Sunday, July 24, 2016

Meet Lucy Mondello - Guest Post & Giveaway

MEET LUCY MONDELLO

Mary Marks


Hello, hon. My name is Lucy Mondello.

I’ve been married to my husband Ray for nearly fifty years. We both grew up in Wyoming and moved to LA where we raised five wonderful sons. Over the years I’ve come to realize an interesting thing about growing older. I no longer have to be afraid of what people think of me. I can pretty much do whatever I want and people will hardly notice. (Well, Ray notices, but he’s a pretty tolerant guy.)

I mean, unlike other cultures where older people are looked up to, seniors in America are virtually invisible. Unless, of course, they’re Willy Nelson.

I met Martha Rose seventeen years ago in a PTA meeting where our kids went to school and we’ve been best friends ever since. One recent Tuesday, we all got together to work on our quilts like we normally do. Martha, Birdie, and our newest friend, Jazz Fletcher. Jazz designs men’s wear, but he’d started a second business sewing custom made clothing and accessories for dogs (he has the cutest Maltese named Zsa Zsa) .

Anyway, we were all sitting around shooting the breeze when he told us about two unsuccessful attempts to deliver a package to a client nearby. Something seemed off, and Martha got suspicious.

As soon as she suggested driving over to check on the woman to see if she was okay, I got one of my bad feelings (I have ESP). I said we should call the police, but nobody listened to me. So against my better judgment we all drove to this woman’s house. I was right. Turns out she’d been murdered.

Well, my husband had a cow when he found out, because this wasn’t the first time I’d been involved in a something like that. Birdie and I had helped Martha solve four other murders. Ray was clear as day when he told me not to get involved, seeing as how a couple of times I’d been in actual danger and he feared for my life.

I tried my best to stay out of it. Honest. But when the police suspected Jazz of being the killer, I couldn’t stand by and do nothing. And dang if I didn’t get caught up in the excitement of looking for answers once again. Of course, I never did tell Ray what we were up to.

Poor Martha has had several close calls. As a matter of fact, you might say I’ve saved her life a couple of those times. Coming from Wyoming, Ray and I know our way around guns, and own a couple. So in the past, when things got a little dicey, I insisted Martha take my Browning semiautomatic .22 caliber pistol for self defense. It’s a good thing I did, because she’s had more than one occasion to use it.

And that’s the part of being invisible that works like a charm . Nobody really notices three “ladies of a certain age” when they run around looking for clues and talking to people. And if they do notice, they don’t take us seriously. Except, maybe, for the killer.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Book Blast - Planted

g-gif-update (3) PLANTED book blast large banner 640

Planted by C. T. Collier

Planted-book-cover

Planted (The Penningtons Investigate) 1st in Series Cozy Mystery Asdee Press (July 22, 2016) Print Length: 309 pages ASIN: B01FOVMCPK

Synopsis:

Planted is book one of the new mystery series, The Penningtons Investigate, from award-winning author C. T. Collier. The Penningtons, Lyssa and Kyle, are both PhD’s, and when their clever minds start asking questions, clever killers can’t hide. It’s Monday of spring break when Professor Lyssa Pennington’s backyard garden project unearths a loaded revolver. With no record of violence at their address and no related cold case, the Tompkins Falls police have no interest. But the Penningtons and a friend with the State Police believe there a body somewhere. Whose? Where? And who pulled the trigger? The Penningtons’ canvass of their quiet neighborhood turns up disturbing secrets about the family who lived in their house for decades and another ill-fated family a few doors away. No one seems to know how to contact the only sons of either family. The few facts they have about them don't add up and, since the gun was buried about the time both young men disappeared from Tompkins Falls, the Penningtons feel compelled to find them and make sure all is well. Lyssa follows the money story and finds twenty million dollars, a neighbor who’s not what he seems, and a long-buried rivalry. Kyle goes after homicide data in six states and finds a body. Their next surprise is a murderer who will go to any length to conceal the crime.
CT-Collier-author About The Author

C. T. Collier grew up in Seneca Falls, NY, left the area for college and jobs, and always wanted to return to the Finger Lakes. Today she lives in a beautiful small city on one of the prettiest of the Finger Lakes, not unlike fictional Tompkins Falls on lovely Chestnut Lake. Most days you’ll find her writing in her tiny office looking out on a woods populated with fox, deer, wild turkeys, and songbirds. In her career as a tech-savvy college professor she has been endlessly fascinated with campus intrigue. Entirely fictional, Tompkins College is no college and every college.

