't really finished until someone else was reading it.

Dorothy L. Sayers wrote a wonderful book about this idea, actually: The Mind of the Maker. She believed being "created in the image of God" meant that creativity itself is a way of bearing God's image. She theorized that creativity is a picture of the Trinity. You have the central idea or truth from which a work flows, which is abstract and transcends its form. You have the singular, temporal, physical manifestation of the idea, its incarnation, which is the means by which we can encounter the idea and relate to it. And you have the effect or impact of the idea on a person's mind and emotions, where the idea and its incarnation come into you and change you.

It really defined my attitude about my own work.

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

ES: Ah, great question. I'd really love to have C.S. Lewis and Douglas Adams, and get them talking about science fiction. Lewis' science fiction trilogy isn't as well known as Narnia, but I think it's just as good or better. And then we'd need P.G. Wodehouse to get going with Adams about comedy. But that only leaves me one slot for my Queens of Crime! Oh, dear. Well, then I'll have Sayers. She could bring the snark and get after Lewis about some of his chauvinistic remarks. That sounds like a good party as long as the wine holds out.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

ES: I picked up an anthology of Hercule Poirot novels for a book club. I'm in the middle of Death on the Nile right now. I've read it a zillion times, but Christie just never gets old. I see something new every time.

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

ES: I really enjoy gardening, but I'm not very good at it. I always over-plant and under-weed. I have a few hard-core survival plants that God tends and waters for me -- tomatoes, collards, kale, carrots, asparagus, sweet potatoes. They are fairly un-killable, so we do get to eat some garden produce every year.

I also enjoy sewing, knitting and crochet. I'm currently working on a surprise Christmas present for a relative. I can't tell what it is, but I'll attach a picture.

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

ES: Sliced almonds, apples, coffee, and grits.

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

ES: Yes, there are seven Mottley books planned, and a possible spinoff series with a female main character. I have some drafts started in other genres -- romantic suspense, time travel, and a Victorian/steampunky thing that's just a wild notion more than a draft. I also have some nonfiction in the works -- a family devotional and some helps for other moms who have ADHD like me.

Most of the stuff out there is for moms to help their kids. My kids are fine. I'm the weak link.

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

ES: The amazing blessed relief of getting all those voices out of my head and onto a page where other people can read them. They're quite fun and enjoyable there on the page. It gets a bit claustrophobic when they're all stuffed up here inside my skull. Very distracting.

Kathy: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

ES: Thank you! It's been a pleasure. I'm happy to answer reader questions anytime on my Facebook page or by email at Readers can also try a free Mottley story by joining my Reader's Circle at

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Friday, December 8, 2017

An Unnatural Causes Interview and Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Dawn Eastman back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Dawn is starting a new series with UNNATURAL CAUSES, her first Dr. Katie LeClair Mystery, which will be released December 12.

Kathy: UNNATURAL CAUSES is quite a departure from your Family Fortune Mystery series. Why the change?

DE: UNNATURAL CAUSES introduces a character I have been living with for many years. Unnatural Causes is more of a traditional mystery than a cozy, but I find that my brain is always straying to the quirky. Since Katie is a doctor, I’ve tried to tone down the quirk factor, but unusual characters often just appear in a scene and before I know it they are taking over. There is a new character in the second Katie book that just showed up while I was trying to write another scene. She was so pushy and rude that I had to let her have some scenes in the book.

Kathy: Katie LeClair is a doctor, as you once were. While you were practicing medicine did you ever think you'd be writing mysteries involving a fictional doctor?

DE: While I was practicing medicine, I hoped I’d be writing mysteries. However, I didn’t think it would ever happen. I’ve always wanted to write, and when I had the opportunity I gave it a go. It’s been fun to revisit the world of medicine with Katie. I do think that a general practitioner is in a unique position to involve herself in solving murders. Patients are used to sharing their secrets with doctors and if the secrets lead to murder…

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for the Dr. Katie LeClair Mystery series? Or UNNATURAL CAUSES in particular?

DE: Katie is based on many of the doctors I met during my training in family medicine. And probably a lot of the patient/doctor interactions are based on the way I practiced medicine. The plot of UNNATURAL CAUSES came to me when I was in residency. I was surprised at how easy it was to call a prescription in to a pharmacy. (I think it is much more difficult now). I thought of a murderer who would use a prescription medicine as a murder weapon. My original story used insulin, but as the book evolved, the exact drug changed.

Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?

DE: I’m mostly a plotter. Sometimes, if I have enough of a plot for the first few scenes, and I’m really anxious to start writing, I will begin before it’s fully planned out. I find that even with an outline, the characters often have other ideas. I think most of my characters are pantsters, so I’ve learned to be flexible.

Kathy: Authors are required to do a lot of their own marketing, especially for a new release. What's your favorite part of marketing your work? What do you dislike about marketing?

DE: Actually, I really enjoy blog tours and interviews. I’m not very good at Facebook or other social media outlets. My day-to-day life is pretty routine, so I never know what to post. I’m also the worst salesperson ever. I’ll happily talk up another person’s book or product, but when it comes to selling my own work, I just can’t get comfortable with it.

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

DE: I just finished the second Katie LeClair book. She will become involved in solving an old murder when she gets a new patient who has just been released from prison.

Kathy: Will we eventually get to enjoy more Family Fortune Mysteries? I sure hope so!

DE: I hope so, too. The fifth Family Fortune book has been rattling around in my head for a while now. I plan to start work on it in the New Year. Clyde and company have a lot of loose ends to tie up and Clyde has a new business to run, so they’ve been agitating for some attention.


Mystery/ Amateur Sleuth New Series 
Crooked Lane Books (December 12, 2017) Hardcover: 288 pages 
Katie LeClair has finally settled down as the new doctor in Baxter, MI. After years of moving, schooling, and training, she wants nothing more than to find a place she can call home, and a small town outside of Ann Arbor seemed perfect.
Katie quickly gets to work in building a life for herself in Baxter, and beyond reviving her love life, she also finds a pair of business partners in a team of father and son family practitioners. But that idyllic dream is immediately shattered when one of her patients is found dead. That wouldn't be the worst thing, except the death is ruled a suicide, and as evidence has it, the suicide was a result of the medication Katie had prescribed. But she doesn't remember writing it.
When a closer investigation reveals it was murder, Katie is catapulted into an off-the-books investigation that leads her down a dark path of past secrets. But someone is willing to kill to keep part of the town's history in the shadows, and Katie must race to find out who before it's too late in nationally bestselling author Dawn Eastman's riveting series debut Unnatural Causes.
About the Author:
National bestselling author Dawn Eastman was a family medicine physician in Michigan. Now she lives in Iowa with her husband, son, and daughter. When not writing, she keeps busy catering to the whims of a bossy bichon-shih tzu mix who wants to rule the world. This is her first Dr. Katie LeClair mystery. She is also the author of THE FAMILY FORTUNE MYSTERIES.

Author Links:
WebpageFacebookGoodreads Twitter – @DawnAEastman  

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