Author Links: Website: https://drkatecollier.wordpress.com Facebook: kate.collier.315 Twitter: @TompkinsFalls Purchase Link Amazon

JULY 22, 2016

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Grilling the Subject by Daryl Wood Gerber. This book is the fifth in the Cookbook Nook Mystery series and will be released August 2nd.

Nobody likes a nasty neighbor. But when Sylvia Gump is found murdered it's Jenna's dad, Cary, who becomes the prime suspect. The Wild West has come to Crystal Cove, California and with it an old colleague of Jenna's, one Shane Maverick. Shane is no longer a dumpy ad man, but rather the too fit promoter with a pregnant girlfriend and a flirtatious nature. He also wanted to buy a house that Sylvia coveted. He got the house, but did he also want Sylvia dead? Or was it Sylvia's henpecked husband, Ronald, who claimed to see Cary running from the murder site? Or any of the other neighbors tired of Sylvia claiming communal property as her own and having loud parties; D'Ann Davis, diva of the screen, or Ava, the real estate agent who also had a thing for Shane?

While Cary may not want Jenna's help she's bound and determined to give it to him, even as she senses a mysterious someone is stalking her.

Recipes Included.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Final Fondue Interview & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Maya Corrigan to the blog today. Maya writes the Five-Ingredient Mysteries series. Final Fondue, the third book in the series, was released June 28th.


Kathy: When I was a little kid I remember my mother always getting out the fondue pot when entertaining, at least for adult occasions. Were fondue pots a special thing when you were growing up?

MC: Though my mother never served fondue at home, it was popular when I was a teenager. I got married in my early 20s and received a fondue pot as a wedding gift, as did many others who married at that time. One pot wasn’t enough to hold a fondue party. I bought a second one so that I could serve different types of fondue. When fondue was no longer popular, my pots went to a thrift shop. I lived to regret that move. While writing Final Fondue, I bought a vintage pot similar to the one I received as a wedding gift so that I could try out recipes.


Kathy: In Final Fondue Val helps her grandfather perfect his chocolate fondue. My mom usually made a cheese fondue. Do you have a preference? Or a special fondue recipe?

MC: I’m partial to chocolate fondue. Final Fondue includes two recipes for dessert fondue: First Fondue (the Swiss Toblerone milk chocolate recipe that started the chocolate fondue craze) and Fast Fondue (my updated dark chocolate fondue made in a microwave, no special fondue pot required).


Kathy: Do you currently break out the fondue pot for parties?

MC: My book launch party for Final Fondue will feature cheese and chocolate fondue. I also plan to serve my grandsons fondue when they visit because they love dipping their food in sauces.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MC: I enjoyed reading the classic mysteries of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh, as well as the pioneers of the modern cozy, like Carolyn Hart, Joan Hess, Dorothy Cannell, and Nancy Pickard.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MC: The Art of Deceit, my literary suspense-romance, won the Daphne du Maurier Award and the New England Readers’ Award for unpublished mystery/suspense and was a finalist in the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Competition. Since I began writing my cozy series, I haven’t had the time to look for a publisher for that book, but I plan to do that next year.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MC: My Five-Ingredient Mysteries feature cafĂ© manager Val Deniston and her grandfather, the Codger Cook, who solve murders in a historic town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore near the Chesapeake Bay. Each book has five suspects, five clues, and Granddad’s five-ingredient recipes.


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

MC: Granddad is my favorite character. He serves as Val’s confidante and sidekick, although he would say she’s his sidekick. He’s good for comic relief when his cooking experiments go awry. Because they have different value systems and challenge each other’s assumptions, Val and Granddad arrive at conclusions that neither would reach alone. They make a good team though their relationship is not always smooth. They have typical male-female and old-young conflicts, as well as generational differences in food, cooking, and eating that I enjoy exploring in the book.


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

MC: I based the grandfather character on my father. I grew up in a traditional family with a stay-at-home Mom who planned and cooked every meal we ate. When she was 82, she underwent chemotherapy, which left her barely able to get out of bed for months. So my father, at age 85, took over the cooking and housekeeping, doing all the things for her that she’d done for him for the previous 60 years. He continued cooking even after my mother recovered and often boasted about how few ingredients he used to make dinner. That’s the story behind Granddad’s obsession with five-ingredient recipes.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MC: I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen, pecking it out on a manual typewriter. As I finished each chapter, I gave it to my best friend and watched her read it. It thrilled me to see her smile and laugh. Knowing I'd created a story that entertained someone made me want to be a writer. I spent a lot of my professional life writing nonfiction, including academic papers and technical manuals—not the most entertaining fare, but that’s what people paid me to write. Now I’m thrilled to be writing fiction again and hoping that my books are as entertaining as what I wrote when I was thirteen.


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

MC: I enjoy wit and verbal fireworks, so I would invite Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, and Tom Stoppard. I also enjoy mixing guests from various backgrounds at dinner parties. Those four wrote in different eras and a variety of genres. Though they might not agree with each other, the conversation among them would sparkle.


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MC: I’m currently enjoying Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. While reviewers have praised the book, many ardent Jane Austen fans feel Sittenfeld doesn’t do justice to the depth of Austen’s characters. She does, however, create believable 21st-century characters and conveys the complexities of modern marriages. She also satirizes society through its courtship rituals, just as Austen did two centuries ago.


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

MC: When not reading or writing, I enjoy cooking, crosswords, trivia, tennis, and snorkeling.


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

MC: Only 4? I keep a lot of different kinds of food around. Here are 4 items I can’t live without and would go out to buy in the middle of the night if I ran out of them: butter, garlic, crusty bread, and eggs.


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

MC: I’m currently writing the 4th book in the Five-Ingredient Mystery series and have a contract for a 5th book in the series.


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

MC: As a left-brain person, I’ve found it wonderful how my right brain gets into the act. I have an outline and many details worked out before I start writing a book, but in the process of writing, my creative side kicks in and tells me to go in a different direction from the way I’d planned. So the story changes as I go along. Sometimes I go to bed with a lingering writing problem. I can’t figure out how to liven up a scene between two characters or where to insert a clue. The next morning I wake up knowing what to do because my subconscious has been busy during the night. It’s a great feeling to use the whole brain.


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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Review - A Toxic Trousseau

Review


A TOXIC TROUSSEAU by Juliet Blackwell
The 8th Witchcraft Mystery

Lily Ivory is surprised when she is served papers and finds herself being sued! Autumn Jennings is claiming that Oscar attacked her in Aunt Cora's Closet and is seeking compensation. But Autumn is no ordinary customer. In fact, not only does she run a high end vintage clothing shop she's also in debt to the witchy godfather of San Fransisco - Aidan Rhodes. When Lily and Maya go to Autumn's store to attempt to work things out-they find her spouting paranoid ideation while holding a gun on them and ultimately collapsing. Despite the prompt arrival of paramedics Autumn dies in the hospital. When doctors and police suspect poison Lily and Bronwyn top their suspect list. Now Lily needs to find out what's really going on. Could it have something to do with Autumn's latest clothing addition? With Sailor and Oscar for support Lily searches for the truth while handling city matters for Aidan and preparing for the Nebulous Big Nasty which is heading their way. 

A TOXIC TROUSSEAU is unique in that the mystery takes a more meandering path. In fact, we're not sure what the mystery really is. The mystery of the trousseau, of the curse, of the house, of the death, and who and where is Scarlet; all these questions entwine Lily, along with the mysterious satchel and the job with which Aiden has tasked her. Instead of a simple mystery story it's more of a preparatory book, setting the stage for a huge magical showdown. By the end of the book we have a much clearer view of that Nebulous Big Nasty heading their way, as well as a group of reinforcements coming to town.

Lily and her friends continue to delight. These characters are imbued with such spirit and vitality, it's sometimes difficult to believe they're fictional. Character development has been an integral part of this series, deepening the bonds connecting the characters, both with each other and readers. Lily has grown so much, yet she still manages to keep a sense of innocence, awkwardness, and charm even as she has become a powerful woman. Part of that power has come from her ability to accept help and friendship from others. While a part of her will always be a solitary witch, she can count on the love and friendship of others to support and encourage her, even as she supports and encourages them. And while Sailor remains swoonworthy, it is Oscar who has truly captured my heart!

Juliet Blackwell's Witchcraft series continues to be one of my most favorite series. A TOXIC TROUSSEAU is a multifaceted mystery including a local legend involving a curse, a fictional representation of the famous Winchester House, and a fascinating part of fashion history which combine to create a captivating story.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading A Toxic Trousseau by Juliet Blackwell. This book is the 8th in her Witchcraft series and was released earlier this month.

Lily Ivory is surprised when she is served papers and finds herself being sued! Autumn Jennings is claiming that Oscar attacked her in Aunt Cora's Closet and is seeking compensation. But Autumn is no ordinary customer. In fact, not only does she run a high end vintage clothing shop she's also in debt to the witchy godfather of San Fransisco- Aidan Rhodes. When Lily and Maya go to Autumn's store to attempt to work things out-they find her spouting paranoid ideation while holding a gun on them and ultimately collapsing. Despite the prompt arrival of paramedics Autumn dies in the hospital. When doctors and police suspect poison Lily and Bronwyn top their suspect list. Now Lily needs to find out what's really going on. Could it have something to do with Autumn's latest clothing addition? With Sailor and Oscar for support Lily searches for the truth while handling city matters for Aidan and preparing for the Nebulous Big Nasty which is heading their way.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Prepping for the Preppers - Guest Post & Giveaway

Prepping for the Preppers
By Alice Loweecey 



I’m not making this up.

Well, not all of it. This is a story about how research slithers its tendrils into real life. That sounds like the plot of a horror novel, and these ideas did start with horror novel research.

In Nun but the Brave, Giulia infiltrates a cult of Doomsday Preppers. Oh, the Prepper research! Tactical bacon (it’s a real thing on Amazon; promise). Water purifier systems demonstrated by perky models. Reams of advice on protecting your apocalypse hoard from desperadoes.

Its purpose: the individual’s survival post-nuke. Or post-Electromagnetic Pulse. Or post-Zombie Apocalypse. Note the Tactical Bacon above. Who would want to live in a world without bacon? Or coffee? Or chocolate?

I leave out booze, because it’s become easier than ever to create beer and mead and moonshine in one’s own basement. But even if your neighborhood Prepper group raises bacon the hoof (aka pigs), coffee and chocolate are tropical plants. It’s unlikely my corner Starbucks will be operating post-ZA.

Thanks to my horror novel research, I learned I can grow tea on my desk, coffee in my backyard, and cacao in a greenhouse—and I live in one of the snow capitals of the US.

I’m not saying it’ll be great coffee or tea or cacao, but when one’s stores of ground coffee (no electricity post-nuke, so forget about that fancy whole bean grinder) are used up, a backup plan will be flowering.

When Giulia visits the Preppers, she’s surprised to see coffee growing in their gardens. Surely a coffee hound like Giulia would’ve considered growing her very own in her huge vegetable garden? But Giulia isn’t merely a coffee addict; she’s a coffee gourmand. Because when she tries this home-grown brew, well, let’s just say Starbucks doesn’t have to worry about losing a customer.

Tea, on the other hand, is not Giulia’s favorite. It is a favorite of her creator, and if my cats would leave the plant alone, I’d sure try growing my own tea on my windowsill.

A cacao tree is not in my future, because there are only so many hours in the day. If my choice is to grow my own beans, grind them up, and perform all the other steps required to create the food of the gods—chocolate—I’ll head to the grocery store and buy some Guylian seashells. (If you’ve never had these luscious creations, hie thee to the store post-haste! They’re also great for people watching their weight, since they’re so rich you can’t eat more than two, max, per sitting.

Now that I’ve made all y’all crave coffee and chocolate, my work here is done. And if anyone decides to take advantage of my research and grow any of these plants, please send pictures! I’m on Facebook and Twitter and you can always contact me through my website. I’m off to brew some very strong coffee.

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